The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Hendon 2 - 3 Tiverton Town

Saturday 03/02/2024   Southern League Premier Division
Darren Holmes

Whatever happens from here on in, we have been on a rollercoaster ride for quite a while and it shows no signs of stopping. Every time we build up a head of steam, we slow down, and every time we look like we have been grounded, we push ourselves back up. This was always going to be a hard going week for the Yellows, with two away fixtures and the second being played on a 3-G surface, making it gruelling and physically demanding for the players.

Rocked by the news that Joe Parker was unable to play because of illness, manager Leigh Robinson brought Niall Thompson back into his starting 11, and Josh Jones, who was carrying a knock on Tuesday night, also took his place in the side. Hendon were missing one of the division’s top scorers Niko Muir, perhaps with one eye on next weekend’s FA Trophy clash with Wealdstone.

When the action began, although there was some good build-up play, both defences were on top and it took 15 minutes for either side to lay a glove on their opponent. The Yellows were awarded a free-kick and the clipped cross in was diverted fractionally over the bar by a Tiverton player who met the good delivery in with his head.

From a corner after a scramble in the Dons’ box on 21 minutes, our powerful central defender Josh Jones turned home, giving us the lead. As going in front and being pegged back has been a common occurrence this season, there would still have been an element of doubt about the eventual outcome of this game from Tivvy supporters tuned in to the match.

In the 29th minute, Hendon midfielder Billy Leonard, with an excellent solo run, carried the ball past many of the Tivvy team. He rode quite a few challenges before finishing emphatically beyond Zak Baker, the goal explaining why our fans’ response to early goals has been a kind of measured excitement of late.

The Yellows had given a good account of themselves despite this setback. However, it was the Dons who were forcing the issue in the later stages of the first half, Jack Veale upending Lucas Perry during a marauding gallop into the final third. Accumulative fouls saw Niall Thompson follow Veale into the book.

The response to the hosts’ attempts to move into the box seat was both swift and clinical, Jack Rice tapping home with precision, to highlight what a crucial player he has become under Leigh Robinson. That is how it remained going into the break, Tiverton 2-1 up.

Hendon predictably started the second half with purpose and Jamie Richards was booked within minutes of the resumption after bringing down Sam Adenola. A good block stopped a Joe White attempt and then Hamza Semakula headed wide. Then Hendon were down to ten as a strong Joe White challenge was deemed to be a red card offence. This naturally riled Hendon, who had manager Lee Allinson shown a yellow card for persistently questioning the referee’s decisions, and saw a further booking for substitute Kai Brosnan.

The ten-man Dons still presented a real threat and Cumberbatch and Adenola both saw efforts go over. Both sides were knocking the ball around nicely on the 3-G surface, but the Yellows were having to dig in as two away trips in quick succession were taking their toll a little. Adenola, with a header, got a good connection. However, it flashed narrowly past the upright.

It was an ill disciplined game, with 10 players booked overall. Baker, Rice and substitute Aamir Daniels were also cautioned. Eight minutes of added time were played and, in the third of those stoppage-time minutes, the fully rejuvenated Rice put the game to bed, his low, crisp finish being the decisive goal. With less than a minute left, there was a late consolation from Finlay Macnab, although it was a vital three points for the Yellows and this result could yet prove pivotal in our fight for survival and it was a fantastic conclusion.

Next up, it is Winchester at the Ian Moorcroft Stadium and it will be interesting to see how we fare in that one following the recent away defeat to them. Saturday was an enjoyable result for all involved with the club, so let’s come out in force to support the team.

This report ©2024 Darren Holmes