The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Swindon Supermarine 2 - 2 Tiverton Town

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

Never let it be said that this team lacks resolve or spirit.

Whether that will be enough to maintain our Southern League Premier South status remains to be seen. Everybody involved with the Yellows is fully aware of the ongoing battle on the pitch to achieve safety.

It had been two weeks since Tiverton were last in action and this was evident in a sometimes disjointed performance. Lee Robinson’s side welcomed the returning Alex Fletcher and fellow loan signing Calum Thomas into his ranks, though neither started. Matt Britton took the captain’s armband as Jamie Richards served the final game of his suspension; Jack Veale is still sidelined so assistant manager Ben Gerring started a game for the first time.

A cagey opening saw the first ten minutes pass without alarm for either side. Zak Baker was the first of the two goalkeepers to be tested, although he was relatively comfortable in dealing with Harry Williams’ speculative attempt after he was found by Zack Kotwica. Down the other end, the Yellows created a bit of pressure with a couple of corners, the second following a Jack Rice snapshot that was deflected behind.

Liban Ibrahim then tried his luck with a curling effort for the hosts and, once again, Baker was untroubled. When, on the 30-minute mark, Tivvy had the chance to test young Forest Green loanee ‘keeper Fiachra Pagel after some flowing approach play from the visitors, Alefe Santos unfortunately did not take advantage as the ball rolled harmless into the Marine goalie’s arms.

Two penalty shouts - one for either side - were ignored by the referee and, apart from bookings for Josh Jones and the home side’s Henry Spalding, the first half concluded with neither side able to get the scoreboard working on the goal front. The Wiltshire side were a lot more fluent in possession, but the Yellows had looked occasionally dangerous on the break. With the precarious position of both teams, this perhaps was always going to be a tense affair.

Marine made a like for like change at the beginning of the second period, David Sims-Burgess coming off for fellow striker Levi Irving. They made a strong start as the game resumed and Tiverton had been placed firmly on the backfoot when Swindon skipper Jake Andrews broke the deadlock, his long-range fierce strike beating Baker this time, with 50 minutes played.

Six minutes later, it was 2-0. However this goal was contentious as, in the build-up to Ibrahim’s finish, what appeared to be a blatant barge on one of our defenders was not penalised and some incisive wing play from Williams saw Ibrahim slot home. Tiverton protests ensued and Jack Rice was cautioned, although, in all honesty, at this stage, the hosts were dominating possession.

River Allen and young Torquay defender Calum Thomas had entered proceedings shortly before Marine had doubled their lead. Against the run of play, we headed against the woodwork, and then the rebound, which was a better opportunity to score, was rifled over.

Then a poignant moment arrived as Alex Fletcher emerged from the bench to make what I am sure was an emotional third ‘debut’. All Yellows’ supporters will be excited to see our heroic former striker back in a Tivvy shirt. This happened with less than 30 minutes left on the clock and was pretty much Leigh Robinson’s final card to lay as he replaced Carlo Garside.

With little hint of a comeback and Supermarine in the ascendancy, we were then given a slither of hope when Henry Spalding kicked the ball away and was issued a second Yellow card in the 76th minute. The numerical advantage gradually sparked Tiverton into action, although, before we entered eight minutes of added time, Baker vitally saved with his feet to deny Irving.

On 90 minutes, Dylan Jones emphatically fired home and then the Yellows, with their tails up, levelled two minutes later in a dramatic finale, Joe Parker, appearing to keep up his goal a game record with his fourth in four. However, the goal was later deemed to have been an own goal from Sam Turl.

Parker, though, has made quite an impression on Tivvy fans. With the firepower of Parker, Fletcher and Rice, we piled on the pressure in the remainder of the time that the referee had added on in pursuit of what would have been an unlikely winner before the sending off. Fiachra Pagel made a good save at the death to prevent us and that is how it ended.

A good point considering we were trailing by two goals. However, as Leigh Robinson alluded to in his after-match analysis, we will need to play better and improve in possession if we are going to get the results required to give us that fighting chance of staying up.

The team have demonstrated on many occasions their stickability and character but will have to find greater sustained quality over the 90 minutes to prevail.

AFC Totton sit in a play off position and will present a stern examination when they arrive at the Ian Moorcroft Stadium on Saturday.

This report ©2024 Darren Holmes