The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Tiverton Town 2 - 0 Winchester City

Thursday 18/04/2024   Southern League Premier Division
Darren Holmes

At a nerve-jangling Ian Moorcroft Stadium, Tiverton delivered a much-needed riposte to Tuesday's Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South survival setback against Dorchester. With us and our visitors having had plenty of games in the tank over recent weeks, this was never going to be easy for either set of players.

River Allen sat out the final game of his suspension and club legend Alex Fletcher has returned to Weston-super-Mare, although we did have the gifted Marcio Neves available and back amongst the replacements. Winchester were missing a few first- choice starters but were nevertheless formidable opposition.

In a very open start to the game, Tiverton surged forward after an early attack from the Citizens broke down. An electrifying piece of acceleration down the visitors’ left from Niall Thompson took him past a few attempted tackles and to the byline. His superb cross landed on the head of Joe Parker, who was in the six-yard box but, to the amazement of himself and all watching, he headed over.

Then a very presentable chance fell to Trevor Caborn at the other end, when an ill-judged back pass forced goalkeeper Zak Baker to miss his kick. Despite penalty claims when Jamie Richards threw himself in the line of fire, the game continued.

Tivvy’s Jack Rice then had another excellent opportunity as it opened up for him following more good work from Thompson, but he dragged his shot wide from about 12 yards out. Then Josh Jones missed with a header from close range.

Parker, after a defensive slip, was one-on-one with Luke Cairney, but the talented goalkeeper used his feet to stop Parker’s effort and, despite our ascendancy, the fans were beginning to wonder if four very scoreable chances not being taken would come back to bite us.

The Citizens also had an opportunity to open their account, but Josh Jones’s recovery tackle on Tommy Wright, who had been found by Dan Jones, closed the door.

There was still plenty for the Yellows to do when Thompson’s fine raking crossfield pass found Parker. Our prolific number nine took an excellent first touch and then alertly played in Rice and the hardworking Tiverton player despatched his effort beyond Cairney. We had that elusive goal.

This sprung the hosts into some excellent approach play and, with Dylan Jones and Thompson in full flight down both flanks, we were asking lots of questions of the Citizens in the final third.

Our corner count was growing and, once again from one of those corners, a series of blocks ended with a tame shot after a scramble in the area, which Cairney fielded.

The Yellows had to make a change when Matt Britton hobbled off five minutes before the end of the half. His replacement was Exeter City loanee Joe O’Connor and it was not long before the referee blew for half-time. There had been a noticeable upping of the pace and accuracy to our passing game that was missing on Tuesday night in that first half.

Winchester, though, have proved strong opponents over the course of the campaign and, because we had not pressed home our advantage, we knew that the second half was never going to be a foregone conclusion.

The Citizens were the better side following the break, for the first 10 minutes and with Tiverton’s lead being a slender one, there was a bit of unease around the ground.

Frustration was building on the pitch, too, as tempers boiled over when Parker felt, not for the first time, that he had been fouled. A heated exchange, a bit of a push and shove and grabbing of the shirts, ended with our prolific frontman and Winchester’s Ollie Griggs being shown yellow cards. In the passage of play that followed, after being found by Caborn, Wright’s attempt whistled past the upright.

Parker than span away from his marker to win a corner as the Yellows slowly wrestled back the initiative. All over the park, the home side were putting a real shift in.

Dylan Jones was not just a constant danger in the Winchester half as he stormed forward on many occasions, but he also kept in check Caborn, the Citizens’ lively winger who was a real menace in the first game.

Rice, Carlo Garside, Javan Wright, O’Connor and Parker were busy with outstanding energy levels throughout, and our visitors really struggled with Thompson's all-round game in which he utilised his speed to power beyond the Winchester’s backline and to get back and cover round when we were in trouble.

Tiverton were having a bright spell of possession that heightened when Neves was introduced. His trickery, dancing feet and subtle changes of direction can be a joy to watch. The forward-thinking Portuguese wide man already has a bit of a fan club amongst the supporters.

However, it was the driven and passionate Parker who provided the game with a moment right out of the top drawer. Those who witnessed him lobbing the Poole keeper on his home debut know that he has this type of finish in his locker - this was even better though!

Cairney was not that far off of his line, but far enough for an opportunist like the Gloucester City loanee to fire a lob with greater power into the top corner, with the back peddling goalkeeper well beaten - a fantastic strike and a goal that importantly eased the tension.

That goal arrived on 76 minutes and a determined Yellows still had to remain focused as the Citizens went for broke with the introduction of nimble and talented forwards Ollie Balmer and Devon Arnold. In addition, former Stockport County centre-back Jordan Rose entered proceedings as a makeshift forward.

However, the Yellows’ managed the rest of the evening well and the game finished 2-0, brilliant display, in view of our precarious situation and one that took us out of the bottom four, into 15th place, although, if you take a closer look at the league table, you will know that we are not out of the woods yet.

This report ©2024 Darren Holmes