Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 2 Exeter City

   Tuesday 21/03/2006   Devon St Luke's Cup
Chris Bell

The gritting lorries circled Ladysmead and the brass monkeys took refuge in the tea hut as the 387 fans who braved the cold were entertained to a see-saw cup semi-final that saw Tivvy progress in extra time to the final of the Devon St Lukes Bowl. With more important games in view Exeter fielded a mix of youth and fringe players whilst Tivvy gave a debut up front to Mark Berry from Ivybridge‚ McConnell moving to defence.

The speed of movement and passing was a feature of Exeter´s game from the off and within a minute a clever flick pass resulted in a dangerous near post cross that Ovendale just got too before the onrushing opponent. Mackie was a particular problem for Tivvy catching Davies dawdling in defence and breaking clear only for Ovendale to save his shot at the second attempt. Berry showed no signs of being overawed by the step up and pulling wide deftly controlled a pass and put in a good cross that caused momentary panic in the Exeter defence. He then had a chance to do what he does best when Holloway won the ball and put him through on goal but his lob over the advancing keeper just missed the target.

However‚ it was the visitors who seemed most likely to score squandering a number of clear chances by shooting wide with only the keeper to beat. Mackie continued to be very influential chipping in a delightful ball that Edwards only just failed to make contact with. Yet despite all the pressure the home goal remained intact as half time arrived.

Immediately from the restart Tivvy lost the ball in midfield to Edwards who took off at a rate of knots with defenders trailing‚ but yet again his shot was dragged wide. There then followed a worrying incident when‚ with the play in the Exeter area‚ Davies subsided in a heap on the halfway line. The doctor was called and he was helped off in a poor state and taken to hospital.

Mudge‚ whose shooting suggested his sights needed adjusting‚ nevertheless showed a lot more fight and determination than of late and it was he who latched onto a Hambly ball down the left to cross to Bale‚ but his header was straight at the keeper. Exeter then took the lead from a corner that pinged around the area for a while before a mis-hit shot found Santos Gaia who deflected it into the net. Tivvy´s response was to bring on Beddow for Amapadu‚ but it was Exeter who once again used their pace to beat the home defence only for Ovendale to save with his feet.

With the clock ticking down Tivvy´s improved performance suddenly reaped dividends. Holloway´s long throws into the area had consistently caused Exeter problems and from one such the ball was glanced on for Beddow to touch the ball into the net. Immediately from the kick off Bale won the ball and stormed through the middle thundering a shot just wide. Tivvy now had the tails up and could sense victory. However‚ Exeter were still dangerous and with injury time beckoning a free kick found its way to Stamp who scored from close range.

There was a suggestion of offside but Tivvy weren´t about to lie down and let matters rest. Up the pitch they stormed and a free kick was won out on the right. Ovendale charged up‚ McConnell swung in the kick and the big keeper was thereabouts as it landed. Panic stations in the Exeter defence‚ shots raining in and being blocked and then there was Berry to crown his debut with the equaliser. It was the last kick of normal time.

With all their subs used Exeter soon lost Edwards to injury and Tivvy found themselves playing ten men. McConnell‚ who impressed throughout the game‚ put Mudge down the right‚ he dummied the defender to make space for the shot‚ which was just tipped round the post for a corner. Then he repeated the move from the left‚ but this time the keeper dropped the corner and Holloway was there to fire home. Maintaining attack as the best form of defence Tivvy continued to hunt for more goals and inevitably Exeter broke again but this time hit the post. Tivvy had a header from a corner cleared off the line before Bale was fouled in the area and Holloway stepped up to take the kick. Luckily it turned out to be the last kick of the game as his shot went well over the bar.

Despite the miss Holloway was outstanding and deservedly won MOM. Other players showed well with both McConnell and Berry suggesting they are worth a longer look. The spirit of the game‚ which was excellently refereed by Mr Greenwood was also good to see. Exeter would justifiably consider themselves unlucky to lose on chances made‚ but how often this season has that been the case with Tivvy? Barnstaple await in the final‚ hopefully in warmer weather.

Tiverton Town: Ovendale‚ McConnell‚ Davies(Booth)‚ Gould‚ Hambly(Croft)‚ Milsom‚ Ampadu(Beddow)‚ Bale‚ Berry‚ Holloway‚ Mudge. Subs not used: Nogan‚ Skinner

This report ©2006 Chris Bell

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