Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 3 Exeter City

   Saturday 05/08/2006   Friendly
Alan Reidy

Just a little more frequent than Santa‚ Exeter City have been regular visitors to Ladysmead over the years‚ be it in the Devon Bowl or an almost annual pre-season fixture. Their last appearance on these shores was merely four months ago when‚ with the season drawing to a close both teams fielded many squad players and Tiverton pinched a late‚ late victory to set up a County Cup final at Barnstaple. The Grecians were not particularly great that day‚ and having seen their hopes of gaining a play-off berth gradually slip away over the preceding few weeks they can hardly be blamed for lacking a little motivation in what was to the a relatively minor game. But their trip up the A396 at the start of the month was a significantly different affair‚ despite its billing as "only a friendly".

This was Exeter's final warm up game before the start of their Football Conference season‚ and Paul Tisdale took the opportunity to field a strong side against Tivvy. And it was a side strong enough to take away with them a comprehensive 3-0 victory‚ having comfortably outplayed their hosts. For Tiverton it was a slight setback after an improved performance five days earlier against Yeovil Town‚ but the intent with which City approached the game must put the result into some sort of perspective.

Two quick goals midway through the first half‚ the first from Adam Stansfield‚ followed by a Jamie Mackie strike two minutes later put to bed a game that was never in any doubt anyway. Makie has robbed the unsuspecting Chris Bale to create the first‚ and his tenacity won a corner from which he netted Exeter´s second. Tivvy's only response of note was a Darren Davies free kick that sailed a foot high and a foot wide‚ never really troubling Martin Rice.

An impressive crowd of 1‚027‚ most of whom were cheering the away side‚ witnessed a display from the Yellows which wasn't so much uninspired as simply punctuated at every opportunity by the visitors‚ and to Exeter that credit must go. Throughout the entire match Tiverton had only one more real effort at goal to add to the earlier free kick‚ but Paul Jones‚ replacing Rice, needed not to be at the peak of his powers to deal with Jamie Skinner's daisy cutter.

Immediately after the interval Mackie was brought to ground by a combination of Mike Booth and Tom Gardner‚ a penalty was awarded‚ and Billy Jones rammed decisively home to match the 3-0 score-line of the pre-season match two years earlier. Nathan Rudge‚ who had been asked to leave the pitch due to a lack of verbal eloquence just prior to the opening brace of goals‚ returned for the final twenty minutes‚ and shepherded the backline through to the final whistle without further damage. George Friend‚ an Exeter player that once played for Tiverton (now there is a rarity) rattled the frame of the goal late on‚ while Stansfield proved a handful throughout the match with his intelligent movement‚ illustrating the difference a couple of divisions in the football pyramid makes.

So‚ not a great performance by Tiverton by any stretch of the imagination‚ but even gloom-mongers will have taken solace in the ever-lively purpose shown yet again by Barry McConnell‚ a former Exeter player now playing for Tiverton (not such a rarity‚ it must be said)‚ the sprightly grit shown by Skinner‚ and the quietly effective performance of Danny Harris. One game to go‚ a goal-fest on the cards‚ a close to fully-fit squad that are beginning to gel, and six good workouts now behind them‚ Tivvy are far from being a team waiting to be written off at this stage. Long live optimism!

This report ©2006 Alan Reidy

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