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Hednesford Town 2 - 0 Tiverton Town

Saturday 12/03/2011   Southern League Premier Division
Tivvy Archive

Tiverton’s Premier Division fate is hanging in the balance after a 2-0 defeat at Keys Park against playoff-chasing Hednesford Town, but such are the vagaries of football that things could have turned out a lot different on any other given day. Granted, Hednesford deserved the victory, but Tivvy gave as good as they got, pulled together throughout, and carved out enough chances to have grabbed at least a point from the match.

The day kicked off with news that Adam Mortimer was unavailable for selection due to a late foot injury, so Jules Emati-Emati stepped in for his debut, but there was better news for Tom Gardner who was able to play through the pain barrier with heavy strapping on his leg. The Fauxs endured mixed fates – Alex was just about good to go but Adam remained out with a knee injury, while Jak Martin made his final appearance for the Yellows ahead of his return to parent club Weston-super-Mare.

The first ten minutes of the match belonged well and truly to Tiverton and in the first minute a move involving Emati-Emati, David Steele and Alex ended when Ian Sampson’s shot from an acute angle was blocked at the near post and forced out for a corner. Sampson had an even better chance just five minutes later after Emati-Emiati met Ryan Leonard’s low cross but also had a shot blocked. The ball fell to Sampson but his carefully placed effort wasn’t placed quite carefully enough and the ball bobbled a matter of inches wide of Dan Crane’s right goalpost.

After a hugely positive start by the visitors Hednesford finally found their feet and were able to press forward. Ross Davidson fired wide from fifteen yards when Kyle Patterson found space to cross from the left as Liam Ellis slipped, and Nick Wellecomme was denied by Ryan Draper in the Tivvy goal after a mix-up in midfield allowed the Pitman to surge forward.

The action was soon back to the other end of the pitch in a game that was as open and entertaining as one could have wished; Leonard chipped a free kick into Crane’s hands, Steele smashed a first-time shot into Cheyenne Dunkley’s hands – no penalty and no questions asked, it was ball to hand and not hand to ball. Towards the end of the first half both Emati-Emati and Michael Nardiello missed the target with headers, and in added time Leonard did exactly the same. A lack of prowess in front of goal was the only reason the scored were level; Tivvy were the better team – marginally – but according to the scoreboard there was nothing to separate the sides.

To this point Tivvy were well in the game because they were working their ‘nads off for each other. Up front Nardiello was quick to realise that Emati’s fitness and sharpness wasn’t quite up to scratch, and so he closed down even more, pressed and hustled, took up smart positions both with and without the ball, and deservedly received due praise, but for one particularly clumsy offside call. Emati himself was doing everything in his power, putting himself about and intimidating, and his persistence almost paid off midway through the second half when he bundled his way through but was denied by a fine stop from Crane.

By that stage Hednesford had grabbed the lead, and on balance since the break they deserved it. For lengthy periods they had pushed the Yellows deeper and deeper and the game was played largely on half a pitch. They didn’t create a great deal but it was only a matter of time before something decent was carved out, and the architect in the end was Chris Clements who won an unlikely tussle near the by-line to the left of goal. Clements looped in a cross that sailed over Draper, almost dipped into the net without aid and was finally nodded over the line from no distance by Patterson. A sloppy goal to concede, not the prettiest goal to score, but they all count (unless they are scored against Windsor & Eton).

Emati’s one-on-one chance came and went, quickly followed by three corner kicks on the spin, a goal-line clearance and some rather edgy defending by the home side. Leonard’s set-piece delivery throughout the afternoon was excellent but the final touch was always missing through no fault of anyone’s. Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and accept that life is like that.

Hednesford centre back Liam Francis joined teammate Jay Denny in the referee’s notebook for a trip on Nardiello that was probably worth only a ticking off and a free kick. Denny, on the other hand, was lucky to stay on the pitch after two crude challenges on Leonard in the first half, the first of which earned the midfielder a yellow card, the second… well, you know how it is… Otherwise the game was played in fine spirits – one of those games that are referred to as ‘hard but fair’. For the two leftbacks on display it was too hard – Darren Campion was stretchered off late on after messing up a challenge on Tom Gardner; happily he was back on his feet albeit walking gingerly after the game, while Alex Faux once more aggravated his lingering knee injury as he slid in to challenge Danny Quinn and missed by a mile. Alex will likely be out for a while and Tivvy’s bones are becoming barer by the week.

Campion’s injury meant an extra five minutes of game time and in the third of these Hednesford sealed the victory when Wellecomme raced away on the left, bundled past Russell Jee (who had only just replaced the crocked Faux) with a strong hint of foul and drove the ball below Draper and into the bottom corner. Jee protested but the referee was deaf to most things all afternoon – at the full time whistle Mark Saunders insisted his players quit their complaining to the man in black. Things needn’t have been too different and it would have been the home players making the complaints but as it was Tivvy’s lack of a killer instinct in front of goal proved to be their downfall. Hednesford’s fine form continues but they knew they had been in a match and if the Yellows can reach a similar level on Tuesday then there is every chance they will be bringing back three points from Oxford.

Hednesford Town: Dan Crane, Decio Gomes, Darren Campion (Louis Keenan 87), Cheyenne Dunkley, Liam Francis, Jay Denny, Alex Melbourne, Kyle Patterson (Danny Quinn 73), Nick Wellecomme, Chris Clements (Kyle Haynes 73), Ross Davidson
Goals: Patterson 69, Wellecomme 90+3
Booked: Denny 25, Francis 83
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Ryan Draper, Liam Ellis, Alex Faux (Russell Jee 90+2), Kevin Hill, Jak Martin (Ryan Turner 82), Tom Gardner, Ian Sampson, Ryan Leonard, Michael Nardiello, Jules Emati-Emati, David Steele (Mark Saunders 86)
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 437

This report ©2011 Tivvy Archive