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Oxford City 3 - 1 Tiverton Town

Tuesday 15/03/2011   Southern League Premier Division
Tivvy Archive

There are three notable problems with playing Oxford City on a midweek evening: i) Departure time clashes with the rush hour in the Bristol area – delays are likely; ii) The quality of the floodlights at Oxford City’s ground is poor which, when coupled with the home side opting for red numbers on blue and white hooped shirts makes identification close to impossible; iii) Tivvy never win.

On this occasion part one wasn’t too bad, aside from some idiot deciding to park his car in the boot of the car ahead and thus causing a bit of unwanted congestion on the already tricky interchange between the M5 and M4. Part two, as normal, means that this report utilises mistaken identity as an artistic licence (in truth it is about time I visited the optician). Part three held true.

For fifteen minutes nothing happened. Much like a comment from a Hednesford supporter after last weekend's game Tiverton stopped the opposition from playing by ensuring the ball was 30 feet above the green stuff, and even on the odd occasion when Oxford were able to get hold of possession they didn’t really go anywhere and looked as disjointed as the visitors. And then it appeared as if a breakthrough was on the cards as Michael Nardiello skipped down the left wing and powered into the penalty area, leaving Wayne Blossom in his wake. The ball was rolling on towards the goal line but Nards would reach it and centre for Jules Emati-Emati to tap in… until, that is, a hamstring went pop, the ball apologetically rolled out for a goal kick and Nardiello limped off the pitch in discomfort, his evening finished, hopefully not his season.

It meant an early introduction for Ryan Turner, often played wide but now required to lead the line against an experienced yet sluggish defence. And that suited young Turner because he is quick, quick, quick, and he made full use of his pace and the lack of pace bestowed upon the Oxford centrebacks to open the scoring just after the half-hour mark. By this time Oxford had begun to get the upper hand but their shooting lacked accuracy, and the goal came from a move that would have had the 1980s versions of Sheffield United and Wimbledon drooling without bounds. A long ball, 60 yards or more and high, out of the Yellows defence, bounced between the City midfield and defensive lines, Turner chased, wriggled between two hooped shirts and finished from the edge of the area with a coolness that belied his years and the fact that he had never before scored for the club at senior level. One-nil Tivvy, against the run of play.

Thereafter it was pretty much all Oxford – Jerome Anderson brought a save from Ryan Draper, and the Tivvy ’keeper also tipped away a dipping free kick from Marvin Martin, or perhaps it was someone else, it was hard to be sure. Meanwhile Emati-Emati volleyed just over as City failed to deal wit a long throw from David Steele, but it was namesake Lee Steele that had the final laugh before the interval, although in truth most people in the ground were laughing as Oxford equalised. Steele innocuously cut in from the right and just as innocuously swerved in a cross with his left foot. No Oxford player was close enough to follow in and the ball looked destined to roll through harmlessly to Draper. But… one sick bounce later, only a yard or two in front of the Tivvy stopper, changed the trajectory of the ball akin to a kick-serve in tennis. Up, up, up and away the ball bounced, Draper reacted but simply didn’t have time to reset his body and Oxford’s version of Steele scored one of the most curious goals of the season.

Adam Faux and Andy Ballard exchanged yellow cards, Alex added his name to a list that would increase almost without reason at the start of the second half, and on the hour City took the lead. It came from a corner on the left that shouldn’t have been a corner at all, unless, of course, corners are now awarded when an attacking player heads the ball over the opponent’s crossbar. Tom Gardner busily protested but Richard Pierson kept his concentration to powerfully head home from six yards. Still the complaints abounded, so much so that Mark Saunders, face like thunder and blood beginning to boil, was given his marching orders from the dugout and watched the next fifteen minutes from behind the goal before slipping out of sight.

From that point on the game was all about the referee who made it his objective to further ruin and already poor game of football. Damn, Oxford and Tiverton were, between them, more than capable of boring the living daylights out of the sparse crowd; the referee didn’t need to help matters. Ryan Leonard was booked for taking a quick free kick, City’s Michael Lyon was booked for, well, who knows what? It wasn’t as if Oxford were playing a cynical game and conning the referee; they didn’t need to, and they were laughing at decisions that went in their favour, such was the idiocy of the man in the middle.

Tivvy had lost their rag, not in an aggressive way but any composure they still had having turned a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 deficit had now evaporated. But they still almost equalised twice. David Steele’s cross from the right was flapped at by City custodian Joe White which allowed Kevin Hill to get a head on the ball and direct it goalwards. But there was no venom on the effort and the ensuing goal-line clearance by James Clarke wasn’t as dramatic as it sounds in writing. And then Leonard, who to his eternal credit was everywhere as most of his team-mates nursed niggling injuries, launched one from the best part of thirty yards, inside-left channel and low on a surface that had now become greasy with a light drizzle dusting over the pitch. The ball bounced and stayed low, White got down a bit early but stayed down and in place long enough to ricochet Leonard’s shot up and over the bar. Lucky perhaps, effective without doubt. Tivvy’s corner was cleared.

Cleared upfield to Lee Steele who smartly danced around a couple of half-hearted challenges before slotting the ball past Draper like the good old ex-pro that he is.

There were two minutes left but nothing more of note, bar a second yellow card which equals a red card for Lyon. This one was deserved as it was a for a poor challenge, about the only thing the referee got right after the half-time interval.

Make no mistake about it, the referee didn’t cost Tivvy anything; the Yellows weren’t good enough and Oxford were just about good enough to beat a poor team. One must wonder what might have been had the toils of the season not caught up on the Yellows, but now is no time for sour grapes or making excuses. There are still points to be won, and while the players have legs they will use them.


Oxford City: Joe White, Richard Pierson, Wayne Blossom, James Clarke, Andy Ballard, Liam Malone, Michael Lyon, Jerome Anderson (Kameron Abassi 77), Felipe Barcelos (Jermaine Ferrara 89 [orit might have been James Organ!]), Lee Steele, Marvin Martin
Goals: Steele 43, 88, Pierson 59
Booked: Ballard 45+1, Bell 89, Bell 90+1
Sent off: Bell 90+1

Tiverton Town: Ryan Draper, Adam Faux, Ian Sampson, Liam Ellis, Kevin Hill, Tom Gardner, David Steele, Alex Faux (Russell Jee 84), Jules Emati-Emati, Michael Nardiello (Ryan Turner 20), Ryan Leonard
Goal: Turner 31
Booked: Adam Faux 45, Alex Faux 56, Leonard 68
Sent off: Saunders 60 (unused sub)

Attendance: 101


This report ©2011 Tivvy Archive