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Tiverton Town 2 - 2 Merthyr

Saturday 18/12/2021   Southern League Premier Division
Tivvy Archive

In the matches through the years when Tiverton have played against Merthyr, the Martyrs have been either really good or really bad, with seldom anything in between.  On an eleven-match winless run and kept off the bottom of the table only by a very weak Wimborne side, the odds were certainly stacked in Tivvy’s favour in the final Laydsmead match before the Christmas schedule. And all the signs as the game got underway was that we were indeed going to witness a really bad Merthyr side. What nobody was prepared for (at least nobody with a tendency towards the Yellows) was that we would in fact see both the worst and the best of the Welsh side, as they turned the formbook and the game on its head with a wonderful second half showing that allowed them to pick up a point from a game they should have been well-beaten in by the break.

It was one-way traffic from the off, and Tiverton could have been a couple of goals to the good before Gary Warren headed in from Craig Woodman’s corner to break the deadlock on seventeen minutes. By then, Jamie Cogman in the Merthyr goal had already saved well from Jordan Lam, gathered smartlky from a hanging corner, and watched in relief as a move down the left saw Nelson Iseguan’s cross perch itself on the roof of the net. A brilliant interception from Matthew Harris denied Matt Wright a relatively easy finish as Town piled on the pressure, and the  dominance of the home side was rewarded when Morison released Iseguan, and the winger’s cross was perfectly in the gap between Cogman and his defence, which allowed Howe to move in and place an easy finish into the net from six yards. Howe could and perhaps should have grabbed his second just before the break, but his shot drifted wide, while Merthy showed little going forward, with Lewis Williams making just one comfortable save to keep out an effort from Corey Shephard.

Talk of just how many Tiverton might win by was soon stifled as the second half opened with Merthyr suddenly a force. Their attacking threat had been helped by the early introduction of former Tivvy fromtman Lewis Powell, and a later change that saw Eli Phipps introduced. Warren had to be on his guard to cut out a Powell cross as the away side dominated, with the atmosphere in the ground becoming one of increasing concern. If the Martyrs could get one they could certainly get two, and maybe even three. Tivvy looked panicked and Merthyr looked ever-more dangerous, and the inevitable goal came when Phipps, with his first touch since coming on, lashed the ball past Williams as Tiverton remained static when defending a free kick. It took Merthyr just seven further minutes to tie things up, this time Phipps the creator with a tidy flick which allowed Powell to equalise. Late on both Chris Shephard or Tiverton and Corey Shephard of Merthyr were dismissed for violent conduct, leaving an even more sour taste at the end of a game which swung drastically on key substitutions and/or complacency, depending on your angle of view.

While the visitors didn’t quite have enough left to grab a winner, we had seen enough to realise that Tiverton really need to up their game in the second half of the season. At this stage the league table doesn’t lie, and with a host of very tough fixtures through a busy January Tivvy are very much in a relegation fight. The management need to be brave in their team selections and approach to games, and the players need to show a ruthlessness that has been lacking throughout the campaign so far. The potential is there, the desire is there, but the execution has been desperately lacking. To make something of the season, that must change.


Tiverton Town: Lewis Williams, Kyle Egan, Craig Woodman, Aaron Dawson, Gary Warren, Alfie Pond, Louis Morison, Dan Hayfield, Owen Howe (Matt Wright 75), Jordan Lam (Chris Shephard 83), Nelson Iseguan (Olaf Koszela 75)
Goals: Warren 17, Howe 25
Booked: Morison, Howe, Pond, Dawson, Lam
Sent off: Chris Shephard 88

Merthyr Town: Jamie Cogman, Adam Davies (Lewis Powell 37), Owen Evans (Frazer Thomas 51), Alex John, Dan Barnard, Matthew Harris, Eliot Richards (Eli Phipps 73), Corey Shephard, Dylan Jones, Keyon Reffell, Curtis Jemmett-Hutson
Goals: Phipps 76, Powell 83
Booked: Richards, Thomas
Sent off: Corey Shephard 88

Attendance: 362


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