FA Trophy – Saturday 03/10/2015 – Tiverton Town 2 – 0 AFC Totton
A lengthy trip to Peacehaven is the prize for Tiverton Town, having dispatched of AFC Totton in the opening FA Trophy fixture of the season at Ladysmead. It’s a competition in which Tivvy generally do okay and with three decent runs behind them in recent years so began another potential advancement into the competition proper, with Totton seldom looking capable of disrupting the Yellows’ intentions.
There was a very distinct contrast in styles as Tiverton looked to work their way through the visitor’s defence with subtle through balls and short quick passing, while Totton set up to hit Tiverton on the counter attack. Both ploys came with their own merits, and both sides had opportunities in a goalless first half in which the hosts played the better football.
Jamie Mudge and Owen Howe worked to link up but it was regrettable that too often the final ball, or a crucial calm touch was lacking, otherwise Town could well have taken an early lead. There were also chances for Steve Kingdon and Tom Gardner, but the former headed over while the latter was denied as Totton goalkeeper Steve Mowthorpe found himself in the right place to fall on the ball in a congested goal area. Furthermore, Tiverton desperately felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Mike WIlliams was bullied off the ball by Mowthorpe, but the referee was not interested in the appeals, and Williams had to cross the diagnoal back to his regular position with a perplexed look upon his face.
At the other end Joe Perry flew off to his right to tip a Craig Feeney shot around the post in the only really threatening spell the away side were able to construct in the first half. Totton were otherwise restricted to a few shots from distance and a header from a corner that wasn’t too far away, and Mike Gosney was the only player in blue that looked particularly menacing.
One felt that if Tiverton could only grab the first goal they would be able to control the match, and that goal finally arrived in the opening minute of the second half. Williams was upended on the edge of the area, and as the ball fell back into Tivvy control the referee allowed play to continue; Mudge’s shot was saved but only parried by Mowthorpe, and Howe reacted to tap into the net from close range. Mowthorpe will be disappointed not to have held he initial shot; Howe celebrated as if he had just ended a lengthy barren run, the relief amonst teh Yellows tangible.
It was indeed the case that the Yellows, now ahead, were able to continue to assert their authority on the game, led by an inspirational midfield performance from Rob Norrish. His contribution cannot be understated and he was very much the reason Totton were unable to advance into the final third with any regularity. If the ball was there to be won Norrish inevitably won it, and he often won it even when the odds were against. His willingness to battle and his effectiveness in the tackle along with his simple yet balanced distribution to the creative elements of the team allowed Tiverton to remain expansive enough to instigate attacks without being reckless in a defensive regard. Norrish’s selection as the man of the match was met with unanimous approval amongst the supporters.
Norrish is not the bionic man though, and he can’t be everywhere all the time, so Totton, trailing by just a single goal, were never going to give up hope. Gosney came incredibly close but his shot sailed a foot the wrong side of the post, and later Sherbourne was denied by Perry, all of which served as a reminder that a replay was still a possibility.
Hindered by a knock Howe limped off and was replaced by Dan Western, himself returning from injury, and while the change did little to temper Tivvy’s enthusiasm it did require a change in style, and the Yellows focus became increasingly based down the right flank with Jake Wannell getting forward more, and captain James Richards finding himself drifting wide with increasing regularity.
Richards did fire a shot into the side netting from an acute angle as the game glided into the final throes, and a further shooting opportunity from the man wit the armband finally lead to Tivvy getting the crucial second goal with five minutes or so still to play. Richards’ shot clipped a Totton defender, left Mowthorpe beaten, and rebounded off the crossbar; the ball fell to Western who took one touch to turn around his marker and a second to ram a low drive into the bottom corner of the net.
With the pressure now off and no way back for Totton even Ben Mammola got in on the act with a jink through the heart of the away side’s defence, and it was only a tackle in the nick of time as big Ben prepared to shoot that ensured there would be no more disturbance to the scoreboard.
All in all it was a satisfying victory for Tiverton and a performance that was reasonably pleasing on the eye for the bulk of the game. There will remain a few questions about how unclinical the Yellows can be in front of goal, and the lack of depth in the attacking section of the squad, and this will need to be addressed if the club has aspirations of being a genuine contender at the top of the table. Nevertheless, these concerns can be left for another day, and Tivvy should enjoy an effective performance and a solid victory.
Tiverton Town: Joe Perry, Jake Wannell, Mikey Williams (Alex Faux 76), Ben Mammola, Steve Kingdon, Tom Gardner, Dan Smith, James Richards, Owen Howe (Dan Western 70), Rob Norrish, Jamie Mudge
Goals: Howe 46, Western 84
AFC Totton: Steve Mowthorpe, Liam Hibberd, Marc Diaper, Neil Williams (Jake Rawkins 76), Luke Dempsey, James Roden, Nick Watts, Dave Allen, Craig Feeney, Nathaniel Sherborne, Mike Gosney
This report ©2015 Alan Reidy