TIVERTON TOWN 2-1 STRATFORD TOWN
With the team spirit and `never give up` attitude that exists within the current crop of players in abundance, the Yellows produced yet another spirited comeback, without being too cliché, in a game of two halves against Stratford Town after Ben Stephens had put the visitors in control at the interval with his fifth minute goal, Tom Bath smashed home another vital goal to cancel the deficit before birthday boy Levi Landricombe sealed the victory nine minutes from time.
James Richards started a league match for the first time since his return in place of the suspended Ben Mammola, the only change in personnel from the defeat at Weymouth previously whilst the visitors made two changes to the side from those that were beaten 3-0 at Lancaster City in the FA Trophy the previous weekend and quickly set about trying to make amends for it, Will Grocotts` effort cannoning back into play off the underside of the crossbar before sixty seconds had passed although an offside flag would have curtailed any celebrations but soon after Stephens opened the scoring, getting on the end of veteran striker Michael Taylors` through ball to calmly lift his effort over the out-rushing Rice into the corner.
A `heated` period of the game followed, to put it mildly, fouls and cautions issued like greetings cards and the slightly surprising statistic come half time was that all twenty two players were still actively involved, Stratford centre half Liam Francis booked for a foul on Levi Landricombe on halfway as he looked to run behind, Landricombe himself cautioned soon after as he threw himself into a tackle to prevent Taylor from breaking forward, both of which cued the usual and very un-necessary `argy-bargy` between both sets of players. Owen Howe walked in what he and the majority of others thought was the equaliser on eighteen minutes, questionably ruled out for offside and Justin Marsden cleared a Bath header from his goal line as the Yellows sought a way back in to the match before half time, but only wayward finishing and good defending prevented the Blues from extending their interval lead further.
Bath dragged a shot wide of Stratford keeper Louis Connors` near post at the start of the second period after a fine run and pass from Man of the Match Callum Hall and another Hall forward pass released Landricombe in on goal, only to have his progress halted by another offside flag. More chances for the visitors to extend their lead came and went, Hancocks fired straight at Rice when well placed and Taylor headed a difficult chance wide. Pace in the Yellows midfield was added to when Short replaced Richards with twenty-five to go and more chances soon followed. Howe volleyed narrowly wide from a corner and after a Landricombe free kick was cleared, another corner brought about the equaliser. Nick Hursts` delivery to the back post was headed back across goal by Michael Landricombe and despite a plethora of bodies between him and the goal, Tom Bath smashed home from six yards.
Grocott should have put the Blues back in front minutes later, but again Rice did well to stop his low effort from the edge of the area before the Yellows broke upfield and scored what would turn out to be the winner. A free-kick curled in from the right after Gallinagh had fouled Hurst by Levi Landricombe was spilled by Connor and only an outstanding block from Gallinagh prevented Howe from netting the winner, but from the resultant corner Landricombe did just that. Ollie Knowles delivery to the edge of the area found Landricombe in all kinds of space and with a swing of his trusted left foot, despite having to re-adjust himself to deal with an awkward bounce, he spectacularly bent a twenty-yard shot high in to the roof of Connors` net for his tenth league goal of the season.
Scott Rogers almost put the icing on the cake with a speculative effort from at least 40 yards that had Connor scrambling back and only just cleared the crossbar before, with time against them, the Blues battled for an equaliser, Summerfield trying his luck from range that went well wide being as close as they would come.
Tiverton: Martin Rice, Nick Hurst, CALLUM HALL, James Richards (Jamie Short 65), Michael Landricombe, Tom Gardner, Scott Rogers, Ollie Knowles, Owen Howe, Levi Landricombe, Tom Bath.
Goals: Tom Bath 72, Levi Landricombe 81.
Report by: Simon Ellis