TIVERTON TOWN 3-2 BASINGSTOKE TOWN
Saturday 16th September 2017. A date for all the historians and statisticians to take note of and remember. Whilst it is NOT the first time (contrary to reports) that the Yellows have found themselves at their highest ever league position at the top of the Southern Premier Division, as they achieved the same feat in September 2002 (4 days) and August 2006 (5 days), it will be the longest period they spend there after their fifth straight home victory of the season. Such an achievement early on in the campaign will not go unnoticed elsewhere and although one of the `newbies` to the group it will make other sides think long and hard before underestimating Tivvy. Three up at half time, 2 more from Levi Landricombe to continue his fine scoring run and a `greatest ever at Ladysmead` contender from eventual Man of the Match Ben Mammola had Tivvy seemingly cruising to victory before Basingstoke scored twice after the interval to set up a tense finale.
After what seems to be the customary opening period at Ladysmead nowadays where the visitors start on the front foot, the rest of the first half was a fairly even affair, chances a plenty for both sides in an open and entertaining game, apart from one glaringly obvious difference. All great teams are exactly that, teams, but with them there is usually a figure head, a talisman. The great Liverpool sides of the 70`s and 80`s had Ian Rush, the great Manchester United sides of the 90`s had Andy Cole and at Tiverton currently, Levi Landricombe. 73 goals in 82 appearances including his latest brace has him as one of Tivertons` most prolific ever forwards. Certainly his first was not without a good slice of fortune, after a complete air shot at Nick Hursts` cross, his second effort took a sizeable deflection off `Stoke defender Dan Collier to balloon over stranded keeper Colm McAdden, his second 2 minutes later though was a beauty. Ollie Knowles was tripped 25 yards from goal and similar to numerous previous occasions, a left foot effort was bent around the wall in to the top corner.
Excellent goalkeeping and bodies on the line prevented the visitors making in-roads into Tivertons` lead, notably when Rice tipped Sam Deadfields` curling effort on to the bar, Mammola found himself in the right place to clear the lines and the bravery of Michael Landricombe blocked Tim Wohlfiels` fierce effort before Mammola scored, as previously mentioned, an outstanding third. Genuinely reminiscent of something Lionel Messi makes a habit of doing, Mammola strode forward from the half way line, waltzing past several defenders along the way before prodding neatly home from close range when confronted by McAdden.
The Dragons responded instantly after the interval, top scorer Sam Smart added his fifth of the season after being played through and with 18 goals in their previous four wins, it was enough to set panic amongst home supporters. Such panic was, or should have been short-lived. McAdden saved well from the head of Michael Landricombe and Owen Howe had a goal chalked off for offside as the Yellows looked to re-assert their chokehold on the game. Jordan Rogers and Tom Bath replaced Howe and Levi Landricombe and both had their chance to put the game to bed before `Stoke set up the grandstand, nervous finale. McAdden saved with his legs from Bath as he raced clear of tiring defenders and Rogers deflected shot bounced off the crossbar as the visitors pushed higher.
With the job seemingly done and four minutes of injury time had passed, no-one seemed particularly interested in Charlie Kennedy when he picked up the ball 20 yards from goal, so he duly arrowed a low shot into the corner but despite their best efforts in the remaining minutes, the resolute defending of the Yellows ensured there would be no fairy tale comeback.
Tiverton: Martin Rice, Nick Hurst (Scott Rogers 78), Callum Hall, Jamie Price, BEN MAMMOLA, Tom Gardner, Jamie Short, Ollie Knowles, Owen Howe (Tom Bath 78), Levi Landricombe (Jordan Rogers 78), Michael Landricombe.
Goals: Levi Landricombe 17, 19 Ben Mammola 45+1.