TIVERTON TOWN 3-2 KINGS LANGLEY
It is becoming extraordinarily difficult to write a match report without the mention of prolific frontman Levi Landricombe with his record now at 86 goals in 99 matches, on a day of footballing firsts to remember for the Yellows latest victory. The first ever meeting of the two sides, a first hat-trick of the season for said frontman and the first time ever a Tivvy striker has found himself top of the Premier Division leading scorers chart. His first cancelled out Kieran Turners` spectacular opener while his second and third came either side of a Stephen Ward tap in. The suspended Jamie Price was replaced by the fit again Owen Irish for the only change in personnel from the previous win over Merthyr and had to make do without the guidance of manager Martyn Rogers, absent with a `heavy cold` while the unchanged visitors, fresh from their impressive draw with table-topping Kings Lynn, will have made the long journey back to Hertfordshire wondering how they hadn’t added to their points tally by at least one, not making the most of their periods of superiority and the two `soft` second half penalties their ultimate undoing.
A power cut before kick-off at Ladysmead had threatened to derail the match but thanks to the floodlights being part of a separate electrical circuit, game on. The early chances for either side were comfortably repelled until Tom Bath came closest to opening the scoring, lobbing wide after Nick Hursts` quick free kick had sent him through before a Callum Adebiyi long throw eventually fell to Turner on the edge of the area and he spectacularly curled in the opener and but for Player of the Month for November Tom Gardner heading away Turners` cross minutes later, Mitchell Weiss would have probably doubled their lead. Man of the moment Levi Landricombe had seen a snap shot comfortably saved by Langley keeper Martin Bennett moments before the visitors opened the scoring but finished emphatically on the half hour mark, right footed in to the far corner after Ollie Knowles had opened the defence with a fine through ball.
Barely two minutes of the second half had passed when the Yellows were handed the opportunity to take the lead for the first time, Landricombe nicked the ball away from Bennett, was brought down and eventually despatched the resulting spot kick high to Bennetts right despite the keeper guessing correctly which way he would go to end his recent spot-kick hoodoo. Brendan Ocran almost embarrassed Rice before the hour mark, spotting him off his line and the long-range effort narrowly sailed over just moments before the visitors did equalise, the impressive Turners` left wing delivery found Ward who guided home at the far post after the Yellows failed to clear their lines and again Turners` delivery was smartly dealt with by Mammola as the visitors looked to restore their lead.
The final telling action of the afternoon had more than a sniff of controversy about it. Landricombe timed his run perfectly from almost halfway and bore down on goal after another defence-splitting pass from Ollie Knowles, only again to be brought down by Bennett, this time outside the area and while referee Burley initially seemed uninterested in the Yellows claims for a foul, his assistant flagged and despite the home crowd wanting further punishment for Bennett, none was awarded. The eventually taken free kick was struck goal-wards by Landricombe only to be thwarted from reaching its intended target by the hand/arm of full-back Emmanuel Folarin and despite his protestations, another penalty which Landricombe stepped up to and this time he smashed his effort straight down the middle as Bennett dived to his left. Landricombe was given a rousing ovation when he was replaced in injury time by youngster Brad Kelly, a more than fitting tribute for his afternoon`s efforts and try as the might, Langley couldn`t quite muster another equaliser in the minutes that remained
Tiverton: Martin Rice, James Richards, Nick Hurst, Michael Landricombe, Ben Mammola, Tom Gardner, Jamie Short, Ollie Knowles, Tom Bath, LEVI LANDRICOMBE (Brad Kelly 90), Owen Irish.
Goals: Levi Landricombe 30, 48 pen, 79 pen.
Report by Simon Ellis