The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Tiverton Town 2 - 0 Bideford

Wednesday 23/09/2020   FA Cup
Tivvy Archive

It was the first competitive game under midweek floodlights at Ladysmead since New Year’s Day, and for the larger proportion of the second half the Tiverton ring-rust was apparent, and Bideford poked and probed in an effort to force their way back into an intense FA Cup tie. It was as disjointed a performance as the Yellows had put in on home soil since that January encounter against Taunton, following a similar pattern where Town were forced heavily onto the back foot and asked to absorb extended periods of pressure. That they were able to do so, and ultimately turn their slender first-half advantage into a 2-0 victory is with gratitude to an inspired display from each of the back three, and a couple of excellent saves late on by goalkeeper Lewis Williams. Jared Lewington had underlined Tivvy’s early superiority with a neat finish from the edge of the area after 20 minutes, but it took until four or five minutes into time added on at the end of the match before Chris Shephard was finally able to nail Bideford’s coffin shut with a breakaway goal.

There were no changes to the starting eleven which so comprehensively dispatched Wimborne four days prior, and there was no need to change. Fitness was fine, morale was moving towards the upper atmosphere, and the opposition were from a lower level, meaning Tiverton would logically be considered as pre-game favourites. Such a tag can be fraught with the danger of complacency, and the hosts were in no mood to allow this mental frailty to become a factor as they raced out of the blocks. Lewington went to ground: no penalty (quite rightly), Jordan Bastin’s cross was deflected onto the arm of a defender: no penalty (far from clear-cut, the referee perhaps erred on the side of caution and gave the benefit of the doubt to the defending side, but there were only limited protests from the home team), and then Lewington skied one which cleared the crossbar, the terrace roof, and the new netting hung behind the goal to retain inside the stadium less-wayward shots. Saturday’s star man Alex Fletcher was close with a header too, not before Lewington made the breakthrough when he found much more space than he would have expected and guided the ball into the bottom corner via a left boot that swung rather strangely in slow motion.

It was bright, positive, and just what would have been expected following the weekend rout of Wimborne, although Bideford did begin to muscle their way into contention as the half progressed. Charlie Lawrence was getting himself into good space as the visitors mirrored Tiverton’s predilection for attacking down the left, a shot from just outside the area was straight at Williams, but still needed to be dealt with. Jordan Annear may also have pulled things level with a little less profligacy, and ultimately there was no way through for the Robins, dressed in blue. Meanwhile, Bastin forced Bideford keeper Liam Kingston into a good save with a fizzing and dipping free kick, and from a similar position on the other side of the penalty area a free kick from Dan Hayfield looked to be heading into the top corner only to curl away and zip a fraction wide.

There would have been few complaints about the scoreline from either manager at the interval, but the motivational talk coming from the Away dressing room certainly spurred Bideford into life from the resumption, and they maintained their momentum throughout the second period. It was at this stage that the Tiverton defence really stepped up and stood up; Craig Woodman was imperious in his reading of the game, seldom needing to complete a tackle as his sense had already allowed him to take up position to intercept whatever came in his approximate direction. Neil Martin was excellent too, and while it is early days in his Tivvy career, it is very obvious that he isn’t the kind of player that will shirk a challenge. He stuck his foot in when he needed to, stuck his head in where it could well hurt, and made one particularly impressive clearance by stooping to head away at the far post. Michael Peck’s performance was more orthodox for a centre-back: he won balls in the air when they were there to be contested (for a man of his size, he would have been disappointed to lose a ball in the air against the Bideford forwards), and he also played smartly with his feet, trying to pass and spreading play where possible. However, with the pressure that Town were under, it became less frequent that Peck or the others were allowed the time to pick a pass, and so the mode of defence became to clear the lines and trust in the more advanced players to win the first or second ball, something which seldom happened, and drew unwanted comparisons with the Yellows’ sides of around 2007 and 2008 (Will Garner or Arran Pugh in midfield, anyone?)

For all their might, and absolutely no shortage of effort, Bideford were unable to fully breach the Tiverton rear-guard. Not that they didn’t come close to scoring: Jack Rice-Lethaby, briefly of Tiverton himself, saw two powerful efforts saved by Williams, the first spilled and smothered, the second, well… spilled and smothered also. Into added time, Williams was in he thick of it again as he flew up and out to punch a dangerous cross to safety. He was caught in the process, and valuable seconds would have been spent as he received attention from the physio for his efforts. Only he could tell you just how hurt he was, but there was impact, and it would be reasonable to expect the shotstopper would have been winded as a result. Either way, he did what any goalkeeper would have done under the circumstances, and that rather aggravated the Bideford fans behind his goal. So imagine their annoyance when a couple of minutes later he was doing a little jig in his goal area when the music signifying a Tiverton goal was being played over the public address system (as an aside, playing music when a goal is scored should see the proponent of the idea go directly to jail without passing Go and without collecting five-hundred pounds. It smacks of all that is wrong with American sports, and also rather wreaks of “our fans are too few or too stupid or simply incapable of creating an atmosphere without the help of a short sound clip”). Anyway, with that said, Williams’ little dance came after a long ball forward (some say Peck, some say Kyle Egan) was latched onto by Shephard, behind the extremely high and increasingly desperate Bideford defensive line. From the inside right channel, Shephard checked in at speed and coolly slotted the ball past Kingston. Two-nil, job done, as Biddy kicked off and the referee blew his whistle for the final time immediately. It was far from pretty, and but for the three at the back who were faultless throughout, it would have been the end of the FA Cup for another year. But frankly, winning is winning, particularly in knock-out competitions. There are no prizes for style, only prizes for the victors. Tiverton will need to be better beyond the defensive third as the season progresses; for now, two games, seven goals scored, and two clean sheets tells a part of the tale of the season so far.

Tiverton Town: Lewis Williams, Kyle Egan, Craig Woodman, Aaron Dawson, Michael Peck, Neil Martin, Andy Watkins (Chris Shephard 63), Dan Hayfield, Jared Lewington (Jordan Lam 77), Alex Fletcher, Jordan Bastin (Louis Morison 77)
Goals: Lewington 20, Shephard 90+5
Booked: Fletcher, Morison
Sent off: None

Bideford: Liam Kingston, James Mayne, Toby Down, Nick Milton, Joe Charles (Jack Calver 79), Charlie Lawrence, George Nancekivell, Alex Byrne, Ben Wood (Jack Rice-Lethaby 64), Jordan Annear (Lewis Wilson 60), Ryan Turner
Sent off: None

Attendance: 331

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