The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Tiverton Town 1 - 1 Swindon Supermarine

Wednesday 03/11/2021   FA Trophy
Tivvy Archive

Wednesday’s delayed FA Trophy tie against Swindon Supermarine was a belated opportunity for Tiverton to return to winning ways, or at the very least show in improvement on recent performances which have rather stalled ascent up the league table. Both teams were forced into a number of changes, and for Tivvy it meant an evening off for Austen Booth and Aaron Dawson, with Jordan Lam relegated to the bench.  The beneficiaries, Joe Belsten, Alex Moyse and Andy Watkins had varying degrees of influence on the evening, and despite the changes of personnel, the system remained the same with the most significant adjustment being a reshuffle of the defensive order. Kyle Egan moved to the left with Belsten plugging the gap on the right, while Craig Woodman moved central to partner Gary Warren. Moyse was a straight replacement for Dawson in the holding midfield role, and Watkins came in on the left side of the attacking three.

What was most notable, particularly in the first half, was how the two teams approached the game. Initially Woodman and Warren were harried as Tivvy’s intent to play out from the back was obvious, but Swindon adapted quite soon as Zack Kotwica stepped off and allowed the hosts to have possession in deeper areas. This had a couple of effects: Kotwica conserved energy and would use it to good effect as the game progressed; and the out ball up the pitch became more difficult for the Yellows as the middle and final third was significantly more congested. With Belsten (and Egan to a slightly lesser extent) very high up the pitch when Warren or Woodman had the ball, Iseguan and Watkins drifted inside, and Swindon’s defensive shape was stoic to the point that it was difficult to see how Town would be able to break through, bar a little bit of magic. All the while, as the centre-backs were afforded the chance to step forward, this in turn created space in behind, and certainly the pace advantage lay with the visitor’s attacking players. Such was the pattern that Swindon were able to get in behind four or five times in the first half, and only a couple of strong saves from Lewis Williams denied them a goal or two.

The match report from the hosts closed out their review of the first half by noting that: “Marine were dominating territory and possession and chances but somehow found themselves behind.” I’m not sure how true that is, and I would probably contest this reading, as Tiverton had plenty of the ball, but seldom in any area of danger. What is absolutely sure is that when Supermarine had the ball it looked like things were going to happen; when Tiverton had the ball, it looked like they couldn’t make things happen. And the other thing: Swindon did indeed find themselves behind. The Tivvy goal was created on the left, with a dangerous ball in from Watkins (or was it Egan, my eyes often fail me when watching games under floodlights) found its way fully across the face of goal, and Iseguan was on hand to turn the ball into the roof of the net from an angle that was maybe more acute that one might have thought. Swindon would have been perplexed at that stage – 25 minutes played – and even more so by the interval. On another night they might have scored a hatful: Kotwica had a tricky chance early on but could only guide the ball slowly towards goal for Egan to clear, Ryan Campbell was denied by a decent save from Williams, Kotwica again in place on the rebound but able only to turn the follow-up wide, and then Kotwica for a third and fourth time, Williams up to the task with a fine double save. For their part, Tivvy only had one further effort on goal, a cross/shot from Watkins which Martin Horsell palmed away after it skidded and bounced menacingly on the way through. Otherwise, it was frustrating for the Yellows, with a few occasions passed up when perhaps a shot was the prime option; Iseguan and Matt Wright had both got into positions that would at least present a half-chance, but neither time was a shot forthcoming.

Tivvy were certainly more threatening in the second half (make no mistake, they weren’t poor in the first, just Swindon were better), but not before Supermarine had equalised. Kotwica finally got the goal that his excellent performance deserved, reacting quickest in the area when Campbell’s shot was deflected, following a corner on the left. From that point the match became a real battle of wills with neither side giving an inch, both refusing to budge, and every playing style in the book getting a cameo. Town became more direct, with Warren replaced at half time for Max Gillard, who had noticeably been briefed to hit the channels rather than pass out from deep, and that game Wright something to get himself stuck into (though this ploy amounted to little). Both Tiverton and Swindon showed desire to try and play through the defence of the other, with notable combinations being the triumvirate of Dan Hayfield, Egan and the ever-influential Watkins on the left for the Yellows. And if it was powerful running with the ball at feet that you wanted the ‘Marine left back Lewis Hall impressed on the occasions that he was able to burst forward.

Nevertheless, it remained level at one-apiece and it was a victory for the defences of both sides. Levi Landricombe tried the audacious with an overhead kick from a Hayfield corner, but it lacked both luck and judgment; Wright headed a cross from the left into Horsell’s arms; Harry Spalding and then Campbell both shot over the crossbar for the away side, and that consigned the tie to a penalty shootout. On the back of six successive shootout defeats, there was probably very little optimism in the Tivvy camp, but Louis Morison, then Hayfield, Landricombe and Jordan Lam all converted. We moved into sudden death because, despite Spalding skying his spot kick, Kotwica, Campbell, Brad Hooper and Michael Hopkins scored for Swindon, and Horsell saved from Egan. Belsten was Town’s sixth man and made no mistake, leaving Williams to secure Tivvy’s passage into the next round by saving from Chris Zebroski. Spalding notwithstanding, it was a high-quality shootout, both from the takers, and the goalkeepers of both teams who were often not far away from a decisive intervention. It is said to be a cruel way to lose, and Tiverton know that all too well as recent history proves, so to be on the right side of the penalty lottery™ made for a refreshing change.

Dan Hayfield was awarded the Man of the Match by the sponsors; from my point of view, I felt Andy Watkins showed the most guile, skill, composure and threat for Tiverton, and having seen bits and pieces of his career since he was a young pup, it was satisfying to witness him producing such a strong display in a yellow shirt, having struggled with injury for much of his time at Ladysmead. Frustrating then, that these fitness concerns remain, as he was forced out of the action fifteen minutes from time.

Tiverton Town: Lewis Williams, Kyle Egan, Craig Woodman, Joe Belsten, Garry Warren (Max Gillard HT), Nelson Iseguan, Louis Morison, Dan Hayfield, Matt Wright, Andy Watkins (Levi Landricombe 75), Alex Moyse (Jordan Lam 73)
Goal: Iseguan 25
Booked: Morison, Hayfield
Sent off: None

Swindon Supermarine: Martin Horsell, Michael Hopkins, Lewis Hall, Frankie Artus (Chris Zebroski 68), Dan Ball, Tyrone Duffus, Henry Spalding, Mat Liddiard, Zack Kotwica, Brad Hooper, Ryan Campbell
Goal: Kotwica 52
Booked: Liddiard
Sent off: None

Attendance: 179

This report ©2021 Tivvy Archive