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Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South

Tiverton Town 2 (Wright 45+2, Parker 82)

Merthyr Town 0

Ian Moorcroft Stadium. Saturday, March 30

THROUGHOUT a season, it is pretty much a rarity for every player to perform to their maximum in the same game. That is what happened against Merthyr and although it will be difficult to reach those heights again, it is something to which we can aspire.

 

The Yellows came into this game in good form, having accounted for Hanwell and Hungerford prior to this encounter, with a strong Merthyr team to contend with. Calum Thomas retained his place in the heart of Tiverton’s defence with captain Jamie Richards missing out through injury.

 

There were welcome returns to the match-day squad for Jack Veale, a long-term absentee through injury, and recent signing Alfie Moulden, who played for us on loan from Weston-super-Mare during the last campaign.

 

Merthyr’s team contained Ricardo Rees whose 28 league goals have been a massive factor in the Martyrs’ success, and notable target man Gethyn Hill, formerly of Weston and Taunton Town. Other familiar faces and former Yellows that took part in this one were Noah Smerdon and Olly Mehew.

 

The game drew the biggest crowd of the season as a healthy contingent of away supporters were joined by players, coaches and the families from Twyford Spartans and the Exeter City Senior Reds. Merthyr, on their travels, are the best supported club in the division.

When the action began on a tricky, heavy surface, the Yellows started with real intent, Dylan Jones and Niall Thompson both making inroads into the visitors’ territory down the flanks. It was the latter who provided the first chance for the Yellows although striker Joe Parker turned his ball across wide of the Merthyr goal with five minutes played.

 

A better chance for the prolific Parker followed, but, as the ball came to him in the box, he lifted his shot over the crossbar. There was both fluency and urgency in Tiverton’s play but when the away side did threaten, the formidable barrier of Josh Jones kept them mainly at bay.

 

However, on 21 minutes, the Martyrs almost broke the deadlock twice in quick succession. Rees though was outfoxed by Zak Baker, as the keeper saved well when he was put through, the first of three outstanding saves. Josh Yowerth’s header from a corner then agonisingly for the visitors went fractionally past the post.

 

Then Jack Rice, whose ball-carrying in the final third was a constant worry for the Martyrs, forcing them into conceding many free-kicks, put in a delicious delivery from a free-kick that just evaded a number of onrushing home players.

Around the half-hour mark, the Yellows were forced into a change as Calum Thomas remained on the ground after a collision and was left clutching his shoulder when he did get up. Assistant-Manager Ben Gerring was his replacement and, as the team reorganised, they looked vulnerable. Threaded passes inside the Tivvy defence twice left Baker with one-on-one situations to deal with.

 

Baker’s temperament has belied his years since joining us on loan from Plymouth Argyle in November and twice he brilliantly thwarted the Welsh side with his feet. The first effort would not have counted, following a belated offside flag, but the second would as the Pilgrims loanee denied Olly Mehew.

 

As the first half was closing, there was a contentious moment when Rice fell in the penalty box after what appeared to be contact from a Martyrs’ defender.

 

Just as Tiverton fans were digesting that moment, they quickly had cause to celebrate as the home side continued to drive forward and when the ball came back to Javan Wright in the area, he duly obliged by slotting home.

 

It was no more than the side or the player deserved - a willing runner and terrific display of both quality on the ball and determination to win the ball back for his team from him.

A goal to the good at the interval and really hard to single out individuals in what had been a clear display of togetherness in the team, everyone showing their full capabilities – there was still little to choose between the Martyrs and the Yellows and the management and players knew full well that a dropping in the standards would mean that the foothold that we had in the game could quickly slip away.

 

With that in mind, when we did restart, the Yellows gained the initiative as they sought to go further ahead, despite there not being any clear-cut chances. Matt Britton and River Allen started to control the midfield and both Thompson and Dylan Jones were flying down the wing at every opportunity from their full-back positions –both with boundless energy in their defensive duties also.

 

Tiverton seemed to be enjoying their football. The intelligence, calmness and technical ability of Parker and Alex Fletcher was extremely evident, with the first touch of both being a standout feature. Britton was not just an excellent screen for the back four, but, in a powerful performance, wrestled the ball back from Merthyr and was accomplished and assured in possession.

 

Allen was inspired in midfield and was irresistible at times, indulging in his full repertoire of ball skills, with some delightful bits of showboating.

However, it is easy to forget that our opponents are a very good footballing side and when we needed to be defensively strong, Josh Jones and Gerring, who grew impressively into the game, were equal to a very dangerous forward line.

 

The pitch began to take its toll in the second half and it became a bit of a war of attrition, although it was Tivvy who adapted better as the conditions became more difficult on an increasingly heavy playing surface.

 

Dylan Jones’s forays forward were a great outlet for the team, as he burst in from the bye line on a few occasions, and Thompson's acceleration meant no one went past him and no one could catch him.

 

Chances were at a premium as Parker saw his shot cradled by goalkeeper Will Fuller in a rare opening for either side after some slick approach play, blocks and tackles from the visitors denying us clear sights of goal otherwise.

 

In the 68th, minute, Carlo Garside came on for Fletcher and, in the 74th minute, goalscorer Wright after looking like he suffered a minor injury was replaced by new signing Moulden. Five minutes later, Moulden was found by Dylan Jones following a trademark rampage down the wing although a last-ditch block prevented Moulden from adding to Tiverton’s lead.

Parker did just that a few minutes later. A ball over the top out of defence found him about 35 yards out and a quick look up from him saw Fuller off of his line. His perfect lob went into the back of the net for a terrific finish that was widely applauded and cheered by the Yellows’ fans, as team-mates saluted him.

 

The supporters were still expecting a response from the Martyrs and a possibly tense finish with eight minutes remaining but the need not have worried. Tivvy managed the final part of the game impressively, admirably keeping possession for long stretches and playing for each other, taking all the pressure out of the game and claiming all three points.

 

Let us not get too carried away as probably another three wins will be needed to avoid relegation, but this performance topped anything seen by the fans this season and there was a real feelgood factor at the Ian Moorcroft Stadium.

 

There are difficult games coming up, starting at Dorchester on Monday, but, for now, let us savour what we achieved against Merthyr.

 

Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South

Tiverton Town 2 (Wright 45+2, Parker 82)

Merthyr Town 0

Ian Moorcroft Stadium. Saturday, March 30

 

 

THROUGHOUT a season, it is pretty much a rarity for every player to perform to their maximum in the same game. That is what happened against Merthyr and although it will be difficult to reach those heights again, it is something to which we can aspire.

 

The Yellows came into this game in good form, having accounted for Hanwell and Hungerford prior to this encounter, with a strong Merthyr team to contend with. Calum Thomas retained his place in the heart of Tiverton’s defence with captain Jamie Richards missing out through injury.

 

There were welcome returns to the match-day squad for Jack Veale, a long-term absentee through injury, and recent signing Alfie Moulden, who played for us on loan from Weston-super-Mare during the last campaign.

 

Merthyr’s team contained Ricardo Rees whose 28 league goals have been a massive factor in the Martyrs’ success, and notable target man Gethyn Hill, formerly of Weston and Taunton Town. Other familiar faces and former Yellows that took part in this one were Noah Smerdon and Olly Mehew.

 

The game drew the biggest crowd of the season as a healthy contingent of away supporters were joined by players, coaches and the families from Twyford Spartans and the Exeter City Senior Reds. Merthyr, on their travels, are the best supported club in the division.

 

When the action began on a tricky, heavy surface, the Yellows started with real intent, Dylan Jones and Niall Thompson both making inroads into the visitors’ territory down the flanks. It was the latter who provided the first chance for the Yellows although striker Joe Parker turned his ball across wide of the Merthyr goal with five minutes played.

 

A better chance for the prolific Parker followed, but, as the ball came to him in the box, he lifted his shot over the crossbar. There was both fluency and urgency in Tiverton’s play but when the away side did threaten, the formidable barrier of Josh Jones kept them mainly at bay.

 

However, on 21 minutes, the Martyrs almost broke the deadlock twice in quick succession. Rees though was outfoxed by Zak Baker, as the keeper saved well when he was put through, the first of three outstanding saves. Josh Yowerth’s header from a corner then agonisingly for the visitors went fractionally past the post.

 

Then Jack Rice, whose ball-carrying in the final third was a constant worry for the Martyrs, forcing them into conceding many free-kicks, put in a delicious delivery from a free-kick that just evaded a number of onrushing home players.

Around the half-hour mark, the Yellows were forced into a change as Calum Thomas remained on the ground after a collision and was left clutching his shoulder when he did get up. Assistant-Manager Ben Gerring was his replacement and, as the team reorganised, they looked vulnerable. Threaded passes inside the Tivvy defence twice left Baker with one-on-one situations to deal with.

 

Baker’s temperament has belied his years since joining us on loan from Plymouth Argyle in November and twice he brilliantly thwarted the Welsh side with his feet. The first effort would not have counted, following a belated offside flag, but the second would as the Pilgrims loanee denied Olly Mehew.

 

As the first half was closing, there was a contentious moment when Rice fell in the penalty box after what appeared to be contact from a Martyrs’ defender.

 

Just as Tiverton fans were digesting that moment, they quickly had cause to celebrate as the home side continued to drive forward and when the ball came back to Javan Wright in the area, he duly obliged by slotting home.

 

It was no more than the side or the player deserved - a willing runner and terrific display of both quality on the ball and determination to win the ball back for his team from him.

 

A goal to the good at the interval and really hard to single out individuals in what had been a clear display of togetherness in the team, everyone showing their full capabilities – there was still little to choose between the Martyrs and the Yellows and the management and players knew full well that a dropping in the standards would mean that the foothold that we had in the game could quickly slip away.

 

With that in mind, when we did restart, the Yellows gained the initiative as they sought to go further ahead, despite there not being any clear-cut chances. Matt Britton and River Allen started to control the midfield and both Thompson and Dylan Jones were flying down the wing at every opportunity from their full-back positions –both with boundless energy in their defensive duties also.

 

Tiverton seemed to be enjoying their football. The intelligence, calmness and technical ability of Parker and Alex Fletcher was extremely evident, with the first touch of both being a standout feature. Britton was not just an excellent screen for the back four, but, in a powerful performance, wrestled the ball back from Merthyr and was accomplished and assured in possession.

 

Allen was inspired in midfield and was irresistible at times, indulging in his full repertoire of ball skills, with some delightful bits of showboating.

 

However, it is easy to forget that our opponents are a very good footballing side and when we needed to be defensively strong, Josh Jones and Gerring, who grew impressively into the game, were equal to a very dangerous forward line.

 

The pitch began to take its toll in the second half and it became a bit of a war of attrition, although it was Tivvy who adapted better as the conditions became more difficult on an increasingly heavy playing surface.

 

Dylan Jones’s forays forward were a great outlet for the team, as he burst in from the byline on a few occasions, and Thompson's acceleration meant no one went past him and no one could catch him.

 

Chances were at a premium as Parker saw his shot cradled by goalkeeper Will Fuller in a rare opening for either side after some slick approach play, blocks and tackles from the visitors denying us clear sights of goal otherwise.

 

In the 68th, minute, Carlo Garside came on for Fletcher and, in the 74th minute, goalscorer Wright after looking like he suffered a minor injury was replaced by new signing Moulden. Five minutes later, Moulden was found by Dylan Jones following a trademark rampage down the wing although a last-ditch block prevented Moulden from adding to Tiverton’s lead.

 

Parker did just that a few minutes later. A ball over the top out of defence found him about 35 yards out and a quick look up from him saw Fuller off of his line. His perfect lobwent into the back of the net for a terrific finish that was widely applauded and cheered by the Yellows’ fans, as team-mates saluted him.

 

The supporters were still expecting a response from the Martyrs and a possibly tense finish with eight minutes remaining but the need not have worried. Tivvy managed the final part of the game impressively, admirably keeping possession for long stretches and playing for each other, taking all the pressure out of the game and claiming all three points.

 

Let us not get too carried away as probably another three wins will be needed to avoid relegation, but this performance topped anything seen by the fans this season and there was a real feelgood factor at the Ian Moorcroft Stadium.

 

There are difficult games coming up, starting at Dorchester on Easter Monday, but, for now, let us savour what we achieved against Merthyr.

 


Pictures by Viv Curtis


 

 

 

 

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