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Rice Cracker Provides Tasty Finish

Updated: Apr 29

Pitching In Southern League, Premier Division South 

Tiverton Town 1 (Rice 27)

Sholing 0 

Saturday, April 27 . The Ian Moorcroft Stadium 

THE Yellows’ season concluded against the backdrop of a party-like atmosphere. The locals were out in force and, although the last game of the season usually attracts a good turnout, attendances generally have been noticeably up and this was the third attendance beyond 400 in the closing months of the season. 

This is down to the club re-engaging with the community, as well as performances on the pitch. With the threat of relegation hovering over them, Leigh Robinson's side have entertained and played an attractive brand of football. 

With Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South safety assured courtesy of Parkway’s midweek win against Hayes & Yeading, the shackles were off for both Tivvy and opponents Sholing, the passionate away support and our growing band of fans making for a wonderful football occasion. 

Supporter’s Player of the Season Jack Rice was restored to the starting 11 and Marcio Neves kept his place in Tiverton’s midfield. Alfie Moulden and Matt Britton were amongst the substitutes as the Yellows and the Boatmen played out the final 90 minutes of their respective seasons. 

The game took a while to settle down and the opening exchanges were frenetic. Sholing’s link-up play was a little better than ours, though, and they were the first to get a foothold in the game.  On ten minutes, they gained a free-kick just outside the Tivvy box, but ex-Salisbury man Charlie Davis’s attempt cannoned of the Yellows’ wall and away for a corner. 

Although not fully in their stride, the Yellows were busy in closing down a good footballing side and the work-rate of Yellows’ players like Javan Wright, Joe Parker, Rice and Carlo Garside was clearly evident.  

We were not as fluent in possession as the Boatmen, but some cultured passing and subtle changes of direction from River Allen, good hold-up play and purposeful running from Wright, and the artistry of Neves were also influencing proceedings.  

Sholing’s front two, top scorer Dan Mason and Lee Wort, were asking lots of questions of the Yellows’ backline. They combined after 15 minutes had been played, Wort holding off Josh Jones and finding Mason, who forced Tivvy goalkeeper Zak Baker into a decent stop. Then Jake Flannigan saw his effort rise above the upright. 

Wright then found Parker, but due to the close attention of two Sholing defenders, he was unable to get a good connection on his shot and the imposing Giullo Girelli gathered between the sticks. 

Both wide man Billy Stedman and former Premier League player James Hesketh were impressive in the Boatmen’s build-up play. However, Tiverton were now becoming more fluent in possession and, for the appreciative audience, the football on display was a good watch. 

The chances, though, were still falling to Sholing and Brad Targett fired over after an incisive move from the visitors. Then Jack Rice tried his luck from distance and a fortunate deflection rapidly took the ball in the opposite direction to which Girelli was initially moving and into the goal. Tiverton were ahead slightly against the run of play.  

Our opponents were quick in their pursuit of levelling things up and the dangerous Wort was a real menace, playing on the shoulder of our central defenders. Baker was alert in thwarting him as he got in between Josh Jones and Jamie Richards. 

The game was now very open and both sides were driving quickly through the thirds with real intensity. Neves crossed for Parker, but Girelli once again claimed his attempt. There was still time for Wort to go one-on-one with Baker, but it was Tiverton’s number one who outfoxed the big striker. 

Tivvy held the advantage with the players heading for the dressing rooms, in a first half in which Sholing had slightly the better of the action. 

In a contrasting second half, it was the home side who were, for the most part, in the ascendancy. Neat passing movements, with Carlo Garside in particular to the fore, along with Allen, instigating our approach play and the ever-available Wright and Rice popping up in little pockets in and around the Sholing box. 

Niall Thompson was also bursting forward more frequently, and our play was a good spectacle for the fans. Half-chances for Hesketh and Wort, when the visitors broke, went high and wide of the target, before a flurry of substitutions were made, Britton and Alfie Moulden replacing Allen and Neves for the Yellows.  

This re-energised us and we began to dominate further. Wright saw his header go over from Rice’s inviting cross into the box, A scorching shot from Moulden was not far away and Rice also went close with a shot from just inside the Boatmen’s area. Flannigan, for the visitors, also missed the target. 

Some slick interplay down Sholing’s left involving Wright and Thompson resulted in a Yellows’ corner. A good delivery from Rice was met by Richards. However, his header just cleared the crossbar. 

Sholing then desperately in the closing minutes tried to salvage a draw. Ben Gerring came on for the tireless Wright and another powerfully built player Dan Miller was a substitute for the visitors. 

In those final few minutes, Milner-Smith saw his header claimed by the commanding Baker and the final action of the match almost amounted to a Sholing equaliser, a magnificent free-kick from Davis clipping the crossbar with Baker beaten.

However, the season finished on a high and the lads can all be proud of their stickability in a difficult campaign.

I would like to thank Aaron Kendall and Rick Cowdery, our social media team, for their help when compiling the match reports and, of course, the fans, staff and players for their untold contributions.

See you all in July for pre season. Have a good Summer.

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