Salisbury City 4 (Fitchett 38, Coppin 62, 65, 90 pen)
Tiverton Town 2 (Rice 71, Allen 90+7)
Pitching In Southern League, Premier Division South
Saturday, January 6
TIVERTON, who arrived at the Ray Mac on a four-game unbeaten run, were made to pay for not capitalising on what had been a pretty dominant first half display against promotion-chasers Salisbury.
With the hosts not as fluent as expected, it was Yellows who were more enterprising in possession and clearly in the ascendancy.
River Allen's dangerous delivery from a corner situation was met powerfully by Josh Jones' head on 12 minutes. His effort rattled the crossbar and although the flag was raised for offside, it emphasised the threat that Tivvy possessed from the first whistle.
Sweeping forward with intent and crisp passing movements. Tiverton had imposed themselves on the game and controlled things until around the 20-minute mark, when Salisbury had a good spell for a few minutes.
However, back Tivvy came and, with half an hour played, they were the side that were forcing the issue. Shortly after that, Jack Rice’s thumping volley also rebounded off of the Salisbury bar, though, frustratingly for the Yellows, the ball did not fall kindly to their players, following up.
There were other half-chances during the first half but, as often happens, the failure to press home an advantage when you have one, comes back to bite you. The Whites, whose moves up until that point had faltered, then found some rhythm with incisive play in a neat attack and an inviting ball in was emphatically finished by Dan Fitchett.
On the verge of half-time, with Tiverton searching for an equaliser, there was a collision between Josh Jones and the Salisbury goalkeeper Lewis Gunstone-Gray. Both players only had eyes for the ball, but although Gunstone-Gray’s afternoon was ended by this coming together, no fault could be attached to the Tiverton centre-back and his booking was totally unjust.
Outfield player Theo Lewis took Gunstone-Gray’s place between the sticks and it was not long after that that the half-time whistle blew, bringing to an end a half that had promised so much for Tivvy, but, in essence, they had little to show for being the better team for long periods.
The Whites started the second half on top and Yellows had to endure quite a bit of pressure as they looked to extend their lead. Fitchett and Josh Hedges combined to good effect and the latter played in Noah Coppin who got in a sighter that he was unable to convert. Further chances were about to come his way.
From a corner, after a spot of pinball in the Tiverton box, the ball came to Coppin and although he needed two bites of the cherry, his second effort found its way past Zak Baker on 62 minutes.
Things were to get worse for the rueful Yellows as, three minutes after that, Salisbury left them with a mountain to climb. Coppin was once again the scorer. The ball was threaded through to him and, with only Baker to beat, he dealt o a further crushing blow by finishing confidently.
There was a good response and Rice, with a moment of real quality, saw a beautifully struck effort whistle past makeshift keeper Lewis in the Salisbury goal. This made it 3-1 with less than 20 minutes of normal time remaining.
Yellows did not give up and another fine ball into the Salisbury area from River Allen, who showed good vision to pick out Josh Jones, rolled tamely into Lewis’s arms. The attention around Jones meant him not being able to get a good connection on his header.
Coppin then took another chance, just after the game had moved into time added on, this time from the penalty spot. After a foul had been awarded in the box, the former Willand man stepped up and completed his hat-trick.
There was still time for a bit of dead ball artistry from Allen, as he found the bottom corner around a five-man wall. However, when the referee called time on this game, Tiverton had suffered a disappointing defeat.
Although the scoreline does not reflect how well Yellows played, it does flag up certain vulnerabilities in both halves of the pitch that need addressing. Leigh Robinson pretty much alluded to this in his after-match summing-up. What Tivvy did is have a team by the throat, loosened our grip and let them go, metaphorically, of course.
Next week, Town face a Hayes & Yeading side in a similar predicament to them. It will be a different kind of pressure than Saturrday. Tivvy cannot afford to dwell on this loss for too long, as a positive result against a rival now has to be their focus at the Ian Moorcroft Stadium.
However, they do need to learn from this result. There has been lots to admire from the team in recent months, but they need to find more of a ruthless efficiency.