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Yellows on Song Against Swans

Pitching In Southern League Premier South

Tiverton Town 2 Walton & Hersham 2

IN adversity, a fragility can easily be exposed and exploited, or players can rise to the occasion. Prior to the visit of the league’s fourth-placed team, Tivvy supporters would have been uncertain how the team would respond to the departure of their long-serving legendary manager and with interim manager Richard Pears in sole charge.

Turns out they need not have worried. Although, of course, it is only one game.

The Yellows came flying out of the traps, pressing high up the pitch, closing down the opposition, and, most importantly, when in possession, they shrewdly picked their passes. The movement and intent through the side was extremely positive.

They took the lead when a sublime piece of skill from River Allen, bamboozling his marker with his shuffling feet before delivering a long, exquisite pinpoint ball over the top for Niall Thompson, who controlled the ball out of the air, took the ball round the goalkeeper and finished precisely.

On his full home debut, Lewis Smith looked assured in centre midfield alongside the inventive Allen, with Carlo Garside moving into a more familiar holding role, acting as a good shield for the backline.

Walton & Hersham, who arrived at Ladysmead with a reputation of playing attractive possession football, then grew into the game, with some slick touches, and moved the ball impressively through the team.

Then there was a break in the play as Swans’ defender Mitchal Gough went to ground off the ball and, for almost ten minutes, our first aider, Ellie Jones, and their physio, along with Dr Haig, tended to him before he left the field on foot.

The break seemed to reinvigorate the visitors, who increased the tempo of their play and started to seriously probe for an equaliser.

Thompson, though, was proving a handful for them, holding the ball up well and bringing others into the game, being a willing and dangerous runner throughout, although our opponents were gradually starting to move into the ascendancy.

Allen then spotted good movement from Cameron Salmon ahead of him. Salmon made pacy progress down the wing before cutting inside and forcing a save from Tyla Dickinson in the Swans’ goal.

Moments later, Salmon extended our advantage as a Tiverton break, with excellent link-up play, saw a good ball find him about 12 yards out and he volleyed back across and into the opposite corner.

Despite the deficit, the visitors remained true to their football philosophies and, after Lewis Williams had to move quickly across his goal to gather, they were soon back in the game.

Trae Cook-Appiah, whose tussle with the very impressive Josh Jones was a huge feature of the game, then equalised. Tivvy pushed players up for a corner and a quick switch played in the rapid and powerful Cook-Appiah, who then found the back of Williams’ net with an accurate shot across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner.

Just prior to the interval, the equally speedy Thompson once again called Dickinson into action, but he got down well to save and it remained 2-1 to Yellows at the break.

It was inevitable that the Swans, beaten only once this season, would be determined to level things up as the match resumed and Tivvy really had to dig in, especially in the first 15 minutes of the half. Jones’s intervention with a perfectly timed tackle on Cook-Appiah was in the nick of time, just before the Swan pulled the trigger; Williams tipped around the post; and Jones once again halted Cook-Appiah’s progress. The same player also turned sharply, but his effort went over.

Allen, whose influence on the game had been stifled by Town’s opponents’ dominance, then fed Salmon with a fine pass but, although he could not hit the target, Salmon’s intelligent movement was always giving Walton & Hersham plenty to think about.

A miraculous goaline clearance from Jamie Richards then prevented yet another Cook-Appiah attempt, while the dangerous John Gilbert was also in the thick of things.

Thompson, with a trademark surge, was once again denied by Dickinson and, when trying to slide in the rebound, was booked after he caught the ’keeper. Back at the other end, the Swans were piling on the pressure, Cook-Appiah rattling the crossbar and Williams parrying a stinging effort.

The Yellows’ rearguard was finally broken when the unfortunate Jones slightly caught substitute Eddie Simon’s trailing leg in the area, unintentionally. The referee pointed to the spot and Simon made no mistake.

Jones, Bailey Kempster and Jack Veale had to defend well in dangerous situations with time running out before Thompson was foiled for a final time by Dickinson when homing in on goal during the six added minutes

So 2-2 was the final score - an excellent team performance and a superb attitude from the players.

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