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Yellows' Red Letter Day

Saturday, March 16 . Bulpit Lane


Hungerford Town 1 (McDonagh 3)

Tiverton Town 2 (Parker pen 14, Berry-Hargreaves og 65)


Pitching In Southern League, Premier Division South



THE Yellows’ will face plenty more Judgment Days between now and the end of the season but, arriving in Berkshire on Saturday morning, they will have known that anything other than a win will have confirmed us as relegation favourites. 


Hungerford, on the other hand, knew that three points would keep them in touching distance of the play-off places. For both teams, it was all about closing the gap. We had started to be adrift of the teams we need to finish above and the Crusaders had ground to make up on their play-off rivals. Make no mistake, this was a vital game for the two sets of players and the coaches. 


Young Torquay defender Calum Thomas was handed a first start and Javan Wright returned as the Yellows’ coaching team reshaped their line-up. Because of the match officials being caught in traffic, the kick-off was delayed until 3.15pm. 

From the first whistle, there was intent from the hosts and the visitors to secure an early advantage. Less than a minute in, Hungerford won a corner and it was body-on-the-line stuff from Tiverton as a series of blocks prevented the home team from taking an instant lead. Ryan Clarke, in the Crusaders goal, then made a good stop down the other end as Tivvy responded. 


Both goals had been threatened twice in two minutes and, a minute later, a defence-splitting pass from midfielder Joe Shepherd found Conor McDonagh, who finished calmly past Zak Baker. A great bit of vision from Shepherd, but a worrying start for Leigh Robinson’s men. 


It could have got worse, but thankfully, when Baker found himself out of position, Fabio Lopes got his angles wrong and fired wide of the target.


Then some bright passing and movement from the Yellows forced a corner. From the resulting delivery, a Hungerford player handled; Joe Parker stepped up and fired emphatically past Clarke from the penalty spot to level. 

With their tails up, the visitors were, for the first time, in the ascendancy and Clarke pulled off an excellent save as Matt Britton got on the end of a River Allen free-kick with a glancing header. Wright was then scythed down when making inroads through Hungerford’s defence. 


A scrappy period of the match ensued and then it was Hungerford who ended the half the stronger as neat approach play fashioned successive corners. However, Tivvy stood firm and honours were even when half-time arrived. 


Barely a minute after the game got back under way, Allen was booked for upending a Crusaders player. A card frenzy was to follow for the remainder of the half. In the 51st minute, a second yellow card for ex-CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg Academy midfielder Jacob Gardiner Smith gave the Yellows a numerical advantage.


Tiverton, with the extra man, started to enjoy greater possession. A flowing move through the team saw Alex Fletcher lay off to Jack Rice, who was unable to test Clarke and he comfortably dealt with the lively attacker’s attempt. 

Elis Watts then had a penalty shout turned down for Hungerford before the visitors continued to push for a second goal and, when under pressure from the advancing Parker, Matt Berry-Hargreaves turned the ball into his own net with 65 minutes played. 


Tiverton then made a couple of substitutions: Wright made way for Dylan Jones, and Carlo Garside was Allen’s replacement. 


With frustrations growing for the home side, Berry-Hargreaves saw his yellow card for an adjudged foul followed by a second for something he said, this leaving Hungerford with nine men for the rest of the afternoon. 


Amazingly, playing against nine men, Tiverton had four players booked, adding to Allen’s caution and a card for Rice in the first half. 

Ill discipline has been an issue this season and it shows no sign of improving, Josh Jones, Dylan Jones, Niall Thompson and Thomas all going in the book. 

There was little in the way of chances, as the enormity of this victory perhaps dawned on the players. Marcio Neves replaced Jack Rice, and Elliott Dugan, who was with us earlier in the campaign, was a second-half substitute for Hungerford.


It was tense and tempestuous, but ultimately it was a precious three points for a very happy Yellows at the end. 


Great character was rewarded on the day and the team can be proud of their efforts. Although we cannot settle for one good result, we need to use this as a springboard to quite a few more successes if we are to stay in Southern League Premier South.


However, praise is rightly deserved for this win and let us hope Dorchester’s visit on Tuesday night is another step in the right direction. 


Photos from Official Club Photographer Viv Curtis

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