Saturday, January 27
Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South
Tiverton Town (Rice 3, Parker 9, 55, Wright 30)
Poole Town (Slade 91, J Jones og 92)
THERE was a feelgood factor at the ground before the game got underway and a noticeably larger crowd, with 300-plus home fans and a healthy contingent from Poole, was there to witness the most complete Yellows’ performance at home this season. In the first half, in particular, it was perhaps as good as Tivvy have been in the last few campaigns.
Debuts were given to striker Joe Parker and winger Alefe Santos, and there was a home bow for Exeter City loanee Aamir Daniels - Parker is on a month’s loan from Gloucester City and Santos has arrived from the same club. Niall Thompson and Dylan Jones – the latter back from illness - were perhaps unfortunate to take their places on the bench; River Allen, carrying a knock, joined them there and Matt Britton returned to the heart of the Yellows’ midfield.
Tiverton started with a real spring in their step and quickly assumed the greater control of possession on a tricky surface. In the third minute, Jack Rice cut into the box, and across three Poole defenders, before burying an effort that flew past goalkeeper Lloyd Thomas into the corner of his goal.
Not content with that early opener, a clinical finish from Joe Parker, when put through, made it two within ten minutes, the striker immediately showing his goalscoring instincts.
Matt Britton, who arguably has not had a better game in a Tivvy shirt, was winning the midfield, along with the cultured and hardworking Carlo Garside; youngster Daniels was looking very accomplished in his right wing-back berth; and Santos, with plenty of flair, subtle turns and changes of direction, was putting on a bit of a show, often mesmerising. The Yellows’ movement and interplay saw them fairly dominant over their higher opponents.
When Tiverton were tested, the alertness and handling of goalkeeper Zak Baker was to the fore, along with timely important interventions and covering round from Jack Veale. Assured defending from Jamie Richards and Josh Jones meant that Tivvy were able to lay solid foundations for their attacking players.
Rice and Parker were stretching the Poole defence with clever movement, Parker with some clever touches and flicks leading the line well, and Rice skilfully weaving his way past his markers, were becoming thorns in Poole’s side.
With 20 minutes played Daniels, who was a constant threat down Poole's left, this time popped up centrally and found himself in the clear. However, his shot went over and it remained 2-0.
Relentless pressure from Yellows paid off, though, on the next occasion a home player found himself in a similar position. Javan Wright, whose pace and balance were also helping make inroads into the visitors’ final third, this time found the finish to make it three. Thomas got a hand to his shot, but it was deflected off his glove and looped into the back of his net.
The sweeping football coming from the team was a joy to watch and this was a polished display. In the 40th minute, the progressive running of Daniels once again found him in a good area, just outside the Dolphins’ box. This time his scorching drive made the ’keeper work and he palmed it away for a Yellows’ corner.
A first half that saw Tivvy race into a three-goal lead came to an end. The fans were waxing lyrical about Parker and the new Brazilian, who had provided some excellent entertainment with his impressive manipulation of the ball, although singling individuals out for praise seems a little unfair, as this was an outstanding team performance.
Tivvy carried on where they left off in the second half although Poole raised their game with the the skilful and cunning Wes Fogden instigating some good interplay outside the Tiverton area. However, with the powerful and focused Josh Jones nullifying the threat of prolific centre-forward Tony Lee, and Jamie Richards organising well and leading by example, the Yellows’ looked solid.
Ten minutes after the interval, Britton, with a magnificent disguised pass, slipped in Parker and he tucked away his second of the afternoon. What an impact from the new signing!
Britton was colossal in the middle of our midfield and, when fit and on top of his game, can be a class act. He and Garside outplayed a number of quality players in the battle to win the midfield.
The very impressive Daniels was replaced by Dylan Jones on the hour mark and fellow crowd favourite Thompson came on for Parker, who had enjoyed a dream debut. There were terrific receptions and warm applause for both, and this positive reaction continued for the two incoming players.
Thompson’s searing pace quickly forced a corner and, shortly afterwards, his cross found Wright, whose effort rebounded off the upright. Charlie White then became the final substitution, replacing Wright, the former Bideford man limping off after appearing to take a knock.
Tiverton’s backline continued to soak up what the Dolphins were throwing at them an- Baker’s decision making also eased any concerns, the goalkeeper continuing to shine, with his handling and kicking both being strong parts of his game.
When the board was held up for eight minutes additional time, you would have thought that, with a four-goal advantage, Tivvy would comfortably see the game out. However, less than three minutes into added time, it was 4-2.
Some messy play inside the Yellows’ box following a corner resulted in Poole reducing the deficit through substitute Harvey Slade.
Baker, having rightly bemoaned defensive sloppiness after that goal, then had a look-away moment. On receiving Josh Jones’s unwise back pass, he missed his kick as the ball bobbled, and, suddenly, the visitors had a glimmer of hope.
The team, though, managed to negotiate the remainder of the match and this exciting display was roundly applauded and cheered. Parker’s superb brace saw him named man of the match but, in all truth, there were probably another 11 applicants for that award.
Let us not forget the coaching team, too. Leigh Robinson and Ben Gerring were tactically on point.
It must have been difficult for them with their team selection, but they made some tough decisions and got some brilliant responses from the players.
On Tuesday night, we travel to Winchester.
Photographs from Viv Curtis