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Yellows Staggered After Dream Start

Pitching In Southern League, Premier Division South

Tiverton Town 1 (Fletcher 5)

AFC Totton 2 (Lee 37, Oastler 59)

Saturday, March 9 . Ian Moorcroft Stadium


BEFORE this game, the players knew that the remit was victory. With that, of course, comes pressure and, despite the team working manfully against play-off favourites Totton, they unfortunately came up short.


It was inevitable that the gap would widen if the teams around us started winning games and we have to accept that our fate is in our own hands. It is too long into the season to expect favours from others.


The Yellows welcomed back Alex Fletcher to the Ian Moorcroft Stadium and Jamie Richards after suspension. Niall Thompson was utilised, like he was in his Truro days, as a right-back once again, and new signing Marcio Neves was amongst the substitutes.


The action began with Tiverton playing with intent and pressing and probing for an early advantage. Jack Rice’s header after being found by Joe Parker was comfortably handled by Josh Gould in the Stags’ goal.


However, moments, later a goal written in the stars was manufactured. River Allen picked out Fletcher with a precise cross and he cushioned the ball with a fine touch just inside the area and fired home after making space for the shot. This goal was ecstatically received by the Tivvy faithful. 

Alex Fletcher celebrates his 18th goal in just 22 starts for Tivvy

Tiverton continued to have the better of the play on a heavy pitch. There was a Matt Burrows chance for the visitors, but his mishit shot left goalkeeper Zak Baker untroubled.


From a Totton corner, a clearance broke to Fletcher on the halfway line. Turning away from his marker, he homed in on goal. With two defenders in close pursuit, Fletcher carried the ball to the edge of the area and let fly. It would have been a spectacular goal, if he could have found a finish. His powerful effort was a little too high, though, and a fraction wide.


For the first 20-25 minutes of the match, Tiverton were deserving of their lead, but things started to become more even after that and visits into our half from the Stags were more frequent. With goal machine Tony Lee and former EFL striker Scott Rendell in the Totton 11, I am sure the Yellows had been briefed about their threat.


Corners were forced at both ends and, from a second one for Tiverton, a Rice shot was blocked when goalbound. The players were also unable to capitalise on some stray kicking from ’keeper Gould. On three or four occasions, he gifted the ball to us, but we failed to take advantage.


Totton’s equaliser arrived following a good spell of play from them. Shortly before having a shot deflected wide and gaining a free-kick in a dangerous area, which was curled over, the Tivvy backline was breached. Tony Lee, ghosting in, found himself clear in beating our offside trap. A striker of his calibre accepts invitations like that with open hands. He completed the task with precision, finishing past Baker.

Jack Rice battles for possession

Wounded by this, the Yellows went into their shell for a bit although, right at the end of the half, Rice bent the ball wide of the upright. It was a decent opportunity, but it was level at the interval.


The Stags started the second half in the ascendancy as we struggled to find rhythm to our play. Worryingly, once again, Lee was left with just Baker to beat. This time, however, a big sigh of relief could be heard all around the ground as he lifted his effort over the crossbar. A ball in from Ethan Taylor then found Lee’s head, though the close attention of a few Tiverton defenders was enough to force his attempt wide.


We had been riding our luck a fair bit since the restart and it was no surprise when a Burrows corner was headed in from close range by Joe Oastler, that goal giving the Stags the lead with more than half an hour left to play.


This sparked a response from the hosts as we wrestled back the initiative. Ex Basingstoke and Hartley Wintney attacking player Neves was introduced for the subdued Alefe Santos and immediately added some energy and purpose to our build-up play, his first touch, control and balance giving us a good outlet wide on the left.


Fletcher’s bright return ended with him being replaced by Javan Wright after70 minutes and Carlo Garside came on for Matt Britton. For a sustained period, we dominated and our corner count was growing. Around five minutes of concerted Yellows’ pressure was repelled by the Stags’ rearguard, blocks and last-ditch tackles denying us an equaliser, Rice, Parker and Neves all being frantically closed down.

Joe Parker found himself closed down by the Totton defence

Perhaps the heavy conditions meant that we played longer than usual for large sections of this game. Personally, I felt we were more effective when we played the ball into our forwards’ feet and the threat of the impressive Parker and Fletcher could have been greater if that tactic was deployed more.


Sadly our cavalry charge did not bear fruit and it was Totton who nearly grabbed a third as we went into added time. Rendell teed up Adam Tomasso, and Baker produced a good save: 2-1 was the final score, leaving us adrift from safety.


This has left everyone associated with Tiverton Town a bit despondent. The players have to quickly move on to Tuesday night with a clear head and renewed optimism of what is still very much possible. There are still 33 points available and, if we can beat Dorchester in two days’ time, hope will be restored.


Dylan Jones comes away with the ball

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