Match Report from Mike Wray: Tiverton Town 1-3 Swindon Supermarine
Sometimes victories are won on the back of free-flowing football that cuts through an opponent like the proverbial knife through butter - these are the days when everything goes perfectly to script.
On other occasions victories are gained through determination, tenacity, and character. This Marine victory was very much the latter.
It should be added that this is in no way a criticism. The playing surface was tricky and both teams were having difficulties executing their passing. This meant that possession was frequently turned over.
It was the sort of game where the victor was very much going to be the team that defended the best and finished the more clinically.
Tiverton Town started the quicker, engineering a series of chances. In the third minute a cross from their new signing and debutant Leighton Thomas, who found the home side’s Tom Purrington whose shot was tipped over by Marine’s own debutant goalkeeper Josh Gould.
Two minutes later ex-Marine player Matt Britton played the ball wide to Niall Thompson who whipped in a tantalising cross that was glanced over the bar by Lucas Vowles.
Then on 10 minutes the home team’s Alfie Moulden collected a long ball from Thompson. He beat his marker and found Leighton Thomas who skilfully engineered the angle for a shot that, thankfully from a Marine perspective, was fired wide. Having survived the early onslaught Marine started to gain a foothold in the game.
In the 18th minute a Henry Spalding free kick from the right flank sailed wide of the far post and agonisingly just out of reach of two Marine players stretching to get on the end of the cross.
Having survived the early Tiverton Town onslaught Marine were now gaining a foothold in the match and in the 39th minute took the lead. Marine were awarded a free kick on the left-hand side some 30-yards from the goal line.
Zack Kotwica hit an inch perfect cross onto the head of Harry Williams. Having got himself free from his markers the in-form striker headed the ball firmly into the back of the net.
The second half started very much as the first with Tiverton Town taking the game to Marine. In the 47th minute the home side appealed for a penalty for a perceived foul on Alfie Moulden. The officials unconvinced waved their pleas away. The Tiverton pressure was now growing in ferocity and a few minutes later Alfie Moulden played the ball in to Joe O’Loughlin who shot wide.
With Tiverton pressure growing it was no surprise when the hosts equalised. Niall Thompson embarked on a surging run down the right side of the pitch. As he approached the goal line, he fizzed a low cross into the six-yard box. The ball found Joe O'Loughlin free at the back post and Sam Turl making a gallant effort to hold him off he made no mistake and scored from close range.
Marine were now having to dig deep. A minute after the goal Matt Britton clocked keeper Josh Gould off his line. He struck an audacious effort from 60-yards that just cleared the bar as the keeper back pedalled. Meanwhile on 71 minutes a series of step overs from Joe O’Loughlin created a shooting opportunity which was well blocked by a Marine defender.
At this point of the game most travelling supporters would happily have taken a point. However, that mindset changed in the 73rd minute.
Brad Hooper dinked a perfect ball over the Tiverton defence. Zack Kotwica got ahead of his markers and advanced toward goal. He kept his nerve and slotted the ball between the advancing keeper’s legs to restore Marine’s lead for a top-quality finish.
Arguably the decisive incident of the match arose in the 75th minute. There was a goal mouth scramble in the Marine penalty area that seemed to last for the best part of thirty seconds. In 60 years of watching football I cannot recall witnessing an incident quite like it.
Tiverton fired shot upon shot towards goal. Marine defenders desperately blocked but they could not get the ball clear.
It seemed almost certain that the hosts would equalise with a goal bound Leighton Thomas effort headed off the line by Brad Hooper.
Eventually the ball was cleared, and Marine gained the breathing space to regroup. It was one of those spells of football where the home team will wonder how they did not score.
Equally though, credit must be given to the Marine players who blocked shot after shot and who did not, during this frenzied spell of pressure, get drawn into a hasty challenge that could have conceded a penalty kick. This was quite simply the ‘Alamo’ of goal mouth scrambles.
After this incident it would be fair to say that Tiverton Town struggled to create any more meaningful chances in the match. It also seemed that surviving the furore in their own goal mouth gave Marine the lift that this could be their day. It was thus no surprise when in the 84th minute some slick passing created an opening for Harry Williams, who sidestepped two defenders before firing low into the bottom corner of the goal to give Marine a two-goal cushion that proved to be unassailable.
In terms of plaudits, for Tiverton Town several players caught the eye including Niall Thompson whose overlaps on the right flank were a constant threat; Former Marine player Matt Britton battled tenaciously in midfield; Joe O’Loughlin who put in an impressive performance; and Leighton Thomas who was a lively presence up front.
For Marine credit must go to the back four and keeper who were resolute throughout; the midfield who battled hard; and the front runners who finished the opportunities that came their way clinically.
Harry Williams is looking deadly in front of goal and to have scored fifteen goals in ten appearances is a very impressive scoring return.
Meanwhile Zack Kotwica, in my opinion, produced his best performance for the club. The management team also made some tactical adjustments that worked well and thus they too deserve positive recognition. Credit also to referee Andrew Hobbs and his assistants who allowed the game to flow whilst controlling the match with calm authority.
In closing, this was a victory for which Marine players and management deserve a great deal of credit. The character and team spirit they showed to come back from the Truro City defeat was admirable. Those victories where a team shows the fortitude and tenacity to battle to earn their right to win are the victories that successful teams secure.
This win was not though all down to doggedness as the three goals Marine scored were impressively worked and superbly finished.
It is worth sometimes noting an opposition viewpoint of the match and the Tiverton Town Twitter account stated the following: “Supermarine are a very good side and showed their might today.”
When those who follow the opposition are saying such things about the team you support there are plenty of reasons for Marine’s followers to be cheerful.