Steele pleased with a point as Concanen notches late leveller
A LAST-GASP equaliser from Josh Concanen saw Tiverton Town salvage a point against a savvy Bridgwater Town side at Ladysmead on Saturday.
Tivvy fell behind after 20 minutes following an error from goalkeeper Chris Wright and, despite bossing the remainder of the match, the hosts struggled to draw level.
A defeat looked on the cards until Concanen appeared at the back post with six minutes remaining to score from close range following Andy Taylor's free-kick.
The Yellows could have won it late on as Owen Howe planted a header narrowly wide of the post in the 90th minute, but assistant manager Hedley Steele conceded it was still a point gained from a match which seemed destined to end in defeat.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
"It was actually a point gained. I thought we were going to end up with nothing," he explained.
"We just weren't at the level we have played at in our previous games and it looks like, because of that, it was a good point.
"We were a yard slower all over the park, not just in one area but from back to front we put in a very jaded type of performance.
"We had no brightness of thought and no real drive or passion about us. It was just one of those generally bad days in the office.
"From one to 11 we weren't at the races and, to be fair to Bridgwater, they just seemed to have more passion and more enthusiasm, which isn't good enough from our perspective.
"On the plus side, I would say at least we kept going and that has been one of our failings. Last season that's a game we would have lost.
"The pleasing aspect is that we have snatched a draw from what looked like an inevitable defeat.
"As we said to the lads at the end, fair play for not chucking in the towel and getting something out of it at the end."
In blazing sunshine at Ladysmead, it was certainly Tivvy who began the brighter as young forward Howe showed good skill down the touchline in the first minute before delivering a peach of a cross for Joe Bushin, who could only steer his volley wide of the post.
Wright had to be alert to keep out a Bridgwater free-kick, before David Steele saw an effort fly just wide as the hosts sought to keep their recent momentum going with a third straight victory.
But their plans went awry after Wright ventured out of his box to clear a hopeful ball over the top.
Wright's intervention was needed to deny Bridgwater what would have been a goal-scoring opportunity, but his weak header only found former Tiverton striker Craig Veal 25 yards from goal, who expertly lobbed the ball into an empty net.
The Yellows responded with plenty of endeavour, but with the visitors defending high up the pitch, coupled with their tactic of getting under their opponents' skin at every opportunity, most of Tivvy's attacks came to nothing.
Kevin Hill provided a much-needed calming influence on the Tivvy midfield, but he could only slice a volley wide before seeing his scissor-kick – flicked on by Howe – go straight into the keeper's arms.
Jules Emati-Emati and Josh Searle replaced Harry Nodwell and Bushin at half-time, and after both sides had put free-kicks narrowly wide, it was the former Dawlish Town striker who nearly levelled by fizzing a shot wide.
Emati-Emati then fired into the side-netting before testing the keeper with a header, before Michael Nardiello cracked a shot inches wide of the post moments after coming off the bench.
Bridgwater were penned in their own half as they looked to complete a smash-and-grab job, but just as it seemed their time was up, Concanen scored his maiden Tivvy goal from Taylor's free-kick to level.
After the game, Steele reserved special praise for the Tivvy backline, who were forced to venture forward in the search of an equaliser while remaining alert to the occasional counter-attack.
"It became a nervy affair," said Steele. "We were disappointed to concede and once we conceded Bridgwater were content to tough it out and perhaps try to kill us with another goal on the break.
"But our backline stood the test and I thought they had to work hard because the ball kept coming back and we didn't keep it long enough at the opposite end to give our defenders a breather.
"Obviously you want to win your home games but, having got the equaliser, that was some relief because we got away with a sub-par performance."
Tiverton Town: Wright, Concanen, Gardner, Kendall, Alex Faux (Nardiello, 72), Nodwell (Searle, 45), Taylor, Steele, Hill, Howe, Bushin (Emati-Emati, 45)