Tivvy claim top spot as Bushin and Kendall down the Magpies
TIVERTON Town produced an efficient display to overcome visiting Wimborne Town on Saturday and stretch their unbeaten run to six games.
Goals in either half from Joe Bushin and Paul Kendall were just deserts for a solid team performance that made up in substance for what it lacked in style.
There were solid displays all over the pitch from the Yellows, who restricted visiting Wimborne – who, like Tivvy, came into the game off the back of a fine win over North Leigh – to just one clear chance over the 90 minutes.
The win may not have been as eye-catching as Tivvy's aforementioned 3-1 victory, over North Leigh last Tuesday, but manager Mark Saunders insisted the workmanlike nature of the display made it more pleasing from a managerial perspective.
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"I am more delighted with this result than I was against North Leigh," said Saunders, who welcomes Paulton Rovers to Ladysmead for a second-round Red Insure Cup match tonight (Tuesday).
"North Leigh was a tremendous result but this one makes the two away draws we had (2-2 away to Mangotsfield United and 1-1 away to Cirencester Town) even more pleasing.
"I think it was a dogged performance and probably not one of our best but the conditions played a big part in that.
"We ground out a result though and we stayed patient. They had a fair bit of possession but we kept our shape and a clean sheet and won the game.
"If you win home games and pick up points on the road then that's what you want, particularly with two draws and two wins in our last four."
On a heavy pitch and in rapidly-declining temperatures, it was no surprise that the match made a slow start – the only real incident of note early on being referee Steve Annis' leniency in not booking Kendall for a rash early challenge.
Wimborne's Tom Jeffes sent a fifth-minute effort wide of Wright's post, before Josh Searle, who gave left-back Jordan Cole a torrid opening 45 minutes, fired low but straight at keeper Jason Harvell from just inside the box.
Harry Nodwell then sent an effort sailing over, before Chris Wright had to be on his toes as Josh Concanen directed a header back towards his own goal with a little too much force for comfort.
Bushin then sent an effort straight at Harvell following fine work from Michael Nardiello, and it was this combination that led to the opening goal, which came following a quiet spell in which neither team threatened.
The impressively direct Nardiello jinked his way across and into the penalty area before unleashing an unstoppable shot which ricocheted off the underside of the bar.
Most players seemed to freeze as they watched the ball come out, but not man-of-the-moment Bushin, who tapped home probably the easiest of his 12 league goals this season.
Nardiello then looked like he had notched the goal his all-action display merited, only to see his header from Bushin's flick disallowed for offside.
Searle continued to terrorise Cole whilst linking up well with the energetic Alex Faux, while Nardiello still could not find the back of the net as he fizzed an effort just wide.
On the stroke of half-time, Wimborne spurned a golden chance of an equaliser as Kevin Gill put his gilt-edged header wide from close range.
That was as close as they came as the second period quickly settled into a pattern of the hosts defending but still looking threatening on the counter-attack.
The second goal came almost as suddenly as the first, with Andy Taylor's corner finding the imperious Kendall, who showed Gill how it was down with an emphatic header for 2-0.
David Steele – on for the solid Nodwell – rolled a shot wide, while Ladysmead showed its delight at youngster Owen Howe's entrance as he made his return to the first team from injury.
To their credit, Wimborne never stopped huffing and puffing, and they had plenty of time in which to do so as Mr Annis added a baffling amount of injury time to proceedings.
But Tivvy were untroubled and, had a third goal followed, it would most likely have been scored by them.
As it was, the hosts had to make do with just the two but, with a spot at the top of the pile as their reward, most inside Ladysmead left happy.
Saunders hailed his young side, but admitted next weekend's crunch game with Hungerford Town would be the real acid test.
"Hungerford will provide a big test of where we are, how far we have come and how far we have to go," said Saunders.
"But there is no reason that this bunch of lads cannot compete with the best of them in this division.
"They are working very hard at the moment. The atmosphere in the changing room is cracking, as you would expect from such a good bunch, and they deserve their success at the moment."