There are times when what you just saw is too complicated to sum up in one line, let alone one word.
Some Btfc fans are in my view overfond of criticising the referee when we lose.
And some fans label the opposition poor (compared to what exactly, I usually wonder? I sometimes think they expect to see Barcelona or Real Madrid in Step 3) every week.
That said, such fans get no argument from me today because the referee had a shocker and Tiverton top the league tonight after looking possibly the worst team we have played – so how did THAT 3-2 defeat happen?
I could say it was down to a Wedding and a first-half funeral (ours), but it’s more complex than that.
The afternoon did indeed start with the depressing reminder how poor a Club we are nowadays as our contractual pay deals are so meagre we are evidently in no position to refuse when our most experienced forward asks for time off to go to a family wedding.
It just doesn’t happen at a higher level – but we’re not at a higher level.
On a sunny afternoon – somewhere in the West Country far too far away from where I live and the other side of a nightmare A303 – Manager Terry Brown seemed to opt for a 4-3-1-2 again with the only change from Tuesday being Jack McKnight in for the presumably suited and booted and Portugal-bound Ben Wright.
The match started uneventfully on a heavy pitch, we had the better possession and in the eighth minute Sam Deadfield (excellent again today, I thought) fed Sam Smart in a central position and Smart laid the ball off for Michael Atkinson who tbh could have done better, dragging his shot just wide of the post.
But the hosts started to come into it and it has to be said that our back four, with the exception of the excellent Shane Hollamby, who made one mistake the entire match, looked shaky to me today.
In the 11th minute Dan Bayliss needlessly gave away a foul at the edge of the area, which came to nothing.
Three minutes later it took a magnificent Hollamby tackle at the edge of the area to halt an attack.
And in the 16th minute a Tiverton player on the right went past Bayliss like he wasn’t there, whipped in a cross, Marcus Johnston-Schuster’s attempt to clear it was a disaster and a deflected shot went over McAdden and we were a goal down.
Suddenly Tiverton were all over us and just two minutes later another freekick conceded just to the right of the area.
Cracking shot, top left corner, and it’s two nil.
We tried to respond. McKnight isn’t as big, strong and clinical in the finish as Wright, but he is a lot more mobile and he had the best game I have seen him play for us today.
In the 20th minute Hollamby had a header just wide from a McKnight free kick on the left.
But it was an isolated response in a phase that was all Tiverton and in the 22nd minute McAdden was forced into a save low to his left after Atkinson had initially done well to check a surge past Dan Collier, who I am afraid again failed overall to shine in my eyes today.
And on 26 the hosts had shot just over the bar after McAdden had punched away a ball in from the right, where Tim Wohlfiel was struggling to contain their wide players.
We’d been under the cosh for ten minutes solid, but to be fair to the lads they started to fight their way back into it.
In the 33rd minute from Deadfield free kick on the left a Collier header went wide.
And on 36 the seemingly always lively Smart ran at his man to the left in the area, got to the byline then whipped in a cross cum shot which their keeper dealt with.
It has to be said that the referee, who initially merely seemed officious (yet never matching a foul with a card) but consistent wasn’t helping much.
Smart was fouled off the ball right in front of him, but he wasn’t interested and the home tactic of surrounding him after every decision seemed to be having an effect.
But that didn’t stop Deadfield from hitting the bar on the turn in the 38th minute with a sweet strike.
And on 43 Deadfield fed McKnight whose decent shot was saved low to the keeper’s left and the oncoming Smart smashed the loose ball into the side netting.
And a minute later Deadfield was fouled at the edge of the area but the shortest ten yards to the wall you ever saw in your life meant we were unable to capitalise on it.
But it would be wrong to say the man in black was the principal cause of our downfall.
Because what you don’t do is allow, on the stroke of half time, some big West Country centre half to pick up the ball in his own final third, then amble unchallenged fully 50 yards right the way into your penalty area before tucking the ball past your keeper for 3-0.
It was disgraceful, tbh, only Hollamby made any attempt to get across him.
So, three down, two of the goals clearly defendable.
Well two minutes into the second half we saw why it really shouldn’t be as Johnston-Schuster supplied Kennedy who fed Collier, who to be fair to the fella put a nice ball through to Smart who ran in behind and finished with the outside of his foot to give us a lifeline.
It was a nice little move, but hardly our best or quickest ever, yet it opened up Tiverton way too easily, and made them look paceless mugs at the back who should be there for the taking.
Suddenly it was all us.
Though in the 58th minute McAdden had to make a save from a header at a rare second half corner, either side of that we dominated play.
But we couldn’t make the pressure count.
On the hour Wohlfiel cut inside from the left but his curling effort went wide.
We couldn’t buy a key decision and Smart had a shout for a penalty for shirt pulling in the area waved away.
The keeper was making time wasting an art form yet wasn’t booked for it until the 68th minute.
The game was getting stretched now as we poured forward and on 70 it took a decent bit of covering play from Bayliss to prevent damage after a rare Hollamby error.
In the 74th minute Atkinson was replaced by George Bennett but, worryingly, not for the first time lately, the now seemingly regular bench warmer failed to impact the game much.
In the 80th minute, though not exactly fluent along the way, Collier eventually got the ball to McKnight around the penalty spot and the number 10 twisted and turned and almost scored in the ensuing scramble.
But the hosts continued to look dangerous on the break, especially in wide areas where neither of our fullbacks looked brave enough today to put their bodies on the line and cut out crosses.
In the 89th minute Kieran Rodgers came on for McKnight, but as at Hartley the young academy forward never got chance to impact the game.
Two minutes into stoppage time McCann saved with his feet as the hosts broke but we were to have the last word, albeit too late.
Kennedy, pretty quiet in the first half, went on a surging run, and his low strike from the edge of the area gave the keeper no chance, beating him to his right.
Full time and we lost by the solitary goal.
Let’s blame the referee!
Actually, let’s not.
The referee was rubbish, but not as rubbish as the way we failed to defend two of their three goals and tbh though our depleted forward line did better then our defence, they could and should have punished a pedestrian Tiverton backline a lot more than they did.
That cider-swilling shower are somehow top of the league tonight – the positive to take from that is if Tiverton are among the best in this League there must be a Hell of a lot of winnable games still to come.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.