Back to back defeats at the SKYex for United has put Paul Hughes’ team’s chances of automatic promotion in serious peril as Tiverton Town’s last minute penalty saw them return to Devon with maximum points courtesy of a 3-2 victory.
Early openings were fairly limited, however both sides could have opened the scoring either side of the tem minute mark. For United, Amos Nasha sent Cole Brown away on the right flank, his deep cross picking out Omar Rowe who saw his volley well blocked en route to goal by the Tiverton defence.
Just a couple of minutes later the visitors really should have taken the lead when Chukwuka Iseguan picked up the ball on the left from where he pulled it neatly back into the path of Dan Hayfield but with much of the goal showing he side footed his effort inches wide of the upright.
The majority of the attacking play from then on was to come from United with the visitors setting their stall with strong a defensive shape that United struggled to penetrate to any great extent. With 28 minutes played however United did manage to test Lewis Williams in the visitors goal, Josh Payne found Jordan Ngalo in the middle of the park, his 20 yard effort was slightly fumbled by Williams but he quickly grabbed the loose ball as Moses Emmanuel closed in.
Two minutes later the visitors were indebted to Williams who made a superb save to deny Francis Amartey, having received the ball from Emmanuel inside the Tiverton box on the left, the United striker hit an angled drive that was heading for the top corner but for a brilliant tip over by Williams.
Williams denied Amartey once more in the 39th minute, blocking out a shot from a tight angle and then just three minutes later the visitors struck somewhat against the run of play. A misplaced pass from the United midfield was picked off by Joe Belsten who moved up the right touchline before sending a perfect pass to Theo Simpson who quickly picked out Dan Hayfield in the centre for the simplest of tap-ins and the half closed with United a goal adrift.
Paul Hughes made a tactical change at the break with the attack minded Hassan Jalloh replacing holding midfielder Josh Payne.
The visitors were quickly out of the blocks after the break and with less than two minutes played Iseguan picked up the ball on the left and fired a low shot across United stopper Marcin Brzozowski that thankfully for United went side of the far post.
Two minutes later United were level though as a defensive tackle by the visitors saw the ball run perfectly to Amartey who turned sharply past his marker and fired home from twelve yards out.
Either side of the hour mark both teams had the ball in the net, but only one troubled the scorers. First up the visitors Louis Morrison fired across a deep free-kick that was headed goalwards at the far post, Brzozowski pushed the ball out and it struck Jordan Lam before being fired home by Simpson only for referee Elson to call it back for handball by Lam.
Four minutes later at the other end the ball was again in the back of the net, and this one counted. Omar Rowe fired across a near post corner from the right side, Emmanuel flicked it on and Ben Frempah got to the ball in front of his marker, controlled it and slotted home from close range.
Both sides continued to look for more, Louis Morrison was just wide with a low drive from the edge of the box for the visitors and shortly after a long punt forwards by United was headed skywards by Alfie Pond, Jalloh controlled the dropping ball superbly on the edge of the box but his finish didn’t match his initial control as his shot flew over the Tiverton goal.
In the 72nd minute the visitors drew level with one of the best strikes seen at the SKYex this season. Hayfield collected the ball in midfield and in the absence of any sort of challenge he advanced a few yards before letting fly from 30 yards and finding the top corner of Brzozowski’s net.
With eight minutes left United were handed a boost when a second caution for Tiverton defender Gary Warren saw him dismissed from the field of play however the last laugh was to go to the ten men. As we hit the 90 minute mark on the referees watch, a long ball up the right side saw Brzozowski come to the edge of his box only to be beaten to the ball by Tiverton substitute Andrew Watkins and with the ‘keeper stranded he advanced on goal and seemingly with minimal, if any, contact from Liam McDevitt from behind he went down and referee Elson pointed to the spot and issued a second caution to the United skipper and subsequent red card. With the clock now rolling into stoppage time Morrison stepped up and coolly sent Brzozowski the wrong way to earn a victory for the Devonians who went home with all three points.
Report by Kevin Watts.
Photos by Stacio Fernandes to be added.
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