Mark Saunders takes the blame as substitutions backfire for Tiverton Town
Manager Mark Saunders has held his hands up and admitted he got his substitutions wrong on Saturday, when Tiverton Town threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at home to Evesham United.
Tivvy were cruising at 2-0 up following goals from Joe Bushin and Dave Pearse when Saunders chose to replace the former with Owen Howe and David Steele with Josh Searle.
Evesham then began to assert themselves far more, halving the deficit with 13 minutes remaining before snatching a dramatic equaliser in the fifth minute of injury time.
Saunders defended the reasoning behind his replacements, but conceded the swaps had potentially backfired and had cost Tivvy two points in the Evo-Stik League Division One South and West promotion race. "It is very disappointing that we did not finish it off and I have to take some of the blame for that – I should have left it alone," he said.
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"It is two points dropped for us and I have to hold my hands up to that. I decided to make a couple of substitutions because the pitch was very heavy and I thought the lads would soon tire after putting in a real shift for 60-odd minutes.
"Looking back at it, it probably would have been better if I had just left it alone because the lads who were on the pitch were playing well and winning the game. But when you have a heavy pitch and fresh legs on a good bench with a decent squad then you do have to look at using it, especially considering the conditions."
It was an unwelcome role reversal for the Yellows, who had clawed their way back from 2-0 down the previous weekend at Sholing to salvage a 2-2 solid draw. But the boot was on the other foot this time round in a result that saw them drop four points behind third-placed Swindon Supermarine as the race for promotion places hots up.
Saunders' squad travel to Abingdon United – with whom they drew 0-0 on the opening day of the season – next Saturday, when he reckons they will be in good heart.
"I think the lads will be fine. Last week we came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 and this week we have thrown away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2," he said. "But they are a good group of lads and I am sure they will move on from this and not let it affect them too much."
The Yellows will be without the services of centre-backs Paul Kendall and Adam Faux, both of whom are suspended.
FA Carlsberg Trophy third-round draw: Gateshead v Barrow, King's Lynn v Stockport or Southport, Sutton Utd v Wrexham, Dartford v Bromley, Halifax or Maidstone v Chelmsford, Gainsborough v Tamworth or Corby, Welling v Grimsby, Luton v Skelmersdale. (Ties to take place Saturday, January 12).