Steele laments 'points dropped' as Foresters hold Tivvy to draw
TIVERTON Town scrapped their way to a battling point in dreadful conditions against Cinderford Town at Ladysmead on Saturday.
Jules Emati-Emati was denied by a last-gasp sliding tackle while skipper Paul Kendall headed straight at the Cinderford keeper on a chilly afternoon.
At the other end Tiverton goalkeeper Chris Wright was relieved to see a stray backpass go unpunished on an otherwise-solid afternoon for the stopper, while the Yellow's Josh Concanen blazed over following a neat passing move.
Although Wright was perhaps the busier keeper in the second period, it was the hosts who looked the more likely to grab a winner, although both sides had to be content with a share of the spoils by the time the final whistle sounded.
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And as Tiverton's winless run stretched to nine matches, assistant manager Hedley Steele admitted that it felt like more points dropped.
"You always look to win your home games so when you don't do that you think it is points dropped," he said.
"Wrighty in the second period made one good save across his goal and, to be fair, their keeper was really only tested from distance. But for all the huffing and puffing and effort of both sides, who have come off and will get a good night's sleep for their efforts, you always ask if we worked the keeper enough? And the answer is no, we didn't.
"We got into good areas at times but either a lack of concentration on the delivery or a bobble undid us at the crucial moment.
"Both sides can point to ifs, buts and maybes as we slugged it out, but we just couldn't find that bit of decisive play we needed to open them up and create a good chance.
"Yes, we are disappointed that we haven't bagged three points but we have finished with a share of the spoils and, if I was a neutral, I would not think either side did enough to win it."
Saunders handed a vote of confidence to the players beaten 4-1 at Didcot Town last time out by sticking with the same starting XI.
Emati-Emati – the only Tivvy player to have scored this year – nearly broke the deadlock after a bright start by rounding goalkeeper Alex Harris, but he was superbly denied by a sliding Andy Lewis before he could pull the trigger.
The lively Josh Searle put an effort wide before Kendall headed an Andy Taylor free-kick straight at Harris.
At the other end, Wright had to be alert to deal with Dale Evans' long-range effort, before breathing a huge sigh of relief as Matt Barnes fired over after he failed to clear a bobbling backpass.
Both sides were struggling to string together any meaningful spells of possession, and were it not for the composed figure of Kevin Hill in central midfield, Tivvy would have seen far less of the ball.
The experienced midfielder showed his class by sending a rampaging Concanen through on goal, but he fired his effort over.
Shortly after the break, Lewis Tasker fired narrowly over following Emai-Emati's jinking run, before the striker was inches away from connecting with Alex Faux's low cross.
But the Foresters' direct style still carried a threat, and Wright made a routine save from Evans, before excelling himself with an acrobatic save from Sam O'Sullivan's powerful shot.
With 16 minutes remaining, Harris again displayed his prowess with a superb stop from Taylor's shot, before Kieran Thomas deflected Hill's goal-bound effort wide.
To cap off an ultimately frustrating day for TIvvy, substitute Owen Howe – on for Emati-Emati – fired over from five yards out, only for the assistant's flag to spare his blushes.
Steele admitted afterwards that the poor conditions hindered both sides.
"The pitch was always going to be difficult and we knew what the game was going to be like after five minutes when the pitch starting cutting up," said Steele ahead of Tiverton's match at Abingdon United tonight (Tuesday, 7.30pm).
"That prevented any free-flowing football and it turned into a real battle all over the pitch really.
"I think we probably just edged it in testing their keeper more than ours, but they did still have their chances and looked dangerous at times.
"I think both sides would have felt that if they could have got one goal they could have gone on and won the game, but that wasn't to be."