Tiverton Town 2 Bristol Manor Farm 4

In a famous cup upset Bristol Manor Farm propelled themselves into the hat for the 3rd Qualifying Round draw of this season’s FA Cup, equalling their best ever run in the competition (set when they reached the same stage last year) with a dam-busting performance at the Ian Moorhouse Stadium on Saturday. Tiverton started the day as favourites in this tie, having squeezed past Merthyr Tydfil 1-0 in midweek and up to second position in the Southern League Premier Division – a full 38 league placing’s ahead of their Division One visitors. The form books however were ripped to shreds well inside ten minutes after a blitzkrieg opening by Manor Farm. From Tiverton’s own kick-off the ball was intercepted by Jamie Bird coming inside off the left wing and nudged back to central midfielder Jamie Adams. Adams looked up before sending a long, arcing pass out to the feet of Jordan Rogers on the left wing. The Farm number 9 faced up his full-back, Jordan Bentley, passed him on the outside with ease and whipped a dangerous ball low across the six-yard box which Lewis Bamford, arriving at the far post, struck home gleefully from close range. Fifteen seconds played, Manor Farm 1-0 up. Farm sustained the attack on their shell-shocked hosts when Bamford broke up a Tiverton move inside his own half and set off, at speed, on a deep, mazy dribble into opposition territory. Bird drew a Yellow’s defender with a great diagonal run ahead of Bamford who was then able to feed Rogers in another good position on the left hand edge of the box. Rogers turned Bentley again before drilling a firm, low shot to the near post which goalkeeper Lewis Williams did well to hack clear with his feet. With just about an entire football match still to play, the Tivvy faithful might not have been too worried by this early Farm onslaught, but just six minutes-in their worst fears of a potential upset were confirmed when Bird rifled the visitors into a 2-0 lead. A Jordan Metters corner was swung in from the right to the back stick where Lloyd Mills rose highest in a crowd of players to head the ball back goalwards. Tiverton skipper River Allen could only half-clear with a header and when the ball fell to the edge of the penalty area, Bird was on to it quickly, flashing a low, fierce drive past Williams. Amidst some ecstatic scenes amongst the visiting fans a wise voice was heard to say “there’s still a long way to go, yet…” and so it proved to be as play began to swing to and fro and pretty much end-to-end for the rest of this entertaining cup-tie. Either side of the ten-minute mark the home side had chances to draw level. Firstly, centre-forward Jared Lewington was put through to place a good low shot wide of Farm ‘keeper Ben John who did exceptionally well to get a hand to the fizzing ball and divert it wide of the post for a corner. Then, winger Jordan Bastin cut dangerously into the box on the left but could only shoot into the side-netting. For the ‘Farm, another attacking run by Bamford saw the ball fall for Metters who switched play instantly with a beaut of a ball to Rogers on the left, this time cutting back across three defenders before blazing over the bar. The Farm centre-forward continued to torment, turning left and then right on the edge of the box before striking a shot off the foot of the far upright. Both Bamford for the ‘Farm and Josh Key for the hosts hit shots over the bar either side of the 30-minute mark and as the half entered it’s final fifteen minutes it was Tiverton who had the best of the game. They got a foothold back in the tie in the 35th minute when Key robbed the ball off Bird twenty-five yards out from goal and hit a sweet strike over John’s leaping dive and into the net. With hope anew, Tiverton threatened again late in the half when Allen got to the byline but his cross-shot failed to find a finish and Lewington saw a looped header bounce up off the crossbar deep into injury time. 2-1 Farm at the break and time for everyone to draw a breath. Only just. Bamford flew out of the traps from Farm’s restart of the game, going past players at pace before bringing a good diving save out of Williams with a stinging drive barely five seconds into the half. Bird then gave himself a sighter – curling a dangerous whipped effort just over the bar after another marauding run and pass from Bamford. With Manor Farm re-asserting their grip on the tie it was Bird again with a similar, but this time perfect, effort that gave the visitors back a deserved two-goal cushion in the 52nd minute. A deep Metters corner was bundled to the feet of Josh Nelmes who laid the ball up for Bird, the ‘Farm striker taking a quick set-touch before curling the ball beautifully with his right foot past Williams and inside the far post. Tiverton’s Bastin almost hit back immediately, swivelling in the box before slamming just high and over but minutes later up the other end it was Bamford and Bird combining skilfully again for the ‘Farm, setting-up substitute Joe Tumelty to curl narrowly wide in pursuit of a duplicate to Bird’s second goal. It was Farm’s second substitute Joe McClennan’s turn to swivel minutes later, turning on a midfield sixpence before spraying a peach of a ball into the path of Bamford’s run forward down the right. Bamford looked sure to score but instead brought a fine block from Williams. There was some great collective backs-to-the-wall defending by goal-keeper John and his Manor Farm defence in the 67th minute as Tiverton piled on some pressure but five minutes later the Yellow’s made the game 2-3 when full back Jordan Dyer got a decisive head to Allen’s free-kick. However, it was Manor Farm who didn’t have to wait too long to restore their two-goal advantage in this see-saw second half. Minutes later, a long John goal-kick was nodded on for Tumelty to chase but the defender looked to have had it covered until a horrible mix-up with Williams allowed Tumelty in to advance and knock the ball into an empty net. Cue delirium in the Manor Farm ranks. And rightly so. With Lewington screwing narrowly wide for the Yellow’s there was still some spirited defensive play required by The Portwaymen as they attempted to close the tie out – John saving smartly twice and Adams clearing danger as Tiverton sought desperately for salvage, but when the referee finally blew for full-time there were few in the ground who could have argued with the result. This was another fantastic all-round display by Lee Lashenko’s men that already equals their best run in a competition they’re beginning to revel in. Roll on the draw, Monday lunchtime. STAR MAN (Lewis Bamford, Bristol Manor Farm)

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