Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 2 Cambridge City

   Saturday 04/01/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

We live in the age of the specialist. There are always the exceptions to the rule but few people can stake a claim to having reached the top in more than one field. In motor sport‚ many have tried to follow up success on two wheels by breaking into the four wheel scene. My hero‚ Mike Hailwood‚ tried. A multi World Champion with a pair of wheels‚ he was a competent racer on four‚ but never won a title. John Surtees‚ before my time‚ did manage to win the top accolade in both sports to be the exception. Writers‚ too‚ seem to generally be unable to swop genre. Tolkien was a genius in the world of Hobbits that he created but could not transfer his talents to other subjects with the same effectiveness. Denis Wheatly did manage to find success with his Roger Brooke series of historical novels‚ his Gregory Sallust spy stories‚ as well as the more familiar Black Magic and Occult tales‚ though can you imagine Barbara Cartland writing a horror story - though some might consider everything she wrote as ´horrible´! Authors wishing to vary their output have frequently joined forces to compose such works ´in tandem´ with accepted specialists; Steven King´s ventures into fantasy with Peter Straub come to mind. And as I left Ladysmead after Tivvy´s encounter with Cambridge City I found myself wondering who I might get to collaborate with me in writing a report on the afternoon´s happenings. Rudyard Kippling? There were certainly enough ´If´s! Or perhaps the unreality and irrationality of some of the incidents would have been suited to the ´Alice in Wonderland´ style of Lewis Carroll? The Brothers Grimm unquestionably had the name to aptly describe the final outcome! In the end‚ though‚ none of the afore mentioned were available so I resigned myself to having to do the job alone......

The Yellows had a score to settle. The three goal drubbing handed out by the Lilywhites at Milton Road earlier in the season still rankled with those that witnessed it. Martyn Rogers described the first half hour of that game as the worst performance he had seen by a Tiverton team during his era in charge. It was payback time. First heroes of the afternoon to emerge were groundsman Gordon and his team who had performed miracles to get the game on. It was no Wembley billiard table surface but rough and bumpy gluepot that it was‚ it was nevertheless playable. And once the early exchanges were over it was the Yellows that looked more capable of adapting their play to suit the conditions. They managed to play some remarkably attractive passing football‚ keeping possession and moving forward steadily through the muck and the mire‚ leaving the visitors defence to get men behind the ball and to show their organisational abilities‚ not to mention a fair degree of determination as they blocked and tackled to keep Tivvy at bay. Having said that‚ it was Ben Foster in the Tiverton goal that was the first keeper in action as he brought back memories of Sylvester Stallone in ´Escape to Victory´ with a spectacular leap to hold a long shot from Danny Bloomfield that had taken a nasty deflection off the boot of Chris Curran in the fourth minute. Three minutes later Steve Ovens and Paul Chenoweth contrived to rob City defender Tim Wooding as he hesitated on the ball and Ovo made ground to the left hand corner of the penalty area before curling in a shot that just cleared the crossbar/upright angle of the Cambridge goal with Martin Davies hopelessly beaten. Town should have taken the lead after ten minutes. Ovens‚ who seemed to be revelling in the sticky sludge won one of his hallmark stumbling battles to break clear down the left and whip in a cross to the far post where wing back (back?) Phil Everett lurked ready to nod the ball down into the path of Scott Rogers. Scott let fly with power but not direction and the ball flew wide‚ avoiding the need to note his effort down as a shot on target.

Town were statistically on top. They had the advantage territorially. They had the advantage in possession. What they didn´t have was a goal to prove those statistics‚ and City‚ for all their defensive work were clearly capable of causing problems on the break. Foster was again in the thick of things when Rob Cousins missed a tackle in the 21st minute that allowed Bloomfield through into space from whence he sent Matt Clements away to face the Tivvy keeper in a one to one situation. Foster was quickly out to spread his not insubstantial bulk in front of the advancing City man who´s forced shot curled wide to safety. With the pitch standing up well but never the less dominating proceedings‚ Town continued to have the better of things. A cross by Rogers from near the right hand corner flag brought a diving header from Ovens that flew yards over the bar as the Tiverton man threw himself too low‚ and just after the half hour mark a Chenoweth cross from the far left was deflected past Davies by Colin Vowden whose blushes were saved as Shane Wardley hacked the ball off the line. Minutes later a short Tivvy corner produced another cross from ´Chens´ that was met well by Ovens´ head but flew off the crossbar to deny the Yellows the lead. It was the last minute before the break that saw Town´s best chance of the half. Searching for that morale boosting strike on the stroke of half-time‚ Town had mounted a sustained attack on the City goal. With the referee already adding time for stoppages the ploy almost paid dividends. Cousins‚ who had appeared to be struggling defensively for most of the afternoon made a rare foray forward to swing in a high ball. Chris Holloway‚ also unusually far forward‚ rose head and shoulders above the defence to connect cleanly but again without the correct steering mechanism. Nothing to add then to the shots on target column as the whistle bought an end to the first act.

Act two started with the Yellows showing all the urgency of Carroll´s white rabbit. ´I´m late‚ I´m late´‚ they could have been calling as they continued to search for the elusive goal that their fans would agree was delayed in arriving. But there was to be no celebratory Mad Hatter hosted tea party. Just as they had failed to find the net in the first 45 minutes‚ so they continued to give the Queen of Hearts cause to scream ´Off with their heads´ as they spurned early chances. Richard Pears rose to meet an Everett cross but was beaten to the ball by the fist of Davies; a Pears ball was headed down by Curran and fell to the foot of Ovens who screwed it wide as he stretched to make contact. Cambridge became bolder‚ no doubt encouraged by the thought that if Tivvy couldn´t hit the target than it might be within their power to steal more than the single point they held. Foster again had to be brave to scamper forth and throw himself at the feet of Robbie Simpson‚ a teenage product of the City academy who had been thrown in at the deep end and showed no sign of being overawed by the occasion. Despite the visitors coming into the game more it was still their defence that was keeping their hopes alive as the formidable Vowden cleared an inswinging cross by Danny Haines off the line just when it looked as it might sneak in to break the deadlock on the hour. Ten minutes of midfield battling ensued‚ broken only by a substitution on each side. Then came the long awaited goal. In the wrong net as far as both the overall run of play and the home supporters were concerned. A long clearance to Simpson who neatly avoided an unconvincing challenge from the below par Cousins and headed‚ solo‚ for goal. Foster came to meet him but the striker calmly placed his shot under big Ben to set the handful of Lilywhites fans behind the goal chiming with delight. (Oh dear! Did I really write that?).

Once again the tradition of giving away the opening goal was maintained. The worrying fact was that it had been conceded with a mere 19 minutes remaining. Late‚ even by Wonderland standards. Chris Holloway nearly levelled things up on 75 minutes but a heroic late back flip by Davies enabled him to get just enough of a touch on the ball to deflect the Tivvy midfielders dropping shot over the crossbar to safety. It was to be a token effort. Far from upping the pressure on the Cambridge defence‚ Town found themselves struggling to maintain their previous level of possession as City´s confidence grew. It was difficult to see where a Yellows goal might come from. Not so in the case of City who were looking just as lively on the break as they had in the early stages of the contest. And that is just how it happened in the 87th minute. An exact replica of their first goal. Same personnel‚ same outcome. Even in the dying minutes City could have added a third as substitute Leon Gutzmore broke away and was foiled first by Foster‚ then by Cousins before the same man finally managed to clear the third attempt to safety. Town had been well and truly turned over by a resolute defence that held them at bay and a couple of sucker punches taken with opportunist flair by a young man enthusiastically staking a claim for a future by taking his chances.

And the Tiverton faithful were left to contemplate Killing´s magnificently enigmatic word‚ If. If we had taken three points.............
If either of those goal line clearances had not been made.......
If one of those headers had been on target..........
If City had not shown such organisation and resolution in defence........
If............ Big word! And a Grimm story!

Tiverton Town: Ben Foster, Phil Everett, Danny Haines (Steve Winter,76), Jason Rees, Chris Curran, Rob Cousins, Paul Chenoweth, Chris Holloway, Richard Pears (Jamie Mudge, 68), Scott Rogers, Steve Ovens.
Subs (not used): David Steele, Martyn Grimshaw, GK. Paul Edwards.
Cards: None.

Cambridge City: Martin Davies, Dan Huggins, Shane Wardley, Tim Wooding, Colin Vowden, Che Wilson, Rob Nightingale, Robin Sturgess, Robbie Simpson (Leon Gutzmore,88), Danny Bloomfield (Kevin Wilkin,76), Matt Clements (Chris Wilson, 66).
Subs (not used): Marcus Hering, GK. Alan Calton.
Cards: None.

Referee: Mr. Eamon Smith (Woking).

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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