Match report

Tamworth 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 14/01/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Overall‚ I guess I am quite lucky. There are not many things that I have really wanted to do that have evaded me; things that I´ve wanted to experience that remain ambitions; or events that I´ve wanted to attend that I´ve not managed to get to. I´ve seen a Cup final at Wembley; I´ve been to a F1Grand Prix; winked at the Mona Lisa; seen some of my favourite musicians in concert. One little gap perhaps would be that I´ve yet to see Agatha Christie´s ´The Mousetrap´. Having said that‚ I´m not a great theatre buff‚ so despite the play´s 50 year run it´s not high on my list of priorities. I prefer real life drama and I don´t mean the current fixation with ´artificial´ real life as portrayed by the glut of Survivor´‚ or ´Police‚ Camera‚ Action´ type television programmes. No‚ drama for me is the action in a sporting conflict; theatre is a place for comedy‚ farce or even pantomime. Not that I believe there cannot be an overlap. As we travelled north to Tamworth the thought crossed my mind that there had been a degree of both sporting drama and farce in each of the previous meetings between Tivvy and the Lambs. Both games had been played in torrential rain that turned them into pantomimes‚ the second at Ladysmead having the addition of a howling gale that saw the rain rising instead of falling. Drama was plentiful‚ too‚ in that second game as Town took a 2-0 lead that threatened to put the mockers on Tamworth´s title challenge‚ only for the Lambs to fight back for a draw as Tivvy suffered from the wind after the break. What could we expect this time round? The Staffordshire side were again challenging for honours but had slumped to two consecutive league defeats before redeeming themselves with a resounding Trophy win over Conference opposition. Town´s last game had seen them end a mini run of five unbeaten with an ignominious home defeat at the hands of Cambridge City. It could be interesting. But once again it was the elements that were to play their part.
Tamworth´s Lamb Ground lies in the shadow of Eddie the Eagle´s Snowdome. Indoor skiing and snowboarding - what next? Well‚ it would lie in the shadow were there any sun but since this was an evening game‚ unsurprisingly there wasn´t. What we did have was a swirling‚ gusting wind. No rain‚ though‚ and a pitch that apart from a couple of sand pits looked reasonably firm and smooth if not level. Tivvy attacked down the hill for the firs half or at least that was the theory. The fact was that there was little attacking from either side in the first 45 minutes. In the opening exchanges both defences soon exerted their superiority over their respective attacking oppositions and we were left watching a battle for supremacy in midfield that was to remain unresolved for the entire game. Tamworth briefly looked intent on continuing where they´d left of against Nuneaton three days earlier with a thrusting move after Steve Winter had underhit a pass to Chris Curran but Rob Cousins was in swiftly to poke the ball away for a corner. Tivvy tried a couple of moves down the right but had to be content with a brace of throw ins level with the Tamworth penalty area as the height and strength of Steve Walsh and Mark Turner effectively dealt with what little threat was offered by Phil Everett and Richard Pears. And so it continued. There were few incidents of note as the wind took control. One was a fearsome clash between Nathan Rudge and Steve Walsh that left the Tamworth man in a heap on the deck‚ writhing as if there were no tomorrow‚ and Nathan adding to his collection of yellow cards. One can´t help feeling that the referees decision was harsh. It had been a 50/50 ball. Walsh would have appeared to have spent some of his recent loan/trial time with Coventry City on day release at RADA. Nathan´s reputation had obviously preceded him into the mind of both the referee‚ not to mention those of the Lambs players and fans who spent the entire evening trying to wind him up.
Tivvy were trying to play football at ground level when they could get the ball down but too frequently it was in the air as Tamworth looked for their wide men in attempts to get in behind the Yellows back line. With Nathan Rudge and Curran soundly snuffing out such efforts‚ and the wind playing its part‚ Ben Foster´s main occupation was collecting long balls or hacking away back passes. Darren Acton at the other end was even less active and there was not a single shot on target‚ and only two corner kicks‚ to be recorded before the 45 minutes were up and the man in black was playing added time before the interval. Rudge missed his footing under pressure from Brian McGorry and the Tamuff man burst through in a one on one with Foster. Ben was off his line in double quick time but it looked as though McGorry had maintained his stride and rounded the keeper successfully until Foster reached out a hand for the second time to make just enough contact to divert the ball from his foot. Steve Evans was just wide of the action to the right and when the ball fell to him had an open net to shoot at. Open until from nowhere appeared Rob Cousins to scramble the ball off the goal-line‚ across the face of the goal and away to maintain the blank scoresheet as the whistle sounded for the break.
Tamworth took advantage of the slope to start the second period in lively style. Lively but still mainly unconstructive as the wind continued to intervene by making the balls flight erratic. Indeed‚ it was Town battling up the hill that had the first real scoring chance of the half ten minutes in. A neat sequence of passes at low level saw them ease their way down the right and to the edge of the home penalty area before the ball was laid back into the path of Jason Rees making a rare move up in support. It was the wrong player to tee up a long range shot for and Jason´s effort ended up closer to the M42 than the net. But the Yellows had shown themselves that if they could keep the ball on the deck and out of the air currents they had the skill to find an opening. Tamworth ‚too‚ seemed to realise that the game was going nowhere and introduced a couple of substitutes to add more to there attack. Within minutes they had created their second serious attempt on goal as one of the new men‚ former Kettering striker Darren Collins‚ tested Foster but the Tivvy keeper was down to hold the close range shot cleanly. Town bought on Jamie Mudge to partner Pears up front‚ in the 62nd minute‚ moving Everett back to replace Steve Winter. For the next ten minutes or so Tamworth continued to press. Town were pinned back but their defence looked solid and though there were a few scary moments the line held. Until the 73rd minute when a corner on the left was conceded. The cross flew in at waist height. Too low for heads‚ too high for boots it evaded defenders and forwards alike until it was almost wide of the goal on the right where if finally came to ground at the foot of Avun Jephcott‚ Tamworth´s loanee from Coventry City. In his brief sojourn at The Lamb the young striker has made something of a name for himself as an opportunist striker and he added to that reputation as he slotted the ball through the jungle of bodies in front of him and into the net to give the Lambs the lead.
Town had to react‚ and react they did. Everett was sent back up front as the formation was changed to 4-3- 4. The extra man up front saw Tivvy launching a lot more forward moves. The loss of a man at the back was un-noted as the pressure was relieved by the attacking play. Within two minutes of the goal Town could have equalised. Mudge ran at the defence‚ got held up and laid the ball back to Rees. Jason sent in a swinging cross and pears was up to meet it but was disappointed as the ball skimmed of an upright with Acton and the defence beaten. Despite having the greater possession and percentage of forward play‚ or perhaps because of it‚ Town were nearly caught on the break - twice. In the 77th minute Jephcott picked up the ball in midfield and powered towards the Tivvy line‚ but his cross towards Collins was headed out for a corner by Rudge‚ and five minutes later Rob Cousins made his second goal-line clearance of the evening as Collins lobbed a shot over the advancing Foster. At the other end Acton was called into action for the first time with just four minutes remaining as Everett hit a solid shot goalwards after Mudge had again taken on the Tamworth back line as he burst into the penalty area. The Yellows had their hosts on the back foot and took advantage when Chris Holloway poached the ball from two Tamworth men and made a run to the right before sending in a low cross that again fell to the boot of Everett. Phil kept cool and slid the ball under Acton for the leveller. There was time for one more goalmouth scramble as Tamworth tried to regain the two points they felt they´d given away but the draw was probably a fair result.
There had not been a great deal of pretty football. There was not a great deal of excitement. Neither team clearly deserved to win - and neither team did. On the night there was only one clear winner and that was the wind - which was obviously content with its performance as it continued to whistle happily long after the game was over.

Tiverton Town: Ben Foster‚ Steve Winter (Jamie Mudge‚62), Paul Chenoweth, Chris Curran, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Jason Rees, Chris Holloway, Phil Everett, Scott Rogers, Richard Pears.
Subs (not used): Danny Haines, Steve Ovens, Kevin Nancekivell, David Steele.
Cards: Yellow: Rudge (11).

Tamworth: Darren Acton, Robert Warner, Richard Follett, Steve Walsh, Mark Turner, Mark Cooper, Steve Evans, Andy Turner (Darren Collins,57), Mark Hallam (Scott Rickards,57), Avun Jephcott, Brian McGorry.
Subs (not used): Paul Hatton, Dave Robinson, Darren Grocutt.
Cards: Yellow: Hallam (34).

Referee: Mr D Bryan (Stamford, Lincs).

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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