Match report

Chelmsford City 3 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 18/01/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Confession time again! Mea culpa‚ mea culpa. I spent over an hour on Friday night overworking my search engine looking for sex sights! All in the cause of research‚ I´ll have you believe - after all that seems to be the current explanation for such activities! And it wasn´t just any sex site I was looking for. Very specific actually. The question I asked Jeeves was ´Why sex?´. What I wanted to know was the meaning of sex....as in Essex. Nothing to do with girls named Sharon or Tracey who may or may not wear white patent leather high heeled shoes and dance round their handbags‚ more about the use of the gender definition in the name of English counties. As the trip to Billericay had approached‚ my mind had wandered‚ as usual‚ ending up pondering the question. I could see the significance of ´Sus´‚ ´Es´‚ ´Middle´‚ ´Wes´ ( even though there is no such defined county; and there is no ´Nosex´‚ but then who´d want to live in a No sex county?)‚ but what was the meaning of sex anyway? A fine question for a father of two to be asking‚ and if I did find an answer‚ which I don´t believe I did‚ then like the other sex‚ I´ve forgotten what it was. So as we sped (?) round the northern and eastern quadrants of the car park known as the M25‚ I dug deep into my memory and recalled that Essex had a couple of quite pleasant memories not too deeply buried. The corresponding fixture with helmsford City last season had seen a battling draw but the best recollection had to be the FA Cup victory over Billericay. I rapidly dismissed the more recent expedition to the southern part of the county - Grays are not my favourite shades - and faced the afternoon´s entertainment in buoyant‚ optimistic frame of mind.
As happened last season when Chelmsford took the lead after 54 seconds with yours truly still changing ends behind the grandstand‚ there was no delay between the first whistle and the opening action. As I wended my way round the ground taking the long‚ but visually unimpaired route‚ Paul Chenoweth moved forward down the left before being dispossessed and allowing the home side to attack Town´s exposed flank. Dale Watkins swung in a cross‚ Jack Midson connected with his head and the ball flew inches wide. I´d not even reached the back of Ben Fosters goal‚ under twenty seconds had passed‚ and optimism had already began evaporating‚ I continued my stroll. I´d not reached the corner before the second wave of City attack arrived. Same region‚ out on Tiverton´s left; same Watkins involved as he chased and forced a corner. This time the cross was met by Garry Cross as he powered in from the back of the penalty area. Firm and true the connection was made at about twelve yards out and rocketed through the crowded area and into the net. Another mountain for Tivvy to climb.
It was not a particularly high rise that faced the Yellows - in theory. A goal behind is familiar territory‚ after all. But this time it seemed as if the slope must have started at a high altitude where the air was already thinner. Town looked as if they were lacking Oxygen. They appeared tired and lethargic compared to their hosts. A yard shorter of pace‚ a dozen calories shorter in strength in the challenge. They only looked comfortable when in open spaces - and those were restricted as City closed down‚ hassled and broke with more urgency in almost every case. Nine minutes gone and Scott Rogers looped a ball through the middle that Richard Pears hit first time on the volley and watched as it sailed off over the terrace behind the goal heading where no ball has ever headed before. Otherwise City were well in control. Injury induced substitutions to Mike Rutherford (no sign of his Mechanics!) for City‚ and Chris Holloway for Tivvy‚ caused little disruption to the pattern of the game‚ though slowly‚ gradually Town began to work their way into the contest. Just after the half hour mark Nathan Rudge‚ who didn´t appear to be as badly affected by the apparent high altitude sickness - perhaps being used to looking down from heights - thundered forward to get on the end of a corner to send the ball screaming towards the net but Kevin Nancekivell was unable to avoid intercepting it and unable to turn from his back to goal position to deflect it home. Chelmsford continued to make the wide breaks‚ particularly down their left where Austin Berkley showed a lot of pace but the back line held and it was not until the dying minutes of the half that any real scoring opportunities were created‚ and then there was one at each end. First in line were Chelmsford. A break down the right by Watkins (again) and Cross looking to repeat his third minute exploit. This time Ben Foster was sharp enough to get down and hold tightly onto the ball at ground level despite Cross getting a firm connection. Upfield and Danny Slatter was penalised and shown the yellow card for a tackle that was so late it could have been left over from City´s previous game. The free kick was hoisted forward by ´Chens´‚ Pears rose and it looked as if his header had beaten Nicholls before the keeper reached back to get just enough of a touch to flick the ball past the post for a corner. Close‚ but not close enough Town were still behind at the break.
And the action continued in the opening exchanges of the second period. Within two minutes Danny Slatter unleashed a fearsome drive from all of thirty yards that had Foster at full stretch and Midson just failing to connect with the rebound as Ben was unable to hold the shot. At the other end there was a nano-second of joy for the handful of Tiverton fans gathered level with the penalty spot as Steve Winter beat two defenders in ´Steve Ovens´ fashion and stumbled on to flight in a cross that Pears´ head met soundly to beat Nicholls. That group of supporters‚ though‚ are basically honest folks and freely admitted that Rico had been lingering in an offside position when the ball was played across. But things were picking up and on the hour Pears flicked a header through for Nancekivell but Kevin in turn flicked it just wide of the upright. The 61st minute saw more injury problems hit the Yellows. It was one of those balls that two players connect with‚ with equal force and at identical moments. The City man was unaffected but as the ball squished out from between the two feet‚ Winter went down in obvious agony. Stretchered off‚ it was good to see Steve vertical in the clubhouse after the game. It remains to be seen how serious the damage might be. Jamie Mudge was introduced and there was the subsequent familiar reshuffle. Mudge´s impact was to be less consequential than on Tuesday night, though he did come as close as anybody to pulling Town level in the 69th minute. An adept turn and shot, executed in a single movement, caught Nicholls flat footed but crashed against the keepers left hand upright and straight back into play to be cleared away upfield by a relieved defence.
Although Tivvy had not taken control of the game they were certainly playing more constructive forward moving soccer, leaving the home side to keep their interest alive with counter breaks and the pace of Watkins and Berkley in particular to chase clearances. Then the disaster. An innocuous looking ball across the face of the penalty area. Confusion between Chris Curran and Foster. Both went for it, both hesitated, both left it for the other and as it cleared the pair of them Watkins nipped past them to redirect it into the gaping goal. A ´soft´ one to say the least. It knocked the stuffing out of Tivvy, gave City the confidence of a two goal cushion and despite pushing Nathan Rudge into the forward line there was nothing the Yellows could do to fight their way back into the game. Hardly surprising then that with Town throwing every thing forward they fell for the sucker punch. In the eighth minute of an extended 90th, the ball was hoofed forward from the Chelmsford half. Watkins was lurking and as the ball landed right to his toe he swung his foot to send a looping shot over the stranded Foster and into the net to widen the margin between the teams to unrealistic proportions. Perhaps I am being unjust to the Essex side. Though they may not have been three goals better than Tivvy in skill and ability, a fact possibly illustrated by the comparative league standings of the two teams, they were certainly streets ahead in the commitment, passion and effort stakes. For that alone they deserved the points.
Wearily wending our way westward we worried. Essex did not seem to be a happy hunting ground for our favourites this season. We could have to head that way again before the campaign is over. Chelmsford are still in the Dr. Martens Cup. On the form shown in our two previous visits it would be difficult to see Town picking up anything if we were to face them later in that competition. It´s doubtful that Town could even score with ´Sharon´ or ´Tracy´ on this showing!

Tiverton Town: Ben Foster, Steve Winter (Jamie Mudge,61), Paul Chenoweth, Chris Curran, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Jason Rees, Chris Holloway (K Nancekivell,15), Phil Everett (D Haines,84), Scott Rogers, Richard Pears.
Subs (not used): Steve Ovens, David Steele.
Cards: Yellow: Rogers (66).

Chelmsford City: Paul Nicholls, Brian Statham, Ian Cousins, Lewis Reid (Keith Sharman,79), Ian Wiles, Danny Slatter, Garry Cross, Mike Rutherford (Lee Kersey,11), Jack Midson (Tony Samuels,74), Dale Watkins, Austin Berkley.
Subs (not used): Steve Saunders, George Lay, Barry Larkin.
Cards: Yellow: Slatter (45), Midson (66).

Referee: Mr M Stewart (Harwich).

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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