Match report

Chippenham Town 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Wednesday 12/02/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

It is a widely held belief that character and personality begin to be mapped out from the cradle. My own memory does not extend that far back but reflecting as far as I can‚ I do recognise the influences that my mother had in my formative years. In music‚ melody was important. Songs from the shows were oft heard in Chateau Reidy‚ either via the professionals on the airwaves - remember the Light Programme? - or even from the less tuneful‚ though just as enthusiastic‚ vocal chords of the lady herself as she went about her house-wifely and motherly chores. And likewise my love of reading. One of my earliest memories‚ pre-school‚ is of the regular weekly Friday shopping expeditions that were inevitably terminated with a visit to the library‚ followed by the collecting of our fish and chip lunch‚ consumed to the accompaniment of ´Listen with Mother´. And Christmas always bought books. Those now highly collectable Beano and Dandy Annuals were superseded by more serious volumes. As my ´teens´ approached I was even given the chance to pick my own tomes‚ and the non-fiction section of the library was discovered. As my interests widened I´d frequently dig out an atlas and seek to locate the places that cropped up in my reading. One of those inane Christmas cracker jokes - Q. Why do the people of Wiltshire prefer French fried potatoes? A. Because they have the Devizes for Chippenham. (boom‚ boom!) - had me studying the road maps as for the first time in my life I came into contact with the name of a place that I was not to actually set foot in until my 20´s when I first moved west. Even then Chippenham was merely a place to have a ´fag´ break as I rode my Honda CB77 between my adopted domicile and what I still regarded as home. Little did I realise that thirty years (ok thirty PLUS years) later‚ an evening in Chippenham was going to increase my blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Apart from the lingering rivalry from Screwfix League days there was a desire for revenge for the recent home defeat in the Dr Martens League Cup to add spice to a game that was important to both sides as they sought to maintain a challenge‚ however distant and optimistic‚ at the top of the league table. In their last game Tivvy had performed well for no reward against title favourites Tamworth‚ whilst The Bluebirds had disappointed their fans in a dour draw at home to lowly Grantham. But there was little sign that the previous matches were going to have any influence on this evening´s affairs. Both sides started brightly enough‚ Chippenham drawing first blood by winning a corner that was comfortably plucked out of the air by Ben Foster. For the first dozen minutes the majority of the action was condensed into the middle third of the field as both defences showed their efficiency and nullified the probing moves of the respective forwards. There was a noticeable contrast in the approach work of the two sides. Chippenham‚ as in the cup tie at Ladysmead‚ played to the pace of their front runners Martin Paul and Charlie Griffin‚ though perhaps because of lack of as effective support as in that earlier contest‚ their threat was competently dealt with by the Yellows back line. Tivvy´s build up tended to be slower and more methodical‚ with Richard Pears showing all his ball holding skills allowing colleagues to move forward from midfield in support of attacking moves. It was this more steady constructive building that brought the opening goal and the lead for the visitors. Pears collected the ball out of defence and moved into the Chippenham half before playing the ball further forward to Kevin Nancekivell and breaking away to the right. Kevin moved slightly left‚ advanced a couple of yards before playing the ball behind a defender about to mount a challenge and right back into the path of Pearsy. Rico continued his run with the ball apparently superglued to his boot before unleashing a shot from the right hand side as he closed on the corner of the penalty area. Defender Wayne Thorne stretched out a leg as the shot was delivered but only succeeded in making enough contact to send the ball flying up and looping over the stranded James Bittner in the Chippenham goal. Lucky some might say‚ particularly anyone with blue eyes‚ but who´s to say that the ball would not have ended up in the same place - the net - even without the additional touch.

The goal served to give the Yellows even more confidence and they began to edge further towards dominance as the midfield chased‚ harassed and won the majority of possession. Never entirely dominant‚ they never-the-less always looked to be having the better of the game‚ though the home side´s front runners continued to keep the Yellows back line occupied. Griffin forced in a cross from the right hand corner that perhaps deserved more reward than Paul´s header‚ which flew well wide‚ brought in the 19th minute; and at the other end Nancekivell beat Bittner only for Simon Charity to clear in the goalmouth after Pears had fed ´Nance´ following Chris Curran carrying the ball out of defence from the edge of the Tiverton penalty area right into the Chippenham half. Foster‚ who´s only sight of action since that early minutes corner had been the clearing upfield of occasional back passes from his defenders‚ was given another feel of the ball when Griffin directed a header straight at him in the 28th minute and ´Nance´ saw another effort hacked away after he had neatly turned Thorne in the box. As if inspired by Curran´s earlier run Chris Holloway tried a similar manoeuvre but was upended before he could do any damage‚ earning the culprit‚ Mark Badman (sic) a yellow card. Minutes later Griffin and Nathan Rudge clashed‚ faced up but had no action taken against them as the referee‚ giving the first indication of his lack of observational powers‚ consulted his assistant but remained indecisive. Gary Horgan‚ one of a growing band of ex Bath City players in the Wiltshire club´s squad took a leaf out of the Tiverton book and ran at the defence but suffered the same fate as Holloway as he reached the edge of the Tiverton penalty area. Steve Brown blasted the free kick against the wall but wasted a second chance as he sent the rebound heading towards the heavens‚ and Paul missed Chippenham´s chance of the evening so far when a deflected clearance fell to him to the left of the goal but despite being unmarked he crashed his shot across goal and wide. The half time scoreline was a fair reflection of the game; close with everything still to play for.

The second period began in similar fashion. Tiverton attacking with the more methodical build up from the back but appearing to be shot shy when reaching the home penalty area‚ though six minutes beyond the break Pears won back a ball deep in the right hand corner to force in a cross from which Everett might have increased the lead had he not directed his far post header straight at Charity. Chippenham fought on and Holloway had to rescue the Yellows with a headed goal- ine clearance from a free kick in the 63rd minute. It was a sign of things to come. A minute later Chippenham won a corner. The ball was flighted in high and close to goal. Tom Gould rose in the pack and forced the ball home. There were immediate protests from the Tivvy players that the central defender had made the telling contact with his hand not his head. The referee had not seen anything‚ but his reaction to the protests as the teams lined up for the restart cast doubts on the man´s ability to deal with controversial situations‚ as well as his possible visual capabilities.Yellow cards for Rees and Cousins. The goal lifted the home side to greater efforts and the game became more competitively fierce. Chippenham threw everything forward and the Yellows were forced onto the defensive. Charity curled a free kick from the edge of the area wide in the 68th minute but as the temperature approached boiling point it was given the final boost that caused the cauldron to boil over by the man whose job it was to act as regulator‚ not stoker.

With one of the most bizarre and farcical examples of inept refereeing that I have witnessed in watching football at all levels from schoolboy games to World Cup Finals over a time span of close on half a century, Mr. Kevin Hawkes destroyed what promised to be an exciting finale to a hard fought, fiercely contested match. Charlie Griffin and Chris Curran both rose to meet a high ball out of the Chippenham defence. Both tumbled to the ground, Curran remaining there, Griffin recovering and moving away. No whistle.(N.B). As Griffin moved away he was confronted by Nathan Rudge and like Curran also ended up in a heap on the ground. Collision or shove or punch? The supporters of each side will see it differently depending on the colour of the tint on their glasses, or the wool of their scarves. No whistle (N.B) but at this point the flag was waved as half a dozen players from either side became involved in either push and shove or an attempt to stop the same. The scuffles were broken up. Calm, or at least a semblance, was restored by the three officials and some of the less excitable players. Guess what? Mr Hawkes, obviously not being blessed with the optical powers attributed to the similarly monickered predator of the sky, hadn´t seen anything! After much consultation the red card was produced and shown, to the amazement of all, to Curran! The man who had been flat out from the first challenge. It was followed by a yellow for Griffin, equally as strange since if the first challenge in the incident had been a foul, and it was the only thing that could have bought a caution, then Curran was completely exonerated; and if the yellow was for the clash with Rudge then it was the former Chippenham man that should, perhaps, have seen Curran´s card. Little wonder then that Martyn Rogers lost his rag and was also banished from the touchline. Either way the officials had got it wrong and although they couldn´t undo what was already done, neither were they men enough to hold up their hands and admit that, like all humans, they could be guilty of erring.

There were further incidents of a more sporting nature in the remaining twenty minutes but the heart had been ripped out of the game by that one incident and the way in which it had been (mis)handled. Everett and Pears had half chances to win the game for the Yellows, Griffin and Paul continued to threaten for the Bluebirds. The only ones to benefit from the score remaining level were the teams above the two in action as the gap between realistic challengers and ´the rest´ widens.


Chippenham Town: James Bittner, Simon Charity, Wayne Thorne, Colin Towler, Tom Gould, Mark Badnam, Steve Brown, Gary Horgan (M Harrington 83), Martin Paul, Charlie Griffin, Adie Mings (Matt Rawlins 55)
Booed: Mings 32, Badman 38, Thorne 87

Tiverton Town: Ben Foster, Phil Everett, Paul Chenoweth, Chris Curran, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Jason Rees, Scott Rogers, Richard Pears.
Booked: Yellow: Rees 64, Cousins 64
Sent off: Curran 70

Referee: Mr. Kevin Hawkes (Quedgeley. Glous)

Attendance: 608


This report ©2003 John Reidy






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