Match report

Hednesford Town 2 - 3 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 15/02/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Life is strewn with stress. From school-days‚ with my 11 plus examination approaching‚ to my early 50's‚ I had been as susceptible as any. Success was good - failure a disaster. The consequences of either could be monumental. Then came an event that made me stop and think. How many of all these things that worried me really mattered? How much difference would my actions make? Wouldn't life go on anyway - though perhaps following a different path? And might that path not end up being a better one in the long run? Yes‚ that encounter‚ albeit quite tenuous‚ with the 'grim reaper' changed me and my outlook considerably. I still cared about things; I still felt the passions for things that I was involved with. I still found myself being 'wound up' by events around me‚ but I learnt to put them behind me and get on with the current day's living‚ the matter in hand. Hence the trip up to the Midlands for Tivvy's encounter with Hednesford was not too tainted by the outcome and consequences of the two previous matches that had seen the Yellows' chances of the Championship evaporate - however unjustly. My only thought was the hope that the team could do likewise and‚ who knows‚ perhaps with the pressure off they might relax and show some of the footballing capabilities that I know they possess‚ but have too often been smothered by the supposed crutiality of the result.

From the moment the teams took the field‚ even before a ball was kicked in earnest‚ it was evident that morale had not been affected by the recent events. Tivvy were quickly out of the traps and might well have taken the lead before many of the supporters had made their way to their favoured viewing locations but Kevin Nancekivell's shot from the right hand corner of the six yard box cannoned of Hednesford goalkeeper Michael Bingham without the glovesman being aware of where the ball had come from or indeed where it was going. It only took a minute or two for the tactics and game plan of each side to become clear. The home side played to the height of Kevin Francis‚ well travelled six foot seven inches of target man and after five minutes a through header by Steven Piearce found its way to the big man but he'd strayed too far forward and was caught offside. Tivvy played to the style that had earned them a draw against table topping Tamworth and a victory over the dubious Pride of Wiltshire‚ Chippenham - even though they had not been rewarded with those results. Their approach work was more measured‚ he passes finding their intended recipients‚ the ball seldom moving between players at over knee height. Nancekivell sent Chris Holloway charging through the middle but a defender managed to poke the ball of his toe for a throw in and a Scott Rogers' cross was laid into the path of 'Nance' by Phil Everett but the midfielder was unable to force in a try on goal. Tiverton were getting the better of almost everything. They held the territorial advantage‚ they had the majority of the ball. And when not in possession every ball was there to be won or at least challenged for. It was just such determination that saw Chris Holloway battle the ball away from three Pitmen in the centre circle in the 16th minute and force it wide to Richard Pears on the right wing. With acres of space in which to manoeuvre - though this season's slimline 'Rico' needs less space than last season's - 'Pearsy' covered ground and sent in a low driven cross across the six yard box. Nancekivell‚ closing outside the near post‚ stepped over the ball rather than try and turn a shot goalwards and left Bingham totally befuddled as Everett following in towards the centre of the goal bundled it into the net. It was a deserved lead but brought the home side to life and the Yellows found themselves with more of a contest on their hands as Hednesford upped their game in an effort to defend their season long unbeaten home league record. For quarter of an hour the Staffordshire team had the better of things without causing much undue concern to the Tiverton defence‚ though there were one or two fraught moments. The Yellows weathered the storm and once more began to exert their superiority. Rob Cousins made a rare foray forward and sent in a high cross that was just nodded off Everett's head and the persistent challenging and chasing of Tiverton's front and midfield men forced the home side into a series of back passes‚ some from close to the halfway line‚ that at least served the purpose of keeping Bingham's blood circulating as he scampered out to clear upfield. Stuart Airdrie tried a long range effort as he cut in from the right in the 34th minute‚ Piearce sent an effort flying off toward Stafford but then managed to force Ben Foster into his first real save of the game in the 43rd minute. The half closed with Danny Haines being rapidly called into action as Paul Chenoweth slid the ball out for a throw in on the halfway line but immediately rolled in agony clutching his thigh. Hopefully 'Chens' problem will not be too serious‚ the squad is looking a little thin without further injuries.

Part two began with little change to either the tactics of either side or their respective share of the game. In fact for the first dozen minutes it slowly descended towards tedium. Tivvy were still edging it but at just one goal behind the home side could still believe that they were in with a shout and thus battled on without showing much innovation. The Pitmen's manager‚ former Stafford Rangers boss Ian Painter‚ eventually decided he'd had enough‚ some time after large numbers of the home side had come to the same conclusion and had loudly expressed their opinions‚ and rang the changes by introducing Mark Jones and David Berks to replace Anthony McGuire and Graham Lancashire. Personally I was disappointed with the removal of Lancashire since I had been waiting all afternoon for a cross field pass between the two Hednesford wide men. Lancashire to Airdrie. Now that would have been the long ball to end all long balls! However‚ it was not to be and Painter's move certainly livened up proceedings a little. Within a couple of minutes Berks had looped a free kick from a central position 30 yards out that cleared the leaping Foster by a yard but the crossbar by mere inches as it dropped behind the keeper. On 21 minutes Berks again was involved as he swung in a high cross that Francis ducked down to meet and Foster did well to deflect away for a throw such was the power of the cross and the header‚ not to mention the fact that there was only a foot or so of clear air between Francis' head and Ben's hands/chest. Tivvy began to get more involved again and a long throw from Rogers near the right hand corner flag was headed clear but only fell as far as Cousins who thundered an off target shot in from about thirty yards. Tiverton's increase in pressure was indicative‚ perhaps‚ that they had drawn the teeth of the increased impetus created by the home side's double substitution. Also‚ possibly‚ that the defenders were tiring. Mudge time! Seventy minutes gone‚ twenty to go‚ and a bundle of energy raring to be unleashed at the weary legs of the Pitmen as the end of their shift loomed. The first chance after Jamie's introduction though‚ fell to Nancekivell as he turned and shot‚ weakly‚ onto a Chris Curran head down. The very fact that Chris was as far forward‚ as had been Cousins also minutes earlier‚ showed who was on top. Hednesford did manage to break forward and Piearce sent in a low drive that had Foster at full stretch to palm the ball round the base of his right hand post for a corner.

It had taken Mudge all of five minutes to limber up and bring himself up to speed. Now he was ready. Just over half way inside the opponents half. Ball to toe and well under control, The defenders backed off a while, then committed themselves. Jamie avoided the first tackle and kept going left. Avoided the second tackle and kept going. Through the back line. Through on goal and sent the ball under Bingham. 2-0, a fairer reflection of the game. Painter had to act again. Chris Brindley replaced Francis, who for all his elevation and bulk had been unable to get the better of Rudge, Curran, or even the comparatively diminutive Rees. Brindley immediately repaid his boss by pulling a goal back as he connected with a Berks header. Ah, skill and accuracy produced the result that sheer height could not. With twelve minutes remaining there might have been a temptation to shut up shot. No way. The Yellows continued to push forward and within two minutes had restored their two goal cushion. Ball high(ish!) out of defence. Guided on by the head of Pears to Mudge who had been flitting in and out of the Hednesford back line as he fought to keep onside. This time it worked and Jamie was away on his own to round Bingham and slot the ball into the empty net as the first defender arrived two yards too late. (See pic. on Heronweb. Well captured Keith!) Credit to the Pitmen, they might have been excused for lying down and rolling over, especially in view of the jeering and abuse they were hearing from their own 'fans'. They didn't. They kept plugging away and with the final minutes ticking away pulled back another goal, an exact replica of their first, to bring a misleading look to the final scoreline. Tivvy, too could have increased their margin were it not for the fact that having breached the offside trap once, both Pears and Mudge failled oto repeat the feat on half a dozen, or so, occasions in the last ten minutes.

The points were well earned by Tivvy. It is difficult to see how the home Pitmen's unbeaten record had survived as long. Unless of course, this was an untypical performance from the home side.


Tiverton Town: Ben Foster, Phil Everett (Jamie Mudge 70), Paul Chenoweth (Danny Haines 45), Chris Curran, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Jason Rees, Scott Rogers (David Steele 86), Richard Pears
Booked: None.

Hednesford Town: Michael Bingham, Ashley Williams, Bryan Small, Anthony McGuire (David Berks 57), Stuart Ryder, Darren Simkin , Graham Lancashire (M Jones 57), Derek Rea, Kevin Francis (Chris Brindley 76), Steven Piearce, Stewart Airdrie
Booked: Ryder 21

Attendance: 542

Referee: Mr G Mellor


This report ©2003 John Reidy






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