Match report

Hinckley United 2 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 23/08/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

I could never describe it with anything near accuracy. My childhood vocabulary and comprehension just did not contain the words or understanding to express what I was feeling. Looking back on the incidents a decade or so later I came up with descriptions. The infernal‚ endless‚ all enveloping‚ echoing buzz; the wooden´ feeling that blocked my head and the sensation of internal pressure that threatened to cause my skull to explode; the weird‚ spinning‚ tumbling impression‚ ever faster‚ ever accelerating‚ always dreading the inevitable impact never hitting bottom..... waiting‚ waiting‚ waiting with ever tautening anticipation until......screaming with terror....I´d wake. There was little my mother could do to ease my distress. No amount of soothing words could settle me quickly. Thumb in mouth‚ a glass of milk‚ perhaps‚ fatigue would eventually take over and I´d sleep peacefully to wake next day and get on with my pre-school life‚ knowing only from my mothers words that I had had a nightmare! Later In life I had bad dreams but they‚ although disjointed‚ usually had form. Nightmares‚ thanks to my mother´s definition‚ were always abstract affairs. Shapeless‚ segmented‚ without form‚ without meaning. Rather like Tiverton Town on their final visit (hopefully) to Middlefield Lane‚ home of Hinckley United - the only team that Tivvy have played in all their five seasons in the Dr Martens League. And let´s make no bones about it: The Yellows had a nightmare! No‚ let me qualify that statement by applying my last descriptive sentence.....always abstract.... shapeless.... segmented..... without form..... without meaning. No‚ Tivvy did not have a nightmare ...they were a nightmare.

Just as those nocturnal horrors of childhood inevitably happened just after bedtime‚ so the Tiverton nightmare appeared early‚ in fact there was even a sign that perhaps the Yellows were in for a troublesome couple of hours. Kevin Nancekivell was missing - sick. Danny Haines was‚ as expected‚ not recovered from his injury sustained on Wednesday at Chippenham. Hence‚ Steve Winter in midfield‚ Shaun Goff starting for the first time in the DM League‚ young Matt Aubrey at right wing back whilst Jason Rees continued at the back to partner the returning Nathan Rudge. It was hardly the line up to inspire the travelling fans. It took just 80 seconds for the terror to begin. From the kick off - Tivvy´s - the ball was pumped forward and out for a Knitters throw on their left. Down the flank they moved‚ with the Yellows keeping them tight to the touch line until Shaun Murray was finally trapped near the corner flag. Fine‚ there should not have been any great degree of danger. There wouldn´t have been had somebody in a White and Yellow shirt (Shaun Goff was not the only dbutante in this match) picked up Jamie Lenton coming to Murray´s aid. Murray laid the ball back‚ Lenton swung in a curling cross to the far post that evaded the Tiverton central defenders and keeper Stuart Foster and left lanky Hinckley centre half Andy Penny unmarked with the easiest of headers to open the scoring. Nothing new then‚ apart from the fact that the goal had been conceded earlier than usual. More time to recover‚ was the logical response. The problem was that there was no sign that having begun the spinning‚ tumbling nightmare Town were about to wake up - screaming or otherwise. Hinckley were happy to play the ball forward in the air where they had inches of superiority. Tivvy responded by hoisting the ball high out of defence as they appeared nervous in their unfamiliar roles. As in the first half at Chippenham‚ there was no contribution from midfield who were frequently bypassed as the ball flew to and fro above their heads. Front men Richard Pears and Jamie Mudge were seldom able to gain worthwhile possession and when they did there was minimal support with neither novice wing back looking in the least bit confident. Matt Aubrey has given some sterling performances at the heart of the Tiverton defence in the company and under the guidance of Jason Rees. Wide‚ he looked about as useful as a chocolate ashtray‚ frequently looking around to see who was near him‚ what he might be expected to do‚ where he might be expected to be: in fact he was lost. Goff fared marginally better, though his substitution appearances pre-season did help him assimilate to the situation a little better thanks to his familiarity with his colleagues. Jason Rees was sound enough at the back, as was the returning, and therefore rusty Nathan Rudge though they were unable to be creative from the back. Rob Cousins was steady and did try to play the ball out constructively and thus what would have been a quiet, conservative performance became a starring role. Chris Holloway was largely anonymous in midfield as was Steve Winter who always looked as if he was worried that Aubrey was going to need bailing out - as well he might. Paul Chenoweth was as committed as always while he lasted, crumbling in a heap on the turf after a 10th minute tackle, struggling to run off the injury until the 20th minute but throwing in the towel to be replaced by David Steele.

The change, albeit forced, provided the opportunity for reorganisation, with David dropping into the right wing back position, Aubrey moving to his more familiar central defensive role and Rees slotting into the left side of mid-field where he would not only be known to be comfortable but would be able to offer the experience to help Goff on his debut. But no, it was a straight swop - Steele for Chenoweth. With four of the eight in defence and midfield playing out of position or lacking experience in the positions they were asked to fill it was little wonder that Tivvy continued to lack shape and failed to impose themselves on the game. What openings that were created came mainly from the home side. A cross from the right by Neil Cartwright was glanced away from an incoming forward by the slightest touch from the head of Rees, and the same player fired in a low shot that went well wide. Steele´s introduction had added one new dimension to the Yellow´s game - his long throws. Rugby Union style Tivvy won a series of throws on the right, gradually gaining ground until the long one became a realistic option. It was not as long as some but was nodded on to the near post by Aubrey to Chris Holloway at the near post who´s overhead kick almost confused the Knitters keeper Tommy Whittle managed to beat the ball down to be cleared away to safety by a colleague. Tiverton´s vulnerability at corners was again exposed five minutes prior to the break when Leon Jackson was allowed a clear header that flew a foot over the crossbar and the Yellows first decent move of the afternoon failed when Mudge´s delicate flick was beaten away from the foot of an upright by Whittle after Winter had sent Aubrey bursting down the right to, for once look like a wing back, and send in a low cross. But it was only a brief moment of coherence - rather like the theory of an infinitive number of monkeys hitting the keys of an infinitive number of typewriters eventually producing the bible. With eleven players on the pitch, Tivvy had to produce something, eventually. One more long throw from Steele, headed on by a defender, then by Holloway for pears to send a snapshot over the bar and it was time for relief in the form of half time.

For a few minutes after the break the Yellows looked a little brighter. Not a lot, but brighter. Then Hinckley´s work rate was raised to counter the increased activity and once more the travelling fans began to wonder where a goal might come from. The rate of free kicks town conceded increased with their frustration - no serious violence but a series of niggling taps and shoves that reflected their demeanour. The 49th minute saw Fraser earn his keep as he parried out a fierce effort from Justin Jenkins after the United man had burst between Rudge and Goff as if they were a couple of traffic bollards rather than mobile, active defenders. The ball was still spending most of the time airborne; there was still little flowing football to entertain the crowd. And so the afternoon ground on. The ink in my biro began to thicken and then to set as there was so little of note happening that it remained static. Substitutions were made by Hinckley, they livened up their front pairing but produced very little to increase the excitement level. And when there was some action it was caused by a defensive error - again. Winter was caught hesitating on the ball. Simon Tucker robbed him and made for goal. Carrying the ball across the face of the penalty area Tucker could not find the space for a shot so prodded the ball onto Jackson who could have sown the game up were it not for the sharpness of Fraser´s reactions as he charged down the striker´s shot. Desperation belatedly saw a change in the Tiverton format. Rudge was sent forward for the last ten minutes or so. As is always the risk, the tactic proved fatal. After one incident where the extra forward man allowed Pears to find the space to lob in a speculative effort that beat the keepers upstretched hand and also the top of the crossbar, the other side of the coin was revealed. An extra man up front means one less at the back. Hinckley broke through their two 80th minute substitutes Brad Piercewright and Wayne Dyer. Piercewright did the running with the ball, Dyer was 10 yards to his right. Fraser was drawn to Piercewright - he had no option. With the Tivvy keeper committed the ball was laid sideways to give Dyer the simple task of putting it into the net to seal the points. My watch said 92 minutes exactly. Tivvy restarted and whether by accident or design (he just might have been extracting the Michael) the referee blew the whistle for the final time as 93 minutes 20 seconds clicked up.

Town have problems. Some are not of their own making, injuries and sickness will always occur. It is how such things are dealt with, with the resources that are available, that was most worrying about this non-contest.

Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser, Matt Aubrey, Shaun Goff, Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Steve Winter, Chris Holloway, Richard Pears, Jamie Mudge, Paul Chenoweth.
Substitutes: Steve Ovens, David Steele (Chenoweth,20), Luke Vinnicombe, Ben Harris (Aubrey,80), Steve Peters.
Bookings: None

Hinckley United: Tommy Whittle, Neil Cartwright, Jamie Lenton, Dave Crowley, Andy Penny, Linton Bailey, Stuart Storer, Leon Jackson, Chris Smith, Justin Jenkins, Shaun Murray.
Substitutes: Simon Tucker (Jenkins,68), Wayne Dyer (Smith,80), Brad Piercewright (Murray,80), Tommy Goodwin, Michael Lyons.
Bookings: None

Referee: N Hancox (Walsall Wood)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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