Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 0 Dover Athletic

   Wednesday 19/03/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Ah! Dover. At last!
Dover‚ Britain´s gateway to Europe‚ portal to the World. Unless you happen to be heading in the opposite direction in which case a cynic might describe it as the World´s portal to The Welfare State..... Air travel‚ and more recently‚ ´The Chunnel´ has seen the status of the historic port diminished but there will always be a place in the hearts of the natives of these Islands for the premier of the Cinque Ports. What other landfall is as evocative for a ´Brit´ as the renowned White Cliffs? Would national morale have been as highly boosted in the ´40´s if force´s sweetheart Vera Lynn had warbled on about ´seagulls over the cauliflower fields of Margate´? I doubt it. But then as far as this football match went‚ the history of either Kentish town makes not one iota of difference. Unless of course you take into consideration the fact that Tiverton Town have never played Margate where-as they have had a single encounter with their visitors for this contest. A Fourth Qualifying Round FA Cup tie back in 1991; a meeting that saw Tivvy of the Western League run out 1-0 victors over their illustrious Southern League rivals and earn a visit to then Fourth Division side Barnet and a 5-0 drubbing. How time changes things. For this second meeting between Tivvy and Dover we were facing each other on a level playing field (well almost since the slope at Ladysmead isn´t that severe!)‚ and it was therefore the visitors that were seeking to redress the balance that historically‚ at least‚ was against them.
A disappointing ´crowd´ had made their way to Ladysmead for the game‚ no doubt the attraction of televised European Champions League football had taken its toll. Those that did turn out saw Tivvy start at a similar pace to that which they had shown up at Worcester in their last game. In the first minute Nathan Rudge sent Kevin Nancekivell scampering away down the left wing. Kevin´s high power cross curling just past Dover keeper Paul Hyde´s upright. The visitors soon showed that they too were prepared to play a high speed game and for the first five or six minutes it was frantic‚ full throttle action. And it was open too. It was not until the 8th minute that the referee found a use for his whistle other than a single offside decision against Richard Pears. When the first foul did come it was conceded by Town‚ way out on their left flank and deep inside their own half. Simon Glover lofted in a long cross to the far post that brought the first testing goalkeeping action of the evening as Ben Fostrer had to back peddle furiously to clasp the ball behind his head just as it looked as if it might drop just inside the far post. It was to be one of the few ´close´ moments as the game settled into a pattern. Penalty area to penalty area with neither side able to go the final yard and break the deadlock. Town probably had marginally the greater proportion of possession‚ thanks to a slower more methodical construction of moves. One‚ in the tenth minute‚ started from David Steele deep in Yellows territory‚ continued through Scott Rogers‚ onto Pears who split the Dover defence to send Nancekivell bursting through the middle only to be halted by the linesman´s flag being raised as he moved through too quickly and was caught offside. Dover weren´t sitting back on the defensive but their attacks were swift‚ direct and frequently curtailed by their own misplaced passes. Town´s formation of three forward was not having the same effect as it had on Saturday. Jamie Mudge was not being allowed the same degree of freedom that he had found. The Yellows hit man´s reputation has spread and he was closely marshaled at all times by at least one defender‚ with others ready to jump in if Jamie escaped his attentions. The entire Athletic defence was well organised‚ skillful and comfortable. Town´s opportunities were severely limited. David Steele was producing a ´Man of the Match´ winning performance. Defensively he was solidly reliable‚ winning 90% of balls that he challenged for‚ continuing to pressure for those that he didn´t‚ and proving effective in the build ups down the right that developed as he pushed forward with those won balls. Just past the half hour mark he opened up the Dover defence with a ball that sent Phil Everett twisting past a defender but only able to poke a weak shot that Hyde ‚ though having to stretch full length for‚ had no trouble in holding. Five minutes later Rogers found Nancekivell and Kevin´s cross was touched away off Pears´s head for a corner and as the half time whistle approached it was Richard again that threatened as he beat the offside trap in pursuit of an Everett head through but lost the race with Hyde as the keeper sprinted out to gather the ball. Just to remind us that they were still in the game Dover had the final goal attempt of the half as Matt Carruthers let fly with a long range snap shot that allowed Foster to make his claim for an Oscar nomination as he threw himself to his left to hold the ball with a spectacular save of which Silvester Stallone would have proud of on the set of ´Escape to Victory´. It was a fitting end to a closely contested three- quarters of an hour´s football.
For a couple of minutes as the game restarted it looked as if Town were going to take it by the scruff of the neck and dominate. Mudge undertook a solo run but again came up against one man too many‚ repeated the performance a minute later and was able to test Hyde as a gap obligingly opened up to allow him a shot as he cut in across the face of the penalty area. It was flattery to deceive‚ though‚ and Dover retaliated with a cross from Tommy Tyne that Steele was just in time to poke of the toe of Carruthers as the Athletic man teed up his shot. The retaliation turned into more as Dover edged themselves on top. It was as if they gained belief that they could win the game. They upped their pace‚ upped their effort and reversed the roles of the first half as they took the majority of possession and forced Tivvy to defend and rely more on breakaways. One such led to Everett testing Dyer again but Dover´s experienced keeper was not going to be easily beaten. On the hour mark Tivvy rang the changes. The timing was generally considered right by the Yellows fans - enough time for the new faces to get themselves into the game. The same could not be said of the choice of players to be replaced‚ and the replacing of David Steele left the terraces bewildered. Far from instilling new life into the contest the substitutions seemed to close the game up. There was no chance of my pen running out as the contest sank into a mediocre mid-field hotch-potch of frantic inaction. It was not until there was only a dozen or so minutes remaining that there was another sniff of a scoring chance - and then it came about from an error. Jason Rees‚ possibly lulled by ennui at the lack of excitement surrounding the proceedings‚ made one of those graveyard passes so familiar when he tries to be creative from midfield but seldom is guilty of when acting as sweeper. This one was crossfield and underhit. It fell nicely for Glover who gleefully pounced on it and headed unchallenged for goal. Unchallenged that was until Foster scampered off his line to throw himself bravely at the strikers feet and deflect the ball away to comparative safety. Perhaps it was a sign of the pace at which the game had been played‚ fatigue leading to mistakes‚ but the scenario was repeated at the opposite end as we entered the last five minutes. Steve Ovens‚ who had certainly expounded a good percentage of his long built up cache of energy since coming on as one of Tivvy´s double substitution‚ burst through onto a misplaced ball and crashed a shot from out on the right that flew past Dyer but failed to have quite enough curl to find its way inside the far post. And Ovo was again involved in the final action‚ laying the ball out for Everett to hammer in a shot that the keeper couldn´t hold and was happy to see ricochet away for a corner. Even happier when the whistle sounded for full time before the kick could be taken thus confirming that the save had been the final action and that Dover had improved their record against the Yellows‚ something they´ll be seeking to expand upon in just four days time when the return fixture takes place in Kent at The Crabble.

Tiverton Town: Ben Foster‚ David Steele (Steve Winter‚61)‚ Paul Chenoweth‚ Jason Rees‚ Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Richard Pears (Steve Ovens,61), Phil Everett, Scott Rogers, James Mudge.
Subs not used: Danny Haines, Luke Vinnicombe, Paul Edwards (GK).
Cards: Yellow: Winter, Rees.

Dover Athletic: Paul Hyde, Tony Browne, Steve Norman, Danny Chapman, Dean Reading, Mark Munday, Kenny Dyer, Lee Spiller, Simon Glover (Paul Sykes,82), Tommy Tyne, Matt Carruthers
Subs not used: Christian James, Steve Hafner, Craig Cloak.
Cards: Yellow: Tyne.

Referee: Paul Hutton (Plymouth)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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