Match report

Dover Athletic 0 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Monday 24/03/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Some things just stick in the memory‚ others need aids. Some things will only stick with the help of associations - as a child I always had to recite ´When England Invaded Germany‚ Hitler´s Troops Surrendered´‚ before I could remember that ´Weights´ was one of the exceptions to the ´i´ before ´e´ except after ´c´ rule. And then of course the opposite also applies in that some things will always come to mind when triggered by associations‚ even though you might prefer to forget them. Tiverton Town´s two games in five days against Dover Athletic will‚ for me‚ fall into that later category. Every time I hear mention of Dover‚ 0 - 0 draws‚ even girls called Eileen‚ I´m sure those five days in March 2003 will wiggle their way from the vaults and turn up in my conscious. Not that I should really worry too much since there will not be a lot to remember. The disappointment of a dour game at Ladysmead on the Wednesday evening was initially dismissed with the hope that down in Kent‚ Crabble would see the onus on Athletic to push forward in search of goals thus giving Tivvy more space to play and therefore resulting in a more open and entertaining contest. Perhaps we should have looked a little harder at Dover´s ´goals for´ tally. They had scored less than even Ilkeston or local rivals Folkestone had so far this season; and both those teams are doomed for the drop. So hopes of a comparatively more attacking game were perhaps premature. Sad to say‚ especially for the memory banks of the half dozen Tiverton supporters in the ´crowd´‚ so it proved.
Those prospects of a more entertaining evening than last Wednesday´s looked like coming to fruition as the game got underway. The opening exchanges‚ though maybe they shouldn´t be described as exchanges since they went almost entirely Tivvy´s way‚ were lively. In the very first minute Ben Foster became the first keeper to get a touch as he raced forward out of the penalty area to meet a long ball‚ side-stepped an optimistically charging forward and planted the ball deep into Dover territory. Phil Everett gave chase‚ brought the ball under control - no mean feat in itself on a pitch that through-out the match was to see the ball bouncing at 95% - and turned inside his man‚ only to see his ball into the area deflected away for a corner. When the cross came in from the kick it bounced around for a few seconds before Steve Ovens made a connection that sent the ball high and wide of the goal. Two minutes later Everett again cut in from the left and blasted in a shot of his own that once more was deflected as Paul Hyde failed to hold it‚ giving Ovens another chance‚ before being scrambled out to Paul Chenoweth hovering wide to the left. Cheno attempted a repeat of his strike against Stafford on Saturday. The shot was just as ferocious but it´s route was unfortunately not as clear and the Yellows had to be content with another corner. The action reverted to midfield with the ball spending most of the time under the precarious control of yellow socked feet. It was not until the 10th minute that there was a shot from a Dover boot‚ that of Tommy Tyne‚ and that flew straight and true to nestle in the midriff of Foster. Neither team‚ nor indeed any individual‚ seemed able to effectively come to terms with the ebullience of the ball. It was spending most of its existence airborne‚ travelling backwards and forwards from penalty area to penalty area‚ and providing nothing more than pre Wimbledon neck muscle toning exercise for those watching from the sidelines. Ovens did what he always does‚ chased everything that came near him‚ but on the two occasions he came even remotely close to being rewarded for his effort he lost out to Hyde racing to the edge of his area to collect.
That just about summed up the style of action for the first half hour. Dover tightened up and sat on the Tiverton players‚ giving the Yellows as much space as sardines in a can. They closed down any moves that threatened to threaten and even became adventurous themselves for a couple of minutes around the half hour mark but Town were equally capable of killing off their forward moves. For a brief spell it looked as if both teams had unlocked the secret of gravity and were using it to keep the ball on the ground‚ or at least close to it. Town strung together the most impressive sequence of passes seen so far as they swept from deep in their own half on the left‚ across field and forward until with about the tenth consecutive Tivvy touch the move broke down on the edge of the Dover penalty area. At the other end Ben Foster provided the home fans with a moment of increased heartbeat as he once again showed his outfield skills to beat a forward outside his area but mis-hit his subsequent clearance. Foster´s blushes were saved only when the return was hit back too quickly‚ leaving the man that Ben had just rounded well offside. The thought crossed my mind that if a goal was going to come it was likely to come from a set piece. Tivvy had one when Ovens was tumbled to the ground five yards short of bursting into the penalty area - Rees blasted wide. Dover had one from a rare corner - Tivvy cleared. Ovo lost another race with Hyde after Chris Holloway had headed a Dover free kick straight back towards the penalty area. At the half time break neither keeper had been tested and neither side had looked remotely like breaking the scoring embargo that seemed to have been imposed by......who-ever.
Just as the Yellows had set the pace at the start of the first half‚ so they did at the start of the second. Holloway found Ovens out on the right and Steve found space to evade the attentions of his marker to fire in a low cross that was just too far forward and too fast moving to be met by Everett. Seven minutes of midfield battling later David Steele broke down the right‚ cut in and drove the ball into the area. Ovo flicked the ball to Kevin Nancekivell who drove it inches past the upright. Foster was given a feel of the ball when Dover´s Dean Reading moved up for a free kick and managed an on target header that made easy pickings for the Yellows keeper as he scooped it off the ground. As we came to the hour mark Dover again staged something approaching an onslaught and edged their way on top - if such things are judged by possession and territorial advantage‚ and there was scant else to judge them on. Still neither side seemed able to get hold of the ball or exert any control over it. Twenty players hoofed the ball around with little idea of where it might go or where it might come from next. There was another narrow escape for the Yellows when‚ following a throw in‚ the ball was driven in from the left and Jason Rees got a foot to it as it headed for the near post. Foster was already stooping to collect it but the touch from his skipper sent it spiralling over him and dropping under the crossbar at the back of the goal. Rob Cousins somehow managed to jump diagonally to get his head to the ball with the Dover fans behind the goal already prematurely celebrating. How many times is that Rob has performed that feat this season? There were to be few more attempts on goal. Five minutes before the end Town had their last serious chance of taking all the points. Chenoweth let fly another Scud. Hyde got to it at the near post but was unable to absorb the sheer power of the shot and was happy to see the ball away for a corner. Taken long and high‚ Nathan Rudge was forward and to the ball. It never made contact with his head. A hand intervened. The whistle sounded as the ball flew away from goal and the Yellows appealed for hand ball. Mysteriously the man in black awarded a free kick to the home side for pushing in the area by Scott Rogers. The Tivvy players were convinced he had seen the hand contact‚ blown his whistle‚ had a doubt‚ and bottled out. It was however a fitting end to a disappointing game. Memorably forgettable would be a fair description - if only there were fewer things that are likely to remind me of it.

Tiverton Town: Ben Foster‚ David Steele‚ Paul Chenoweth, Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Phil Everett, Scott Rogers, Steve Ovens (James Mudge,82).
Subs not used: Danny Haines, Steve Winter, Richard Pears, Paul Edwards (GK).
Cards: Yellow: Everett, Holloway, Rogers.

Dover Athletic: Paul Hyde, Steve Hanna (Simian Glover,86), Steve Norman, Danny Champion, Dean Reading, Andy Argot, Kenny Dyer, Lee Spoiler, Jamie Day, Tommy Tyne (Paul Sykes,83), Matt Craters.
Subs not used: Mark Monday, Craig Cloak, Kristin James.
Cards: Yellow: Champion.

Referee: Mr Gain Ward (Sidcup)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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