Match report

Tiverton Town 4 - 2 Halesowen Town

   Saturday 29/03/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

enigma n. Riddle; puzzling person or thing; enigmatic(al) adjs. (-ically). [L f. Gk]

Thus‚ when I came to check it‚ the dictionary defined the word that came to mind as I faced a blank screen with a blank mind prior to this game. Blank‚ thanks to the vagaries of South West Power (my screen not my mind) who decided that 8.30 am on a Saturday morning was as good a time as any to undertake ´essential maintenance´. But the word did seem apt as far as our opponents were concerned. An enigmatic nickname‚ ´the Yeltz´‚ that even the club and it´s supporters cannot explain. An enigmatic manager‚ Brendan Phillips‚ who has neither Irish nor Welsh blood as his name might suggest. A team that throughout the season‚ on paper at least‚ looked strong enough to comfortably consolidate their Premier Division status following last season´s promotion from the Western Division. Of course‚ football is not played on paper and the Yeltz have seldom managed to ease away from the spectre of a rapid return to the lower division as their results on grass have frustrated their fans. The definition could equally be applied to the home side´s exhibitions this season. Consistently inconsistent; particularly since the turn of the year since when they had failed to string two successive wins together‚ though it has to be admitted that they have gathered a reasonable set of results over the last four games. With one last glance at ´enigma´ nestling at the bottom of page 282 I laid the dictionary‚ still open‚ to one side of my desk‚ turned the PC on so that it would boot up on the return of power‚ and made an early start for Ladysmead where at least I´d be able to get a cup of tea before watching Tiverton Town take on Halesowen Town.
Inevitably‚ thanks to the lack of control displayed by Nathan Rudge against Crawley in the last game Tivvy lost which - earned him a red card and suspension from this encounter - plus illness hitting Kevin Nancekivell‚ there were changes in the Tivvy line-up. David Steele moved into the middle of defence‚ Paul Chenoweth took up the vacant midfield slot and the two lowest numbered yellow shirts were filled by Steve Winter and Danny Haines. Perhaps the visitors had been doing their research and realised that in their most recent games Town had charged forward from the outset and pinned the opposition back for the first 15 minutes or so‚ the current buzz phrase for such opening tactics being ´shock and awe´‚ I believe. The Yeltz‚ giving notice that they weren´t in Devon to hold onto a sole point‚ had their own way of dealing with any such ploy; they attacked themselves. (No‚ they attacked Tiverton... themselves). And they came frighteningly close to opening the scoring in the second minute as Jason Ashby fired in a shot that skidded off Ben Foster´s crossbar with the young keeper hopelessly distant. The Yellows breathed a sigh of relief and got on with their task‚ gradually asserting control of midfield and settling into their ´new´ roles. Chris Holloway became the dominant man in the centre and at the hub of everything that Town were producing. In the 6th minute he drove forward‚ worked a 1-2 ith Phil Everett but was crowded out as he closed on goal in the penalty area. A minute later he was again involved as Tivvy won the first corner of the game when Steve Ovens caused problems on the right flank. When the ball was weakly headed out of the Halesowen box Chris´s fearsome drive flew just wide. Scott Rogers‚ too‚ was showing an interest in pushing forward if given the chance and a well placed Everett crossfield ball set him free for an effort on goal in the 11th minute but the shot was weak and easily dealt with by the experienced Tim Clarke between the visitors posts. Tiverton were at the stage they had been at in those previously mentioned games; total forward play. Only the abilities of Halesowen´s Gavin Stone consistently interrupted their flow. Then came the first enigma of the afternoon. The Yeltz took the lead. Enigmatic because they had hardly been in the game since that first effort. With their second attack of the afternoon they won a corner out on their left. Unsurprisingly‚ with the lack of height in the Tiverton defence‚ the ball was sent over high and met by a head over a blue shirt that directed it goalwards. Jason Rees hooked it off the line and it fell out to the opposite wing from where it was instantly returned; directly to the foot of Michael Blackwood who set the net bulging with a tremendous drive from ten yards out.
Sixteen minutes gone and for the umpteenth time this season Tivvy were going to have to battle from behind. Thankfully it took them only as long as a half decent ´miler´ takes to complete four laps of a running track‚ though in that brief period it was obvious that the goal had inspired the visitors. That inspiration led to them pushing forward confidently rather than doing as predecessors had‚ i.e. sitting on their lead and closing the game down to deny Tivvy the chance of a quick reply. So the Yellows were allowed to push forward and Steve Ovens tangled with Les Hines as the defender found him too much of a handful down in the right hand corner. Winter moved up to take the free kick. It came across low. Stone was riding shotgun on Everett but it was Phil´s boot that made contact on the volley to leave Clarke flat footed as the net bulged in reflection of its counterpart at the other end four minutes earlier. More goals promised as the game continued in open fashion. Both teams were committed to attack‚ Tivvy probably finding the better chances - marginally. Half an hour gone and a corner to Halesowen. Cleared and straight back down the other end where a Winter cross was weakly headed clear and Holloway´s shot swerved the wrong side of the upright. Come the 36th minute and the promise was realised. Scott Rogers down the left‚ right down in the corner and looking trapped. Looking but not. He managed to force in a high dropping cross. Dropping once again to the toe of hit man Everett‚ who again had evaded the attention of Stone by a foot or two. The ball dropped; Phil´s leg swung as he pivoted; leather and leather connected on the volley. Clarke threw himself‚ twisting‚ in the right direction but by the time he hit the deck the ball was trickling back out of the goal and the home side were in front. Halesowen didn´t give up easily. Yes‚ their heads were lower than they had been twenty minutes earlier but they kept trying. Unsuccessfully though‚ as the only effort on goal that they could muster was a weak shot on target from Hines which served only to give Foster a renewed acquaintance with the ball. The home side deserved their half time lead.
The second half started quietly. The Yeltz did most of the attacking but had little impact. Town seemed content to extend their interval rest by sitting back and allowing their visitors to do all the work. Inexplicably the ball seemed to spend an increased proportion of it´s time airborne. Glancing at my still open dictionary I notice that the word at the top of page 282 is ´enema´‚ and that could have been as appropriate as the one I used for my opening theme. Both mid-fields might have benefited from such a procedure to promote a little more movement. Chris Holloway had taken a ´knock´‚ I was told later‚ but it is worrying that such a single fact should have as disruptive an effect. The ball was lifted forward from defence to optimistic chasers Ovens and Everett at front. Nothing was being passed. Definitely a case for warm‚ soapy water. Better equipped to handle this style of play, Halesowen were more than holding their own and if Tivvy had had the better of the first half then it was the Midlanders that were looking more and more promising as the second 45 minutes progressed and Phil was being forced to drop deeper and deeper, leaving Ovo as frequently the only front man. None too well physically constructed to deal with high balls forward, Steve did, however, twice manage to gain control and make runs that reminded the Halesowen defenders that they did have opposition. In the 59th minute he broke down the right wing but the only players to remotely keep pace with him were three blue shirted defenders. Then a minute later he was through the middle and away from his shadows to advance one on one on Clarke. All that can be said about his final shot was that it proved the strength of the net supporting stanchions when hit from the outside. Unfortunate. Had Steve buried the ball it would probably have buried the Yeltz. As it was they fought on and justly pulled themselves level in the 68th minute. Jason Rees conceded an unnecessary and possibly unjustified free kick outside the right hand side of the Tiverton Penalty area. The kick was an in-swinger driven cross. Central defender Lee Collins powered forward from the penalty spot, connected firmly with his head and sent the ball rocketing into the net. All square again. Tiverton appeared to have taken their foot off the pedal in the second half and their rivals had drawn along side. They needed to re- ccelerate or they would be overtaken. Things did improve a little but not enough to make it look as though the Yellows might pull clear again. Halesowen ontinued to look like the team most likely......
The final throw of the dice came in the 77th minute. A double substitution and subsequent reshuffle. ´Wints´ and Holloway off - Pears and Mudge on. Fans and players alike seemed confused for a while. Phil was still forward, Richard looked for a minute or two as if was settling in midfield then he too was forward. Ovo was still forward. Jamie Mudge was forward. Adventurous! Also dangerous, though as we moved into the last ten minutes it began to take shape with three up front and Ovo as the forward mid-fielder. The greater attacking strength eased the pressure on Tivvy´s back line and swung the balance in their favour for the first time since the break. Jamie made a couple of runs - one on either side of the field - but ran into some determined defending (Stone again, but a very tired and bumbling Stone). Danny Haines made a similar run that resulted in Rogers scooping the ball a dozen feet over the top. A free kick out wide on Tivvy´s right was touched a couple of inches to Mudge whose long lob dropped into the top of the net. Time was running out. Halesowen pressed forward. The ball was cleared to Pears who hit it out wide to Jamie on the left. Jamie had to go some to keep the ball in but he managed it - just - and headed down the line before crashing in a low cross that was prodded by the tired foot of Stone to the toe of Rogers powering through the middle. Scott steadied himself and unleashed a drive that had just the faintest of curls as it rocketed beyond Clarke´s right hand and into the top corner of the net. It was the fifth cracking goal of the afternoon and was enough to have sent the fans home satisfied with a good afternoon´s entertainment and three much appreciated points. Young Mr. Mudge, though, hadn´t finished. Deep, nearly three minutes deep, into injury time he once again went rampaging down the left flank to hammer in a low cross. Richard Pears was unable to turn to force in a shot but held the ball well to feed it back into Jamie´s path for the effervescent youngster to hit a low shot into the far bottom corner of the net. The scoreline was hard on the visitors who seldom looked like a side in danger of relegation. Their approach to the game was far more worthy than that of some teams visiting Ladysmead and contributed much to an interesting, entertaining and card-free match. I, for one, hope they survive and bring the same brand of open football to Devon again next season.

Tiverton Town: Ben Foster, Steve Winter (James Mudge,77), Danny Haines, Jason Rees, David Steele, Rob Cousins, Paul Chenoweth, Chris Holloway (Richard Pears,77), Phil Everett, Scott Rogers, Steve Ovens
Subs not used: Luke Vinnicombe, Martyn Grimshaw, Paul Edwards (GK).
Cards: Yellow: NONE.

Halesowen Town: Tim Clarke, Richard Colwell, Les Hines, Gary Bauress, Lee Collins, Gavin Stone (Richard Leadbetter,90), Lee Williams, Jason Ashby, Michael Blackwood, Neil Gibson (Asa Charlton,31 (Mark Danks,77)), Andy Spencer.
Subs not used: Gary Hateley, Kirk Masters.
Cards: Yellow: NONE

Referee: Mr S. Hollick (Plymouth)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






Please note: The � or ? character in some older reports denotes where an error has occured in translation when the reports were transfered between databases