Match report

Grantham Town 0 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 05/04/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Pastures new! Territories fresh! For the travellers among us it was to be for the last time this term. No more journeys of discovery into the unknown lands and stadia of the Dr Martens League. Just like those intrepid voyagers of history there was an air of expectancy‚ uncertain expectancy‚ even oxymoronic expectancy of the unexpected. Despite that air‚ preconceived ideas‚ albeit based on misinformation or just plain misconception‚ also led to expectations that certain things would be seen‚ heard or occur. No doubt Hillary half expected to come face to face with a Yeti as he made his way through the foothills of the Himalayas towards Everest. It´s possible that Shackleton believed that the icy wastes of coastal Antarctica were populated by miniature nuns after some visually impaired predecessor had mis-seen the colonies of penguins and taken them for short of stature religious females. My geography ´O´ level was found wanting as we approached Grantham. East Anglia - therefore flat. Wrong! Close to Spalding (yuk) - therefore acres of tulips etc. Wrong! Birth place of a certain Iron Lady (personally I preferred listening to Iron Maiden who were just as earsplitting and twice as exciting) - therefore hoards of blue rinsed Tory matrons. Wrong again! On form Tiverton Town taking on the struggling Gingerbreads - therefore a Yellows victory and an extension to the best run the team had compiled this season. Only time would tell. Three O´clock approached at the modern‚ characterless stadium that Grantham call home. There was a backdrop of gently undulating country‚ not a tulip bulb or blue rinse in sight‚ leaving only the one remaining chance of an expectation being realised.
It has been noticeable over recent weeks that The Yellows have been above reproach for being ´slow starters´. This game was no exception. From the kick off Tivvy went forward. The attack broke down. Grantham retaliated. Their effort‚ too‚ was thwarted. Back down the other end and a throw in won on the left‚ level with the penalty area. Steele long throw territory - another dimension that David adds to the Yellows game. Nathan Rudge forward in the area with a back header that came down nicely for Phil Everett to control‚ swivel and shoot. Wide. Phil was looking lively at the front‚ as was Steve Ovens‚ and Chris Holloway was already beginning to get a grip on midfield matters. Five minutes in and Chris split the home defence to send Ovo in pursuit‚ but Ziccardi got to the ball first‚ only to demonstrate his suspect kicking with his first sliced clearance of the afternoon. The pressure was on the Gingerbreads back six and they were clearing their lines with some hefty high hoofing. One such clearance nearly won them the jackpot six minutes into the game. It fell to Jason Rees‚ Tiverton´s last man‚ who had pushed forward to the centre circle. Jason made a double error. Firstly he tried to send the ball straight back to whence it had come when he had ample time to bring it down and try something more constructive‚ and secondly he miscued and the ball span to Grantham striker Stuart Wilson‚ a lone white shirt hovering in hope of just such an opportunity and quick to seize his chance and head for goal. Ben Foster was isolated but edged forward. Wilson was unchallenged on his dash forward. Foster´s timing was perfect as the two met a yard inside the penalty area. Bravely down went Ben and just managed to flick out a hand to palm the ball off Wilson´s toe as the Gingerbread man (mmm... tasty memories of my childhood) turned past him. Not only pushing the ball away‚ but doing so without making any physical contact that might have been construed as a foul that could have seen Richard Pears revive his career between the posts. It was fine goalkeeping‚ even admitted by some of the ´home fans´ in the main stand. The incident was something of a landmark. It was the only serious action that Foster was to be involved in for the first half. It was likewise the only time Rees was to put a foot wrong all afternoon. The Yellows were not fazed by the close call and at least could claim that the escape was due to good play. That couldn´t be said of Grantham´s ´near moment´ a couple of minutes later. A free kick out on the Tivvy right was hoisted into the penalty area. It was David Steele´s turn to add height in the box. He used it to nod the ball deeper into the goalmouth where Everett rose to back head the ball towards goal. Ziccardi was beaten but scrambled to recover as the ball flicked back across the goalmouth of the upright.
The pattern of the game was becoming well established. The pitch was hard‚ the wind was strong. Tivvy were playing what ground level football was being played‚ though varying their tactics and sometimes using the arial approach. The home side were playing the majority of their game at least a yard above the dusty surface. The Yellows responded well to the high level bombardment with seldom a ball not being met by the head of Nathan Rudge‚ Rob Cousins or Rees (!). In the middle of the field Holloway was in control‚ ably aided by Rogers and Chenoweth both of whom were looking to move forward at any opportunity. At the front Everett and Ovens were flitting this way and that‚ Steve pulling the Grantham defence into all kinds of weird shapes. And there was ample width‚ too‚ as Danny Haines and Steele made the wing runs. For the Gingerbreads only left winger Dominic Hallows was making much impact‚ particularly with his long throws into the six yard box and the head of Rudge. There was no significant threat from the much vaunted Gary Bull whose horns appeared to have been drawn by his advancing years. It was‚ taking these factors into consideration‚ surprising that the ball didn´t find its way into the net until the 26th minute‚ and then it was at the unexpected end. A rare threat developed in the Tiverton goalmouth. after a ten second scramble the linesman flagged. The melee continued. The flag remained up. The ball came out of the ruck to be thumped into the net and the home players and fans celebrated. The flag remained vertical. The referee saw the flag and curtailed the celebrations. A foul in the area? Offside? I marked it as a foul‚ since the official didn´t keep his arm raised as the free kick was taken - mind you‚ it wouldn´t have been the only simple mistake that Mr Griggs had made or was to make. On the next occasion that mesh and sphere were to meet it was at the opposite end‚ and this time there was no retraction. Paul Chenoweth started the move out on the right. The ball was played around between himself‚ Ovens and Everett to bring it out from tight in the corner. The last pass brought it back to Chens cutting in from the edge of the penalty area and for him to chip it across the goal and just inside the far post. If there had been the necessity for an additional touch then Scott Rogers was at hand. His help wasn´t needed. The Yellows were in front and they continued looking the better side tothe break‚ creating three more half chances as against one free kick by Grantham that was driven tamely straight to Fosters hands.
Just as Tiverton´s lively starts have been noticeable in recent games‚ so it has become common place for the second 45 minutes to descend into comparatively scrappy affairs. Probably due as much to opposing managers telling their teams to close down the Yellows and restrict their playing space‚ as much as Tivvy running out of steam‚ this game proved to be no exception. There was a five minute burst of pressure from Grantham at the start of the half, easily contained by the Tivvy defence, before the contest centred itself mainly in an area between the two semi circles of the penalty areas. After ten minutes two substitutes were introduced by the Lincolnshire side in an attempt to bring new ideas and perhaps a little penetration to their forward play. It failed. Everything that reached the Tiverton third of the field fell to a yellow shirt. The defence was impenetrable. In midfield Tivvy were more than holding their own despite the congestion (no Ken Livingstone to apply charges!) and when mounting their less frequent forward moves looked far more likely to reap rewards. The frustration of the home fans at their sides inability to make inroads was growing. Their discontent at the entertainment level being reflected when one voice yelled, "Come on you black and whites", only to draw the reply, "B*gg*r that, come on anybody!" It was that kind of game. One good Tivvy move in the 67th minute prised open the tighter Grantham defence - now at times increased to seven - but went to waste as the final cross from the right was too strong and ran out for a throw in. Further disruption to the flow of play was caused by the introduction of more substitutes, and in the case of Tiverton, the subsequent re-shuffle. Grantham chased the game in the final ten minutes but still didn´t look remotely like saving a point. The effectiveness of their attack can probably be well judged by the fact that as the 90th minute was entered they were caught offside - for the first time in the game (unless that ´goal´ was ruled out for such, in which case it was the second time), and they had yet to win their first corner, another expectancy not to be realised! Ben Foster brought the curtain down on his Tivvy career with a good holding of a high cross, reaching forward over the head of both an attacker and defender to clasp the ball safely at arms length and the last action of the game rounded of the afternoon nicely for the 25 (approx.) Yellows devotees in the sparse crowd. Richard Pears bought down a clearance in the centre circle and flicked it past a defender, making a bee-line for the penalty area. Forced wide by the pursuing defender he rounded Ziccardi´s desperate plunge at his feet at the corner of the penalty area, regained his footing and laid the ball back across the penalty area into the path of Paul Chenoweth ploughing through in support from midfield. Chens completed a satisfactory afternoon by gleefully driving the ball home in a fitting finale to a workmanlike, solid performance by the better team on the day. Expectation realised. The most important one. We´ll settle for that.

Tiverton Town: Ben Foster, David Steele, Danny Haines (Richard Pears,80), Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge (Steve Winter,90), Rob Cousins, Paul Chenoweth, Chris Holloway, Phil Everett, Scott Rogers, Steve Ovens (James Mudge,83).
Subs not used: Kevin Nancekivell, Paul Edwards (GK).
Cards: Yellow: Cousins,

Grantham Town: Mario Ziccardi, Jon Hawley (Nigel Hemstock,70), Danny George, Brendon McDaid, Adrian Speed, Joby Gowshall, Lee Marshal, Gary Bull, Stuart Wilson, Graham Bowater (Guy Last,55), Dominic Hallows(Rick Ranshaw,55).
Sub not used: Darren Dye, Ian Wilkins.
Cards: Yellow: Ranshaw

Referee: Mr R Griggs (Cambridge)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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