The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Tiverton Town 1 - 2 Weymouth

Monday 25/08/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Weymouth were one of the reasons I celebrated Tivvy’s promotion to the Dr Martens Premier Division. It was one of those trips down memory lane - or might have been had not so much changed over in Dorset. Unlike Kings Lynn, Worcester City, Hastings, Bath City, I would not be visiting one of my childhood haunts since the Terras were no longer at the Recreation Ground home that I had occasionally frequented back in the 60’s. The Wessex Stadium had only memories of Speedway for me. Despite that, Weymouth were one of the clubs that featured in my earliest memories of football, and one of the ones that were accepted as the ‘giants’ of The Southern League. Even in those days they were regarded as ‘sleeping giants’ by many of their rivals. Full of potential but, apart from short bursts, likely to remain dozing and thus as dangerous as a sleeping policeman. Recent events have once more awakened them from their slumbers. Again they are on the march. Will they, this time round, actually realise that potential - or will their new-found morale and enthusiasm be short lived? This game gave Tiverton the chance to be among the first to sample the ‘New’, ‘Improved’, revitalised Weymouth FC for themselves........

The visitors appeared to have a greater sense of urgency from the outset, even the claret and blue clad supporters changing ends were in position behind Stuart Fraser before their home counterparts had turned the corner at the Sponsors End. Despite that it was Tiverton that mounted the first raid on a penalty area when David Steele sent a ball forward for Richard Pears to chase but the Terras back line moved forward as a man giving the referee’s assistant an opportunity to practice his semaphore signals in the third minute. It looked even more promising a minute later when Kevin Nancekivell was upended on the edge of the penalty are. There was much ‘hovering’ over the ball from Jason Rees, Steve Winter and Shaun Goff. Somewhat surprisingly, for the home fans at least, it was Goff that took the kick striking a fearsome shot that flew off the top of the wall and had Weymouth keeper Jason Matthews at full stretch to touch the ball away from the top left hand corner of his goal for a corner. But Town were flattering to deceive and as the game settled it was clear that the visitors had the edge, particularly in midfield. But it was only the edge, neither side were in total control, both were competing fiercely and there were plenty of robust tackles flying in. That midfield edge gave Weymouth a greater proportion of possession and they took full advantage of it, and the Ladysmead playing surface, to maintain a steady pressure on the home defence. Even Pears was dragged back to help disrupt their efforts and when, on the quarter hour mark, the Tivvy striker (?) gave away a free kick just outside the area Fraser had to be sharp to collect the low ball in. The battle between Nathan Rudge and the twisting, turning Steve Claridge showed no sign of being resolved, each player winning some, loosing some. When it came to breakaways though, Tivvy were more direct and therefore dangerous. Unfortunately the Weymouth back line maintained their discipline and when Jamie Mudge jinked his way clear of their attentions to slip the ball forward for Nancekivell to sprint onto, Nance again fell foul of an upraised flag on the sideline. So the pattern was established. Weymouth possession, but held at a safe distance. Tiverton breaks, but contained by the organisation of the Terras’ back line. The result was that neither goalkeeper was particularly busy, though for several short periods Matthews was lonely as well as idle, being the only man in the Weymouth half of the field. He wasn’t alone come the 22nd minute though. In fact Steele was very close as he challenged Matthews for a long cross from Goff on the left. Too close for the referee as it turned out who deemed Steele to have been too robust and not only penalised him but showed him the Yellow card. It was the first of three cautions in as many minutes. Weymouth’s Steve Tully collected the next one for upending Goff who needed treatment and then Goff himself was ‘carded’ for returning to the field of play before the referee had signalled his permission. Bizarre, since play had continued after the foul on Goff, and a free kick had been awarded for offside against Weymouth. The official then restarted the game by awarding a free kick to the Terra’s at the point where Goff had stepped back into the field of play. Now, it is a long time since I took my referee’s exams, and I haven’t carried a whistle for over two decades. One thing I do recall, though, was the importance of the 19th Law of The Game being emphasised throughout my training. The referee may have been applying the letter of the law, that I accept. But where is the justice in the team of a player guilty of a tackle that warranted a yellow card being allowed to restart a game with a free kick due to the indiscretion, or miscomprehension of a referee’s signal, by the player against who the offence was committed. The expression ‘The Law Is An Ass’ usually refers to the British judicial system - on this occasion it seemed tailor made for Mr Cassidy’s interpretation of the Laws of football. Rant over, and the injustice was rapidly forgotten as from the resulting Weymouth pressure Tivvy broke out of defence. Pears collected the ball in midfield - the normal Tivvy residents being occupied in deeper regions - turned and headed into the Weymouth half. Shadowed by three of the Terras’ back four, with the other man covering Nancekivell who had joined him in the forward charge, Pears was forced to the right. Not far, but far enough to lessen his chance of a direct strike on goal. Unpeturbed, Richard twisted his way to the corner of the penalty area and sent an inch perfect ball across the area, dissecting the defence, to find ‘Nance’ who had ghosted behind his guardian and had space to calmly sidefoot the ball into the net. For the first time this season Tivvy had scored the opening goal of the game! Was it an omen?

Weymouth had to try to get back quickly. They tried but the goal had given The Yellows a lift too, and as the game opened out it was the home side that created the next chances, Pears (again) tee-ing the ball up for himself to hit a shot that had power but was straight at Matthews, and then setting Mudge free down the right but Jamie’s driven cross carried right across the field to go out for a throw on the far side. Weymouth though came even closer, Paul Buckle unleashing a shot from 25 yards that had Fraser beaten as he scampered across his goal line relieved to se the ball fly back off the top of his left hand upright. It was all action, but soon to be curtailed for Weymouth’s Kevin Gill who was replaced, as a tactical manoeuvre apparently since he seemed to be uninjured, by Mark Robinson. With seven minutes to go to the break there was another change in the visitors line up, this one enforced. Lee Phillips took a serious looking knock and received prolonged attention from his Physio. Upright again, he hobbled off to continue treatment but was replaced by the vastly experienced Scott Partridge. Mudge made a solo run for the Yellows that was interrupted by the boot of Lee Russell, and with 45 minutes on the watch and the home fans beginning to settle for a single goal interval lead, Weymouth won a corner when substitute Partridge showed his threat by firing in a shot that Fraser could only tip over the bar. Barlow tried from way out but the pressure was relieved when the ball flew high and wide. Upfield went Town but were soon on the defensive again as Claridge broke. The Terras’ boss fed the ball wide to John Lamb who cut into the left hand corner of the penalty area and drove the ball towards the centre of the goal. Fraser had it covered until Lady Luck ceased to smile on Jason Rees following back across the path of the shot. It was the slightest of touches. More and the ball would have been stopped or deflected for a corner. Less it would have still carried to Fraser. As it was the ball changed direction just enough to leave Fraser collecting fresh air and the ball flying between him and the upright to level the scores. There was no interval lead for either side - probably a just situation.

There was plenty of action too as the second half got underway. Robinson left Steele stranded as he charged down the right, the Weymouth subs’ low cross being stopped dead as it entered the Tivvy area by Jason Rees who then had to hack the ball quickly clear as he was closed upon. At the other end Town had a free kick and Nathan Rudge had the ball flicked of his head for a corner. Then it was Weymouth’s turn when Rees conceded a free kick and Rudge cleared with a header followed by the big boot before, a minute later breaking down the right, sending a low crossfield ball to Pears who’s tap inside set up a ground shot for Nancekivell to test Matthews. Tivvy began to edge on top. Holloway sent Pears on a run, the ball hacked out for a corner that Matthews was forced to punch clear under pressure from Nancekivell. Another corner for the home side, sent in low. Mudge, unable to create space laid the ball back for Cousins to blast low and wide. It was end to end. The pace of Mudge and Nancekivell causing problems, likewise the control and trickery of Claridge. It was the latter that brought a positive result. Tearing free down the right he rounded Rob Cousins and cut along the by line. A stabbed cross to the back of the area found Lamb who as just before the break shot on sight. This time there was no deflection and the ball sped swift and true where he intended it to go - into the net.

There was no sign of dropping heads from the home side. All out attack was the order of the day, even Goff getting in on the act with a little flicked shot that nearly caught Matthews out but the keeper managed to hold. Mudge forced Matthews into pushing the ball out for a corner. Holloway headed over the bar, Nancekivell lost the race to a long ball from Goff that Matthews hacked up field, Mudge fired wide from the edge of the area. Yes plenty of action, plenty of chances but no result. Into the 90th minute and a corner on the Tivvy left. Everyone was forward - and I do mean everyone. Goff took the kick hoisting it into the far post. Fraser was up to make contact, yes Fraser. It was not a strikers header and flew high over the bar. Fraser retreated quickly. The goal kick was just as quickly returned to the Weymouth penalty area by Cousins, Pears flicking a header wide. Rudge was still forward when the ball was again lofted forward. He nodded it down to Holloway whose full blooded shot bounced out of the crowded six yard box and back into midfield space. With the ball in a neutral are the referee decided it was over.

Weymouth are a far better side than last year. How much of that is due to the Claridge factor and the confidence that the new regime has bought to the Dorset side remains to be seen. They have yet to suffer a demoralising result, or sequence of results. If and when they do, it will be interesting to see how they react - just as it will be interesting to see how Tivvy deal with their present situation.

Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser, Steve Winter, Shaun Goff, Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Richard Pears, Jamie Mudge, David Steele.

Substitutes: Matt Aubrey, Steve Ovens, Ben Harris, Luke Vinnicombe.

Bookings: Steele 22, Goff 25.

Weymouth: Jason Matthews, Steve Tully, Lee Russell, Martin Barlow, John Waldock, Mark Kenway, Paul Buckle, Kevin Gill, Steve Claridge, John Lamb, Lee Phillips.

Substitutes: Leon Green, Scott Partridge (Phillips, 38), Mark Robinson (Gill, 33), Scott Dennis, Paul Gadsby.

Bookings: Tully 24, Waldock 90.

This report ©2003 John Reidy