Match report

Havant & Waterlooville 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 19/04/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

When the Christian Church decided to break one of the 10 Commandments and steal‚ or perhaps they would describe it as ´adapt´‚ the pagan festival in honour of the goddess Ester‚ it was obviously done with a bit of forethought. The springtime feast was celebrated to welcome the rebirth of nature. Trees regained their foliage‚ flowers bloomed‚ chicks hatched‚ bunnies did what bunnies do regardless and young men´s fancies turned to thoughts of.......and not only young men´s fancies‚ believe me. The adding of the letter ´a´ was unimportant‚ the theme of rejuvenation and resurrection was what mattered. Times of plenty were welcomed back after a winter of frugal existence. Rome encapsulated that idea of abstinence with the fasting period of Lent. And both pagan and Christian celebrations were typified by scenes of excess. In modern days‚ six chocolate free weeks are compensated for by a veritable glut as the sugar level in the diet of the children‚ and a fair number of adults‚ of the western world shoots back up to it´s normal tooth rotting‚ pimple feeding level via the commercial medium of egg shaped confectionery. Until the comparatively recent demise of Good Friday‚ there was also a three games in four days football programme that would have current Premiership managers moaning‚ and players taking to their sickbeds in horror. Despite the comparative easing of the situation‚ Easter 2003 sees Tiverton Town embarking on a four in eight days run of games that will see them attempt to protect and consolidate second place in the Premier Division of the Dr Martens League. Not as crucial as the run in to the end of the 2000 - 2001 promotion season‚ perhaps‚ but still important to fans and team alike. First up was the trip to Hampshire to face Havant and Waterlooville‚ fresh from all the glitter and glamour of their FA Trophy exploits‚ albeit tarnished by their falling at the final hurdle. The Hawks would no doubt be looking for a little Eastertide rejuvenation of their own‚ so..........
A twenty degree drop in temperature‚ coupled with a wind strong enough to bring delight to the faces of the Weekend and Bank Holiday Navy of the nearby Hamble and Solent‚ meant conditions for football were far from ideal. Despite their warm up sessions on the pitch - which was hard but showing no signs of the mini earthquake fissures that apparently struck one ´park´ in neighbouring Wiltshire - the game opened with neither set of players making any obvious effort to maintain play at ground level. The first incident of note brought a bloody splash of colour to the scene as Nathan Rudge and Havant´s James Taylor clashed leaving the home player with a bruised elbow and Nathan with a crimson bib as his life juices poured from a split lip. It was to be the first encounter in a running battle between the two players that endured the entire game‚ leniently handled by the referee‚ a fact more to Taylor´s advantage than Rudge´s since‚ despite the provocation‚ Nathan again displayed remarkable self discipline. Having allowed Dai to stem the flow to a trickle‚ Tivvy´s big central defender threw himself into the game and made an immediate impact. Eight minutes in and Town won the first corner of the match after Steve Ovens had harried two defenders down in the right hand corner. Ovo never gained control of the ball but his effort saw it ricochet away to Scott Rogers whose cross in towards Phil Everett in the six yard box was desperately headed past the upright for the corner. Paul Chenoweth went wide to take the kick. Nathan came forward to add height in the area. Cheno swung the ball over. Nathan rose clear above the defence to make clean and directed contact and send the ball off the underside of the crossbar and The Yellows into the lead. Nathan´s contribution to the game seemed to incense Taylor and straight from the restart the pair of them were once again involved in ´handbags at ten paces´‚ attracting words‚ but no more‚ from Mr Pike‚ who seemed as forceful as his namesake from ´Dad´s Army´. The Hawks had to chase the game to attempt to find an equaliser but though they increased their air of urgency there was little sign that they were likely to gain any satisfaction‚ all the constructive‚ and therefore threatening‚ football was coming from the visitors. The ´unlucky for some´ thirteenth minute proved to be just so for Chenoweth. Bursting through onto a efence splitting ball from Rogers‚ Cheno was beaten to it by a yard by Havant keeper Aaron Kerr who dashed out to the edge of his area.
A minute later came the first of a series of occurrences that were to be the earmark of the afternoon´s sport. This time it was Ovens´ turn to leave the Hawks defence flat footed (taloned?)‚ breaking clear and closing on the penalty area. Kerr came‚ Ovo lobbed. It looked to be dropping into the net but was still an inch or so high and came back into play off the crossbar‚ bouncing out to the right hand corner of the six yard box. A miss‚ but wait....Following in was Phil Everett. Unchallenged‚ Phil had all the time he needed to steady himself‚ the ball‚ the entire planet if so he desired. He picked his spot, crashed in his shot, and saw the ball rocket off the inside of the upright and across the goalmouth to be scrambled away to safety. Another inch to the left and the game would probably have been over. No point in ´might have beens´; Phil did all he could and got on with the game. Twenty minutes gone and Havant did come close to scoring. A goalmouth scramble led to a corner, led to a goalmouth scramble, led to a corner, led to a scramble, led to a clearance. In amongst all the scrambling the ball was almost forced over the line. Almost but not, and Tivvy continued to look the team most likely to score. Steve Ovens was soon in action again. Seemingly trapped down in the left hand corner by a pair of Havant men, it looked as if he was playing for the deflection over the goal-line by the defenders, Not so. Steve wriggled along the line, ball at toe, and laid it across to David Steele at the near post only for David to somehow contrive to lift it well over the crossbar from no greater distance than 36 inches. It was the second bad miss but not too worrying as Tiverton continued to be more incisive. Chances were coming, surely more would be converted? Up to the closing minutes of the half they were only chances no more. With two minutes left on my watch Paul Edwards easily held a high ball from a corner and with a wind assisted clearance found Danny Haines on the left. Danny had been the architect of a number of good flowing moves but this time went on a solo expedition down the flank. Approaching the by- line he resisted the temptation to send in the high cross and rolled the ball along the ground towards the semi-circle at the back of the penalty area where Scott Rogers was powering forward from mid-field. The ball ran true to Scott´s boot with the goal gaping and almost undefended. Hit the target and there was a 95% chance of hitting the net. Missed! Wide! So instead of a possible devastating half-time lead of 4-0, it was a paltry single goal that separated the sides as the queue grew for the refreshment hut.
Jamie Mudge replaced Ovens at the break, Steve suffering with a sore Achilles Tendon. The youngster´s pace and ball control were ample substitute for Ovo´s persistence so there was little cause for concern that the game would be unduly disrupted by the change. What did make a difference was that Havant now had the wind - behind them, that is - which added length and speed to the route one balls. Never-the-less the first threat came from the Yellows. Rogers released Mudge on the right. Jamie´s low cross found Everett, once again escaping the attention of his markers, in the six yard box. A simple side foot shot and it was 2-0. IF. If it´s on target. It wasn´t. It was wide. So still 1-0. No point in ´might have beens´; Phil did all he could and got on with the game, again. Within a minute Tivvy built a beautiful eight man first touch passing move that carried them forward from the left of their own defensive regions across to the right hand side of the Hawks´ penalty area. The final ball into the box was from Mudge. The final touch was so nearly Scott´s but his diving header failed to bring his Radius sponsored coiffure into contact with the ball by a hair´s breadth. What a difference an inch could have made! A similar type of move five minutes later saw Scott deliver the cross that was poked off Everett´s toe by Havant´s Dan Turner. Not a miss this, sharp defending. Between all this Tiverton action the Hampshire men were making their own contributions but it lacked the cutting edge of the Yellows efforts. Rudge did lose out to Taylor on one occasion when an over confident back-heel failed to come off and presented Taylor with the ball. He´d not travelled five yards, though, before Nathan had it back off him and away. More good moves from Town saw Scott get a shot on target but without the power to cause Kerr any problems, and Haines get onto the end of a Mudge cross to force a deflection by the keeper. Into the last quarter of the match and Dean Blake set up Dave Leworthy but the ´ol´ man´ was well off target. A minute on and Kerr did well to tip an Everett header away for a corner. Another minute and at the other end Eddie climbed high to field a cross. It was that kind of game. End to end - no boring end of season stuff here.
Then came the final twist. It took a rare defensive error, two actually, to let the Hawks back into the game. Firstly Jason Rees failed to apply the big boot to clear and was closed down by a forward, leaving him little option but to push the ball sideways to Chris Holloway. Tivvy's midfield master was himself under pressure and tried to make room for himself with one of his trademark, and usually effective, turns on the proverbial sixpence. This time it wasn't effective and Chris was robbed of the ball which was pushed wide to substitute James Ford. Ford wasted no time in spreading the ball crossfield, dissecting the space across the far side of the penalty area between Edwards and Rob Cousins. A yard to the right and it would have been the keepers, a yard to the left and it would have fallen to Cousins. As it was it split them, Leworthy belied his 41 years to nip round the back of Rob, collected the ball and fired home past the exposed Edwards. Such is football. And from the Tiverton point of view worse was in the pipeline. Straight from the restart Havant regained possession. A wind assisted clearance found Brett Poate out on the left. Forward he tore, matched through the middle by the rejuvenated Leworthy. Over came the cross, up went Leworthy, into the net went the header. Two - one. The chickens of Tiverton's first half misses had come home to roost, with a vengeance. With seven minutes remaining, Phil completed his hat trick when he got his feet in a tangle and failed to hit the ball past Kerr from three feet out at the near post from a right wing cross. He could only manage to scoop the ball off the keeper for a corner. It was his last fling in a match he will surely wish to forget. Richard Pears came on but could make little impact in the remaining minutes.
The final whistle left the home fans flapping their wings in delight whilst the visiting contingent could only shake their heads and mutter all the normal platitudes. One of those days.... It should have been won in the first half....I don't mind losing to a better side.....We played so well..... On a personal note, my philosophical musings revolve round that man Leworthy. The first time I saw him was when he made his debut for Oxford United and hit two goals in a Christmas holiday day fixture. I wouldn't object if these two goals in an Easter holiday contest was the last time I saw him - or at least playing against 'my' team! In the meantime I'll settle for watching the youngsters like Everett, Edwards and Chenoweth!

Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, David Steele, Danny Haines, Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Paul Chenoweth, Chris Holloway, Phil Everett (Richard Pears,83), Scott Rogers, Steve Ovens (James Mudge,46).
Subs not used: Steve Winter, Kevin Nancekivell, Luke Vinnicombe.
Cards: Yellow: None

Havant & Waterlooville: Aaron Kerr, Alec Masson, Chris Ferrett, Niel Champion, Dan Turner, Christian Hanson, Dean Blake (Jamie Ford,73), David Leworthy (Warren Haughton,89), Bobby Howe, James Taylor, Bret Poate.
Subs not used: Luc Curling, Lewis Fennemore, Louis Savage.
Cards: Yellow: Poate, Taylor, Turner

Referee: Mr Kevin Pike (Gillingham, Dorset).

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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