Match report

Crawley Town 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Wednesday 23/04/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Up in Somerset‚ at the village of Stanton Drew just south of Bristol‚ there is a mysterious collection of stones. Not as famous or as imposing as its counterparts at Avebury or Stonehenge‚ legend has it that they are the fossilisation of a party of wedding guests that paid the price for the unforgivable misdemeanour of continuing their celebrations past midnight on a Saturday evening and dancing their way into the Sabbath. The offered explanation is not only a legend but also undoubtedly a myth‚ two often confused and sometimes overlapping definitions. It is easy to see how such mythical legends‚ or indeed legendary myths develop. Every time the tale is told a little is added or exaggerated until fact becomes fiction and the revised story moves into fantasy and folklore. This scribe´s musing on this theme on the trip to Crawley were obviously inspired by the date - April 23 - St George´s day. England´s patron saint‚ legendary slayer of mythical dragons‚ not to mention saviour of maidens in distress. Even if the contest had occurred on its original date there would have been a fair chance of the same thoughts coming to mind since the encounters between the two sides have certainly indicated that they were inclined to be moving towards a legendary if not mythical place in the history of the two clubs. And one man in the Devon side was certainly building a reputation of legendary status at the Sussex club. Striker Richard Pears had come off the bench halfway through Tivvy´s first visit to the Broadlands Stadium last season to display his dubious goalkeeping skills‚ and despite some unorthodox positioning had made a number of spectacular saves (of the ball‚ not the previous mentioned damsels in distress‚ I must point out). This season he had impressed in the FA Cup tie‚ scoring the goal that gave Town the lead at Ladysmead and then hitting another brace in the replay before The Yellows crumbled to that bitter defeat. Little wonder then that the man was included in Tivvy´s starting line up for this latest instalment of the epic saga between the two sides.
Apart from the almost predictable inclusion of Pears there were starts too for Steve Winter and Kevin Nancekivell as Martyn Rogers attempted to freshen up a side that he felt was looking jaded and weary after the exertions of recent weeks. No such accusations could be made about the Yellows - in white again (!??!) - as the contest got underway in an eerily under populated stadium. After the home side´s initial touch and long ball forward Tiverton gained possession of the ball and control of the game. Keep ball football carried them steadily forward until they were ready to launch sudden lunges at the Crawley defence. Pears soon showed his ball skills with a magical three touch piece of juggling in the centre circle that bought a high ball to the ground creating space to enable him to spread it wide to Winter on the right. The degree of superiority that the Yellows were showing was indicated by the fact that Paul Edwards was a mere spectator until having his first touch of the ball in the tenth minute‚ and even then it was from long high free kick from the Reds half that was helped on its way by the head of Winter. Having discovered that the pitch did after all extend beyond the half way line Crawley decided to venture into the previously rarely explored territory and mounted a concerted attack and succeeded in moving the majority of the action forward into midfield but even when they did mount what resembled a threatening move that culminated in a low cross from their left‚ Tiverton replied with their own incisive break through the middle with Steve Ovens‚ Pears and Nancekivell combining to set Nance bursting into the Crawley area but scooping his shot well over Andy Little´s crossbar. On the quarter hour mark Pears forced in a low cross from the right that had Marc Pullen stretching to intercept and in the process putting little in difficulty as he was forced to hack the ball away from knee height. Crawley were struggling to contain their visitors and in attempting to stop the flow of Tiverton the home side became more robust. It was a ploy that showed results and they battled their way into a game that they had contributed very little to‚ indeed so unsettling were their more physical tactics hat they began to get the upper hand. Nic McDonnell‚ who had mirrored Pears´ scoring antics in the previous encounters between the sides‚ made a penetrating run into the Tiverton box but Chris Holloway got his boot to the ball before the hit man could fire in his shot. As the game became more heated so did the players blood and Scott Rogers and Ernie Cooksey collecting yellow cards for a piece of nonsense. Sadly Tivvy lost the plot somewhat and failed to deal with the increased vigour of the opposition‚ losing their shape and at times looking decidedly ragged.
It came as little surprise when against the overall balance of play‚ if not the more recent flow of the game‚ Crawley took the lead. A long cross from their left‚ following a corner‚ found its way through a still crowded six yard box‚ evading red and white socks galore until it reached Ernie Cooksey at the far post who belligerently crashed the Reds into the lead. Tivvy were even more rattled than they had been and for the next five minutes were in total disarray. Another yellow card‚ this time for Rees‚ seemed to bring them to their senses and before the indiscipline became completely uncontrollable they gathered themselves and began to play football again. First hopeful sign of a revival came with a Winter long range shot‚ on target but weakly struck so no problem for Little. Then a rare Everett cross was headed goalwards by Pears but cleared away for a throw in which found its way to winter who hit another shot in that did cause the keeper problems. As the watch ticked into the third minute of added time Nancekivell headed on a Nathan Rudge cross but little collected easily. It had been a scrappy spectacle towards the end of the first half but at least there were signs that the Yellows were getting their act back on the road.
From a temperament point of view those indications remained when the jousting continued after the break. The same could not be said about Tivvy´s share of the ball or territorial dominance. Just like in their previous meeting at the Broadfields Stadium the home side appeared to benefit more from whatever refreshment they had been given during the interval and pinned the Yellows back into their own half from the re-start. A corner saw the ball cleared from the six yard area back out to the taker‚ Ben Judge whose second ball in was headed over the crossbar by the steadily more threatening McDonnell and it was not until the 53rd minute that Tivvy managed to build a raid with any prospect of reward. Even then a hopeful long ball into the left hand corner looked to be far out of reach of Steve Ovens and was comfortably collected by a pair of red shirted defenders. Ever prepared to take on lost cause‚ Ovens continued the apparently fruitless chase‚ harassed the Crawley duo and won the ball. Cutting along the line and with no support in the offing‚ Ovo turned inside and took a poke himself and though getting his effort on target it lacked the power to cause Little any consternation. The move‚ though ‚ lifted the Tiverton players and they in turn lifted their game battling first to drag themselves into contention and then to work their way back on top. With the giant digital timepiece above the open terrace opposite the main stand signalling the beginning of the 65th minute Chris Holloway split Crawley wide open to find Winter on the right. Wints sent in a long cross Pears got his head to the ball to send it over and dropping behind Little who somehow managed to twist and reach back to palm it over his crossbar for a corner. The scare left the home defence at sixes and sevens as the kick was taken and in the ensuing melee Mo Harkin upended Steve Ovens. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and there were only minor objections from Harkin´s colleagues. Tivvy had a way back. Or so we thought until Scott Rogers hit the ball hard and low right at Little with a defender rushing in to hack the ball away for the comparative safety of a corner. Bang went the chance of parity we thought. The corner came in from the left. Close in‚ little could only palm it away in the direction it had come‚ followed by Nancekivell shielding it from a defender climbing all over his back as he was eased clear of the penalty area. The moment Kevin was clear of the box he received a hefty shove from behind and again the referee had no hesitation. Winter stabbed the kick in towards the near post‚ Nance rose and nodded the ball into the net. We´d levelled the scores after all.
The remaining 23 minutes mirrored the opening of the first half. Tiverton pushed for the winner looking hungrier and more interested in seeing the game resolved. Perhaps they were not as emphatically dominant as they had been in that earlier period and the football might not have been as sweet but they were clearly the better side. Pears beat the offside trap to latch onto a long hard Winter (maybe‚ since it was also the Bard of Stratford´s birthday I should add ´of our discontent´) clearance down the right flank but was unable to tun inside soon enough to give himself a realistic shooting angle. A long clearance from the Tivvy back line descended from somewhere close to the Mer Space Station to be deflected first time by the boot of Everett to Pears who set up Nancekivell for a shot that again lacked the pace to trouble Little and Holloway once more sent Pears on a solo run. This time round the pursuing defence forced Richard wide and he overhit the cross that thus became his only option leaving Ovens to chase the ball out to the opposite touchline before turning to attempt to get the ball into the central danger zone. By this time the support was there but so were the massed red shirts and the cross was deflected back towards the centre circle. Despite their efforts to regain that second spot‚ and no one could say that they didn´t give it their best shot‚ Tivvy were forced to settle for a single point. Crawley‚ in the end‚ were happier with their share of the spoils. They must be getting used to coming off the field with just a third of the rewards on offer - it was their fifth consecutive draw in the league. Nuff said.
Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards‚ Steve Winter‚ Phil Everett, Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Richard Pears, Scott Rogers, Steve Ovens.
Subs not used: David Steele, Danny Haines, Paul Chenoweth, Luke Vinnicombe.
Cards: Yellow: Rogers, Rees.

Crawley Town: Andy Little, Ben Judge, Ian Payne, Ellis Hooper, Marc Pullen, Ernie Cooksey, Mo Harkin, Stewart Holmes (Danny Wackett,88), Nic McDonnell (Danny Hockton,78), Warren Bagnall (Jamie Taylor,83), Neil Le Bihan.
Subs not used: Danny Glover, Steve Causon.
Cards: Yellow: McDonnell, Cooksey.

Referee: Mr Irvine Woodward (Seaford)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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