Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 2 Hinckley United

   Saturday 26/04/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Maths was never my strong point‚ though I´m told that by the age of four I could get from 1 to 20 in nine seconds‚ not as fast as a Ferrari but so what; and my proud mother didn´t seem concerned that some of the numbers in between weren´t in the right order. School sorted me out a bit and I was all right with adding‚ taking away‚ dividing - even long division! - and multiplication‚ in which my technique improved no end as I reached my late teens. What made me realise I was never going to be another Einstein was when the time came to move beyond whole numbers. I could never get the point of decimals and my upbringing inherently turned me against anything as vulgar as fractions. This period in my life coincided with the birth of the Rock ´n´ Roll era and eager to be part of the tide of revolting youth I obviously wanted nothing to do with anything that was considered ´square´‚ whether it was on the hypotenuse or the adjacent sides‚ regardless of how much Pythagoras might theorise about it; and the entire idea of replacing numbers with letters and multiplying ´a´ by ´b´ then dividing it by ´c´ to come up with an answer of ´x´‚ seemed as logical as writing a story in numbers. But‚ though I never really got to grips with the concepts involved in the simplest of mathematics some of the terminology did stick. I learnt what a common denominator was! The last visitors to Ladysmead in season 2002-3‚ Hinckley United‚ could thus be described. The only team that Tivvy had faced in all four seasons in the Dr Martens League‚ and unless they could come up with their first win in Devon even that niche in the history of the Yellows could be approaching termination. With two games remaining the ´Knitters´ were still hovering just above the relegation places and defeat could plunge them into a last day cliff-hanger to avoid the drop. Dangerous teams those that are under such threat.
Anybody of a superstitious bent seeking omens of doom and disaster needed to look no further than the weather at kick off. As United took the first touch‚ so the grey steady drizzle restarted. It did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the visitors who pushed forward and won a throw-in level with the Tiverton penalty area. Hurled in long‚ Paul Edwards rose comfortably above the gaudy red and blue shirts of the knitters to gain the first touch by a keeper. Minutes later the ball was back in the Tiverton area as Hinckley kept up their early pressure and Jason Rees diverted a speculative shot out for a corner. Town defended the kick well and rapidly broke in an attack of their own working the ball forward with a swift counter down the left involving Steve Ovens‚ Paul Chenoweth‚ Ovens again and Danny Haines before gaining a corner of their own when Ovo´s cross was deflected away as soon as it left his boot. A bout of head tennis saw the long cross cleared and back swarmed Hinckley towards the Tiverton goal. With the game moving from end to end there was a feeling that the match might be a repeat of the pendulumic contest with Halesowen a few weeks ago. Not so. The visitors were already showing far more fire than The Yellows‚ contesting every ball and looking as if they alone of the two sides were on a mission. By the time the 15 minutes gone chime sounded on my watch‚ the Leicestershire side were clearly on top‚ scrappy though the game had become as they concentrated on curtailing any Tivvy threat in it´s embryonic stage in midfield. Having sorted out their control of the central areas then the next stage in their plan was to probe the Tiverton defence‚ and a shoot on site policy was one of the options. One of the first to try was Martin Fox. It was an almost laughable effort from well outside the penalty area that screwed away looking as if it might be nearer the corner flag than goal. Jason Rees calmly stepped over the ball to allow it to run out for the goal kick. The attitude of the United players was well illustrated by the fact that David Sadler neither laughed at Fox´s effort nor stood remonstrating with him over his directional inaccuracy. Instead‚ the Hinckley hit man gambled that there might be a fraction of a chance of something happening that could be turned to his advantage and kept motoring down the right. The evasive action by the Tiverton skipper presented him with what would have been a perfect pass‚ had it been intended. Sadler was round the back of the Town defence in a flash‚ taking the ball in his stride and blasting it under the stranded Edwards to spark the first celebrations from the sprinkling of red and blue bedecked fans.
It was not going to be practical for the visitors to defend a single goal lead for an hour and a quarter‚ particularly as their survival chances would be considerably diminished by conceding an equaliser. They did what the ´hungry´ always do and like Oliver Twist went looking for more. "More? More?" said Tivvy‚ "Why certainly..." responded the Yellows changing the scenario and allowing United to continue their dominance. Neil Cartwright nearly secured a second helping with a blasting 30 yard effort that curled inches past Eddie´s left upright and as a token reply Phil Everett‚ who with along Ovens made a lonely looking duo up front‚ robbed Simon Dakin and cut in towards the penalty area to send in a shot that held as much threat to Tom Whittle as a wet sponge. The chances were falling where they were deserved; Justin Jenkins sent one over the top from a Fox free kick and then hoofed a long ball forward from the centre circle that had Edwards scampering out of his area to head away as Leon Jackson pursued it. It was one way traffic until the dying minutes of the half. A concerted effort saw Town rewarded with a corner. Maintaining the momentum they forced a second one. And then a throw in level with the penalty area. The throw was returned to David Steele whose long cross was headed wide by Nathan Rudge. Town were almost made to pay for their extravagant forward push as Hinckley broke‚ Jenkins outpaced Rees down the right and sent in a low cross that was just out of reach of Sadler. It was the last move of an impressive half - impressive if you were a grockle.
The second half started with a touch of irony. Vice chairman Pete Buxton had donned his ´Returning Officer´ hat and along with his band of willing helpers‚ foregone the half time ´cuppa char´ to sort and count the ballot slips for the ´Supporters Player Of the Year´ award. In the finest tradition of such occasions ‚Gary the Mic´ wound up the atmosphere......"and the winner is......" On the opposite side of the field the boards were raised to herald the half time changes implemented by Martyn Rogers; including the No.9 of Phil Everett‚ runaway winner of the ´Fans Oscar´. Hey ho! If Phil and his compatriot Steve Ovens‚ who was also replaced‚ were being made the scapegoats for the lack of penetration in the first period they were soon vindicated. Richard Pears and Jamie Mudge were equally as ineffective. There was still nothing coming out of midfield‚ frequently bypassed as the defenders were given little time to play the ball out from the back by the endless and persistent challenging of the Hinckley players. Chenoweth‚ Holloway‚ and Rogers were chasing shadows and there was no shape or composure to be seen from anyone in a yellow shirt as the visitors carried on from where they had left off before the break. Pears made head contact to send the ball wide from a Rees free kick with the Hinckley defence static in the knowledge that he was two yards offside when the kick had been taken‚ and on 52 minutes Richard did manage to break clear down the right and fire in a cross that with a rare piece of panic in the United defence was returned to him. The second cross was given a glancing touch by Danny Haines´ head and that was about the sum of the threat from the revitalised strike force. The Knitters headed once more into the Tivvy half‚ down the right. Sadler challenged Rees‚ dithering on the ball‚ perhaps trying to find something creative to do with it. Creative it turned out to be - for Hinckley - as Rees failed to apply the boot and Sadler nipped in to rob him and replay his first goal by cutting into the area to beat a hopelessly exposed Edwards. It was going to take a miraculous recovery for the Yellows to save anything from the afternoon and this was Ladysmead not Lourdes. It is doubtful whether even an apparition of the Blessed Virgin would have instilled the will to survive in a despairingly sick looking Town side. There were a few more forward moves from Tiverton as Hinckley became more confident of defending a two goal lead.
Kevin Nancekivell´s introduction added a little more effort but with only a quarter of the game to go the protection of the margin became more and more feasible as the minutes ticked away. A jinking dribble by Jamie Mudge set Steele free behind and wide of the defence to win a corner. The kick was worked to Chenoweth who took a poke but seems to have used up his seasons allocation of decent strikes. On the break Hinckley were still looking dangerous. Steele clashed with Stuart Storer and the rebounding ball was pounced on by Jenkins who sent in a low cross for Sadler to hit first time. Eddie managed to get his body in the way and Sadler was denied his hat trick in the 70th minute. Four more gone and Jenkins out battled Rob Cousins to make his own bid for glory but hit the side netting as he angled in from the right. It was all dour‚ dire‚ distressing viewing if you were wearing yellow. As the match passed into the second minute of added time Whittle, in the visitors goal, made his one and only save of the game, and what a save it was. A bit of a goalmouth scramble and the ball came out to Pears on the edge of the area. Richard unleashed a rocket of a shot that was still rising as it passed over Whittle and was heading nicely for the roof of the net. Somehow the keeper stretched another inch to make just enough contact to tip the ball a millimetre (let´s go metric to avoid repetition and boredom!) over the crossbar. It was the Yellows final fling; their only fling; unless you count the fact that the worse display of the season had seen them fling away any chance of second spot. And yes, it was worse than that 45 minutes at Cambridge and the entire tie at Grays. No wonder the Ladysmead faithful are a diminishing breed if this performance was the reward for their loyalty. My only remaining hope is that the hardy band that have travelled the width and breadth of Southern England to follow Town over the last 9 months are repaid with better fayre at Welling next week.

Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, David Steele, Danny Haines, Jason Rees (Kevin Nancekivell,65), Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Paul Chenoweth, Chris Holloway, Phil Everett (Richard Pears,46), Scott Rogers, Steve Ovens (Jamie Mudge,46).
Subs not used: Steve Winter, Luke Vinnicombe.
Cards: Yellow: None

Hinckley United: Thomas Whittle, Neil Cartwright, Martin Fox (Brad Piercewright,74), Dave Crowley, Simon Dakin, Paul Browne, Stuart Storer, Leon Jackson, Justin Jenkins, Dave Sadler, Jamie Lenton.
Sub not used: Tim Wilkes, Leon Doughty, Wayne Dyer, .
Cards: Yellow: None

Referee: Mr Paul Hutton (Plymouth)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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