Match report

Welling United 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 03/05/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

There are days when I swear I could fly like an eagle
And dark desperate hours that nobody sees
My arms stretched triumphant on top of the mountain
My head in my hands...down on my knees

Lyrics written by Jon Bon Jovi for a song performed by Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac and aptly describing her roller coaster life. They could just as well have been composed to describe the fluctuating emotions of the average Tiverton Town fan over the last 9 months. Flying like an eagle into‚ and then three points clear in‚ the runners-up slot in the league; the dark desperate hours of home defeats‚ culminating in the last Ladysmead game against Hinckley: Arms stretched triumphant on top of a mountain called Underhill as the Yellows crushed Barnet in the FA Cup; Head in hands....down on knees a couple of weeks later in Essex as Grays Athletic wiped the floor with a limp yellow rag in the FA Trophy.

Sometimes it´s roses...and‚ sometimes it´s weeds
Sometimes it´s a bitch...sometimes it´s a breeze

But always there was hope. My final one was that the season would not slip away with the Yellows‚ of whom I am primarily a fan despite my efforts to remain unbiased when sitting at a keyboard‚ completing their season with another lack lustre display to leave their fourth campaign in the Dr Martens League to remain with only a bitter discontentment by which to remember it. Roses please‚ not weeds was my preferred order of the day. It was a tall order. Away from home‚ against one of the less glamorous‚ though friendly‚ clubs in the division; but lacking in even the spice of being involved‚ albeit as ´extras´‚ in the final day showdown that we enjoyed last term. Never-the-less‚ we winged our way to Welling‚ winding round the Mother Of All Roundabouts to the Eastern extremities of the great metropolis‚ praying that the afternoon would provide a breeze‚ a breath of fresh air after four win-less‚ and sometimes disheartening games.
There might have been a goal before the majority of us had settled down to view the game. Tivvy won the ball from the Welling kick off and Richard Pears rumbled down the left wing to float in a cross. Phil Everett rose highest in the goalmouth‚ nodded the ball down to Kevin Nancekivell who fired wide. Forty seconds. Promising. First threat from the Kent side after five minutes. A long free kick from out on the left and Paul Edwards taking the ball off the head of Gary Abbott and grabbing it at the second attempt. It was to be the only instance of dubious handling from the Tivvy keeper who was to end his days at the club on a tremendous high. Welling looked the more lively side as they pushed forward for a five minute burst of sustained pressure that bought them little reward‚ only a long range effort from attacking defender Billy Burgess that went straight at Eddy‚ breaching a solid defence. Tiverton weathered the breeze and began to show that they could be a footballing side‚ building intricate passing moves from the back that edged them forward. Prettier to watch than the more direct route of their hosts but equally as unincisive as the Wings back line halted their progress in the last third. Paul Chenoweth sent a free kick from out on the right to meet the returning cosmonauts in the Soyuz capsule and Eddy darted out of his area to head clear from Paul Booth as both sides struggled to find a way through. Pears made a second winger´s run‚ this time on the right‚ but Chenoweth making a rare forward burst couldn´t make contact as the ball flew low across the penalty area and out for a throw on the opposite side. Then Everett turned John Farley and it was Pears´ turn to be a yard short of the ball into the centre. That was the story of the first half hour. Town having the greater possession‚ playing the ball around more but only managing to create half chances and little else as the contest took place predominantly in the central three fifths of the field.
The home side decided to add variety to their tactics‚ their previously exclusive modus operandi of long ball and chase clearly failing to unsettle their visitors. Still not throwing together as many passes‚ the alternative direct method of carrying the ball forward was tried‚ most threateningly by England Semi- professional International Anthony Riviere who wove his way through to bring a brave save at his feet by Edwards in the 33rd minute. Two minutes later and the Tiverton keeper was in action again to throw himself full length to tip a more than useful 25 yard drive from Anthony Hogg round the post for a corner‚ and as the kick was cleared and carried away by Chris Holloway‚ Hogg collected a yellow card for a nasty tackle from behind on the Tivvy midfielder - the swine! Welling were getting well into the game and a minute later a free kick from a central position midway inside the Tiverton half was hoisted into the goalmouth by James Virgo and headed down by big central defender Russell Edwards who was giving Everett a torid time whenever Phil was called upon to defend at such set pieces. The ball dropped nicely to the foot of Abbott who swivelled on the spot and fired in a shot that was only off target by inches. The final pleasure of the half for the substantial and amply vocal band of Yellows supporters was the sight of a six pass move that started from Jason Rees at the back and involved Nancekivell‚ Pears‚ Scott Rogers and Nancekivell again and swept Tivvy the length of the field only to end in anti-climax as ´Nance´s´ shot was directed straight at Glen Knight in the Welling goal.
Into the last 45 minutes of the season and no indication that it was going to finish with anything other than the almost traditional fizz and splutter. There was a moment of farce as Steve Winter galloped in pursuit of an overhit long ball from Pears that ´Wints´ just managed to catch in the right hand corner. Steve displayed all the ball control skills that have endeared him to the fans but have rarely been seen recently‚ to bring the ball under control and set himself to use it constructively; and then inexplicably coolly tapped it out for the goal kick. Obviously his right foot had become disconnected from his brain and in the spirit of an end of season game it was all smiles and joking comments as the players made their way back to the halfway line to resume the contest. The game needed an injection of life. It was provided by the introduction of Jamie Mudge - nothing new there then. The reaction to the jab was almost instantaneous. Jamie´s first touch was with his chest as he burst through the middle‚ beating the offside trap as he went‚ and giving himself an unchallenged sight of Knight and the Wing´s goal. The ´kid´ should have done better‚ only succeeding in squewing his shot wide and leaving the scoresheet blank. Three minutes later and it was Knight´s turn to show his outfield skills when he mirrored Eddy´s clearing header of the first half as Mudge chased through onto a telling Rob Cousins ball. At the other end Abbott reminded us of his potential danger with a shot on the turn that was wide ob both Edwards and his goal‚ and from the resulting kick it was Nancekivell at ran at the home defence to mirror the effort by firing wide at the other end. Town were looking far the better side‚ comfortable and in control. They were also looking more and more likely to breach the red wall. Mudge´s running with the ball was causing the defending Wings to flap and when he was upended in the 65th minute and Knight could only parry Holloway´s effort from the free kick the writing was clearly on the wall. And what was written? Welling 0 Tiverton 1. Pears‚ who must have been on his third or fourth pair of socks - having worked off the previous pairs - split the Welling defence with a ball that perfectly dissected the gap between a retreating and an advancing defender. Nancekivell‚ charging through on the blind side‚ collected the ball in his stride‚ advanced into the penalty area and fired across the goal and under Knight to break the deadlock.
How a goal can change a game! On this occasion it was not in the desired way. Far from giving the Yellows a lift it appeared to send them to sleep while acting as a wake up call to the Kent side. They took the game by the scruff of the neck and laid siege to the Tiverton penalty area. A corner was headed into Eddy´s gut Booth‚ a long cross into the area was chested down by Abbott but poked off his toe by Cousins before the shot could be unleashed. Three more corners in quick succession with Edwards throwing himself full length and saving with his feet from a diving header from his Welling namesake. Just as the Devon contingent thought that their team had weathered the storm (whatever happened to the hoped for breeze?) the home side pulled themselves level. Eleven minutes remaining and another corner as Edwards again saved from an Edwards header, both being from full length dives. Over came the cross and a Welling head directed the ball onto the cross bar, the rebound falling to Abbott a yard out. It presented the 39 year old with a present he gratefully accepted, crashing the ball into the net. Curses on these veteran strikers. It was Tivvy´s turn to respond to the alarm bells. Holloway forced Knight to tip the ball over the crossbar with a dropping lob, Rudge´s header from the corner was headed off the line, to muted and unconvincing appeals for hand ball, by Farley. A Winter drive (sleigh bells?) received similar treatment from Knight, and Eddy took a couple of half chances at the other end. There was plenty of action, wound up for the afternoon, and the season, by Nance spinning onto a downward header from Rudge to crack a shot inches wide of the upright, but no more goals. So in the final countdown Tivvy finished fourth. Two places higher than last season but two places lower than we might have hoped for five games ago, but then....

You gotta take it as it comes
Sometimes it don´t come easy

Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Steve Winter, Paul Chenoweth (Jamie Mudge,53), Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Phil Everett, Scott Rogers, Richard Pears.
Subs not used: Danny Haines, David Steele, Steve Ovens, Luke Vinnicombe.
Cards: Yellow: Rees, Mudge.

Welling United: Glen Knight, William Burgess (Paul Lorraine,46), James Virgo, Lew Watts (Paul Jones,75) , Russell Edwards, John Farley, Anthony Riviere, Ray Abeoagye, Garry Abbott, Paul Booth, Anthony Hogg.
Subs not used: Steve Sodje, Dean Standen, (only four named).
Cards: Yellow: Hogg.

The season is over and despite the lows, because of the high´s, I have enjoyed it. Sixty two times the Yellows have run onto the field and sixty two times I have been lucky enough to be able to be there to see them do it - once more than Rob Cousins who was given the night off along with most of the squad for the Devon Bowl game against Plymouth Argyle Youth. Newport I.o.W. on a Tuesday, Dover on a Monday, Crawley on a Wednesday, none of these would have been possible without the help of Kerry (´Schumi´) and Margaret O´Connor who allowed me to occupy the back seat of their transport - to them my eternal gratitude, champion´s both. And after the games there have been the words, the stringing together of which has also been my pleasure - I hope the outcome has been yours too. I haven´t bothered to tally them up, but I guess there must be over a hundred thousand, including one or two that wouldn´t have been included if I hadn´t been challenged by one reader or another to work them into my report, and some that I suspect do not exist other than in my mind! My thanks are due to webmaster Robin for allowing me the space and imposing no restrictions, something not practical in other branches of the media to which I have contributed. I hope I have been fair and honest in my opinions and factually correct in my reporting, and have managed to entertain in passing. And finally, thanks to all of you who have made it worthwhile by actually enduring my introductory waffling and reading my words, particularly those who have commented on them either personally, by e-mail or by postings on forums.

I´ve run through rainbows and castles of candy
And I´ve cried a river of tears from the pain
I tried to dance with what life had to hand me
And if I could...I´d do it all over again

.....starting in mid July with the pre-season games!
Health, circumstances and The Good Lord, willing......

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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