The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Dover Athletic 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

Saturday 30/08/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

George W. Bush will go down in history as one of two things‚ depending on the nationality of the writer. Americans will hail him as the hero who single handed took on the terrorists of the world and won - because Ol´ Glory always wins whatever the outcome. Historians of other nationalities will probably regard him as something of a buffoon - who else would instruct the lighting engineers to direct the spotlight on him at the end of Stevie Wonder´s set at his Presidential Inaugural Concert in order that the singer could see the President´s approval by his applause? But then history has a tendency to become twisted according to your outlook. Our own great (as in size) King Henry the Eighth would be regarded as an upstart usurper by the adherents of some religions‚ whilst the Church of England regards him as a heroic leader who cast of the shackles of Papist Rome. I´m not going to say which side of that debate I would join but there was one thing that I do admire about ‘Enery‚ he didn´t hang about when desperate situations needed desperate measures. Off with her head! Divorce not legal - change the law! Must have a new wife now that one´s died...Whoops‚ that was a mistake...Off with her head.... etc. Yes‚ Henry got things done when they needed doing‚ if he were alive today he´d be just the man for Tivvy Town! Not that I´m suggesting that Ladysmead should host any executions - though some might think it a good idea - but there has been a niggling feeling that a drastic situation needed to be met with a drastic measure or two. Perhaps divorce would be enough....old wife for new wife.....substitute new player for player no longer considered good enough...there is a precedent. If things had gone well in Kent then perhaps‚ just perhaps‚ the old wives would have been reprieved. Further problems would mean there had to be action........

After the home side had provided an early flourish it looked as if both the executioners and the employees of Bevan Ashford could be reasonably certain of not receiving ‘the call´ to duty for a while. Stuart Fraser was put under pressure from a long‚ high‚ dropping cross from the left but rose high amid a clutch of players at the back of his six yard box to fist the ball away. It was to be Dover´s only serious attack for thirty eight minutes as Town took control of midfield‚ thanks largely to the industry of Chris Holloway. In the second minute the Welshman collected the ball on half way and carried it straight towards the penalty area‚ his run only being terminated when he was fouled. From the free kick just outside the ‘D´ of the penalty area Kevin Nancekivell sent the ball wide with a neat flick shot. Promising. And there was more to come. Five minutes in and David Steele avoided the challenges to burst through but scuffed his shot wide of both Dover keeper Paul Hyde and his post. In fact so poorly hit was the shot that it failed to reach the goal line and was caught and hoofed away upfield by a pursuing defender. Tiverton were playing some pretty football from the back. The longest balls were the crossfield passes as they switched from flank to flank and usually with a degree of forward movement. With the defence following forward - the 10th minute saw Nathan Rudge sending in a long cross from the right to have Hyde reaching - it was.....Promising. Twelve minutes and Richard Pears sends new boy Ian Patchett free down the right. The cross in over hit and there´s nobody following in on the left and the ball´s chased and hoisted away up to the halfway line once more. Dover then applied a little pressure themselves. For all of three minutes they held possession in the Tivvy half of the field but whenever they thought they might have found a way through there was a Tivvy boot in the way. The wall was solid‚ hardly a chink appeared. Back on top came the Yellows with more passing ball play. Rudge again was forward to blast in a shot that had a defender turning his back in self protection mode and feeling the ball canon off him for a corner. Steve Winter crossed‚ Pears headed over. Fraser fielded another high cross and Steve Ovens was fouled as he chased in pursuit. A clever set piece without reward as Steele sent the ball towards Calais via Mars. Patchett had been fitting in well with the passing moves that had seen Tivvy methodically working the ball out from the back but on 28 minutes showed what he could do when powering forward. Down the left flank‚ cutting in‚ twisting and turning‚ shifting his weight from left to right and back again until releasing the ball to Ovens whose effort on goal was deflected for a corner. Yes ...promising ... still.

The chances are being created‚ by the hatfull in games like this. It is the execution‚ the coupe de grace that is missing. Thirty three minutes and Steve Winter made a run down the right - no pun on his stomach problem intended - finding Pears advancing through the middle. Again a shot‚ again no power. again no direction. Hyde‚ having a quiet time of things considering Tivvy´s dominance was content to watch the ball ease wide. and so it continued until the 39th minute when at last Fraser was called upon to do some work. Matt Carruthers won a loose ball just outside the Tiverton Area. With little support he took it on himself to make what he could of it. Jason Rees challenged‚ the Dover man twisted clear. Rees tried again‚ Carruthers turned the other way‚ creating enough space to fire in a shot. Fraser held. Dover stepped up a gear and won a corner with a high cross that Fraser palmed away for a corner. Tivvy´s keeper held the cross that came in from the quadrant and hoofed the ball long for Ovens and Pears to chase but it was Andy Arnott that made contact on the ‘D´ of the Dover area: with his hand for which he was rewarded with a yellow card. Another dangerous position‚ more bluffing and dummying as the free kick was about to be taken. It was quite surprising then‚ when it was taken by Rees with a straightforward shot‚ it certainly caught Dover out as they prepared for something more elaborate. The shot flew past the top right hand corner of the goal‚ missing both posts by about a foot. 0 - 0‚ as good a time as any to take a break.

It was a break that seemed to have more effect on the home players than their visitors. Dover upped their effort‚ Tivvy stayed much the same. It took the best of five minutes for Town to create anything if interest. Out of midfield the ball was fed to Patchett who crossed it back into the penalty area. Steele was the height in the area and headed the ball down into the path of pears who took a pot that was high and wide - only by a foot or so in each direction - but still h & w! A minute later and we knew The Yellows were back in gear as a neatly flicked pass from Nancekivell sent Steele down the left side to fire in a drive that was only inches wide. Only inches - but still wide. Five minutes later and Hyde was at full stretch to touch a swinging 25 yarder from Winter away for a corner. Town were looking comfortable. Enter the death wish! For an hour Tivvy had passed the ball around to near perfection. When a pass had gone astray it had either been in a ‘safe´ situation or had been rapidly recovered. It was Steve Winter that made the pass that was the exception. Out on the left he tried to find Nathan Rudge in the centre of the field about 15 yards inside the Tivvy half. It wasn´t a back pass‚ it was square. The ball might just as well have been square too‚ for it didn´t roll. In nipped Dover frontman Craig Wilkins‚ largely anonymous until that point. Rudge moved towards him but Wilkins turned round Rudge and made for goal where Fraser‚ stranded again‚ came but had little chance as the Dover man slotted the ball past him and into the net.

The first quarter of an hour of the second half had been more even‚ though The Yellows had still been marginally on top. The goal changed all that and Dover became more confident‚ edging themselves on top. Town´s chances dwindled. Nancekivell fired wide in the 71st minute but Athletic replied through a fierce 30 yard drive from Matt Carruthers that flew vertically off the angle of upright and crossbar. There was only one way for Tivvy to go. They had to go forward and that obviously proved risky. Patchett gave away a free kick in midfield and earned himself a yellow card - slightly unfortunately I thought since it was a clumsy more than malicious challenge. The kick was pushed out to the Dover left where Dover substitute Tommy Tyne was forced into a tight corner. Somehow (guile and experience?) he escaped and cut across the front of the penalty area searching for a gap. He found what he was looking for and grabbed the chance to fire in a shot that bent wide of Fraser to double the lead. Again Tivvy poured forward. Dover defended in numbers‚ probably as it turned out‚ too great numbers. Patchett floated in a high cross into the crowded Dover goalmouth. Rudge went up with the keeper and Dean Reading. Rudge´s presence was enough to catch Readings off balance as he leapt. Hyde was nowhere near the ball‚ Reading was close but realising he was not close enough to get his head to the ball swung a fist at it. Such was his lack of equilibrium that even with his hand he could do nothing other than punch the ball cleanly into his own net. Strange to see defenders appealing for a penalty on behalf of the attacking side ........the man in black was having none of it and pointed to the centre circle. There were seven minutes of time added‚ though some of that was taken up with treating more injuries. Tiverton scrambled the ball into the net again but Nancekivell was judged to be offside.

There were sighs of relief from the Kent fans as the final whistle sounded. They knew their team had been outplayed for seventy five percent of the game. They knew they had pinched the points. They knew that such things happen in football. That was no consolation to Tiverton - all they knew was that they had now lost three on the trot - equalling their previous worse sequence in over a decade. And there was no sign of relief from the chronic injury problems. Indeed there were not eleven fit players to face Merthyr in 50 hours time!

Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser‚ Steve Winter, Ian Patchett, Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Richard Pears, Steve Ovens, David Steele.
Substitutes: Ben Harris (Pears, 57), Luke Vinnicombe (Harris, 82), Simon Hill (Steele, 82), Paul Chenoweth, Martyn Grimshaw.
Bookings: Patchett, 83

Dover Athletic: Paul Hyde, Tony Browne, Mark Patterson, Dean Readings, Andy Arnott, Kenny Dyer, Jamie Day, Lee Spiller, Matt Carruthers, Craig Wilkins, Simon Glover.
Substitutes: Tommy Tyne (Glover, 78), Darren Davies (Spiller, 87), Michael Smissen, Israel Amadi, Craig Cloke
Bookings: Arnott, 43

Referee: John Magil (Colchester)

This report ©2003 John Reidy