Match report

Havant & Waterlooville 3 - 3 Tiverton Town

   Wednesday 22/08/2001   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

This vvas a nail biter right till the end. Everything seemed to be going against Tivvy - conceding a free kick in the early minutes from which H&W scored‚ and then giving away a penalty that nobody knew anything about including the ref. But linesman aside‚ Tivvy fought back with goals from Stevie Ovens‚ Lynchy and Pearsy in the 89th minute‚ phew!!!! Still‚ a point away from home can´t be bad and to have four points out a possible six could be considered a satisfactory start to the season. It seems that non-league football has a personal vendetta against yours truly as my quest to see David Leworthy perform‚ once again ended in failure. So often he has either been injured‚ stuck on the subs bench or moved onto another club just before my arrival. On this occasion‚ his number 12 shirt was kept pristinely clean‚ although there were undoubtedly splinters threatening his shorts‚ despite the fact that there were walking wounded out there come the final whistle. Ho Hum. And it made you wonder if the local Council are putting their weight behind Havant´s determined drive to the Conference which has already seen the start of the transformation of the ground with their impressive new stand. Signs to Havant Town didn´t breed confidence that the local Government were abreast of the changes afoot. And anyone who was new to the area and was subsequently confused by the out-of-date signs may have arrived a tad too late to seeing the explosive start.

A superb set piece inside the first minute gave Tivvy a rude awakening in their debut away league fixture at this level. Stuart Smith‚ in at number 11 in place of the injured Dave Leonard‚ conceded a free kick within five yards of the Amber´s left-hand corner flag. Kidology undid Tivvy as the ball was raised aloft as if a throw-in was about to ensue. But the ball was swiftly placed on the ground and swept curling in towards the near post where Paul Wood met it with a glancing header to put the Hawks ahead.

Havant continued to set the tone of the game with a series of crisp passing moves‚ determined challenges‚ forceful headers and all round class. Yet Tivvy kept plugging away and never looked out of place. If Havant had taken their chances‚ it could have been a landslide and they really should have made it 2-0 in the 15th minute when Paul Edwards was tempted to the edge of his box. With the ball running loose‚ Dean Blake pounced and lofted his shot over the stranded Edwards. Fortunately for Tivvy‚ the ball came back off the cross-bar and was cleared to safety. A minute later‚ scorer Wood was replaced by Craig Anstey. Havant continued to threaten to increase the score‚ one glorious header from Timmy Hambley just missing the target.

Come the 44th minute‚ following a Havant corner‚ the nearest assistant referee waved his flag and crossed his chest with it‚ indicating a penalty. No-one in the crowd nor any Havant player had appealed. The referee certainly did not know and he was guided by his assistant. Newly-instated skipper Nicky Marker pleaded Tivvy´s cause but only succeeded in delaying the inevitable and picked up a booking in the process.

It appears that the reason for the penalty will remain a mystery as the stories emanating from the powers that be conflicted - from Phil Everett (wearing the number two shirt in place of Steve Winter) supposedly having pulled Jamie O´Rourke´s shirt (difficult as he was nowhere near an opponent at the corner‚ his job being to intercept any weakly hit corner) to Paul Tatterton handling the ball an offence that always elicit at least one appeal. Nevertheless‚ Hambley took no prisoners‚ blasting the ball into the roof of the net some eighty-five seconds after the indiscretion had been spotted. And there was still plenty of time left for Tivvy to pull one back through the speed of Steve Ovens who raced onto a through ball before slipping it wide of Paul Nicholls in the home goal in the fourth minute of injury time. Appeals for offside were met with stony silence and‚ to some‚ it felt as if justice had been done.

At half time‚ Havant brought on Neil Champion at right back in place of Gary Connolly. The second half saw Tivvy in a much more upbeat mood and‚ following a 50th minute foul on Smith just inside the Havant half‚ it was a wonderful header under pressure from Marker that found Anthony Lynch lurking with his back to goal about six yards out. His instinctive overhead kick foxed the Hawks and Tivvy were back on level terms in impressive style. Not to be outdone‚ Havant piled forward and just over two minutes later (actually‚ in the 53rd minute) James Taylor made sure that he´d got at least one friend in the crowd by restoring Havant´s advantage.

A minute later Hambley fluffed his shot when it looked easier to score. A fourth goal then would surely have sealed Tivvy´s fate. A rash challenge by Stuart Smith saw his name added to the book on 70 minutes and ten minutes later he was followed by Havant´s Dean Blake‚ cautioned for kicking the ball away at a free kick. It was at this precise moment that Richard Pears replaced Smith and it was to prove to be the masterstroke for‚ in the 89th minute‚ it was he who popped up to nod home the sixth goal of the game - and from the tightest of angles.

There was still time for Scott Rogers to be booked for kicking the ball away at a free kick although he can count himself unlucky as the whistle blew a nanosecond before his boot connected. There was no way he could stop his foot in mid-flight and it was reminiscent of Jason Smith´s unfortunate booking in the home leg of the Vase semi-final against Canvey Island.

Whilst Havant were preparing to launch the ball from the half-way line towards Tivvy´s area‚ Liam Daish dumped Steve Ovens on the ground. The incident occurred behind referee A J Wooldridge´s back‚ but the same assistant who had awarded the earlier penalty flagged to show that he had seen the incident. As the referee went to discuss the offence‚ Daish meandered into the box and headed for the far side‚ causing Mr Wooldridge to seek him out. With most in the crowd expecting Daish to see red it was a yellow action from the ref that surprisingly followed.

Deep into injury time‚ Pete Conning came on for Lynch and there was still time for one more dramatic piece of action as Aaron Cook unleashed a stunning drive that had goal written all over it. That was until Paul Edwards launched himself and diverted the ball away for a corner which was left untaken as the final whistle came before they had the chance to snatch back the lead.

So‚ all in all‚ it was a case of Tivvy´s never-say-die attitude that won the day, but you can´t help feeling that, as on Saturday, they got off lightly. If there is a game against a side who have packed their shooting boots, it could be the slaughtering of the innocent.

Line up: 1. Paul Edwards, 2. Phil Everett, 3. Neil Saunders, 4. Paul Tatterton, 5. Nicky Marker (capt), 6. Scott Rogers, 7. Kevin Nancekivell, 8. Antony Lynch, 9. Steve Ovens, 10. Paul Chenoweth, 11. Stuart Smith.

Subs: Richard Pears (Stuart Smith 80), Dave Toomey (Antony Lynch 87), Pete Conning (Antony Lynch 90).

Havant & Waterlooville: Paul Nicholls, Gary Connolly (15 Neil Champion h/t), Chris Ferrett, Aaron Cook, Ben Price, Liam Daish, Paul Wood (14 Craig Anstey, 16m), Timmy Hambley, Jamie O´Rourke, James Taylor, Dean Blake

Sub (n/u): 12 David Leworthy

Att: 505

This report ©2001 John Reidy






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