Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 1 Merthyr

   Tuesday 02/09/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Regular readers of my ramblings will know of my preference for radio rather than TV. - though the continual advertising on the BBC does tend to get up my nose. I´m missing a couple of presenters these days; ex-pirate Johnny Walker is fighting the Big C´‚ and JY - Jimmy Young to the uninitiated - has finally hung up his mike. I always used to catch part of their shows whilst preparing my lunch and tea - something you cant do whilst watching the box. Not that I was really a fan of JY and neither am I that enthralled with his replacement. But some of the phone ins and debate that are broadcast can be amusing‚ none more so than last weeks argument between Shelly von Strunkel astrologist to the Sunday Times´ (why are so many believers in these dubious science feminine - or in the case of Russell Grant‚ effeminate?) and Patrick Moore‚ astronomer magnificent. It was a one sided contest. Ms. von Strunkel could offer no evidence or proof that the position of the planets and/or stars had any effect on or lives. In saying that‚ I have to admit that I shared the scientists view that there was no co-relation‚ even before hearing his de bunking of her case. Nor do I give any credence to the concepts known as Sods Law or Murphy´s Law‚ or the belief that there is some kind of malevolent spirit fouling up our lives. Nor do I believe that things necessarily happen in threes or sequences re-occur Coincidences are no more than that. Much as I hoped that Tiverton would win their game with Merthyr I was not convinced that it was in any way pre-ordained or mapped out by fate. If they did‚ it would be a matter only of what happened on the pitch. It would have absolutely nothing to do with the Yellows starting sequence or it´s similarity to their start to the season two years ago. Odd though the comparisons might be they were just that - odd‚ coincidental. With fingers crossed‚ my lucky underpants in place‚ I made my way to Ladysmead in the hope that Town would have found a player or two to enable eleven fit men to face the Welsh insurgents.

There were three new faces for the Ladysmead faithful to consider. Ian Patchett had turned out on Saturday at Dover but was making his home debut; Robbie Gough had made the dangerous journey along the Link Road from Bideford to lend a much appreciated hand; and Phil Everett had answered the call‚ renouncing retirement to return to the cause - if only to give time for a recovery or two to take place or other arrangements to be made. The impact was immediate as Tivvy started with morale boosted. As early as the fourth minute Everett might have added another line to the legends associated with his name‚ spinning under defensive pressure to fire in a shot that Merthyr keeper Neil Thomas could only parry and a lunge at a cross from the right a minute later just failed to make the contact that could have seen the Yellows take an early lead. It was to be typical of the first quarter of an hour as 90% of the game was played out in the Merthyr half of the field with their only excursions towards the Swimming Pool End coming courtesy of their impressive lanky teenage striker Cortez Belle - yes I assure you he is a footballer not a Soho stripper! Thirteen minutes in and Thomas was at full stretch‚ up and back‚ to field a high but dropping cross from Patchett. Three minutes later Everett won the ball in midfield and sent Kevin Nancekivell forward in a long chase towards the right hand corner flag. Nance lost out to a defender but battled back to win the ball but before he could do anything constructive with it the referee decided that it was such a lost cause that he must have committed a foul to have regained possession and gave the visitors a free kick. Another three minutes and Stuart Fraser was at last called to take part in the game as he collected a looping header from Gary Thorne after the ball had been lofted in from a free kick by Merthyr. The three minute sequence was maintained as on 22‚ Nancekivell twisted and turned in the right hand corner of the penalty area eventually finding the gap to force in a low shot that failed to trouble Thomas. Merthyr were beginning to show that they might threaten as from the clearance Belle collected the ball and executed a clever turn to fire in a shot from 30 yards that Fraser easily fielded above his head.

As with their previous game‚ there could be little fault with Tiverton´s approach work. Quicker than at Dover but just as accurate‚ their passing was carrying them forward with alacrity‚ and it was only luck that denied them after 27 minutes. Neat play came to an end when Everett crossed from the left. Patchett cutting in from the right let fly only to be denied by a deflection by an unsuspecting defender. and as Town kept the pressure on there was a familiar feel to seeing STEVE Winter´s cross from the right flank being palmed away by the keeper with no-one wide on the left to take advantage of the loose ball. Merthyr showed that they too were capable of stringing together sequences of passes. They did so in the 33rd minute leaving Fraser to hold Paul Keddle´s long shot. Belle underlined his threat with another long range effort and a header from Keddle that Fraser did well to hold cleanly after it had rapidly changed direction following a deflection off one of his colleagues. Merthyr had upped their pace but Tiverton matched them. Tight in the left hand corner Gough´s attempt at a cross was deflected for a corner. Nothing came of it. Again Gough became involved‚ crowded out he found David Steele who produced a typical defender´s shot - high and wide. Whether the pace told on Mr Ganfield‚ the referee in charge‚ he suddenly seemed to lose it. A reasonable display of control‚ albeit including some rather strange decisions‚ was suddenly terminated as he brought an end to the first half´s noteworthy events by brandishing his yellow card. Firstly in the direction of Winter for disputing a goal kick that the Tivvy man thought should have been a corner‚ then at Keddle for kicking the ball away at a free kick. And am I right that the second offence should also be penalised with a 10 yard advance? or is that just another of my FIFA dreams.

Half time and ‚ would you guess?‚ no goals!

Town´s dominance of the first half had faded a little in the last quarter of an hour of the period as Merthyr had battled their way into the game and the trend continued after the break. The visitors matched The Yellows for attacking enterprise and might well have had a penalty awarded in the 49th minute when Rees robustly dispossessed Belle in the penalty area after the young visitor had completely befuddled Jason with his elusive footwork and ball control. Two minutes later and Mr Ganfield levelled up the denials when it was Everett´s turn to be upended in the opposite penalty area. The referee showed less bottle than Tesco´s milk counter by flashing his yellow card at Price for the foul but awarding the kick three yards back from where the Tiverton man had hit the deck. Perhaps the official had heard about Town´s oft practised free kick routine. He was rewarded and so were Tivvy and their fans as the well rehearsed false runs and dummy passes set up half time substitute to smash the ball into the net for the first goal. Though the game was far more even in midfield‚ Tivvy looked more likely to add to the goal tally. Steele and Patchett combined in a move that eventually saw the ball swung in from the right and Everett rising to meet it at the back post but seeing his downward header being collected by Thomas as it bounced back up. There is one threatening aspect to Tivvy´s game which only appears when Steele is on the field. This game was no exception and it nearly brought a goal for Nancekivell who‚ back to goal‚ executed an overhead kick that flicked inches wide of the near side upright and Steele himself winded the keeper with a fierce rocket of a shot with 69 minutes gone. A minute later and Everett was proving to us all that not only was he back up to Dr Martens Premiership pace after his spell lounging around in the Screwfix League First Division‚ but that neither had he forgotten the team work ethic that he had followed so rigorously in his days as a regular in the yellow shirt. Back to head a Merthyr corner out for another‚ he was again in place to send the second kick clear of the danger zone.

With a dozen minutes to go the game had endured a quite ten minutes but that was terminated when Everett opened up the visitors with a long diagonal ball that Nancekivell failed to control first time but chased to the by line to harass the defender looking to clear up field. The ball fell to Steele who fed it back to Everett who slid it on to the repositioned and re-ballanced Nancekivell. The Yellows midfielder´s shot was deflected to Patchett who etched his name into the Tiverton record books by hitting the net to score on his first appearance at Ladysmead. Two - nil‚ and a fair reflection of the game. Six minutes later and Belle was again denied when he finally beat Fraser with a header but Rees cleared the goal bound ball far enough for it to be scrambled to safety. Fraser was embarrassed a minute later when being penalised for carrying the ball out of his area but the visitors could not match Town´s earlier efforts and the kick was wasted when‚ without the slightest finesse‚ it was blasted high over the crossbar. Into the last minute and Fraser was looking as if he was about to realise his season (so far) long ambition of keeping a clean shot. Merthyr mounted a final assault. Another cross and again Belle was the man to send a header dropping into the net. Off the line again... or was it in? If it was off the line it was by the hand of Paul Chenoweth and that is what the man with the whistle saw. Off went Chenoweth‚ onto the spot went the ball. If anyone other than Belle had taken the kick it would have been an injustice‚ he was after all‚ the only resemblance to a striker in a black and white shirt. He took the kick. He scored. Personally deserved‚ even if Merthyr hardly deserved a goal. There was one more frantic moment in the Tiverton goalmouth during added time‚ but close doesn´t count so the three points stayed in Devon.

Tivvy had once again ended their three match losing run by beating Merthyr two goals to one. Fraser has to visit the laundry again. I´ll put all the similarities with two seasons ago down to coincidence. With Mars in a totally different position 24 months ago(apart from at half time when I ate it) it couldn´t possibly have anything to do with the position of heavenly bodies‚ could it? I was born in early April which makes me Aries‚ and we Ariens are not gullible enough to believe in astrology....so there!

Tiverton Town: S Fraser, S Winter, I Patchett, J Rees, N Rudge, R Cousins, K Nancekivell, C Holloway, P Everett, R Gough, D Steele.
Subs: Paul Chenoweth (Winter, 46), L Vinnicombe, M Grimshaw.
Yellow Cards: Winter 45.
Red Card: Chenoweth 90

Merthyr Tydfil: N Thomas, S Heal, P Keddle, K Whitcombe, J Price, D Carter, G Thomas, C Belle, K Aherne-Evans, R Dorian.
Subs: C Bale (Dorian, 14), M Regan (Heal, 77), G Elliot, B Cropley.
Yellow Cards: Keddle 45, Price 51.

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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