Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 3 Stafford Rangers

   Saturday 06/10/2001   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

At times when I´m being fed what I consider to be ´A load of Bull´‚ or I´m being talked down to‚ I quite often drop
in the fact that I was educated at Oxford. I normally fail to mention‚ at first‚ that it was at a Secondary Modern
School‚ not the University. I don´t really claim to be an educated man and the sciences are not my strongest
point in what education I have had but I do recall that someone between the ancient Greek Archimedes and
modern super-brain Stephen Hawkin came up with the theory that for every action there is a reaction. Now
some people take that to extremes professing that a butterfly beating its wings in the Indonesian jungle creates
a series of reactions that culminates in something happening in the frozen wastelands of Alaska. I wouldn´t go
that far but Saturday afternoon´s happenings at Ladysmead illustrated that the basic action/reaction theory is
sound‚ as one single occurrence swung the course of the match against Stafford Rangers through a full 180
degrees.

´Please Please Me´ (and all the other Tivvy fans) I had pleaded in ending my view of the previous game at
Ladysmead. That old Beatles song was two minutes long and as if my entreaty had been heard it took Town
only one minute longer to fulfil my wish. There was no testing the water or feeling out the opposition. The
Yellows went straight for the jugular‚ stringing together the passes‚ keeping possession‚ spraying the ball from
one side of the field to the other. Rangers were forced right onto the back foot and before three minutes were on
the watch Dave Leonard was right forward to send in a telling cross. Richard Pears met it at the same time as a
visiting defender. The ball was squashed out from between two feet. Pears was first to recover his balance and
swivelled as the ball came back to ground‚ lashing it past the outstretched left hand of Richard Williams in the
Stafford goal. ´Yellows‚ Yellows´‚ rose the unaccustomed early chants from behind the goal. Two minutes later
the lead was doubled. This time the break came down the right and it was Steve Winter that flighted in the
cross. Stafford´s back line was nothing if not tall and strong and it was a visiting head that met the ball. But size
and strength do not count for everything and the accuracy of the clearance left something to be desired from the
Rangers point of view. The ball fell just right for Scot Rogers following in behind the front men and he unleashed
a shot that hit the back of the net within inches of the spot that Pears had hit moments earlier. Two first half
goals - what had got into the Yellows? And there were only five minutes gone! Williams was soon in action
again‚ this time having to reach over backwards to claw down a headed backpass from his own man that
threatened to drop into his net as Tivvy kept the screw firmly turned. The front men were looking lively‚ the
midfield was working well‚ prompting Pears and Lynch forward and the defence were comfortable‚ even able to
feed the ball out of defence with calm accuracy‚ or in the case of the wing backs to carry it forward on thrusting
runs. One such expedition down the right led to Winter being fouled. Paul Chenoweth floated over a cross from
the free kick. It went too far for Nicky Marker to meet it properly but was hit back across the area to ´Cheno´.
Tivvy´s No 10 headed it straight back into the middle where Anthony Lynch‚ back to goal‚ laid over backwards
and scissors the ball past the bemused Williams. Eleven minutes had ticked by and the ball had hit the back of
the Stafford net three times. The fans were jubilant; well the ones that hadn´t travelled down from north of
Birmingham were.
The very first lesson that Tivvy learnt upon promotion to the Dr Martens League two seasons ago was that
teams do not roll over and give up at this level. That lesson was dished out by Stafford Rangers as they came
back from two down to grab a point at Ladysmead. With just short of eighty minutes to play they were down but
not beaten and so kept plugging away‚ gradually working their way back into the game. They won a corner in the
16th minute‚ which although it was easily cleared seemed to give them the belief that they could apply some
pressure of their own. Two minutes later Pail Edwards had to stretch to palm away a cross and as the visitors
increased their efforts Neil Saunders was forced to head over his own crossbar. From the corner the ball was
laid out to Rangers Shaun Wray on the corner of the penalty area. The midfielder let rip with a tremendous shot
that was all set to bulge the net in the top right hand corner of Edwards´ goal. This is the point that the
Action/Reaction theory comes into play. The action was Nicky Marker diving full length to punch the ball clear.
The reaction was initially that of the referee awarding the inevitable penalty and showing the equally inevitable
red card to Marker. Paul Keily converted the kick to bring the Magpies deficit down to two. But the reaction didn´t
stop there. It may not have reached Alaska but it certainly reached every black and white clad player on the
pitch. They knew they were back in it and they knew they had an extra man. The entire game changed. Rangers
began to push forward more‚ the home defence were able to deal with most of the pressure but it steadily
increased. Town were forced onto the back foot and held there unable to mount more than the occasional break
into the Stafford half. There was a brief glimmer of hope that the Yellows would reassert themselves as a cross
by Pears just eluded Rogers at the far post but almost immediately‚ in the 34th minute the margin was reduced
to a single goal. Rather like Tivvy´s second goal‚ though this time from a corner‚ a poor clearance was
hammered home from the edge of the area‚ Anthony Ecclestone being the striker. Martyn Rogers decided it was
time to bolster up the defence. David Steele was called off the bench to replace Anthony Lynch‚ with Winter
moving into the defensive role and leaving Pears as the lone front runner. It was enough to preserve the lead till
half time.

A dose of Rogers Half Time Universal Elixir pepped up the Yellows a little and they looked quite lively at the
start of the second 45. Winter lifted a shot over the top in the first minute and after Kevin Nancekivell´s
persistence had won a corner Neil Saunders just failed to connect with his head and sent the ball over. A tiring
Richard Pears handed over the chasing duties to Phil Everett but it was always going to be too much for one
man against those defenders. It was hardly surprising that Stafford were soon level. Brindley it was who found
the net this time. Unchallenged from a deep crossed corner his head met the ball fairly and squarely to beat
Edwards from fifteen yards. 3-3 and half an hour to go. The signs were ominous. It was Stafford´s turn to go for
the jugular. They were seldom out of the Tiverton half of the field. Paul Edwards was the busiest man on the
pitch as the Yellows threatened to crumble. Somehow the defence held but it constantly looked on the brink of
collapse. The seconds ticked by into minutes.
Stafford rang the changes for a final push but still their efforts were charged down‚ blocked or scrambled
away. The minutes left were down to three when Tatts gave away a free kick on the edge of the area. Simkin
struck the ball round the wall and it was curling into the bottom corner. Eddie flung himself full stretch to his left
and just managed to get his fingertips to it to turn it the couple of inches that saw it pass the post on the outside.
It was a save that rivalled Nicky Marker´s only this time it saved a point rather than‚ debatably‚ costing two. A
free kick in a similar position at the opposite end was sent over the wall by Winter but easily held by Williams.
There were obviously mixed emotions at the final whistle. Disappointment at not winning after such a start; relief
at hanging on for a point against rampant opposition in the last half hour.

The performance has to be judged as that of 10 men against 11‚ the 11 being a side that was in 6th place in
the table just 3 points behind the leaders. Disappointment yes‚ but how would we have felt if it had been Tivvy
three one down at half time? Elated‚ I guess.


Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards‚ Steve Winter‚ Neil Saunders‚ Paul Tatterton‚ Nicky Marker‚ Scot Rogers‚ Kevin
Nancekivell‚ Anthony Lynch‚ Richard Pears‚ Paul Chenoweth, Dave Leonard.
Subs: Phil Everett (Pears, 54), Luke Vinicombe, David Steele (Lynch, 36).

Stafford Rangers: Richard Williams, Leigh Everitt, Steve Prindiville, Darren Boughey, Chris Brindley, Darren
Simkin, Shaun Wray, Craig Lovatt, Anthony Eccleston, Paul Kiely, Delton Francis.
Subs: Paul Harris (Boughey, 81), Daryl Wilkes (Lovatt, 48), Steve Jones (Eccleston, 84).

This report ©2001 John Reidy






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