Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 1 Oxford City

   Saturday 13/10/2001   FA Cup
John Reidy

Oxford City; home of my youth. Dreaming spires‚ caps and gowns‚ car factories‚ endless bookshops. Fond memories - well...... some. It had always been a city of conflict. For centuries there had been strife between Town and Gown. I never saw much of that. By the time I was old enough to drink‚ ´they´ had their pubs‚ ´we´ had ours. The only rumbles tended to be between ´us´ and the US servicemen that flooded into town from their bases at Brize Norton and Upper Heyford on a Saturday evening to try to take over ´our´ bars and‚ worse‚ our ´dames´. And of course there were the ´Ding-dongs´ between Oxford City and Headington United. City were in the amateur Isthmian League‚ a gentlemanly institution. United were‚ say it with disdain‚ professionals and therefore unworthy of carrying the name Oxford‚ despite being in the top league outside the Football League. The clubs would meet occasionally in the FA Cup and always in the Oxfordshire FA Benevolent Cup‚ a match played to raise funds to aid injured players. Ironical that‚ since such was the ferocity of the rivalry between the two clubs that more players were likely to get hurt in that one fixture than in the entire season in other games. The competition was equally fierce between the fans of the two sides and I‚ being a U´s man‚ was never unhappy to see the City on the wrong end of a pasting‚ especially if it were at the hands of my beloved United boys in yellow.
I left Oxford‚ and City were forgotten (but not United!). Then they´re thrust back at me thanks to the FA Cup; and here they are running out at Ladysmead‚ blue an´ white hoops an´ all.
There was an immediate reaction from the Tiverton players to Wednesday evenings debacle. From the kick off Town went forward. David Steele was wearing the No. 10 shirt vacated by Paul Chenoweth as a result of his sending off against Salisbury‚ and this time there was no merry-go-round of players to accommodate the young Yellows prospect in the wing back role. He looked comfortable in mid-field and was soon spraying the ball out to the wide men as Tivvy played some neat‚ ground level football. Phil Everett was back off the bench‚ partnered by the effervescent Steve Ovens‚ over the hamstring problems that have seen him sidelined for the last couple of games. There was a noticeable difference. Apart from the fact that most of the approach work was taking place below knee level‚ the attacks were coming from both wings‚ Dave Leonard was getting well forward on the left and seeing more of the ball than usual. And it was from the left that the first goal came. Having carved their way forward down the right‚ the ball was switched to the opposite wing and crossed into the middle‚ where Scott Rogers headed it over the advancing keeper and Everett was there at the far post to add the finishing nod to give the Yellows the lead.
Town´s dander was up. They looked almost as good as they had in the first fifteen minutes against Stafford last weekend - Almost. Opportunities were created and‚ though not converted‚ it seemed only a matter of time before the next goal came. The visitors offered no threat‚ relying on occasional breaks and the odd long range shots from Shaun Wimble and Jermaine Ferreira. Winter was causing problems for City on the right‚ Leonard on the left‚ Ovens and Everett were buzzing in and out of their defence. Shots and headers were flying around the Oxford goal but sadly not into it. Then came the change. An Oxford attack; something of a novelty. A break down their right. A powerful centre‚ but no forward near it. Paul Edwards coming forward could have collected it without challenge. Did he call? I didn´t hear it from behind the far goal but if he did‚ Paul Tatterton either didn´t hear him or didn´t react. Up went ´Tatts´ foot‚ which connected fair and square with the ball and sent it crashing past Eddie and into the net.
All square‚ 1-1. Ridiculous when one considered that Oxford had not really created a chance in the first 17 minutes. It gave the visitors a lift though‚ and the game became more evenly balanced. Town were still having the better of things and always looked the most likely to score but City were beginning to hold on to the ball longer and to build more constructively from the back. Perhaps it was frustration‚ but the Yellows were trying to rush forward and were using the long ball over the top again‚ and although Everett and Ovens were chasing well the defence was not being tested to the same extent that it had been and Oxford must have been more than content to reach the interval still level.
Half time saw a change in the Tivvy line up. Luke Vinnicombe replaced Nicky Marker in the centre of defence.
The restart saw a repeat of the start that the Yellows had made to the first period. Once more they were the dominant force‚ pushing forward in an effort to restore the lead which they should have‚ on the balance of play‚ rightly still held. It didn´t take them long - just six minutes. A short corner on the left‚ taken Scott Rogers. It was worked into the middle and back out again as the defence closed ranks. Dave Leonard swung in a cross, which was headed clear by a defender, but only as far as Steve Winter out on the far right. Steve controlled the ball, moved past a tackle, advanced another couple of paces and let fly from thirty yards. The ball was still rising as it passed inches inside Nelson´s right hand upright and inches below his crossbar. A true Beckhamesque strike and Town were back where they deserved to be - in front. Suddenly the City keeper was taking goal kicks with alacrity. No more carrying the ball to the opposite side of the goal from which it had gone out, no more strolling to fetch it and strolling back to place it. Oxford had to push forward and push forward they did to great effect. The home fans were getting frustrated as Tivvy seemed unable to clear their lines decisively and when they did, although they looked threatening, nothing was coming of it. As the pressure was applied by the visitors the Yellows´ midfielders were called more and more into defensive duties allowing less and less for playmaking. The defence, though, held. And so it should have for City had hardly the most potent of strike forces. As the minutes ticked by, the regulation fresh legs were introduced to their attack and further and further forward they pushed. They had nothing to lose and 10k to gain if they could pull something out of the bag. No wonder they threw everything they could at Tivvy. Three corners in rapid succession around the 90 minute mark were all scrambled away. Then with every man except the Oxford keeper in the Tiverton half; a controlled clearance. Everett was away, Lynch was running parallel. There was only one defender between them. He closed towards Phil, who chose the right moment and slipped the ball sideways to Lynch. Anthony was not going to miss this one and the 3-1 scoreline was a far fairer reflection of the game than 2-1 had been. There was just time to restart before the six minutes of stoppage time ran out and the cheque could be filled out in Tiverton Town´s name.
It was a better performance from the Yellows but then when you´re down the only way is up. That´s the way we´re heading, hopefully. The two youngsters - Steele and Vinnicombe - thrown in at the deep end, both aquitted themselves well and certainly didn´t look out of their depth. This was not one of those delightful pastings of Oxford City that I used to enjoy, but the result was right. The team in yellow won!

Tiverton Town: 1. Paul Edwards, 2. Steve Winter, 3. Neil Saunders, 4. Paul Tatterton, 5. Nicky Marker, 6. Scott Rogers, 7. Kevin Nancekivell, 8. Steve Ovens, 9. Phil Everett 10. David Steele, 11. Dave Leonard.

Subs: 12. Anthony Lynch (Ovens,86), 14. Richard Pears (Nancekivell,90), 15. Luke Vinnicombe (Marker,46), 16. Stuart Smith

Oxford City: 1. Stuart Nelson, 2. Craig Farley, 3. Julian Dark, 4. Andy Smith, 5. Michael Thorpe, 6. Jermaine Ferreira, 7. Micky Lewis, 8. Matty Whitehead, 9. Mark Druce, 10. John Mitchell, 11. Shaun Wimble,

Subs: 12. Steve Arkins(Druce,49), 14. Danny Wise(Lewis71), 15. David Billington(Wimble,55), 16. Kamran Abbasi, 17. Paul Woodholde

This report ©2001 John Reidy






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