Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 2 Crawley Town

   Saturday 06/09/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

I would think that few of us reading this have truly experienced hunger. Not the hunger of the heart that is merely a desire for something lacking in our lives‚ but real hunger; the emptiness of the stomach that if not treated leads to malnutrition. Yes‚ we´ve all felt that slight discomfort that tells us our next meal is overdue but I doubt any of us has ever reached the desperate stages where we would be prepared to grovel under the table like some starving dog in the hope of retrieving a few crumbs or morsels from the feast. Nor could we expect to experience‚ no matter how desperate our plight‚ being invited to equally share the full repast available......unless of course we were Tiverton Town followers‚ in which case we were presented with a chance to live through just such an experience in the second half of this game with Crawley Town.

Fairy god-mother‚ Ian Pulis had waved the magic wand‚ and Cinderella was going to attend the Ball in full finery with a complete set of footmen on the bench‚ we thought. But then the battle between good and bad magic swung in favour of the later and she had to go without the jewellery as Lawrence Hall withdrew from the fun. Still‚ at least there was a decent chance that though she might be lacking in finery‚ she would still be the Belle Of the Ball.

Town hit the (dance) floor running and made an immediate impact winning the first corner of the game in the second minute. Shortly after‚ Crawley´s Nigel Brake hoisted across a long ball from the left that Paul Chenoweth saw out on the right. Exciting stuff - not. Things did improve minutely momentarily as Ben Judge rounded off a slick passing move that traversed the Tiverton penalty area by thumping in a fierce shot and Nathan Rudge hit a laid back ball from David Steele high over the bar at the opposite end‚ but the majority of action was taking place at a sedate pace in midfield. Plenty of minuets but no Rock´n´Roll to liven the occasion up. The fact that Nathan Rudge was leading the line added height‚ bustle and strength to the Tiverton attacks but there was a notable lack of ball skills and finesse about his role and what forward threat The Yellows did display came from partner Steve Ovens. Ovo and Ian Patchett combined down the left in the 17th minute to send Steve bursting past Craig Dean but the cross into the middle was hooked away for a corner. Four minutes later and it was former QPR‚ Aldershot and Aylesbury centre back Karl Ready‚ making his debut for the visitors‚ who was left floundering in Ovens´ wake. He managed to stay close enough to grab a handful of sleeve and using that to haul himself closer still‚ grabbed a second handful. Ovens was slowed. The referee took a long look at the tussle and decided that Ready might be committing an offence. He took another look and decided he was. Then‚ noticing that his assistant was waving his flag he blew his whistle. Very astute this official. Very observant. Mr Hawken chose to have a quiet word with Ready but no more. Jason Rees took the kick. There was no cute dummy run‚ no twee exchange of passes to wrong foot the wall. It was a straight forward low drive into the goalmouth that could of so easily taken a deflection either way. As it was it flew inches wide of the far post evading the stretches of both attackers and defenders. It was the nearest to a goal we were to see at the Sponsors End of the ground this side of the break. Back into midfield went the game and there once more it settled for the most part. Ready must have been fascinated by the texture of cloth used in Ovens´ shirt for he took another handful and was shown the yellow card for his inquisitiveness.

At last‚ after thirty three (and a third?) revolutions of the second hand on my watch Tivvy upped the tempo. Not by much‚ just minuet to fox-trot. Ovens again caused problems‚ this time down the right as he chased into corner but was bundled to the ground by Nigel Brake. Rudge managed to connect with his head to Chenoweth´s inswinging free kick but there was a total lack of direction to the effort. For five minutes it was all Tivvy but without a clear cut scoring opportunity and the half chances that fell to Ovens‚ Rudge and Kevin Nancekivell were no more than that‚ though the assault did serve to show that Crawley could quite easily be rattled. Rattled or not‚ they were‚ as al teams are liable to be at this level‚ dangerous on the break. As The Yellows moved forward so the heavy clearance found Carl Wilson-Denis. He carried the ball towards Tivvy´s last man‚ Rees‚ before lifting it forward to fellow Brighton and Hove Albion loanee and hot shot Dean Marney. Marney caught the ball on the volley with a tremendous shot that had Fraser springing at full stretch to his left to flick the ball over his crossbar for a corner. One more half chance at the other end that saw Rudge‚ Ready and Little all up for a high cross from Chenoweth and all ending on the floor after the keeper had claimed the ball. Well‚ not quite. Rudge finished up on Little which left the Crawley custodian in need of treatment... well wouldn´t you in the same circumstances? There were few crumbs to be had from those first 45 minutes.

Having sat out´ for a while the teams took the field once more and it was clear that the new comers were keen to show their paces. Quickstepping into action they pushed down their right flank. Rob Cousins was caught flat footed and gave away a free kick just outside the penalty area. Brake took the kick and like Rees in the first half chose the direct approach‚ driving in a cross. Like the Tiverton skipper´s effort the ball eluded all contact. Unlike Rees´ effort it curled just inside the post not just outside it. Crawley were in front. The effect on the game was instantaneous but unhappily for the home fans it was not noticeably to their favourites benefit. Crawley took control of the game and Tiverton were called onto defend in numbers. Any hope of seeing The Yellows midfield begin to function as it had recently evaporated as they became deeply involved in holding the confidence laden Sussex men at bay. There was a moment´ respite when Ovens‚ Rudge and Holloway combined but the Welshman´s final ball in was headed tamely into Little´s arms by the makeshift striker and play returned to the opposite end where Tivvy continued to have trouble in clearing their lines. It was completely in line with the run of play when Crawley increased their lead. In the 64th minute a long swirling cross from the right flank cleared the six yard box but was meat by the head of Marney beyond the far post. His header looped back into the goalmouth where Carl Wilson-Denis rose with Rudge and Rees. Rees made contact to keep the ball out of the net. It was‚ unfortunately‚ with his hand and though Mr Hawken appeared not to see it‚ his assistant did and the penalty was awarded. Mo Harkin gave Stuart Fraser less chance than he had had with the original cross though he did get a hand on the spot kick. 2-0 and Tiverton deep in the mire. When you´re in a hole there are two options. Lay down and die or keep digging and either you´ll bury yourself or you´ll dig your way out. The Yellows dug‚ and deep. Ovens was still lively. Down the right he sped but lacking support his low cross shot was the only option open to him and was easily held at the near post by Little. The ne´er say die attitude was rewarded in the 72nd minute. As Tivvy buzzed around the Crawley penalty area a ball was hoisted into the middle. Nancekivell went for it with Ready. Ready made contact....his elbow on top of Nancekivell´s head. This time Mr Hawken was facing in the right direction and both saw and reacted to the occurrence. Wonderful!

Penalty to Tiverton. Steve Winter had just been introduced as a substitute. His first touch of the ball was to place it on the spot. His first kick was the perfect penalty‚ a foot off the ground a foot inside the upright. Two - one‚ seventeen minutes left...there was hope. Tivvy pushed‚ Crawley defended and hoped for a break. They got one but Marney headed over. Richard Pears did likewise at the other end after an intricate free kick move involving all three subs and Steele. The Crawley defence looked as if they would hold out‚ hard pressed though they were. They held until the 89th minute. Tiverton swarmed around the penalty area. Ovens was inside it‚ just. He received the ball and was promptly elbowed off it by Kevin Hemsley. Mr Hawken was in the crowd and couldn´t see. His assistant, though, had a clear view from the touchline as Ovens crumpled. Up went the flag, waving frantically. Whistle blowing, across went the referee to consult hotly pursued by a posse of Crawley players. Guilty consciences or what, since at this point they did not know what the signal was for? It was for the elbow. Hemsley saw yellow, a number of other players had the Cornishman´s finger wagged in their faces. Winter repeated his first kick. Same latitude, same elevation, a little more power. Little Little could do. Little Crawley could do since no sooner had they kicked off than the final whistle blew.

Tiverton had got to share the spoils when it looked for a long time that they were not even going to get a sniff at the crumbs. Crawley felt robbed - well wouldn´t you. There was one consolation for the visitors. When they returned to their coach it was still intact. The way their afternoon had gone they probably expected it to have turned into a pumpkin!



Tiverton Town: S Fraser, I Patchett, Gareth Owen, J Rees, N Rudge, R Cousins, K Nancekivell, C Holloway, P Chenoweth, D Steele.
Subs: S Winter (Patchett, 71), D Haines (Chenoweth, 51), L Vinnicombe, R Pears (Rudge, 81).
Bookings: Rudge 67.

Crawley Town: A Little, B Judge, C Dean, K Hemsley, K Ready, R Smith, M Harkin, P Armstrong, D Marney, C Wilson-Denis, N Brake.
Subs: C McDonald (Wilson-Denis), P Fear (Dean, 46), E Hooper (Armstrong, 76), M West, M Ottley.
Bookings: Ready 24, Smith 59, Hemsley 89.

Referee: M Hawken (St Austell)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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