Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 3 Cardiff City

   Saturday 17/11/2001   FA Cup
John Reidy

I like dates. Not the kind that grow on palm trees and come compressed in long round ended boxes with little wooden forks at Christmas‚ nor the assignations with young members of the opposite sex that I vaguely remember from my youth; though I seem to recall that they excited me at the time.

No‚ the dates I refer to are the type that make up calendars and history. August 23rd in the year 79 AD - Vesuvius erupted and buried Herculaneum and Pompeii: 22nd November 1963 - John F Kennedy was shot in Dallas‚ Texas by Lee Harvey Oswald. (If you were born‚ where were you when Kennedy was shot?) - that kind of date.

In football terms‚ everyone has dates they remember. Well‚ if not the date at least the event and perhaps the place. For me‚ Wembley features in most. July 30th 1966‚ I was there. April 20th 1985‚ my primrose yellows clad Ox´s beat the hoops off QPR to lift the Milk Cup. Those three brilliant days in the ´90´s when Tivvy played beneath the Twin Towers. February 6th 1999 at Odd Down - but that´s another story!

Would 17th November 2001 be added to the list? Quite possible‚ and whatever the outcome of the match I‚ and hundreds of ´Yellows´ fans‚ were determined to cross the Severn Bridge and enjoy their day out at Ninian Park. Out numbered and outsung we may have been but with no great expectations we were unlikely to be disappointed.

The teams took the field together and peeled off towards their respective supporters ends. Up flew the ´confetti´‚ and the noise level‚ as the Tivvy faithful welcomed the men on who their dreams of the day depended. When the pre match formalities were over there was no possibility of changing ends so for a change Paul Edwards had some friendly voices behind him‚ and there was no risk of anyone missing any of the action as they passed behind the stand.

The atmosphere was electric as play got underway and there was little pre-amble or exploration of opponents‚ both teams settling quickly. It rapidly became clear that the away team (Cardiff) were the quicker and more skilful overall at the pace the game was being played‚ but Tivvy were just as determined and were certainly not lacking in pace when it came to closing down the Welsh side‚ and it was the Yellows that created the first clear-cut scoring opportunity. Dave Leonard‚ with fire in his belly‚ went marauding down the left flank. There was only one way he was going to be stopped and that gave the Yellows a free kick. Lensy whipped in a cross‚ Nicky Marker got his head to the ball but was underneath it and the Bluebird´s fans breathed a sigh of relief that could be felt at the other end of the stadium. City tried to apply pressure but seldom looked like breaching the barrier that Tivvy erected across the edge of the penalty area and crosses were met firmly by the boots or heads of the Yellows back line. Nicky Marker‚ Tatts‚ David Steele dropping back from midfield‚ all made solid first time clearances. When the occasion called for it‚ the home side (Tivvy) showed they had the skills to play the ball away from the back‚ too. With nine minutes gone we witnessed the first shot on target‚ Scott Rogers taking a poke that was easily smothered by Alexander between the Cardiff posts. Two minutes later David Steele hooked a long clearance through the middle‚ Kevin Nancekivell controlled it under pressure and fed Phil Everett out on the right. Phil cut in on goal‚ shot and forced Alexander to get right down to hold the ball. Then Kevin Nancekivell‚ through on David Steele´s defence splitting pass‚ with the net beckoning took one touch to many as he tried to tee up his shot and was forced wide. Not that it was all Tivvy. The midfield was being controlled by the Blues. But they could buzz back and forth as much as they liked in midfield‚ they weren´t going anywhere‚ whereas the Yellows were controlling their own back third of the pitch‚ cutting through the middle and looking threatening in the front third.

Eventually Cardiff managed to open up the Town defence. It took 25 minutes but Robert Earnshaw blasted well wide with a massive breach in the wall in front of him. It might have been a missed chance but it was not a wasted one for it seemed to inspire the Bluebirds forwards and a minute later bought the best save of the game from Eddie. Leo Fortune-West found himself in a similar position and unleashed thunderbolt of a shot that had Tivvy´s cusdodian flying to his left to get the merest of touches to it. It was just enough to send the ball inches wide of the upright to the delight of the Devonians behind him. Mr. Bates‚ the referee‚ was not as impressed. He thought it was a miss not a save and awarded a goal kick‚ much to the chagrin of the Cardiff players who were already charging forward for the corner.

Eddie was in action again within a couple of minutes rising to pluck a free kick out of the air. I made a note - Tivvy giving as good as they´re getting - Mistake! Thirty third minute. Fortune-West who looked lively both on the ground and in the air whilst playing as target man in the middle‚ beat Neil Saunders to a high ball way out on the Welsh right. The big No.9 recovered faster and was away. Neil gave chase and Nicky Marker moved out ready to challenge‚ but before the tackle went in Fortune-West drove the ball into the middle‚ where Paul Brayson advancing in from the far wing hit it first time and the net bulged.

The referee did briefly check with his assistant but the goal stood. Yellow‚ yellow‚ yellow rang out from behind the goal as the fans tried to prevent their sides heads dropping. Eddie made two more good saves before the half time whistle sounded but never-the-less the Yellows fans felt themselves to be hard done by to be going for their half time refreshment a goal down.

Caerdydd (no wonder most of them prefer to use English) started the second period where they´d left of the first. Constant pressure. Town were not looking anywhere near as comfortable at the back as they had done for the first thirty minutes of the match. It took nine minutes for them to mount their first meaningful attack and when it broke down they were caught on the break. This time it was down the right but otherwise was very similar to the one that led to the first goal. Break down the wing, long low cross met first time, Des Hamilton´s boot it was, and Edwards helpless, 0-2.

With half an hour gone Martyn rang the changes. Steve Ovens replaced Phil Everett, Paul Chenoweth came on for Neil Saunders. The fresh legs gave Tivvy a bit more impetus and things began to look brighter, not a lot - but brighter. Scott got forward and was bundled off the ball as he charged into the area. Steve Winter switched to attack mode and managed to get a sight of goal even if he did send his shot high and wide.

The locals introduced some fresh legs with 20 minutes to go and for them the move paid almost immediate dividends as Earnshaw flicked home their third goal in the 73rd minute. Both sides used up their quota of subs before the final ten minutes were entered and you could almost hear the prayers from the Canton Stand for Tivvy to hold on, not to concede another, even perhaps score one. The gods must have been pleased with the Yellows for in the 82nd minute their prayers were answered. There had not been many balls into the Welsh penalty area since the break but Kevin Nancekivell pounced onto one; a beautifully weighted ball from Jamie Mudge. Nance avoided a tackle and fired the ball from an acute angle under Alexander´s diving body and into the net at the far post. It was celebration time for Kevin, the players and the fans. Even the stewards backed off and let us right up to the wall. They knew it was our moment.

The goal bought the game to life for the last ten minutes. Tivvy could have added another but by the same token could have conceded one, only the woodwork coming to the rescue. The final tally of 1-3 was as good as most of the Tivvy fans had hoped for. The team were not disgraced, nor were the fans. Both contingents applauded each other at the end and it was deserved by each.

November 17th 2001 will not stick in the memory like 1066, but it will be one of the memorable days in the history of Tiverton Town.

Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Steve Winter, Neil Saunders (Paul Chenoweth 60), Paul Tatterton, Nicky Marker, Scott Rogers, Kevin Nancekivell, Richard Pears(Jamie Mudge 78), Phil Everett (Steve Ovens 60), David Steele, Dave Leonard.

Cardiff City: Neil Alexander, Rhys Weston, Andy Legg, Des Hamilton (Mark Bonner 71), Spencer Prior, Daniel Gabbidon, Graham Kavanagh, Leo Fortune-West (James Collins 80), Robert Earnshaw (Layton Maxwell 76), Willie Bolland, Paul Brayson.

Attenance: 6648

This report ©2001 John Reidy

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