Match report

Tiverton Town 6 - 0 Croydon

   Saturday 01/12/2001   FA Trophy
John Reidy

Variety is the spice of life, or so some would have us believe. Tiverton Town have, thanks to their progress over the last four seasons been able to provide their fans with ample variety as far as opposition is concerned. It is perhaps ironical that prior to joining the Dr Martens League it was only the FA competitions that bought new sides to Ladysmead. Didn't we relish those FA Cup and Vase ties against sides from other leagues? Those games used to not only bring new teams to Ladysmead but also provided the opportunity to compare the respective strength or otherwise of different leagues. So here we were in the Premier Division and in both the FA Cup and Trophy we find our first opponents are not only from the same League but also from the same division; and worse, they are teams that we have already played in league encounters. And when we have disposed of those first ties, the only league we are matched against is the Ryman. Oxford City, Billericay and now Croydon. At least we can judge if the accusations levelled against the Ryman League by those that would seek to have its status as a feeder to the Conference removed, are justified. The 'Knockers' claim that it is a parochial league of small time clubs within the M25 belt - someone must have moved either the road or Oxfordsince I lived there! And Croydon were as close a match as one could contrive to find if league positions were the yardstick. Seventeenth place in the Ryman Premier compared to the Yellows eighteenth in the Dr Martens Premier. We should have been in for a close encounter....Should have been!

From the first kick it was only a minute or so before the hopes of the football starved Ladysmead crowd were raised. Croydon's reputation of having a leaky defence preceded them and Tivvy started as if they intended to capitalise on that weakness if it existed. Early signs were that it did, as mistakes were made by the South Londoners as they tried to clear their lines. Passes out of defence went straight to yellow shirts or were sliced harmlessly into touch. With less than two minutes on the watch Phil Everett broke clear into the bottom right hand corner and whipped in a cross that had Kevin Nancekivell. unmarked in the middle, stretching his neck to meet it but to no avail. Not that Kevin had long to wait before making a counting impact. Six minutes gone and he won the ball in the centre circle. With considerable control, reminiscent of his pre-Plymouth days, he broke free from the attention of three opponents and sprinted towards the goal. Approaching the edge of the area Nance slipped the ball sideways to Everett who moved it on again to Jamie Mudge closing from the left hand edge of the area. Jamie steadied himself, shot and the rising ball beat Martin but flew off the crossbar. With the Croydon defence spread-eagle and Scott Rogers and Marcus Gross both following in behind the attack it could have fallen to either of them. Scott it was that crashed the ball home for the first goal. The 'Yellows' were buzzing and the only way the 'Trams' (just where does that nickname come from?) seemed to be able to make a clean clearance was when they caught the attacking force offside. It was a dangerous tactic as Tivvy varied their approach work, and always looked the faster, slicker unit. It didn't take long for the inevitable second goal to materialise and this time it came from the left. It was what was to become a familiar looking strike. Long cross, Marcus Gross lurking unattended at the back of the area, one touch to tee it up, drive, goal. True the unfortunate Martin got a hand to it but even if he'd got both to the ball he'd probably still have had to pick it out of the net. The two goal cushion was just what the Yellows needed to boost their confidence. They turned on the style, slick passing, neat control on the ball, perceptive movement off the ball. It was exhibition stuff. Halfway through the first period Nicky Marker nearly added to the tally as he met a right side corner with a fierce header that was goal bound until it deflected of an unsuspecting defender.

At the other end Croydon managed their first shot of the match, four yards wide flew the ball and the chants of 'You're not very good' rose from behind the opposite goal. And in truth they weren't, certainly in defence, as the next seven minutes were to prove. Tiverton foiled another forward move by the visitors, it could hardly be called an attack, and Everett sent Jamie Mudge free down the right. Mudge's pace saw him easily leave the defence standing and left him with ample time to dolly up a cross for the unmarked Nancekivell to nod home in the 25th minute. There was no let up by the Tivvy men. Nancekivell again found space and time to fire in a shot from just inside the area that flew inches wide, but a minute later he added his second from the narrowest of angles. Twenty eight minutes gone and the contest was over. If the Croydon defence had been as good at defending as they were at blaming their 'keeper for their own shortcomings then things might have been different; as it was they appeared to be standing around watching the skills of the Tiverton side - without getting too close in case they got in their way. With the half hour mark approaching Paul Edwards had to make a save. The shot was on target, but lacking power probably due to being miss hit, and thus caused Eddie some problems as he appeared to be down before the ball reached him. Back down at the Devco end Martin showed that he too could make saves. Everett's cross from the right found Rogers unmarked (what a surprise) at the back of the penalty area. Scott thundered in a shot that had 'goal' plastered all over it until the Croydon keeper flung himself up and to his left to touch the ball onto the crossbar and it was then scrambled away and out for a throw in. The throw was taken to Steve Winter out on the right wing. Steve treated us to a little ball juggling, chest, knee, foot. The foot touch was a cross into the goalmouth whence lurked Jamie Mudge (unmarked) who accepted the simplest of headers to make it 5-0. Once again the 'Trams' back men went off their 'trolley's' at their goalkeeper but the 'Yellows' fans behind him could see the truth of things and expressed their sympathy, and even offered their congratulations when his outstretched foot prevented Nance's first half hat-trick.

There was no need for a half time pep talk, if anything a 'don't risk injury' instruction was more in order. Croydon however had to do something even if they were fighting a lost cause. A double substitution after five minutes seemed to help as they suddenly found themselves spending most of their time in the Tiverton half. Not that they threatened to do much when they were there but they certainly gained territorial advantage. The Yellows were still looking dangerous on the break but with only the front runners to cope with, the visitors rear line seemed to be back on the tracks; they even appeared to have sorted out the timing of their offside trap. Paul Chenoweth and Antony Lynch were bought on to replace Neil Saunders and Jamie Mudge ten minutes after the interval and five minutes later the pair combined to set up Tivvy's sixth strike. Lynch got involved in a tight situation down in the left hand corner but managed to play the ball back to Cheno. The substitutes fresh legs carried him through the Croydon defence and as he closed on the goal he unselfishly slipped the ball sideways to the, dare I repeat it, unmarked Kevin Nancekivell who sidefooted into the empty net to complete his hat trick. Croydon continued to push forward, Tiverton continued to cope with consummate ease. When Town broke forward the moves were inevitably terminated by the linesman's flag as time after time Lynch, particularly, was caught inches too close to goal. The game fizzled out like a damp squib, but then, when you've witnessed such a wonderful display of footballing fireworks as the Yellows served up in the first half who cares if there are one or two duff bangers at the end of the box.

On this showing it is hard to disagree that the standard in the Ryman League is lower than that in the Dr Martens. But it is also hard to believe that Croydon are normally this poor; after all they have beaten Canvey Island and drawn with Billericay. Perhaps we'll meet again and they'll have a better day.

Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Steve Winter, Neil Saunders (Paul Chenoweth 55), Marcus Gross, Nicky Marker, Scott Rogers, Kevin Nancekivell (Pete Conning 70), Jamie Mudge (Antony Lynch 58), Phil Everett David Steele, Dave Leonard

Croydon: Matt Martin, Tony Chin, Marc Crome, Mark Dickinson (Andre Domingo 82), Ali Reeve, Graham Harper (Seb Favata 50), Chris Dickson, Barry Kingsford, Nic McDonnell, Ros Edwards (Craig Dundass 50), Omari Coleman

A late thought:-
There must be a story behind the Croydon kit. It is not a typing error that they started with no No.9 but with a No.18. And on the official team sheet the colours were given as Sky Blue and Navy. Now I know I've complained about my eyesight recently but I was sure they were in white with red trim. Ah, maybe that's why they struggled, it wasn't really Croydon!

This report ©2001 John Reidy

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