Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 0 Hednesford Town

   Saturday 08/12/2001   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

In the days when my beloved children were growing up and home life meant just that - staying at home - I
used to watch a fair amount of television. I liked the British sit-coms. Among my favourite programmes of that ilk
were those starring Leonard Rossiter‚ such as ´Rising Damp´ and ´The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin´‚
particularly those moments when his Mother in Law crossed his mind. Thoughts of the later comedy epic
overflowed into my football musing and I was soon considering some of the rises and falls in the fortunes of
football clubs over the past decades. The rise from the Southern League to the First Division (old style) of first
Oxford United and then even more speedily the remarkable Wombles of Wimbledon. Both have slipped back‚
albeit not quite to whence they came‚ but by far the most spectacular rise and fall that I can recall was the seven
season rush that Northampton Town embarked on in the late ´60´s. Three successive promotions carried them
from the Fourth division to the First where they spent one season before tumbling just as quickly back to the
Fourth. No chance of getting fed up seeing the same old opponents year in year out. When Tivvy climbed into
the Dr Martens League we came up against a club suffering from a similar if slightly more sedate slide down the
side of the pyramid. Bromsgrove Rovers have tumbled from the Conference through the Dr Martens trap door
and into the Midland Alliance in a matter of just four seasons and as the Yellows gained promotion and
embarked on their first season in the Premier Division the early season form indicated that we might be passing
another sliding Midlands club. Hednesford Town had caught the headlines for their cup exploits in recent years
but they were relegated from the Conference at the end of last season and started this campaign as if they were
going to emulate Bromsgrove. We stood neck and neck in the League table going into Saturday´s first ever
encounter between the two sides so it was equally crucial for each side to get a positive result.

The glaring‚ setting sun was in the eyes of Hednesford keeper Mark Gayle as the match got underway but it
was little concern to him as his team-mates were quicker out of the traps and made most of the early forward
moves. Tivvy easily absorbed what the visitors had to offer and settled down to playing out of defence. Never-
the-less‚ we had to wait twelve minutes before we had the first inkling of a strike on goal and when it came it
was a Wimbledonesque route one effort. Paul Edwards lofted a goal kick into the Pitmens half‚ Phil Everett
nodded it on to Jamie Mudge who forced the ball wide to Steve Winter advancing from the right. Steve´s rising
shot flew high and wide heading for the Bolham Road roundabout. At least the effort seemed to open the game
up and for the next ten minutes it was end to end stuff. Then the rot set in.
End to end became penalty area to penalty area and the territory occupied by the action gradually contracted
width ways as well‚ until play was restricted into a crowded area in the centre of the pitch. When the Yellows did
manage to break out of the midfield rut they looked the more dangerous‚ Everett sliced one effort well wide‚
Kevin Nancekivell did all the hard work to beat Gayle from wide but saw his underpowered shot cleared by one
of two defenders on the line‚ and Nicky Marker had a header easily held under the crossbar by the keeper. The
first period petered out in a dour midfield battle with both sides guilty of failing to find any width and making too
many misplaced passes. The half time whistle came almost as a blessed relief to the home supporters as they
made their way down to the Devco End. After all Tivvy play better going towards the Sponsors stand‚ don´t they?

For once the faith in that belief was justified. The Yellows looked far livelier when play resumed. Before the
half time pasties were consumed and whilst the tea was still hot‚ Gayle had to smother at Mudge´s feet and
Nance had scuffed wide under tremendous pressure from two defenders. Steve Peters got well forward for a
corner‚ directed his header down into the ground and had Gayle gratefully clasping the rebound. Mudge crashed
a cross-goal shot wide. It looked like only a matter of time before the deadlock would be broken but then
inexplicably the ´buzz´ faded. Hednesford were first to change things. Manager Kenny Hibbit replaced
Lancashire with Airdrie (a geography lesson?) but probably regretted it. Within minutes Tivvy took the lead. It
came from nowhere. There was no particular build up of pressure‚ no great flowing move from the back. Steve
Winter was fed the ball out on the right and whipped in an in-swinging cross. Phil Everett was lurking in the
middle and threw himself headfirst at the ball.
The general concensus from the fans behind the goal at the time was that Phil didn´t get a touch and that the
ball curled straight into the net. Phil though was claiming the goal‚ and knowing the honesty of the man one has
to accept that the third hair from the right must have deflected the ball into the net. Sixty four minutes gone and
Tivvy had their noses in front. Three minutes later they were leading by a neck. Eddie cleared long up field and
two defenders‚ along with Nancekivell and Mudge‚ all went for the ball. It was a Pitman´s boot that connected
but not cleanly. Kevin was first to recover his poise as the ball bobbled around. Jamie had broken clear of the
group‚ Nance slid the ball in front of him and away went Jamie‚ bearing down on Gayle. Under the keeper´s
body went the ball and away peeled Jamie arm in air. 2-0. It was enough. Hednesford tried to battle their way
back but seldom really threatened. The remaining substitutes were given their chance but even the vertically
excessive Kevin Francis added little to the visitors chances‚ managing to get under the one cross he did meet
with his head - no mean feat for a man that tops out at 6´ 7´´.

The three points make Tiverton´s league position look a lot more healthy. Hednesford slide deeper into the
mire. Apart from the later part of the first half it was a good solid team performance. No outstanding stars‚ no
boobies.

Only possible ´turnip´ award of the match‚ perhaps‚ should go to the Referee´s Appointment Secretary
responsible for the teaming up of the officials. Bearing in mind Devon´s recent agricultural crisis‚ the selection of
Messrs. Bull‚ Brimming and Graves might be regarded as a little insensitive


Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards‚ Steve Winter‚ Neil Saunders‚ Steve Peters‚ Nicky Marker‚ Scott Rogers‚ Kevin
Nancekivell‚ Jamie Mudge‚ Phil Everett David Steele‚ Paul Chenoweth.
Subs: Richard Pears (Mudge‚79)‚ Anthony Lynch (Everett‚84)‚ Marcus Gross (Saunders‚85)

Hednesford Town: Mark Gayle‚ Russel Dodd‚ Richard Lucas, Wayne Simpson, Matt Gardiner, Lee Barrow,
Stuart Lake, James Dyson, Graham Lancashire, Damien Charlie, Dean Craven.
Subs: Stewart Airdrie (Lancashire,62), Kevin Francis (Craven,73), Leon Brown (Craven,73).

This report ©2001 John Reidy






Please note: The � or ? character in some older reports denotes where an error has occured in translation when the reports were transfered between databases