Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 0 Moor Green

   Saturday 19/01/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

I have to hold my hands up‚ bow my head and admit that I am as guilty as the next man. My sin? I am apt to pre judge football teams. On some occasions the opinions have a degree of justification since I have seen the sides in question. At other times it is purely hearsay‚ reputation or statistics that form their basis. The cries of lucky Arsenal‚ rapidly followed by boring‚ boring Arsenal‚ clouded my judgement even after the demise of their policy of ´You don´t lose if you don´t concede´. West Ham had a reputation of always playing open attractive football which stuck with them even when they were content to grind out draws to secure a point in one of their relegation fights. Sometimes just the name of a club might inspire visions of exciting‚ flamboyant play. Kidderminster Harriers or Bemerton Heath Harlequins sound much more exciting than Moor Green; and to add to any foreboding I may have had prior to this game was the fact that in three previous encounters neither side had scored more than a single goal or provided the paying fans with a great deal of excitement. And so I paid my money in all expectation of a dismal and dour hard fought battle. A hard fought battle is what I saw but it was not dour nor dismal‚ in fact it turned out to be quite absorbing. There was good news for Tiverton when Steve Winter was declared fit to take his place in the starting line-up‚ and Steve Ovens was once more on the bench after his comeback in last weeks defeat by Yeovil.

The playing surface looked quite reasonable at the start despite the overnight and mid morning deluges‚ though appearances were to prove deceptive as it rapidly cut up as soon as the real action started. And it was bright action too from Tivvy. Within minutes the Moor´s defence were struggling to clear a curling Steve Winter free kick that had them at sixes and sevens before they were able to breathe a sigh of relief as an attempted clearance rebounded off Phil Everett to fly out for a goal kick. The Yellows had grabbed control in midfield leaving their visitors to lay their hopes on the long ball quick break but their hopes must have been low as the Tivvy back line comfortably dealt with their efforts. Word must be getting around about the threat of Jamie Mudge as he was being constantly closed down whenever the play went near him but with twelve minutes gone he slipped his shadow and made a typical dash down towards the right-hand corner flag to send in a testing cross. The Moors defence only partly stood up to the test. A defender managed to make head contact but without much sense of direction. The ball fell to Paul Chenoweth who let fly with a cracking shot that flew off a defender for a corner. Nicky Marker came forward for the kick but the packed defence scrambled it away for another corner. Again it wasn´t cleared cleanly and again Cheno took a ´pot´ but this time was well off target as the ball sailed over the crossbar. There was obviously a way through the Moors defence‚ it just needed a little patience to find it. So patiently Tivvy kept to the task. The ideas were there but gradually the execution began to break down. Instead of penetrating deep into their opponents penalty area the moves were breaking down halfway into their half. Then it was at the halfway line‚ then.......... Perhaps the early effort had taken it´s toll on the heavy pitch‚ there was now more brown and less green to be seen underfoot.

Moor Green sensed the game was beginning to go their way and began to apply themselves to going forward. Halfway through the half Paul Edwards had to react quickly to smother the ball at the feet of Craig Woodley as he burst forward onto a through ball and a couple of minutes later Nathan Lamey ran at the defence‚ found a way through and was unlucky to see his shot fly of the upright before Eddie scrambled the ball away as the ball fell to another blue socked foot. A pair of corners followed with The Yellows surviving by the skin of their teeth thanks to a goal line clearance and some desperate defending. Moor Green now had the bit between their teeth and were playing with confidence. Jae Martin threw himself full length at a cross from the left and had his header had as much direction as it had power then Tivvy would have once again been looking for a way to come back from being a goal down. To complete the reversal of roles it was now the home side that were relying on the occasional long ball breakaway. Twice Mudge made the runs and found space for the crosses but the Moors defence had got their act together and when Scot Rogers did manage to send a cheeky ball through the middle to the feet of Kevin Nancekivell it was their keeper Adam Rachel that was off his line to fall on it. No goals at half time was not a surprise by my expectations; it was a surprise on the play. Both teams had had their periods of dominance during which they could (should?) have found the net.

The restart brought another change. The game opened out and flowed from end to end. Maybe flowed is the wrong word since nothing much could flow as the mud deepened. Both sides deserve credit for trying to play football on the deteriorating surface. The difference was that Moor Green were taking no chances at the back and would obviously be happy with a point. Time was their enemy so every opportunity was taken to use it. Goal kicks were meticulously placed on the opposite side to where the ball went out. Players collapsed writhing in agony every time there was the least physical contact‚ and sometimes when there had been none. Five minutes into the half Mudge had bought a full length save from Rachel as he had run onto a lobbed through ball by Winter and as the Yellows applied the pressure it was inevitably Jamie that was in the thick of things. Steve Ovens was bought off the bench and had only been bustling around for a few minutes when he just failed to get enough of a headed connection to a Mudge cross and then bought another excellent save from Rachel in the 67th minute. Town were back on top but for all their attacking were still unable to find the net. Steve Winter hit a 40 yarder‚ Steve Peters forced his way forward but headed wide.

There was some good defending but also some fortuitous defending and as usual in these situations I‚ and a good number of those near me‚ began to wonder where a goal was going to come from - if indeed a goal was going to come. Just as before when we´ve had those thoughts‚ we soon were to be shown. Defences at this level are a lot fitter and a lot more resilient than Western League or Western Division defences. They take a lot more wearing down. It can´t be easy having players like Jamie Mudge running at you for so long without apparently tiring. To then have Steve Ovens snapping at your heels must be a nightmare. It was an innocuous looking speculative shot from the edge of the penalty area. David Steele didn´t get as much power behind it as he might have but at least it was on target. Rachel had only to move a couple of steps to his left to take it comfortably. Unfortunately for him Craig Gaunt reacted and dived to head clear but only made a glancing contact that neatly deflected the ball two paces to his keepers right. The ball was still on target and in the net. It had taken 75 minutes of hard work but Tivvy were in front. Three minutes later they were well in front. ´Nance´ received the ball from a throw-in and worked his way backwards into the penalty area. As he made to turn away from the goal-line he was sent sprawling. The referee had no hesitation‚ he could hardly have missed it since it happened right in front of him. Kevin curled his spot kick just inside the upright on one side of the goal as Rachel dived towards the other one. With ten minutes to go the visitors had to go forward. They introduced their substitutes‚ attacked‚ but got nothing.

The Yellows took the three points to make their home haul eighteen from the last six games. Perhaps the idea of ´Fortress Ladysmead´ is becoming a reality.

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: Antony Lynch (Winter‚76)‚ Steve Ovens (Chenoweth‚56)‚ Marcus Gross (Marker‚74).

Moor Green: Adam Rachel‚ Richard Robinson‚ Stuart Brighton‚ Chris Gillard‚ Craig Gaunt‚ Jai Stanley‚ Craig Woodley‚ Martin Myers, Natham Lamey, Jae Martin, Richard Softley.

Subs: Mark Crisp (Stanley,81), Jamie Petty (Woodley,81), Danny Scheppel (Martin,86).

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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