Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 0 Newport County

   Wednesday 30/01/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

In my pre and early teen years I had a large map of the British Isles on my bedroom wall. Much to the annoyance of my father‚ who took great pride in his decorating prowess‚ I then proceeded to stick pins in it to locate all the Football League‚ Scottish League and Southern League clubs. It was a mainly simple operation‚ though one or two lower division sides called for a little research. Port Vale play at Burslem which is .....where? Newport County‚ frequently referred to as Newport County nil on Saturday evenings‚ were another club that had my pin dithering. There was a Newport in Gloucs.; Newport‚ Shropshire; Newport‚ Isle of White; a Newport in just about every county however far it might be from the sea‚ but no Newport County. I eventually found the right one‚ stuck in a yellow headed pin‚ and thought little more about it. Until I left school. The first day at college and into the room marches our first year Maths tutor. ´My names Edwards´‚ he proclaimed with that rich‚ musical lilt of a native of the Principality on the other side of the Severn. ´And I´m from Newport‚ Mon.‚ so I´m a Welshman.´ We‚ his students‚ failed to quite grasp the reason for this apology though as the term progressed it did encourage us to make allowances for him. Proud though he was of his ´Welshness´ he freely admited‚ when under pressure‚ that Monmouthshire was the most westerly of the English counties. Ergo‚ he was not Welsh but an Englishman. Not surprising then that he had been known to confuse Pythagorus with Einstein. It was my first encounter with the enigmatic Welsh. Fiercely patriotic yet seldom able to speak their native tongue. And when I came to meet the supporters of Welsh teams the boundaries were pushed even wider. Violently and vocally anti English‚ yet prepared to go into eastern exile rather than be brow-beaten into competing in the insignificant and parochial League of Wales‚ it would be interesting to see the degree of Welsh passion shown by the fans and team of Newport County on their first visit to Ladysmead.

The pitch was looking soft‚ the goalmouths already well churned as the game got underway. And it started at a frantic pace. The Yellows were the first to show and there was every indication that they were seeking to lay the ghost of relying on late‚ late goals to bring them victory. Steve Ovens in particular was skipping over the deepening mud and was the first to have a serious attempt on goal after six minutes. The ´Exiles´ defence were big‚ fit‚ agile and numerous‚ and though Tivvy kept pushing forward the early goal did not materialise. Phil Everett was robbed at the far post from a Steve Winter cross and minutes later bought a Paul Chenoweth ball down into the path of Winter who rolled his eyes as he sliced his attempted drive closer to the corner flag than the goalposts. Unperturbed the Yellows continued a steady assault on the Newport penalty area‚ the territorial advantage being reflected by the comparative degree of wear showing on the playing surface. The visitors looked quite sharp‚ even dangerous as their two front men chased long balls out of defence but without a great deal of support they failed to break through to call Paul Edwards into serious action.

Pat Mountain in the opposite goal‚ however‚ kept his side in the game with two magnificent saves. The first came when Steve Ovens was fouled as he again bamboozled the defenders out on the right. Steve Winter´s outswinging free kick was met at the far side of the six yard box and looked to be looping over the Newport keeper until he threw himself upwards and backwards to touch the ball over the crossbar. From the resulting corner‚ taken short and fed back to Winter‚ the wing back had Mountain stretching the other way to repeat the feat. Hero‚ or what? The travelling fans were in no doubt and even the Tivvy fans behind Mountain applauded. And that was the story of the first half. County did churn a little more mud at the Tivvy end towards the end of the 45 minutes but it was the familiar picture of Town possession and control punctuated by bursts from the visitors that kept the game moving from end to end - well perhaps ´end to penalty area´ would be more appropriate.

The second period continued in much the same vein as the first had ended. Within a minute some excellent approach work from the Yellows had opened a way through the massed rank of white shirted defenders but Scott Rogers‚ driving the midfield‚ scuffed his shot and Mountain collected comfortably. Town were playing remarkably good passing football considering the surface. Resisting the temptation to hoof the ball forward in the air they were building moves from the back and the fans were beginning to believe a goal would soon be found. At the same time there was a niggling fear that County would capitalise on one of their forays and sneak a score. At last the Newport net bulged. Thirty minutes to go - early! Ovens and Kev Nancekivell combined out on the right‚ forced the ball across and Everett guided the ball home at the far post. It was not to stand. The Referee´s Assistant out on the touchline stood motionless‚ flag aloft. Offside. Nevermind‚ the wall had been breached. Minutes later suspicions that the prolonged pressure might be telling on the Exiles back line were justified as Ovens broke clear in the centre of the pitch‚ charged through extending the distance between himself and his pursuers‚ and beat Mountain with his shot only to see the ball slide inches past the upright. The bells were ringing for Newport but their management were obviously confident that they could grab something from the game. A double substitution introduced fresh legs to their forward bursts with twenty minutes left. The injection of pace was noticeable but ineffectual as the Yellows defence forced them wide and away from dangerous territory. Eight minutes later Tivvy responded. Marcus Gross replaced the solid and steady looking Nicky Marker and Antony Lynch was added to the front line as David Steele joined his captain in the bath. It could be the time to trot out all the clichs about inspired substitutions but I´ll desist.

The first involvement of Lynch in the action was when a misunderstanding left him staring after a through ball he couldn´t have chased down if he´d been a greyhound. His second piece of the action was to thunder through the middle to thump the ball into the net to give Tivvy the lead. Just before the changes had taken place a doleful voice at my left shoulder had bemoaned‚ ´I can´t see where a goal is coming from.´ It came from the area that Tivvy had looked strongest, down the right flank. Steve Ovens broke, found (made) space to whip in a cross. Antony had charged through the middle in space. The cross fell to his foot perfectly and he made no mistake. Within minutes the roles were almost reversed but this time the visitors keeper scrambled the ball off Ovens´ foot to be hacked away by his centre backs. Newport had to chase the equaliser and surged forward. They threw everything they could at Tivvy but to no avail and, leaving themselves open at the back fell for the sucker punch. Another right wing break exposed them. A free kick was given away. Taken close into the corner by Steve Winter, he eventually lost out to two defenders. the ball squeezed out, fell to a Town boot, was sent across the goalmouth where Steve Ovens slid the ball home at the far post.

It was a late, late show again but the teams at this level are far better organised and fitter than those at lower levels. Tivvy´s fitness and ability to grind them down and win through in the end is paying off. If that´s the name of the game and the Yellows can play it so effectively then let´s enjoy it and the results it brings. And a final word about the ´patriotic´ Welsh. They were there. Not as many as we would have hosted had the game been played on New Years Day but never-the-less they were vocal, and nobody could have any complaints about their behaviour.



Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Steve Winter, Neil Saunders, Steve Peters, Nicky Marker, Scott Rogers, Kevin Nancekivell, Steve Ovens, Phil Everett David Steele, Paul Chenoweth.

Subs: Jamie Mudge, Antony Lynch (Steele,79), Marcus Gross (Marker,79).

Newport County: Pat Mountain, Andy Thomas, Steve Benton, Billy Clarke, Jeff Eckhardt, Matt Rose, Jason Perry, Darren Ryan, Justin Richards, Martin Paul, Steve Cowe.

Subs: Nathan Davis (Paul,86), Alfie Carter (Ryan,71), Lewis Sommers (Richards,71).

This report ©2002 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