Match report

Tiverton Town 5 - 0 Cambridge City

   Saturday 09/02/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

In the words of Stevie Nicks‚ lead female vocalist with Rock Band Fleetwood Mac‚ 'Sometimes It's A Bitch'. Life‚ that is. You know the kind of thing; The one you love say's there's only one passion in her life - then tells you you're not the one. The job seems to be going well - then you find you're on the scrap heap‚ again. Your football team climbs to new heights - then loses a couple of games on the trot and tumbles down the table. I can sympathise with the followers of Cambridge City; their past has so many parallels with the 'other' club in the town of my upbringing. Struggling along against the apathy of a student population that has been reared on Public School education and has little loyalty to the locality in which they temporarily live - students at England's leading Universities seldom watch the local football sides. Brought up as they have been playing the Eton Wall Game‚ Rugby and Rowing in 'eights' that consist of nine‚ Saturday afternoon sees a large number of the male population chasing around college sports fields playing with their odd shaped balls rather than supporting the local soccer teams‚ and there are more oars down by the river in Oxford or Cambridge than there are in Hamburg's red light district. And when the club's position as top dog in the town is usurped by another side‚ as has happened in both the varsity towns‚ then as the song says...' It's A Bitch'. That Cambridge City have maintained their Southern League status despite these problems is to their credit and their first visit to Ladysmead‚ though our venerable chairman welcomed Cambridge United in his programme notes‚ did at least give them and their handful of fans the opportunity of a little excitement by venturing into new territory. Exeter City had beaten them in the FA Cup‚ how would they fare against the next side in Devon's 'Pyramid'?

Not too well in the opening minutes it seemed. Within 120 seconds the Yellows had mounted two attacks and won their first corner. The Lillywhites‚ however‚ were not over awed and soon showed that they too could carve a way through the mud‚ Adam Wilde sending in a long range swerving shot that had Paul Edwards full length in the mire to clutch the ball to his chest. After the initial bursts the game settled into a not unfamiliar pattern. Cambridge were trying to go forward but Tiverton were controlling matters in their own half and looking far more threatening when they carried the ball into their opponents territory. Town should have taken the lead in the 20th minute. Steve Ovens dispossessed Jack Wignall deep in the Cambridge half and found himself through with only keeper Matt Nurse to beat. Whether Steve surprised himself by winning the ball only he knows but he rushed his shot and lobbed both Nurse and the crossbar‚ the ball rattling off the advertising boards above the Sponsors stand. Wilde was again to call Eddie into the action before Ovens made full amends for his earlier miss. Wignall again was Steve's victim though this time the defender didn't get a touch. Ovens trickery left him standing. A low cross‚ just above the high tide mark‚ and Phil Everett drove home. With only 26 minutes gone it was the first first-half goal that the Yellows had scored at Ladysmead since Croydon were crushed by five of them in the Trophy; and that was seven games ago. Having found the touch it was not surprising that Tivvy repeated the trick‚ after all the statistics do show that they have a marked tendency to score in pairs. Paul Chenoweth was shown a yellow card for a tackle that‚ frankly‚ was far less dangerous than some that were to follow. His reaction showed he thought he was hard done by‚ his subsequent action spoke even louder. From the free kick Tivvy regained possession. Ovens was again sent chasing down the right. Out-pacing two defenders‚ including the unfortunate Wignall‚ he closed into the penalty area before slipping the ball across the goalmouth where Cheno was thundering in unchallenged to thump the ball past the out of position Nurse.

Two goals in two minutes‚ goodness! Chickens were being counted‚ 'till some one mentioned Stafford Rangers. Town have learnt a lot and come a long way since those early season days and so they kept the pressure on. As if bored with the right side of the field Ovens drifted over to the left and was soon in the thick of things over there. And it was from that side that the next goal came. Push‚ probe‚ chase and eventually force the cross into the middle. It wasn't a good one - though on second thoughts maybe it was. It was chest high; Phil Everett's chest. Phil‚ back to goal‚ controlled it on that chest before spreading it out to the right. Steve Winter was out there (no surprise) and turned back to send in an inswinging cross into the middle. It fell at the feet of Kevin Nancekivell who wrong footed his marker‚ found space and slotted the ball into the net. Thirty two minutes gone and The Lillywhites were as blue as their shirts. (Q. Why do teams change colours away from home when there is no clash?) Now before you get the idea that it was all Tivvy‚ let me put you right. It wasn't. The score might have changed but the game had not. Cambridge were having more than their share of the ball but weren't going anywhere with it. When Town had the ball they were threatening. Even Scot Rogers had a 30 yard poke that knocked the breath out of Nurse as he took it in the midriff. Before the interval there was a moments excitement at either end. At the Devco end Ovens was blatantly pushed headlong in the mud but the referee sympathetically waved play on: at the swimming pool end a tricky free kick saw the Tivvy goal kept intact by the woodwork and two desperate clearances.

There were no changes at half time. None to the personnel and none to the pattern of the game. Cambridge did find the net‚ it was hanging from the goalposts behind Eddie‚ but the flag had been up for an age for offside. The visitors continued to huff and puff forward but with little incision and the introduction of the 'famed' Roy Essandoh did little to improve things for them. Reputations such as his‚ built on a single goal and a lot of media hype‚ count for little‚ and the string of clubs that have rejected him since he dumped Leicester out of last season's FA Cup says a lot more. He was notably unimpressive. Half way through the second period and the air of expectation amongst the fans behind Nurse's goal started to become tangible. Marcus Gross had replaced Nicky Marker‚ the Yellows were playing fifteen yards further forward‚ Cambridge were showing signs that the heavy pitch was taking its toll and by no means least‚ we were approaching the last fifteen minutes - scoring time. Everett tested Nurse with a header from a corner‚ the keeper holding it above his head at the second attempt‚ and it was the signal for the second round of substitutions. Mudge and Lynch (forwards) on, Steele and Nancekivell (midfield) off.

A declaration of intent. It took a few minutes to take effect, hardly surprising considering the conditions. Antony Lynch is proving to be as much of a chaser as any member of the squad. He'd had a couple of runs at the City defence but not broken through. Come the 78th minute he did. Down the left he went, in he cut, goal at his mercy. We all expected the shot. It didn't come. Chenoweth had drifted into the middle as Antony had moved into his wide territory. Lynchie looked up, saw Chenno was unmarked and laid the ball perfectly in front of him. It only took the simplest of chips to make it 4-0, one better than The Grecians had managed. Cambridge were dead and buried. A few solo runs was all they could offer, where-as Tivvy still looked like they could add more. Nurse saved from Lynch, Jamie tried to tee up Cheno for his hat-trick and Antony did likewise. There was another goal left in the Yellows and it came from the pair of substitutes. Again Lynch broke down the left, again he forced in his cross. Chest high to a defender, who made the contact, only to direct the ball right to the foot of Jamie. Under the keeper it went to complete the nap hand.

Cambridge might have expected Tivvy to be an easier prospect than City, I wonder if they might now believe there is something odd about the Devon Pyramid standings. It is easy to be magnanimous in victory but both teams should be commended for some of the close, accurate, passing football that was played this afternoon. The conditions were like a glue pot but both sets of players put together some excellent moves.

Was Lillywhite impressed?


Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Steve Winter, Neil Saunders, Steve Peters, Nicky Marker (Marcus Gross 60), Scott Rogers, Kevin Nancekivell (Antony Lynch 70), Steve Ovens, Phil Everett, David Steele (Jamie Mudge 70), Paul Chenoweth

Cambridge City: Matt Nurse, Russell Fitton, Martin Fox, Jack Wignall, Colin Vowden, Steve Wenlock, Rob Nightingale, John Challinor (Louis Evans 68), Kevin Wilkin, Leon Gutzmore (Roy Essandoh 58), Adam Wilde

Attendance: 734


This report ©2002 John Reidy






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