Match report

Ilkeston Town 0 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 16/02/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

"Football's not a matter of life and death: it's much more important than that".

"Football‚ to these‚ people is a religion".

Such legendary sayings have been quoted and misquoted so many times that they've become clichés. In fact it's become a cliché to call them clichés. Never-the-less‚ there is some truth in the message they impart. Football does have many things in common with religion. Because of my upbringing I would‚ I suppose‚ consider myself a Christian‚ though not an adherent of any particular branch or denomination. I lack the faith to blindly accept the parts of sectarian variations in teachings that I disagree with. In that respect football differs from religion. As a football fan I can give full and committed support to my team even if I do not like a particular midfielder or striker. And seldom do countries go to war over football. OK‚ Honduras and El Salvador did take up cudgels over one World Cup Qualifier but that was the exception not the rule. Moslems slaughter Jews and vice versa‚ Buddhists persecute Sikhs and vice versa‚ Protestants explode Catholics and vice versa. I think I'll stick to soccer where at least the worse damage done (usually) is the loss of three points. Mind you‚ I do quite like the Hindu idea of reincarnation. Depending on how you perform in life you come back either higher up or‚ God forbid‚ lower down the ladder of creation - a bit like promotion and relegation‚ I suppose. Just in case that theology is correct I won't say categorically that I've never been to Ilkeston. I know I haven't in this life‚ but I may have in a previous one; perhaps even as a worm eating ventilation and drainage tunnels under the 'Ilson' pitch! Certainly the current incumbents of that role‚ aided no doubt by human ground staff‚ will have claim to a higher station in their next life as reward for their efforts in making the Derbyshire venue playable after the recent rehearsals for the next great flood. Noah was nowhere to be seen‚ nor was he needed.

It was a shame that the early manoeuvres in the game failed to do justice to the setting. A smart stadium‚ a decent playing surface but it was a dull opening from both sides. There was no lack of effort‚ indeed the match was being played at a furious pace. Perhaps too furious for no pattern emerged and neither side developed or maintained any shape. The game flowed back and forth without either team asserting themselves or threatening to gain control and it was not until the eighteenth minute that the seven hundred paying customers were treated to the first shot on target. Paul Edwards gathered up a home strike attempt that was less threatening than many a back pass he has received from his own team-mates. It took four minutes for Tivvy to reply. David Steele chucked in one of his now trademark long throws. Phil Everett flicked it down to the foot of Kevin Nancekivell‚ who finding himself closed down by two defenders laid the ball back to Steve Ovens. Ovo took a shot. It rivalled the earlier Ilkeston effort for lack of power and Andy Love scooped it up with consummate ease.

With both sides having located their opponents goal there was a hope that they might mount some serious attacks. They did‚ but they numbered just two before the break‚ one for each team. Ilson took their turn first. A quick break left the home side's Ben Jones with only the advancing Edwards to beat. His lob was wide of Eddies reach‚ and even further wide of the goal. As the massive two faced clock high on the tower in the corner of the ground showed we were moving into injury time at the end of the first half the yellows carved out the best chance of the match so far. A free kick from deep in their own half sent Ovens chasing down the left wing. Out pacing the defence‚ and not for the first time for he had been a constant thorn in their side‚ Steve made for goal. Antony Lynch was charging through the middle screaming for the cross like a demented banshee. Ovo carried on too far. By the time he did slide the ball into the middle the Ilson back line had recovered‚ retreated and cleared the ball away to herald the half time whistle. It had been an unedifying first half‚ but the home side were showing a lack of imagination up front that suggested they were unlikely to break their four game run of failing to score‚ so there was every reason to hope‚ even assume‚ that Tivvy could take the points by scoring their traditional second half brace. Such is the faith of the believer.

And that faith was to be rewarded at the start of the second period as he Yellows staged their version of the second coming‚ took the game by the scruff of the neck and had the Robins rockin'. Lynchie was hustled off the ball ten yards out as he tried to find space to force in a shot from a right wing cross in the opening minute. Two minutes later Ovens failed by inches to win a race with Love as he persued a long ball through the middle‚ the keeper falling on the ball just as it reached the edge of the penalty area. Lynch moved a fraction of a second too soon for a similar ball moments later and was pulled up sharp by the horizontal flag of the referee's assistant. The home defence was opening up and looking static‚ something that is becoming familiar as Tivvy's work rate takes effect. It doesn't usually happen so early but the Yellows were prepared and ready to take advantage. It was an equally familiar scenario that brought the break through. A right flank move‚ cross into the area‚ and Kevin Nancekivell controlling the ball to swivel and hook the ball beyond the reach of Love. There were just six minutes gone‚ an early goal by Tivvy standards! Ilkeston threw themselves forward. It was Paul Edwards turn to race out of his goalmouth‚ a dash in which he came second. It mattered not. The home forward was rushed into his shot by the collision bound keeper and blasted the ball high and wide towards neighbouring Leicestershire. Tivvy weathered the storm‚ well really it was just a squall‚ and continued to mount the majority of attacks. As in the earlier encounter at Ladysmead‚ Ilkeston made a triple substitution. Three off‚ three on. It made little difference, the Yellows were on top. Another cross, this time from the left, was neatly patted down hand to foot by a defender just as it looked to be falling right for a Steve Ovens attempt. Since it happened a mere yard in front of the referee one can only assume that he suffers from long sightedness and was too close. Six minutes later Steve was again involved in a 'penalty' incident as he powered into the area despite the attention of a defender who had obviously been watching the televised rugby at half time and had decided to try the 'hand off' techniques of the 'other' game.

With twenty minutes gone and the Ilson defence beginning to show as many holes as a colander, Antony Lynch, who had been working his socks off both in midfield and attack, was presented with a golden opportunity to score a deserved goal. Beating the offside trap, which was in fact a very ragged line that moved up in waves rather than in unison, Antony bore down one on one on Love. The options were all open as the keeper advanced. Blast under him; curl round him; chip over him. Antony tried option one. It was well hit, no complaint there. Down went Love, spreading himself wide, flinging himself to his left. The shot went to his right. Fortunately for Ilkeston his leg and the ball decided to momentarily share the same piece of air and off flew the ball at a tangent that carried it away from the goal. The home side became desperate to find the net. They dug deep into their energy banks and made a concerted effort. For five or six minutes the Yellows had to endure pressure that caused some scary moments. The defence though, held and the Robins ran out of steam. Tivvy came back at them. A free kick was given away half way into the home side's territory, out on the right. Steve Winter curled it in. Nance nodded it on. Phil Everett hunting at the back of the penalty area had to reach full stretch to bring the ball down with his right foot and lunge equally as far with his left to drive the ball beyond the frustrated Love. It was game over. Ilkeston had little left to offer. Lynch finally beat Love but his drive went inches over the crossbar. Substitute Jamie Mudge scuffed his shot wide as he lost his balance after outpacing two defenders in a typical burst into the danger area, and a neat back heal by fellow substitute Richard Pears set up Scot Rogers who could only toe poke the ball wide.

Yes, I will trot out another cliché: It was a game of two halves. The first half was uninspiring, but it was an excellent second half performance by the yellows and the three points that lift them to the dizzy heights of fourth in the table were well deserved. And for any of you that wish to ponder further those Hindu theories of reincarnation: Just what misdeeds did Taunton's Paul West commit in his previous existence to warrant coming back as a donkey?


Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Steve Winter, Neil Saunders, Steve Peters (Marcus Gross 81), Nicky Marker, Scott Rogers, Kevin Nancekivell (Richard Pears 77), Steve Ovens, Phil Everett, David Steele, Antony Lynch (Jamie Mudge 83)

Ilkeston Town: Andy Love, James Whitehead, Lenny Curtis (Lennon Abbott 54), Gary Middleton, Chris Timons, Matt McKenzie, Ben Jones, Paul Bagshaw, Glen Kirkwood, David Holmes (Chris Bettney 54), Alex Higgins (Carl Wright 54)

Attendance: 527


This report ©2002 John Reidy






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