Match report

Bath City 4 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 02/03/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

´Oh yeah‚ sure´‚ was my reaction when as‚ a lad‚ I was told that ´These were the best days of my life´. It usually came forth when I was not allowed to do something I wanted to do‚ or complained that my freedom was being restricted‚ or that my parents were spoilsports. I eventually grew up‚ had children of my own (having first got married - most moral upbringing mine) and realised that they were just being protective‚ not as I had thought at the time a pair of Ancient Old F*rts worse than the Gestapo. But back in the 50´s subterfuge became the name of the game. Surely they wouldn´t approve of me going to the football game? So what they didn´t know wouldn´t hurt‚ would it? Off I´d go to the Saturday afternoon matinee at the local ´flea pit´ with my elder sister. She didn´t care where I was‚ the further from her the better was her preference I suspect. So I´d slip off before we entered the misnamed Moulin Rouge and cross the road to the Manor. But even loving sisters have a habit of dropping you in the cart‚ so I stood no chance and it wasn´t long before I ended up ´in it´. Surprise! Surprise! my ´olds´ didn´t mind. Lectures about deceit followed‚ but I was OK to drop the cinema and spend my ´thrupence´ on footy. It took a while before I convinced them of my need to go to away games too‚ but I managed it eventually and have spent the rest of my years to date on the slippery downhill slope that is the life of the travelling football fan. The break through came at Easter 1960. My birthday was approaching. United‚ second in the table‚ were playing away to the top of the table team. ´Aw‚ come on mum‚ I´m nearly thirteen‚ I´m a grown up now´‚ repeated frequently enough‚ finally won the day and I was off to my first away game. Bath City at Twerton Park. Full circle. Forty two years on. Not quite Easter but close‚ Bath City at Twerton Park.

Those of us that always watch from a particular viewpoint might have taken the hint that it was not going to be an easy afternoon as having found our spot we had to find a similar one at the other end when the teams changed over before kick off. The Yellows were the brighter team to start with‚ and not only in the colour of their kit. Decent passing football‚ building moves‚ spreading the ball around but getting held up as they approached the Bath penalty area. Nothing new about that‚ we´ve become used to the wearing down procedure. The first real chance fell to Paul Chenoweth after 8 minutes. Steve Winter‚ already showing that he was a cut above most of the other players on view‚ sent Steve Ovens on a rampaging run. Phil Everett was wider‚ out near the touchline and keeping pace with Ovens. Steve drew two defenders and slipped the ball out to Phil who sent in an early cross that cleared the penalty area and fell to ´Cheno´ cutting in on the far side. Without breaking stride the Tivvy man bought the ball down and fired in a shot that had it been ten foot lower and two yards to his left might have troubled Mark Hervin in the City goal. Nice move but wasted; ´Cheno´ had the space and therefore time to at least have got his effort on target. Never-mind‚ we thought‚ Tivvy are looking the better side so let´s be patient. And so we waited whilst the Yellows dominated but still without penetration‚ and City retaliated with occasional bursts as their forwards chased long balls. Those front men seldom troubled the Tivvy defence‚ Nicky Marker in particular looking solid. Steve Peters did get into trouble in the 11th minute but recovered at the cost of a free kick in a dangerous position‚ central and just outside the area. Jason Drysdale is obviously Bath´s man for such occasions and he drove the ball through the wall but Paul Edwards was down and across to take the ball cleanly. Two minutes later Steve Winter prised the home defence apart again to flight a low ball into the path of Phil Everett near the penalty spot. Phil must have got stuck in a soft spot for he completely missed the ball and another chance had gone begging.

It was into the 19th minute when without as much as a wave of a fairy queens wand Bath worked some kind of magic and it all went pear shaped for Tivvy. I´ll be generous and not name names but the defence suddenly collapsed. It started‚ as so often routs do‚ with a simple mistake. Attempted first time clearance‚ mis-kick‚ no clearance at all. Worse the ball fell directly in front of Bath´s lively front runner Dave Gilroy who brought the ball under control‚ steadied himself and let fly from just inside the area with a shot that Edwards had no chance of reaching. The City players enjoyed their celebrations so much they decided to do it all again two minutes later. Great holes opened in the Yellows defence as Bath broke down their left flank. There was a reasonable defensive line across the penalty area so City´s men out wide laid the ball well back and into the path of Paul Milsom. He´d just been shown how to do it by Gilroy. Control‚ steady‚ hit. It was a good twenty five yards out but it still had the same result. Bulging net‚ Referee pointing to the centre spot and celebration time. 2-0. From the kick off Tivvy did manage to get forward and it was their turn to win a free kick just outside the area. Steve Winter range but perhaps the Somerset men had done their homework. Over the top of the wall went the ball but Hervin seemed to know just where it would be going and collected it easily. The keeper hoofed the ball upfield to his runners out on the left. Winter had been forward to take the kick. There was a hole. Bath ran into it‚ sent the cross over high to the far post. Adrian Foster had broken with his wing man and rose above the spread-eagled defence to hear home City´s third. Three down after 23 minutes. Every one was stunned, even the home fans. It was like the collapse of a house of cards. Everything seemed solid and interlinked - one small chink (that´s NOT a racist remark!) and the whole lot lay in ruins. Well not quite. Tiverton did gather themselves together for a while but City were rampant, charging forward at every opportunity and looking as if they wanted to hit double figures.......by half time. That may have been over ambitious but they did manage one more before the break. A right wing corner, flicked on. Gary Thorne charging forward unmarked had an easy header into the goal. Four - nil. Embarrassing, thank goodness for the half time whistle.

I have often wondered where the writers of classic stories get their ideas. Maybe Robert Louis Stevenson was a time traveller or even a clairvoyant who used his skills to watch Tiverton Town in their first season in the Dr Martens Premier Division. If he did it might easily have given him the inspiration for the saga of Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde. Town were a completely different side in the second half. There had only been one change during the interval, Jamie Mudge replacing a sadly off colour David Steele. Mudge made in immediate impact breaking down the right in the 47th minute to feed the ball into Paul Chenoweth advancing from midfield. ´Cheno´ had put on the wrong boots it seems for once again the ball flew high and wide, just as it had with his early effort in the first half. But Jamie had shown what he could do and after 7 more minutes had gone he again held off the challenges of the defence to carry the ball almost to the goal-line before slipping it sideways in front of the advancing Hervin for Steve Ovens to finish the move with the simplest tap into an open goal. So there was hope, not a lot, but hope none the less. The men in yellow reacted as if they were just one goal adrift and fought for every ball, chased every ball, wanted every ball. Marcus Gross came on for Marker, Tivvy made all the running, created all the goalscoring opportunities. But for all their effort there was no reward until the 72nd minute. Unsurprisingly, considering the near terror he was causing in the Bath back line, it was Jamie Mudge that created the Yellows second. Riding the tackles he again broke down the flank. The left flank this time. It looked as if he might have sent his cross too far but Everett had been moved to wing back to allow Chenoweth to fill Steele´s midfield role at half time. Phil at the back of the penalty area is a dangerous proposition and he proved it. Control, steady, hit. Only two behind as the ball hit the back of the net. Hinckley came to mind: two down with twelve to go and the Yellows had won it. There were 18 minutes so.......

But those things don´t happen twice in a season, or if they do then they weren't going to happen today. Bath managed a few breaks but seldom looked like increasing their tally. Tiverton threw everybody forward, made chances galore but couldn't convert them. Chenoweth miss hit a shot that skidded past the left hand post. Richard Pears crashed a shot past the right hand post. Gross thundered through the middle but saw his rising shot palmed over the top by Hervin and even deep into injury time Steve Ovens lifted the ball high towards the space shuttle on it's way to repair the Hubble telescope. Some of it was poor finishing, some good defending, some bad luck but all of it unrewarding. There was no consolation in knowing the Yellows had won the second half 2 - 0. It was not enough after an abject display in the middle and later stages of the first 45 minutes. No wonder the players were still in the dressing room when the supporters buses (3) left at 5.30pm.

There were a few facetious remarks flying around as to who's fault it was. Suggestions that the return of certain globetrotting fans from New Zealand might have had some supernatural effect: or the attendance of the 'Gold Army', or the presence of a man in a Taunton scarf. I must confess it was probably down to me. I have never witnessed anything but a home win at Twerton Park. I saw Oxford give away a two goal lead to lose to Bristol Rovers. I never saw Bath lose to Oxford in those distant Southern League days, indeed on that first ever away trip I made, Headington United were thumped 3-0 as City clinched the title.

Mea culpa, mea culpa , mea culpa.



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: 12. Jamie Mudge (Steele,45), Marcus Gross (Marker,56), Richard Pears (Nancekivell,63).

Bath City: Mark Hervin, Gary Kemp, Jason Drysdale, Gary Thorne, Colin Towler, Rob Cook, Jamie Goslin, Matthew Hale, Adrian Foster, Dave Gilroy, Paul Milsom.

Subs: Lee Collier (Foster,68), Mark Badman (Goslin,81), Gary Smart.

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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