Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 3 Exeter City

   Tuesday 26/03/2002   Devon St Luke's Cup
John Reidy

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard‚

To get her poor doggy a bone‚

But when she got there the cupboard was bare‚

And so the poor doggy had none.

I´ve never quite got to such a sorry state of affairs. Some close moments‚ it´s true‚ but there has always been something fresh on the shelf. That´s more than can be said for the Tivvy Trophy cabinet this season. For the first time in many years the Yellows are not going to win‚ or even finish as runners up in any of the competitions in which they competed. When there´s not a lot to eat the merest morsel might seem like a feast so‚ though some of the fans near me on the terraces on Tuesday night were yelling that it was ´only a friendly´ as some ´hefty´ Grecian tackles flew in‚ it was much more than that to Town and City. Perhaps not a matter of life and death‚ but important just the same. Such things are relative. Perhaps Albert Einstein could have come up with a formula to quantify the importance.... he could have called it his Theory of Relativity in Football or something like that.
The Devon St Lukes Bowl is renowned for providing a run out for the fringe players from the senior clubs that compete in it. Youth teams‚ bolstered by the usual occupants of the bench and players returning from injury or suspension normally manage to see off Western League opponents‚ though there have been several notable exceptions in recent years. Exeter City paid Tivvy the respect of fielding a line up that included 13 players that had been in the squad against Bristol Rovers three days earlier.
From the first whistle it was clear that both sides valued the outcome of the contest. There was no period of ´sussing´ out the opponents‚ it was ´Tally-ho and in we go´ from both teams. End to end‚ side to side‚ neat passing build ups‚ long balls: we saw them all from the start. Town´s first scoring chance fell to ex City youngster Jamie Mudge who just lost the race to a Kevin Nancekivell through ball to Grecians keeper Stuart Fraser after five minutes of high speed action. Steve Ovens was the other front man and four minutes later he pursued the ball into the corner‚ caught it‚ controlled it and then stopped dead‚ creating space for himself as the chasing defender carried on. Using the time he had Ovo laid the ball back into the path of Steve Peters who failed to find the target as he thundered his shot high and wide. At the other end City were looking just as lively‚ spreading passes around but not managing to find a path through Tivvy´s defence who seemed to have developed a knack of suddenly moving forward a yard to intercept the ball before it reached the Grecian recipient. Jamie Attwell had far fewer touches than his opposite number as Town matched the Nationwide League side in every department. Halfway through the first period there was a sign that the Yellows were feeling comfortable and confident that they could handle the City attacking pace. Phil Everett was playing less and less in a defensive role and was beginning to show more and more frequently in the region of the Grecians penalty area. There were as many Tivvy moves down the left as the right. Fraser was having to be on his toes gathering a continuous stream of crosses from either flank and one from the left was only gathered inches ahead of the advancing Steve Winter. Paul Chenoweth‚ too‚ was getting well forward and set up Ovens‚ but Steve´s effort from 25 yards out was a yard or more high. The openings were being created at both ends and Attwell had to show his agility to get down to an angled shot that looked to be squeezing just inside his right hand upright. All that was needed to complete an excellent 45 minutes entertainment was a goal. It came on the stroke of half time. Nancekivell out on the far right sent in a cross that sailed over a busy goalmouth and found Mudge at the far side of the City area. Jamie was quickly descended on by the City defence but managed to twist and turn and create enough space to fire in a low shot that skimmed the surface of the pitch as it flew under Fraser and into the net. It was a half time lead that Tivvy deserved.
The second period carried on in full action mode. End to end and open play. City had to chase the game and Attwell had to again show his capabilities as he spread his ample length to parry a fierce effort from Roscoe. The Yellows were well buoyed up and pressured the City defence at every opportunity‚ and there were many of them. There was a reaction from that back line. Unable to handle Mudge‚ Ovens and Nancekivell by craft and skill the Grecians used the old standby.. ´physical presence´. Push and shove became the order of the day coupled with the occasional pull and tug as the Tivvy players buzzed round‚ and sometimes into‚ the penalty area. The officials seemed to have a tendency towards leniency in their view of some of the challenges. (see footnote at end of report) The yellows were still having the better of the scoring chances though both Breslan and Roscoe missed when it appeared easier to score for City. Twenty two minutes into the half and Mudge had the chance to put the game beyond the visitors. Some Winter magic down the right flank sent Jamie homing in on goal with Nancekivell shouting his way through the centre. Jamie closed on Fraser and shot. It was a powerful hit. Fraser couldn´t hold it but away it flew. Kevin was left in the middle holding his head. If only..........If.........Time was running out and it was a tribute to Town that they were showing no sign of flagging despite the hectic pace. Steve Ovens embarked on one of his typical chase-downs of a lost cause. The Ball should have been Frasers‚ Steve had other ideas and when the two of them collided and the ball span inches from his foot‚ Ovo made contact enough to poke the ball goal-wards‚ but not quite‚ as it trickled just inches wide of the far upright. Time continued to run out‚ down to the last couple of minutes. City threw everything forward‚ Tivvy dealt with it. Last minute. City attack. Roscoe wide on the left. Cracking shot. It was a well taken goal ......and at last the City fans made some noise. Entertaining though the game had been‚ excellent though the Yellows were playing we didn´t really want another half hour - but that was what we were about to get. More chances. Cronin wide from 7 yards for City: Fraser saving from Nancekivell for Town. Roscoe off target from 20 yards: Everett´s right wing cross flicked inches wide by Scot Rogers. It could go to penalties or it could go either way.
It went. The wrong way. Just four minutes short of the shoot out City were pressuring. Strong tackle from defender. Oscar nomination for forward. Free kick. Just outside the left hand corner of the penalty area as City faced it. Over the wall went the ball and right to the head of Steve Flack‚ escaping the attention of Peters for the first time all evening. Flack has frequently been the hero for Exeter fans. He was tonight. The relief of the players and supporters was evident from the degree of celebration. Was this the third Division title? was it the Coca Cola Cup or even the Daffy Duck Trophy? No‚ it was the Devon St Lukes Bowl . But everything is relative‚ isn´t it?
Well done to the boys in yellow. It was difficult to tell which was the Third Division side‚ a good case for freer promotion and relegation up and down the ´Pyramid´. More please for the remaining Dr Martens fixtures!

The reference to the match officials‚ that they ´seemed to have a tendency towards leniency in their view of some of the challenges´ is so phrased to avoid any charges of bringing the game into disrepute and the consequential ban and fine that was imposed on one web site reporter earlier in the season. I would only add that the referee was from Exeter as was the linesman at the end that Tiverton were attacking in the second half. In fact the later‚ one Joanne Kingwell is rumoured to be a player of Exeter City Ladies FC. As one City fan said‚ "Why didn´t they give Steve Flack the other flag?"

Tiverton Town: 1. Jamie Attwell‚ 2. Steve Winter‚ 3. Neil Saunders, 4. Steve Peters, 5. Nicky Marker, 6. Scott Rogers, 7. Kevin Nancekivell, 8. Steve Ovens, 9. Phil Everett 10. Paul Chenoweth, 11. Jamie Mudge .

Subs: 12. Antony Lynch (Winter,103), 14. Marcus Gross (Marker,101), 15. David Steele (Mudge,67), 16. Luke Vinnicombe.

Exeter City: 24. Stuart Fraser, 4. Paul Buckle, 3. Graham Power, 7. Jay Richardson, 18. Alex Watson, 6. Neil Whitworth, 13. Geoff Breslan, 10, Martin Barlow, 9. Sean McCarthy, 12. Paul Read, 11. Andy Roscoe.

Subs: !4. Steve Flack (McCarthy,18), 27, Glenn Cronin (Richardson,55), 17. Greame Tomlinson (Read,67), 22. Leslie Afful, GK. Steve Johns.

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