Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 1 Bath City

   Monday 01/04/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Perhaps I was a precocious baby‚ perhaps it was just a sign of things to come. My first word that is. Whilst most mothers persuade their offspring into speech by urging them to say ´daddy´ or ´mummy´‚ to which the little darlings inevitably respond to with a ´dadda´ or ´mumma´‚ family legend has it that my first response to the maternal request to say ´daddy´ was...´why?´ Curiosity may have killed the cat but I seemed to survive‚ and as I grew so did my inquisitiveness. If I wasn´t asking ´why´?‚ I was still storing away mountains of irrelevant trivia‚ perhaps in the hope that it might come in useful some time but more likely because I´m just a hoarder. I find it surprising then that I didn´t know why Easter was so called? I knew the religious story‚ I knew why eggs were used as a symbol‚ even the rejuvenation connection of chicks and bunnies.. but not until I went a-surfing did I have a clue about the name. What I found out was that as with so many other ´festivals´ it was a pagan feast hi-jacked by the early Christians‚ the feast in honour of the goddess Ester. And so my mind wandered to the other festival of this period‚ April Fools Day. Why have a day set aside for playing practical jokes? Why celebrate making a fool of anybody? I didn´t have time to reconnect and do any further research before setting of for Ladysmead. As I walked down the hill I found myself musing. Wouldn´t it be ´funny´ to give Bath a couple of goals start... and then do a Hinckley on them. Build up their survival hopes and then dash them with three goals in the last five minutes. I gave myself a mental slapped wrist for being so cruel and started thinking about the game from a more rational point of view. Sure I wanted Tivvy to win but I also wanted Bath to survive; at least Twerton Park was within a day´s journey......I concluded that a Tiverton win was‚ on balance‚ more important. Bath´s 4-0 demolition of Worcester two days ago showed that they were going to fight to the last so it was going to be a tough encounter.

The minutes silence to reflect on the life of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was impeccably observed. The toss was taken and the teams changed ends. Both sets of fans had gathered at the Devco/ Sponsors Stand end so it was the Yellow bedecked ones that had to mount an expedition towards the Swimming Pool. Before the majority had reached their destination both sides had made their intentions clear. Tiverton had nothing to lose and revenge to be gained so attack was the order of the day. Bath had great need of three points and an obvious desire to ´do the double´ over local rivals so‚ again‚ attack was order of the day. The ingredients for an open game. Both teams looked hungry for goals. Paul Edwards was back between the Tivvy sticks following Jamie Attwell´s unfortunate injury at Crawley and seemed to be suffering no ill effects from his knee injury despite the enforced curtailment of his recovery period‚ but it was Bath keeper Mark Hervin that was the first to be called into action in the 4th minute as a tidy piece of play down the left by Steve Ovens and Kevin Nancekivell resulted in Scot Rogers forcing him to spring full length to hold the ball. Bath were certainly playing as if they had come for the win and honours were even until the eleventh minute. Then Steve Ovens struck. It was not a typical Ovo goal. There was no chase‚ no recovery of a lost ball. Long ball in from Steve Winter halfway inside the City half way out on the right. Steve Peters‚ well forward‚ got his head to the ball around the penalty spot and deflected it wide to Ovens lurking at the back of the six yard box. Ovo bought the ball under control and struck it with considerable aplomb strait under the diving Hervin and into the net. Tivvy in the lead after 11 minutes. You might have expected them to be on their way‚ cruising to an easy win. Don´t believe it for one moment. Bath weren´t going to curl up‚ lie down or do anything other than fight. There was too much at stake for that.

The City defence weathered a minute or so of post scoring euphoria from the Yellows that saw them force a corner that resulted in three crosses into the penalty area. It was almost the last we were to see of Tivvy as an attacking force as the Romans upped the pace‚ played a better passing game in mid-field and dominated the rest of the first half. Town´s defence held‚ though there were several dangerous moments. Steve Peters gave away a free kick on the edge of the Tivvy penalty area through some clumsy rather than malicious defending. Jason Drysdale wasted it by blasting high and wide. A minute later the position was repeated. This time the Bath man found a way through the wall. Low but still wide. With 20 minutes gone Bath had the best opportunity of the game to level the score. David Steele‚ under no pressure‚ completely mis-kicked an attempted clearance. The ball span a yard to Matt Hale who was through one on one with Edwards. Good save Eddie! Out like a rocket to narrow the angle and down to beat away the former Weymouth favourites shot. It was all City. The game hardly moved out of the Tiverton half. I even changed ends to get closer to the action. Whenever the Yellows cleared their lines there seemed to be three or four black and white shirts waiting to mount the start of another attack. Steve Winter was replaced by Marcus Gross after 28 minutes (a reoccurrence of the groin trouble?) which reduced further the attacking options. But the defence held despite the fire in the City bellies and with rain starting to fall it was still a single goal lead for Town at the break.

The visitors started the second half in the same fashion as they had ended the first‚ on the attack. Edwards was soon coming to the rescue‚ palming a fierce shot from Tony Redwood away for a corner and then somehow scrambling to poke away an awkward Hale effort. It was completely against the run of play when the Yellows increased their lead. Phil Everett chased down the right‚ managed to turn his man and slipped the ball into the path of Ovens advancing into the box. Steve´s shot‚ the first from a yellow shirted player since the interval‚ flew hard and true past the despairing dive of Hervin and doubled the margin. One might have expected the deficit to have knocked the fight out of City but it increased it and they redoubled their efforts. Substitutes were introduced but there was no disruption to their play. The reward came in the 20th minute. Another Bath assault. Another clumsy tackle . This one in the area. Nicky Marker the culprit‚ Ian Harvey the victim. Play continued for a moment . the ball was crossed towards the middle‚ hit Scott Rogers and went out of play. The linesman had his flag up. The referee consulted him and pointed to the spot. Was it the tackle? Was it hand ball? I didn´t stay to interview the ref. either way it was a penalty decisively put away by Drysdale.

The goal instilled more fight into...... Tivvy! Bath may have been lifted by the hope that the goal gave them but the Yellows were lifted higher. They took control‚ pushed forward and outplayed their visitors. It was one way traffic again but in the opposite direction. Bath never looked like pulling level. Even Marcus Gross got into the attacking action‚ bursting through two tackles as he sped down the right touchline to send in a near perfect cross to Everett´s head that bought the best out of Hervin. It was all over for Bath a minute later. This time the attack came down the left flank. Steve Ovens got into a bit of trouble way out wide but being Steve recovered to send in a low in-swinging right foot cross. It was the kind of ball that defenders hoof clear. Two swung their boots but missed. It was the kind of ball that forwards deflect with the finest of touches into the net. Everett and Nancekivell were in the goalmouth but failed to make contact. It was the kind of ball that goalkeepers scoop up and clasp to their chest before sending up field. Hervin didn´t. And so the ball just curled into the net. Three-one was too much for Bath. It could have been more. Peters and Nancekivell had chances but the job had been done.

Tivvy were the Easter Bunnies‚ City the April Fools. OK perhaps that may be a little unfair on Bath. They couldn´t be criticised for commitment or effort. With the new signings they had in their team they looked a far better team than many that the Yellows have faced this season and have no threat of relegation. If they fail to avoid the drop we will miss them next season and not only because they´re nearer than their likely replacements. Still‚ that´s football. Funny old game.



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: Richard Pears (Nancekivel,79), Marcus Gross (Winter,28), Antony Lynch.

Bath City: Mark Hervin, Toby Redwood, Jason Drysdale, Gary Thorne, Danny Bailey, Matthew Hale, Andy Williams, Ian Harvey, Adrian Foster, Paul Milsom, Dan Cleverley

Subs: Jamie Goslin (Milsom,57), Mark Badman (Hale,77), Gary Smart (Cleverley,57).

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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