Match report

Stafford Rangers 6 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 06/04/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

The Sunday Independent‚ the West Country´s premier Sunday Newspaper‚ (well I would say that‚ wouldn´t I ?) has a columnist by the name of Stuart Fraser who each week picks out a series of quotes from people in the news. Wise words...Worst whinge...Witless waffle. Try as I may I haven´t as yet managed to get a mention in any of the categories so in a final bid to break off of the sports pages‚ I offer up this outstanding fact as an entry in the later group. The centipede is mis-named. It does not have one hundred legs. It has one hundred and two. Do I hear a round of applause? No‚ I thought not. I admit it is not an important matter‚ unless possibly you happen to be a centipede or a centipede´s cobbler. But then this is the season of matters of unimportance‚ matters that don´t....well....matter. I suspected before even setting off for Stafford that it was going to be one of those days. Both Rangers and Tivvy were like yo-yo´s without their strings. Not going up - not going down. No pressure might mean an exhibition game with high skill‚ wide open spaces and beautiful entertainment‚ or it could mean twenty two players going through the motions with no passion‚ minimal effort and only a desire for the afternoon‚ and season‚ to be over. I hoped for the former but feared it would be the later; it was after all is said and done‚ one of those games that doesn´t really matter.

It all started brightly enough though. Within a minute Paul Chenoweth had given Jamie Mudge a through ball to chase but the young striker was way off target. Town were applying all the pressure and there was sufficient of it to force Robert Heath to head out inches past his own post for a corner in the 6th. Steve Ovens was causing his normal problems for the Stafford defenders and being given the usual rough ride as they desperately tried to contain him. Too rough said the referee after 9 minutes as Steve burst through and left two of them squabbling over handfuls of his shirt. The resultant free kick was laid back behind the crowded penalty area where Scot Rogers hit a thunderous shot a couple of yards over the cross bar. Rangers had made a couple of crossings of the half way line but it was not until the 12th minute that they made any impression. When they did they made it count. Half way inside the Tiverton half and the Yellows gave away a free kick. Out towards the Stafford left the ball was swung in towards the back of the penalty area to Scott Dundas. One of the outstanding players for Kidsgrove when they were edged out of the FA Vase final by Tivvy back in 1998‚ Dundas has always appeared to be keen to exact revenge. He controlled the ball‚ turned and struck it convincingly into the net to give Rangers the lead from their first attack. Against the run of play it might have been but it convinced the home side that if they could get among the Tiverton defence‚ it was vulnerable. The knowledge lifted them and forward they came again. They spread long balls forward to either flank and seemed a yard faster both on and off the ball. Nicky Marker had to be quick to get his head to an effort from the left that threatened to double the Yellow´s deficit and Paul Edwards equally swift and brave to smother at the feet of Paul Keily after 21 minutes.

If the first goal had come against the run of play the same could not be said of the inevitable second‚ for by the time it came Rangers had swung the balance and were far the better side. Again the strike came from the Rangers right. David Steele looked conspicuously lightweight against David Berks who evaded his challenge to fire in a cross goal shot that left Eddie sprawling to his right as the ball hit the net after 23 minutes. Two - nil was not the end of the world but it was not looking good. A minute later it was looking even less so. Berks again down the right with apparently all the time and space in the Staffordshire if not the world. A cross into the middle right into the path of Keily who by reputation thrives on such situations. First time shot. Third time ball in net. The heads above the yellow shirts were being held in hands.Never mind‚ we thought‚ as we altered the score on our text messages from 2-0 to 3-0. After all‚ hadn´t Rangers been three down at Ladysmead? All we needed was a key defender to make the save of the season and get sent off for it and the Yellows would be on the comeback trail. The thing is for that to happen we had to get a shot on target and we hadn´t yet seen Ryan Price in serious action and were unlikely to as Stafford were back on the attack again. The Tivvy defence was all at sea against the rampant Rangers. Another free kick given away on the edge of the area. Keily fancied a ´pot´. Keily took a ´pot´. Keily hit the ball. The ball hit the upright‚ rebounded and hit the net. Twenty seven minutes gone and four - nil down. Three goals in four minutes. De-ja vu Bath. Off we went again and at last were rewarded with an event worthy of celebration. Scot Rogers managed to get in a shot. Not on target‚ true; the ball flew well wide‚ but at least it was a shot and indicated that the blitz might be over. It was over for a while at least as the remainder of the half saw the game even out with openings at both ends. Edwards had to palm off the head of Berks‚ Ovens escaped the attentions of Simkins to find himself one on one with Price but again failed to keep the ball within eight foot of the ground as he attempted to reduce the margin. Thank god for the half time whistle and a chance to regroup!

No changes at half time‚ which some of the travelling supporters found strange. Surely the game was beyond us? Might this not be an opportunity to experiment? Gross as target man up front? Vinnicombe in defence? Lynch at left wing back? Desperation? The break had instilled a little enthusiasm into the Yellows (is that the first time Dodge has been referred to as ´the break´?). For the first five minutes it was all Tivvy which in view if what had happened in the first 45 minutes may not have been a good omen. The changes started though in the 52nd. Lynch replaced a largely anonymous Kevin Nancekivell. On the hour a second change was forced. David Steele and Daryl Wilkes clashed over a 50/50 ball. David came off the worse and was stretchered off to be replaced by Gross. As if to show that the changes‚ enforced or otherwise‚ were not going to make any difference‚ Rangers promptly added their fifth goal. Keily took on Steve Peters outside the left hand corner of the penalty area‚ slipped the ball to Darren Shaw overlapping wide. Shaw then had a clear run at the advancing Edwards and coolly slid the ball under him and into the net. Against the run of play again‚ but should we be surprised?

For the sixth time the Yellows kicked off and actually managed to mount an attack or two. Then with 20 minutes left‚ plus stoppage time‚ they scored! Price‚ still not tested‚ failed to get any length as he cleared a simple back pass. Jamie Mudge pounced‚ burst between two defenders and placed the ball under the keeper‚ against the post and into the net. Was there hope....not really. Even when Rogers ´set the Lynch free´ and he rounded the goalkeeper to add the Yellows second two minutes later they were only consolation goals. Vini got his fifteen minutes of fame‚ as did the remaining occupants of the Rangers bench. Jamie had a couple of half chances‚ one high ‚ one inches wide but the last word was left to Rangers. Injury time had been further prolonged by a stoppage to attend to Daryl Wilkes as he twisted and broke his ankle. Ten man Stafford used the extra minutes to deliver the final coup de grace to their visitors when Robert Heath easily converted having been set free into another one on one situation with Edwards.

It has been a long‚ long‚ time since Tiverton conceded six goals in a league match. True we are in a far more competitive league now. Perhaps we should compete more. One team had the will to win on Saturday. They wore Black and white. Maybe it has something to do with that butterfly flapping its wings and causing a reaction through the world‚ but something has certainly gone missing from recent Tivvy performances. Pass the insecticide spray......



Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Steve Winter, Neil Saunders, Steve Peters, Nicky Marker, Scot Rogers, Kevin Nancekivell, Steve Ovens, Jamie Mudge, Paul Chenoweth, David Steele.

Subs: Antony Lynch (Nancekivell, 53), Marcus Gross (Steele,60), Luke Vinicombe (Peters,74).

Stafford Rangers: Ryan Price, Robert Heath, Darren Shaw, Stuart Ryder, Chris Brindley, Darren Simkin, Shaun Wray, David Berks, Daryl Wilkes, Paul Kiely, Scott Dundas.

Subs: Anthony Eccleston (Wray, 76), Darren Boughey (Berks,67), Jon Howard (Keily,84).

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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