Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 2 Kettering Town

   Saturday 27/04/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

And now the end is nigh‚ and so I face the final curtain....

Regrets‚ I have a few‚ but there again too few to mention.......


Maybe a little over dramatic but‚ never-the-less‚ appropriate to both clubs as they embarked on the final
match of season 2001-2002. Both had entered the Dr Martens Premier Division from other battlefields‚ and
diametrically opposed ones at that. Little wonder then that ambitions and aspirations of each should be
different. Tiverton Town were playing at the highest level they had ever reached and their fans were proud of
that achievement. Small town‚ small club. Not that that meant lack of ambition‚ but ambition tempered by the
reality of the constrictions of their size‚ potential and financial structure. A top half finish in their first season
would be regarded as a good season‚ a top six finish as a roaring success. Kettering to the contrary had
slipped from a higher level. Not a pleasant experience as I know too well from enduring consistent relegation
with Oxford United. Difficult to take‚ difficult to adjust to. The Poppies had made only minor adjustments as
they stepped down from the Conference. The wages were as high. The players receiving those wages were
supposedly of the same standard. They were a big fish and would soon be out of the pond and back in the
ocean. The fans had high expectations. For some anything other than topping the table would be failure.
Their´s was a big club. Hadn´t they had ´Big Ron´ Atkinson as their manager‚ That put them in the same
bracket as W.B.A.‚ Manchester United & Athletico Madrid‚ didn´t it? Not! For now at the end of the season‚
big club and small club were just a handful of places apart in the table‚ the Poppies occupying the higher
slot‚ their season a possible disaster‚ if they failed to beat the Yellows. Tivvy‚ four places lower‚ would
regard theirs as a major accomplishment‚ whatever the outcome of this final game. A few regrets (and on
second thoughts I will mention them) like failing to take a point off Weymouth or Crawley‚ and a few dismal
performances like Chelmsford‚ Welling‚ Hinckley and Merthyr at home‚ and so recently Hednesford away‚
but who can honestly say ´No Regrets´. Not even Edith Piaf or Scot Walker.

Certainly no regrets about the atmosphere at Ladysmead as kick off drew near. The best part of a
fortnight´s friendly banter on the respective web sites was magnified a hundred fold as both sets of fans
prepared to party‚ whatever. Tivvy kicked off‚ and having the ball mounted the first forward movement. It
came to nothing and once the Poppies gained possession they set out their stall. Goals were what they
needed‚ goals were what they wanted‚ goals were what they were going to get. They took the game by the
scruff of the neck and shook it. Pouring forward the red wave put the Yellows defence under intense
pressure. The defence held for a while but after eight minutes it cracked. A free kick was given away out on
the Kettering right. The ball was driven in hard across the face of the area. Needless to say there were a lot
of bodies across the line and bodies means legs‚ arms and hands. The ball bounced around and was
diverted out for a corner but the whistle had already sounded. Scott Rogers had made contact and the
referee judged it was his hand‚ and worse for Tivvy he was of the opinion that it was inside the area. The
Poppies fans were not going to argue‚ though in their benevolence after the game some did admit the
decision was marginal. Nobody in a red shirt was going to turn down the spot kick though‚ least of all Craig
Norman who stepped up to crash the ball past Paul Edwards to give the Poppies the lead and send the Red
army behind the goal bouncing like a demented pogo stick. Tivvy had the ball again as they kicked off for the
second time and again managed to mount an attack.
Showing that when in possession they could play‚ they constructed a neat combination of passes that
ended with Antony Lynch testing Paul Pettinger in the Kettering goal for the first time of the afternoon. But all
it meant was that the Northants men regained the ball and for the next quarter of an hour they again laid
siege to the Tiverton penalty area. The Yellows were forced to pump the ball away and hope that Lynch and
Phil Everett as the front men‚ or Richard Pears lying just behind them‚ could gain control and hold the ball
long enough to allow the midfielders to join them. Then came the break. Kevin Nancekivell dashed away
down the right and found himself with yards of room. He whipped in a low cross and Paul Chenoweth met it
first time on the edge of the penalty area. When that happens the ball either flies high‚ wide or into the net.
This time it flew true and Pettinger had no chance of stopping it‚ In fact from his lack of movement it is
doubtful if he even saw it. The score said it was even‚ the play said otherwise. The Red wall at the Devco
end was still bouncing as the Kettering hoards got behind their team‚ buoyed by the news title rivals
Tamworth were behind at Folkestone. The players responded‚ keeping the pressure on the Tiverton back
line. Paul Edwards was by far the busier keeper but he was on top form, his handling impeccable as he
grabbed at everything that came within reach, and though some of the action in front of him was pretty
desperate the Poppies couldn´t find a way through before the break and had to settle for 1-1 at the interval.

4.00 p.m. and battle recommenced. Kettering knew what was going down in Kent and guessed it was not
going to be enough. They had to get more goals. It took them just three minutes. It could have been less, but
for a heroic save by Eddie that saw him leap to his left to touch the ball out for a corner on the Kettering
right. Forced out for another corner on the left, the cross came in, was pushed back out to the edge of the
area where it fell perfectly for Steve Lenagh to blast it back past Edwards and into the net. Tivvy were not
going to roll over, though, and proceeded to make things difficult for their visitors. More possession was won
and with it came more chances. A Steve Winter free kick was just touched off Richard Pears´ head for a
corner and the Yellows were playing some good approach work. Not that they were in control as the game
was wide open. Edwards was again the hero as he palmed the ball away for a corner from Lenagh and it
was the same Poppy in full bloom that minutes later wrong footed Steve Peters but failed to control his shot
and held his head as the ball bounced off the front of Bolham Road terrace cover.
With 20 minutes on the watch there was a feeling of familiarity for at least seven of the Tivvy fans, the
brave few that made the midweek trip to Kings Lynn a couple of weeks ago. A long cross from out on the
right, delivered by Winter skimmed off a head in the penalty area and dropped to the boot of Chenoweth
lurking just beyond the line. Cheno swung the foot, connected, but those goals only happen once a season
so Pettinger took the goal kick. It was a far more balanced contest than the first half and the tension was
mounting among the Poppies fans as news filtered through that Tamworth had reduced the deficit in their
game. Both teams introduced substitutes, both teams had opportunities of finding the net. Eddie scrambled
the ball off the foot of Shaun Murray, Pettinger tipped wide from Pears. The expected final onslaught failed
to materialise and the Yellows were doing most of the attacking as Tamworth drew level at Folkestone. The
tension was palpable. Edwards and Everett combining to force away a Dale Watkins low cross, Eddie tipping
the ball away from Craig Norman. Full Time at Folkestone - 3-3. One final burst from the yellows and then,
not a moment too soon for the Poppies players or fans.....

Full Time at Ladysmead. 1-2. Kettering champions! The terraces have never emptied so quickly as the party
began.

Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Steve Winter, Neil Saunders, Steve Peters, Nicky Marker, Scott
Rogers, Kevin Nancekivell, Richard Pears, Phil Everett, Paul Chenoweth, Anthony Lynch .
Subs: Jamie Mudge (Marker,76), Marcus Gross, Steve Ovens (Lynch,70).

Kettering Town: Paul Pettinger, Wayne Duik, Lee Cowling, Martin Matthews, Chris Perkins, Craig
Norman, Peter Fear, Andy Turner, Darren Collins, Steve Lenagh, Richard Butcher .
Subs: Gary Hughes, Dale Watkins (Lenagh,70), Shaun Murray (Turner, 83).

Att: 1996


And so apart from the frivolities of next Wednesday evening, the curtain comes down on another season.
Since stepping into the breach at short notice for the home game against Weymouth on August Bank
Holiday Monday I have given my ´view´ of 51 games using about 75,000 words, some of them more than
once I admit. To those of you that have commented on those reports, be it to my face, via the forum or direct
by e-mail, I ´d like to express my appreciation. It is rewarding to know that you´re out there and reading my
work. Sometimes it has been hard, usually easy, but always a pleasure, with the possible exception of the
visit to Kettering which, quite frankly, scared the sh*t out of me. I have tried to make my pieces enjoyable to
read, a little different from the run of the mill match reports which appear in the established press. There
have been mistakes, there have been errors, but as Paul Anka wrote and Frank Sinatra, The Sex Pistols
and hundreds of others sang.......

To think I did all that; And may I say - not in a shy way,
"Oh no, oh no not me, I did it .....My Way!

Enjoy the summer, if we have one, and, God willing, we´ll do it all again next season.

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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