Match report

Evesham United 1 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 26/09/2000   Southern League First Division
Nigel Davis

Everyone was in such a positive mood. We all felt we could win at pace-setters Evesham and we had an abundance of good reasons to back up our beliefs.

(1) Evesham would want to score goals - not pack their defence with ten men.
(2) We´d got Dave Toomey starting up front.
(3) Dodge had shown that he was thinking along the same way as the fans and willing to try out players in diffferent roles.
(4) With Jamie Morrison-Hill on board‚ along with Toomey‚ and Jason Rees back from injury‚ we had real competition for places once again.

And we came out playing some fabulous football‚ pressurising Evesham from the off. Unfortunately‚ this lasted barely two minutes before Evesham stamped their mark on the game - Paul West scything down Dave Leonard. And this set the pattern for the next 50 minutes. Indeed‚ I feared the worst for those in the crowd wearing bright yellow tops as the home side´s policy appeared to be "if it wears yellow‚ hit it".

If only Evesham had sussed that they were capable of playing football - and beating us by so doing - we would have seen a cracker of a match. Unfortunately‚ their hit first‚ play later tactics‚ coupled with a swirling wind‚ made cohesive football a rarity. Tivvy were guilty of hitting wayward balls in the first half - almost hit and hope - and it was no real surprise that Evesham took the lead after 19 minutes. A Steve McCartan free kick from just inside the Tivvy half was floated at 90 degrees to the wind. I´d swear that if the wind had dropped‚ the ball would have endangered the corner flag. As it was it was held up and left Paul Edwards grasping thin air as Steve Taylor rose majestically at the far post to head the ball goalwards. It was anybody´s guess as to whether the ball had crossed the line before Sam Bowen made sure‚ but the end result was the same. 1-0 to Evesham. Despite their robust tactics (which we will have to get used to in this League‚ now that teams have sussed out that we try and play football)‚ you couldn´t really begrudge them the lead as they had looked the more positive going forward. Indeed‚ Paul Edwards had come to Tivvy´s rescue with a wonderful finger-tip save just seven minutes prior to the goal.

With Neil Saunders unavailable due to work commitments (he is involved in a project that meant he could not leave in time to make the trip)‚ the flexible Stuart Smith slotted into his role. And‚ with Pete Varley in Newcastle on a course‚ it was then just a toss-up of who would partner our new signing from Cinderford‚ Dave Toomey‚ up front. The nod went to Phil Everett as experience and flexibility won the day over the youthful exhuberance of Richard Pears and Steve Ovens who were named as subs alongside Pete Conning.

The referee did his best to see if advantage would benefit the flow of play but often he was foiled and had to bring play back. This seemed to wind up the home side even more‚ but they did appear to be bereft of any basic knowledge of the laws of the game. Within three minutes of them getting their noses in front‚ two mega-robust challenges by Mark Wolsey inside 60 seconds led to a yellow card and then‚ two minutes before half time‚ another tussle by West on Leonard repayed it´s rewards in a free kick to Tivvy. Swiftly taken by Jason Rees‚ he threaded the ball through to Scott Rogers who turned on the edge of the six-yard box before slamming the ball hard and low across the face of goal. Dave Toomey - predator instincts aglow - lashed out to divert the ball home to mark a sensational debut for the club. Come the second half and with the wind behind them‚ Tivvy came out and played some attractive football. Close passing was the order of the day and the confidence was beginning to flow. However‚ Evesham´s new signing from Shepshed‚ Jez Carr‚ had singled out Steve Daly for some rough treatment at the latter end of the first half and‚ four minutes after the break‚ he challenged Daly on the half way line‚ heading the ball forwards. Unfortunately for him - and Steve Daly - he led with his elbow and cracked the mercurial midfielder in the back of the head. The incident did not go unnoticed as it happened directly in front of the referee´s assistant on the stand side. A brief consultation with the ref brought the only punishment it could - a red card - and Carr´s debut was cut short inside 40 minutes.

This dismissal riled the home players and indiscipline boiled over for the next few minutes. However‚ once they realised that Tivvy were not going to be intimidated into retaliation‚ they settled down and played some fine football.

Strangely enough‚ the reduction to ten men was not the turning point. This was reserved for the unfortunate recurrence of Stuart Smith´s hamstring injury on the hour. It threatens to keep him out of the game for a couple of weeks and Tivvy were quick to readjust to his loss. They brought on Steve Ovens to partner Toomey up front‚ moving Phil Everett back into the left-back role. This injection of pace up front was turned into gold within three minutes as Scott Rogers and Ovens combined to prise open the home defence. Ovens‚ now on his backside‚ still contrived to steer the ball goalwards. It was a lethal shot from someone in such an unusual position and completely deceived Damien Beattie - going in off his near post.

There were some celebrations - both on and off the field. But Tivvy still had the best part of half an hour to go and Evesham were not going to give up the ghost that lightly. They made two substitutions and these fresh legs added torment to Tivvy´s reshuffled defence but‚ thankfully‚ the only major incident occurred in the 85th minute.
Paul Edwards had been tempted to the edge of his box and then seen the ball headed over him. Out of nowhere came Dave Leonard to not only sweep the ball away but to set up another Tivvy attack. It was superb defensive work and saved what looked like a certain goal. But Tivvy were not to be denied their second victory on the road and set up camp in the Evesham box for the final few minutes. They won corner after corner and‚ such was the pressure that Wolsey was forced into heading the ball towards his ´keeper. If it had gone in he would probably have wished that the ref´s assistant had reacted to his foul outburst a few minutes earlier. He certainly heard it because he told him to get on with the game. If he had drawn the referee´s attention to the expletives then there is no doubt he would have picked up his second booking of the game and followed Carr into the bar before the fans.

With just 169 as the official attendance, this was a disappointing turnout. But it beat three other home attendances this season and will, unfortunately for Evesham, probably stand in the top five come the end of the campaign. After six victories at the start of the season, this was Evesham´s fourth defeat on the trot having lost at home to Bilston in the League Cup, at Gloucester in the FA Cup and then losing their 100% league record on Saturday at home to Hinckley.

You couldn´t help but wonder if the wheels were coming off the bus as, not only did they potentially break league rules by producing one programme for two games - the Tivvy programme was the same as the one for Hinckley - but they also handed in an incorrect team sheet to the ref. I just hope that he doesn´t report that he sent off "number 4 - Paul West" which was as per the sheet. As you will have gathered, dear reader, the real number four was Jez Carr. It would be most unfortunate for West to carry the can.

Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Jamie Morrison-Hill, Stuart Smith (Steve Ovens 60), Paul Tatterton, Nick Marker, Scott Rogers, Jason Rees, Dave Toomey, Phil Everett, Steve Daly, Dave Leonard

Evesham United: Damien Beattie, Andy Smith, Matt Pendleton (Joe Licata 72), Jez Carr, Paul West, Steve Taylor, Mark Wolsey, Steve McCartan, Sam Bowen, Dean Roberts (Shaun Pratt 67), Phil Preedy

Attendance: 169

Referee: S Ainge (Walsall)

This report ©2000 Nigel Davis

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