Match report

Havant & Waterlooville 3 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 04/10/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

It inevitably happens round about this time of year. The evenings get cooler and thoughts turn to checking that the hot water bottle has not perished through lack of use. And having filled it‚ and found that it´s sound‚ it seems such a waste to empty it again so under the duvet it goes. Snug as the proverbial bug in a rug. the realisation strikes that those lazy‚ hazy days of summer are truly over for another year. Not only have the temperatures dropped but no longer are you awoken by the tweet of the dawn chorus basking in bright early morning sunshine; and no sooner do you arrive home from the ( 9 to 5 grind than you find yourself reaching for the light switch as the pressure on the National Grid rises and the coffers of the Electricity Companies are swollen by the demands of winter as the days shorten. Final confirmation arrives later in October when we all comply with Government regulations and the clocks are ´put back´. What was once Six O´clock becomes Five O´clock - and darkness with it - as once again we revert to letting Mother Nature‚ and her Laws‚ control time through the position of the Sun. The way that it has been for millions of years as this planet of ours moved from light to dark as it revolved around its closest star. Over in Hampshire on this first Saturday in the month of October in the Year of Our Lord 2003 there was the perfect example of what a ´cock-up´ can happen when mortal man starts interfering with the inexorable march of time.

Following last weeks ignominious exit from the FA Cup on the Isle of Wight it was inevitable that there would be changes made in The Yellows team for the visit to mainland Hampshire. The two Stoke City loanees‚ Lawrence Hall and Gareth Owen were available once more - for the final time‚ neither spell being extended - and unsurprisingly‚ after the comments about his non-inclusion in the starting line up on the Island that appeared from various sources‚ Jamie Mudge was in the first choice eleven. What was surprising‚ though‚ was that Town were taking the field with three front men. Attack seemed to be the policy. And so it was to be proved....but by the home side. The Hawks had the first touch‚ and in the opening ten minutes‚ 90% of the subsequent touches as they launched an almost continuous assault on the Tiverton penalty area. As early as the second minute they forced their first corner through Shaun Wilkinson´s second cross being deflected away. The ball was only partly cleared and driven back in. Lady luck smiled where the fairies on the IoW had not and the effort was deflected clear before it could test Stuart Fraser. Even when Town did break out for the first time as Richard Pears found Steve Winter who in turn sent Mudge away down the right the threat was minimal as Jamie´s low cross was easily turned away and back upfield for Havant to renew their onslaught. Five minutes gone and James Taylor showed that he was not going to be Nathan Rudge´s friend by turning him and firing in a shot that this time did reach Fraser and forced him down to ground level to hold the ball at full length at the base of his left hand post. Three minutes later and Rudge still wasn´t up to pace‚ being out sprinted by David Town whose angled cross from the right was intercepted by the head of Gareth Owen in the middle. Relentlessly The Hawks swooped around the Tiverton goal‚ firing in crosses from either wing and long balls from midfield
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They were well on top‚ but when presented with the golden opportunity they failed. On the ten minute mark a cross from wide on the left was met by the waist high boot of Chris Holloway. The ball dropped to ground vertically and‚ facing goal‚ Chris saw and left the ball for the forward moving Fraser‚ who duly scooped the ball up. The locals behind the goal screamed ´back pass´ even though Holloway´s contact was hardly controlled and had merely stopped the ball rather than played it towards his ´keeper. The referee blew his whistle‚ though only he will know if he made a decision or merely reacted to the howls. Regardless‚ H & W had a free kick eight yards out and level with Tiverton´s left hand goalpost. Nine yellow shirts (Hall lingered upfield) and one goalie´s jersey guarded eight yards of space‚ nothing that an accurate shot wouldn´t breach. It wasn´t accurate enough when blasted in by Brett Poate and Greame Power deflected it. As the wall moved out the home side still had space but relief came when David Town´s shot was held by Fraser. Then to the bewilderment of the Hampshire majority in the crowd (?) Tivvy took the lead. Having broken up another Havant offensive‚ the ball made its way out to Winter on the right‚ midway inside the Tiverton half. A long diagonal ball to Hall lurking just short of the left hand corner of the home penalty area but receiving it with his back to goal. Closely marshalled and unable to turn‚ Lawrence laid the ball back to Power‚ who seeing Mudge making a run‚ split the Havant defence with a ball to the by-line that ran right down the edge of the penalty area. Jamie just caught it and rapidly drove it across the goalmouth. The defenders were all moving to the left to cover the perceived danger area. Not so Richard Pears who continued to make for the widening space at the back of the six yard box and accepted the easy task of sidefooting home from three yards. Totally against the run of play but with just fourteen minutes gone a far higher strike rate than the Hawks had.

What a difference a goal makes! The game opened out as H & W became more hurried and thus careless in their attacks allowing the far more confident Tiverton defence greater chance to break them up. Town´s midfield began to look as if it existed‚ though their hosts were still ruling the roost. More importantly The Yellows were passing the ball more and building from the back to create more forward motion themselves - not a lot‚ but more. Most of the action‚ though was still concentrated in the Tiverton half and to their credit even Mudge and Hall were involved in the defensive activity‚ Jamie deflecting a cross for a corner and Lawrence clearing the kick upfield. With twenty five minutes gone it was time to build another yellow wall. Gareth Owen‚ who was being most effective in his role as surpressor of Chukki Eribenne‚ Havant´s main man up front‚ was judged to have ´shepherded´ him a bit too closely...like shoving him.


On the edge of the area this time so the wall was not ranged right on the goal-line. Taylor´s shot was even less accurate than that of his counterpart earlier‚ flying high out of the ground and into the car park. And that was to be the story up to the break. Mostly Havant with Town making occasional breaks. The best of those chances fell to Hall on the half hour mark and Mudge three minutes later. Hall was sent on a run but faced with the last defender put the ball straight at his legs and Mudge pounced on a sliced clearance to get himself one on one with Havant keeper Gareth Howells but was likewise foiled by the stoppers legs. Hall´s effort (?) was to be his last as the three up front experiment was terminated in an effort to boost the midfield presence with David Steele. At the break the travelling fans were not too unhappy at the missed opportunities. The home fans had far more of them to rue as the whistle sounded.

The first exciting action of the second period could have brought a doubling of the margin. The home side´s initial forward move was broken up and Mudge was away. Winter kept pace and when he received the ball swung in a cross that Paul Chenoweth‚ who´d also motored forward headed down to the toe of Pears who saw his shot beaten away by Howells. And then it was the home defence´s turn to have a panicky moment or two‚ Mudge chasing a back header and almost beating Howells to it and then Pears getting to the weak clearing kick from the keeper but unable to absorb the power to control it and so sending it right back to the Havant No.1. Overall it was much the same as the first half and so I was hardly unexpected when Havant hauled themselves level. Nor was the way in which the goal came....from a corner. Different though was the delivery of the kick‚ low to the near post. Fraser saw it coming and was down but unable to smother it and the ball was parried to the foot of Aaron Skelton who crashed it home. Tiverton´s hearts sank but not their heads and eight minutes later the lead was restored. Paul Chenoweth sent Winter charging down the right flank. Cutting in towards goal Steve fired in a shot that the advancing Howells was unable to hold and the ball span up vertically. Howells tried to recover to grab it before it dropped out for a corner on the edge of the six yard box. Winter‚ too‚ didn´t give up and nipped in behind the keeper to throw himself horizontal to head in a low cross across the goalmouth. Pears was in the space again! Replay! 2-1! Four minutes later Mudge burst down the left and forced in a cross that fell to Steele. The substitute bought the ball down but before he could shoot Howells was out to collect the ball and another chance to kill the game was lost.

Ten minutes to go‚ and with Tiverton defending their lead‚ seldom looking to extend it, the second equaliser. Havant substitute Dean Blake was beaten to a ball by Winter. The Tivvy man was hesitant in clearing and Blake regained possession.
Winter harassed and fouled. Wide on the H & W left the kick was swung in by Blake. After the game Jason Rees admitted that he had deflected the ball. From the top, back of the stand the curve hardly seemed to change. What did change was the scoreline as the ball ended its flight nestled in the net. Blake claimed and was credited with the goal, Rees was hardly likely to claim an O.G. What does it matter unless you´re a statistician? the score was 2-2 either way. It looked like remaining thus to the final whistle, and would, have done so but for the remarkable intervention of mankind, or one man at least, in the march of time. 90 minutes came and went. 91, 92, 93. Well there had been a few stoppages. 94, 95, and there had been some substitutions. Rees hammered a ball out of defence. Ovens chased, beat the offside trap and shot too early with only Howells to beat. It worried the home fans. They started calling for the whistle. 96, 97. Has his watch stopped?

No they´re still playing. Or Havant are. Long forward to Eribenne. Unable to turn thanks to Owen. Short ball to Town who cuts across the edge of the penalty area, left to right. Spots a gap and takes a chance.
It was worth it as far as The Hawks were concerned as the ball crept inside the upright. Havant celebrated. Yellows held their heads in dismay. The final whistle sounded immediately after the restart - deep into the 10th minute of added time.



Don´t ask for an explanation as to where the time came from. It must be in the ´What is the meaning of life?´ class of questions. Unanswerable!

Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser, Steve Winter, Graeme Power, Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Gareth Owen, Paul Chenoweth, Chris Holloway, Richard Pears, Lawrence Hall, Jamie Mudge Subs: Rob Cousins, David Steele (Hall, 32), Paul Milsom, Steve Ovens (Mudge, 77), Ian Patchett. Bookings: Rudge 45, Pears 70, Holloway 72.

Havant & Waterooville: Gareth Howells, James Ford, Brett Poate, Luke Byles, Aaron Skelton, Alec Masson, David Town, Chuckki Eribenne, Shaun Wilkinson, James Taylor, Neil David. Subs: Dean Blake (Poate,74), Dan Turner, Craig Leworthy, David Leaver. Bookings: Wilkinson 70.

Referee: Eamon Smith (Surrey)




This report ©2003 John Reidy






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