Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 0 Sittingbourne

   Saturday 04/11/2000   FA Trophy
Nigel Davis

Forget the scoreline‚ count the cost of this victory. Pete Varley stretchered off in first half injury time and Dave Toomey carried off‚ leaving Tivvy down to ten men for the final 20 minutes. That´s our forward line gone.
Sure‚ we´ve got Steve Ovens‚ but we tend to see the best of him when he comes on as a substitute. And there´s Phil Everett‚ but he is currently playing at either right back or left back. So‚ will this see the recall of Richard Pears and possibly Ryan King for next Saturday´s trip to Bromsgrove? Or will Dai´s magic work and patch up the injuries? Well‚ judging by the severity of the knocks‚ that might be expecting too much. Jason Rees will also be missing as he completes his two match suspension but his presence was certainly not missed in this FA Trophy clash. Indeed‚ the return of Scott Rogers and his partnership with Steve Daly and Pete Conning‚ made me wonder if we should rejiggle the midfield in order to accommodate him. It would be a shame for any of those three to lose their place. As for Dave Leonard‚ well you will see later what options exist for him. Before kick-off‚ a perusal of the team sheet led to the inevitable terrace chatter of who would play at right back. Pete Varley was to wear the number 2 shirt and he has played in that position before. However‚ Phil Everett took up his position in defence‚ despite the number 9 on his back. Sittingbourne‚ the majority of whom looked like they could have played in the youth team‚ were under pressure from the off. John Guest committed a number of clumsy challenges and Stuart Harrison seemed upset with the fact that Phil Everett was too strong for him. You got the feeling that there was petulence simmering inside some of those young heads and‚ unfortunately‚ this proved to be the case - and referee Mike Hawken was oblivious to it all.
From the off‚ Tivvy attacked. They drew first blood in the 11th minute when Pete Conning scampered through‚ only to be denied by a post. A minute later and the pressure paid off. Scott Rogers was given a superb through ball by Dave Toomey and he made no mistake from 15 yards‚ thumping the ball past James Creed. Had it not been for Creed‚ the scoreline would have easily hit double figures. He made the first of his amazing saves eight minutes later. Dave Toomey had turned on a sixpence (or should that be a 5p these days‚ not only accounting for size but also inflation?!?) before pulling the trigger‚ but Creed reacted superbly. A few seconds later‚ John Guest had to be carried to the dressing room having seemingly injured himself in front of this building. A couple of minutes later‚ play having continued as he was already off the pitch‚ Paul Holliday replaced him. The defence never recovered as it was caught flatfooted with gaping holes throughout the rest of the game. Indeed‚ the reshuffled defence was caught out a few seconds later. Pete Varley turned them inside out allowing him to choose his spot to make it 2-0 after 25 minutes. It threatened to be a rout. It was half an hour before the visitors had their first shot - but the ball cleared the bar from close range. A rare foray forward from the Brickies. With the first half drawing to a close‚ Creed pulled off a wonderful double save. First it was from Scott Rogers and then from Pete Varley‚ following up to shoot from close range. With the ball partially cleared‚ enter Steve Daly. His close control‚ riding some desperate tackles‚ was eclipsed with a bunny-hop as he clasped the ball between his calves to clear the last defender. But again Creed was quick to react to smother the shot and‚ with the ball now bobbling inside the six yard box‚ it looked as if Tivvy would go in three-up at half-time. Then disaster struck. Scott Rogers attempted to thump the ball home but only managed to connect with the back of Pete Varley´s knee. How long that will keep him out of the game‚ God only knows. A most unfortunate accident. So‚ on came Steve Ovens in the first minute of injury time‚ a bit earlier than Dodge had envisaged.
As the teams trudged off for their well-earned cuppas‚ Dave Leonard did not look to be a happy man. The second half saw Tivvy turn on the style. It was exhibition stuff with deft flicks and backheels the order of the day. Mesmerising. And it didn´t take long for Tivvy to add a third. From one of the superb moves‚ Tivvy won a corner. Pete Conning chipped the ball to the near post for Phil Everett to head the ball on and Nick Marker was able to nod home from close range. 3-0 after 53 minutes. You would have been forgiven if Sittingbourne had given up the ghost‚ but they pluckily continued to play‚ Stuart Harrison forcing Paul Edwards into his first save at the expense of a corner. But there were signs of frustration creeping in. Creed was a lucky man to stay on the park. Neil Saunders was adjudged to have fouled him at a Tivvy corner but that was no excuse for the visiting keeper to kick Tivvy´s skipper in the shin. Not for the first time, referee Hawken turned a blind eye. Indeed, had it not been for his assistant on the clubhouse side, it is quite possible that a number of incidents would have gone unnoticed. With the pitch getting heavier, it was wonderful to watch the spritely Steve Ovens scampering through the Bourne defence, but he was constantly thwarted by Creed.
A flurry of substitutions punctuated the middle of the half with the remaining four subs entering the fray between the 57th and 69th minute. Stuart Smith replaced Nick Marker after 62 minutes and, seven minutes later, Steve Daly made way for Luke Vinnicombe which prompted a change of formation. Vinnicombe moved to right back with Everett switching to left back and Dave Leonard moved into midfield in place of Daly. Another option. And with Leonard having a quiet game in defence, one that ought to be used more often. He certainly looks happier in midfield. But....
Four minutes later, Dave Toomey executed a neat backheel which riled Bournes´ right back Tommy Binks who petulently whacked him in the back of the leg - right in front of the referee. But, with Tivvy in possession, play continued. When the ball went out of play, treatment was administered to Toomey but he had to be carried to the treatment room and Tivvy were down to ten men. Mr Hawken tapped Binks on the backside when a card was more appropriate. It was a cynical challenge. Now it was all Sittingbourne who pinned Tivvy back for the rest of the game but the defence stood firm for the second consecutive home clean sheet and Tivvy navigated the final 20 minutes safely enough although Martin Neufville will be kicking himself for not pulling one back as he skewed a close range header wide when it looked easier to score.
So Tivvy can look forward to a visit from the eventual winners of the Rugby United/Aylesbury United replay (scheduled for Tuesday) in the Second Round. Hopefully the walking wounded will be walking freely by then.
....In the clubhouse after the game, Dave Leonard stunned us all by quitting the game for personal reasons. He will be sorely missed.

Line up: 1 Paul Edwards, 2 Pete Varley, 3 Neil Saunders, 4 Paul Tatterton, 5 Nick Marker, 6 Scott Rogers, 7 Pete Conning, 8 Dave Toomey, 9 Phil Everett, 10 Steve Daly, 11 Dave Leonard,

Subs: 12 Steve Ovens (Pete Varley, first half injury time), 14 Stuart Smith (for Nick Marker 62). 15 Luke Vinnicombe (for Steve Daly 69). 16 Martyn Grimshaw.

SITTINGBOURNE: 1 James Creed. 2 Tommy Binks. 3 Tom Berry. 4 Richard Sinden. 5 John Guest. 6 Julian Beale. 7 Corrie Griffin. 8 Roy Clarke (captain). 9 Marvin Neufville. 10 Bradley Spice. 11 Stuart Harrison

12 Matt Rusell (for Bradley Spice, 60m), 14 Paul Holliday (for John Guest, 23m), 15 Lee Corbett (for Richard Sinden, 57m), 16 Michael Casser.

This report ©2000 Nigel Davis

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