Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 0 Blakenall

   Saturday 18/11/2000   Southern League First Division
Nigel Davis

At times‚ this was poetry in motion when most expected a day tucked up inside. It was a miracle that the game survived the weather - but the damage to the pitch may be difficult to heal. Yet man of the match Dave Toomey revelled in the conditions (not so surprising for a man used to playing at Cinderford for half of each season) and Tivvy were rampant before the break. The only reason that this victory did not emulate Mangotsfield´s 7-0 victory happening up in Bristol was due to a combination of Blakenall´s keeper Paul McHale and the woodwork.
As early as the third minute‚ Jason Rees floated a corner onto Phil Everett´s head and his near-post flick set up Dave Toomey whose header hit the bar.
It was exciting times and rookey keeper Andy Avery‚ making his debut for Tivvy‚ had nothing to do in the opening spell. But that soon changed in a breathtaking period of end-to-end football. After 18 minutes‚ there was a great break by Tivvy when Rees was released down the right wing. His cross was half cleared to Phil Everett whose volley was well stopped by McHale. Immediately Blakenall broke and when Lee Bullimore wriggled round Paul Tatterton it looked odds on that he would score. However‚ he reckoned without Avery´s quick thinking as he dashed off his line to save the snap shot from close range. He then set up a Tivvy counter-attack and again it was Rees who found acres of space down the right. His far post cross was perfectly flighted for Dave Toomey to pick his spot and nod the ball home. 1-0 to Tivvy in the 19th minute.
Tivvy then turned on the style with an exquisite turn by Toomers to make space for himself but the shot was too high. A minute later‚ in the 27th minute‚ another great move saw Stuart Smith rampage down the left. Great interplay between Toomey and Rob Speakman saw the latter getting in a fierce shot on target. Within 60 seconds we had more of that poetry in motion when Speakman again brought the best out of McHale.
Six minutes before the break Danny Coates burst through on the Tivvy goal but his shot was hacked clear by Nick Marker just before it was about to cross the line. And it was Blakenall again who nearly levelled the scores on 45 minutes when Lee Harper cracked in a super shot but Avery was there again‚ this time to palm the ball over for a corner. The second half was more cat and mouse than out and out footie as the pitch cut up more and more. Indeed‚ it was surprising how well the pitch stood up to all the punishment but at no time during the game did the ball bounce. It just splobbed. It must have been like playing on jelly. The visitors tried to shake things up by bringing on two subs 10 minutes into the second half‚ Danny Rochester and Les Palmer replacing Danny Coates and Rasheed Anifowose respectively. Five minutes later‚ Speakman was through on goal once more but the sticky surface did not help him - nor did his lack of pace. Somehow McHale managed to shut him down enough to get part of his body in the way - enough for the ball to be diverted onto the bar and over for a corner. Somewhat surprisingly‚ Blakenall chose this moment to bring on their third and final sub. My immediate reaction was that this was tempting fate. With still half an hour to go there was every possibility that someone would get a knock and there would be no-one to replace him. However‚ on came Mark Simms for Steve Round and from the corner Blakenall eventually cleared the ball to Rochester. He carried the ball all the way down the left wing and his cross to the far post just skimmed the bar. Now it was time for Martyn Rogers to make a substitution‚ Steve Ovens coming on for Speakman. This looked as if it would be a good move - fresh legs etc. However‚ it soon transpired that we really needed a traditional centre forward a la Speakman as both Toomey and Ovens found plenty of space to create wide‚ but no-one to aim for in the middle.
As feared‚ and predicted‚ Blakenall were now picking up knocks as they overstretched themselves to contain Tivvy and‚ after 82 minutes‚ having received lengthy treatment earlier‚ Dave Pickstone retired from the fray with a hamstring injury‚ leaving Blakenall to battle out the remaining ten minutes or so with ten men. A one-two over the space of 20 yards between Toomey and Ovens nearly gave Toomey the opening he needed for his second after 84 minutes and‚ three minutes later‚ Toomey was again in space‚ this time on the left wing. Blakenall rallied back to pack the box but Toomey still managed to find Ovens. He crashed the ball goalwards and‚ once again‚ McHale performed heroics to save sensationally.
So‚ when the final whistle came‚ there was plenty to celebrate but it has to be tempered by the knowledge that‚ although we are creating plenty of chances‚ the forwards are not finding the net enough. With a home game against Evesham looming on Wednesday (weather permitting) followed by the big one - away to table-topping Bilston on Saturday - we shall need to convert much more regularly. Evesham have recovered from their stutter during which we registered a victory which marked Dave Toomey´s debut and Bilston are looking unstoppable. And the pressure does not end there because the following Saturday sees us entertain Aylesbury in the Second Round of the FA Trophy.
It´s exciting times again - but it could all so easily go pear-shaped. Let´s hope not!

Line up: 1 Andy Avery‚ 2 Stewart Smith‚ 3 Neil Saunders‚ 4 Paul Tatterton‚ 5 Nick Marker‚ 6 Scott Rogers‚ 7 Jason Rees‚ 8 Dave Toomey‚ 9 Phil Everett‚ 10 Steve Daly‚ 11 Rob Speakman.

Subs: 12 Pete Conning, 14 Dominic Richardson. 15 Steve Ovens (Rob Speakman, 65).

BLAKENALL: 1 Paul McHale. 2 Lee Harper. 3 Steve Hillman (captain). 4 Dave Pickstone. 5 Morgan Brookes. 6 Steve Round. 7 Jon Worsey. 8 Ronnie Walker. 9 Rasheed Anifowose. 10 Lee Bullimore. 11 Danny Coates. 12 Mark Simms (Steve Round, 60). 14 Danny Rochester (Danny Coates, 55). 15 Les Palmer (Rasheed Anifowose, 55).

This report ©2000 Nigel Davis

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