Match report

Bilston Town 1 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 25/11/2000   Southern League First Division
Nigel Davis

A repeat scoreline from last season - and just as an impressive strike as well - saw Bilston continue to head the Western Division. On a pitch that belied the torrential rain that swept in during the morning‚ both sides played some attractive football‚ but Tivvy were guilty of passing to the orange-clad Bilston players time and time again. When the ball did go to a Tivvy player‚ Bilston´s defence was alert enough to cut out the danger. Indeed‚ their new signing‚ goalkeeper Matthew Boswell‚ had very little to do all game. Rob Speakman is fast becoming a disappointment to the Tivvy fans. And he did not endear himself to them in this game when he showed that he was unwilling to get in where it hurts - and his lack of awareness was also obvious. How he managed to get on Exeter´s books‚ it is hard to comprehend. I think this is an experiment that needs to end sooner rather than later. But it all started brightly enough. With just 20 seconds on the watch‚ Dave Toomey shot from outside the box‚ but he pulled the ball across the face of goal and well wide. On nine minutes‚ Leon Woodley had Paul Edwards scampering‚ but his shot was also wide. It then looked as if Steve Daly was in with a chance three minutes later when he beat Boswell - but again the ball went over the bye-line for a goalkick. Tivvy were fast running out of ideas and were put under pressure as they conceded two corners in quick succession. By my reckoning‚ the second was awarded somewhat harshly as the ball pinged off the head of a Tivvy defender and then a Bilston head before going out. As luck would have it‚ this corner led to the only goal of the game. Over came the ball and‚ although other reports stated that it was Scott Voice´s head that flicked it on‚ it looked suspiciously like a Tivvy head. Whatever‚ the ball fell just right for skipper Lee Rollason to volley the ball towards the far post. It was a sweet shot‚ superbly executed‚ and the ball zipped in a couple of inches off the ground with Paul Edwards unsighted. 1-0 to Bilston as the game crept into the 30th minute. A minute later‚ Rollason was through on goal but his lofted shot was not high enough to clear Eddie and Tivvy´s custodian gathered it safely with arms aloft. By now‚ Jason Smith (ex of Stafford) was causing a few problems and Scott Rogers was quite rightly cautioned for bringing him down on the halfway line. As it was technically a challenge from behind he was possibly fortunate to just see yellow. A couple of minutes later‚ Dave Toomey squeezed through and got a shot on target; but it was straight at Boswell. With five minutes left before the break‚ some neat Tivvy interplay gave Phil Everett the chance to shoot but his effort was blocked at the expense of Tivvy´s first corner. Two minutes later‚ Nick Marker was booked after he caught Scott Voice whilst clearing the ball towards the halfway line. Voice took the free kick himself and‚ although he beat the wall‚ Paul Edwards was alert enough to gather the ball safely. Two minutes into injury time‚ Marker looked as if he had knocked Mark Clifton off the ball as the home centre-half made contact with the ball in the Tivvy box. There were cries for a penalty but‚ fortunately‚ it was not given. At half-time‚ it was suggested that Speakman could be substituted. With Luke Vinnicombe on the bench‚ he could take over from Phil at right back and our leading scorer could add some pep to the attack. Ten seconds into the second half‚ I expect most had wished that Phil had been up front because he went up for a header with Bilston´s diminutive left back Gary Osbourne who arched his neck back to head the ball. Instead of the expected result‚ the back of Osbourne´s head cracked into Phil´s and the Tivvy stalwart was instantly knocked out. It was a sickening sight as he crashed to the ground and started convulsing. If it hadn´t been for the alertness of Bilston´s Mark Clifton‚ who realised he had probably swallowed his tongue‚ it might have been much‚ much worse. Time seemed to stand still. Mike and Dai did what they could but when you saw Mike taking Phil´s pulse‚ it really did not look good. I timed it at five minutes before Phil started to come round and he was stretchered off and taken to hospital. Fortunately‚ he was not detained overnight and was driven back to Tivvy by car. But it was a worrying time nevertheless. Luke came on for Phil whilst Osbourne lasted another eight minutes before having to go off after the assistant referee alerted the ref that his wound was bleeding. He was replaced by Dave Reed. From thereon in the game descended into farce. All the good things about Bilston evaporated and we were treated to blatant timewasting and mystery injuries when players would collapse with no others around them. If they really were that badly injured‚ they could have been stretchered off. If not‚ then the touchlines were available for treatment. But the referee allowed them to be treated on the pitch and the game was disrupted. At least he had the presence of mind to book Gavin Stone when the home player handled the ball and then showed dissent by pumping the ball out of the ground. All the match balls had‚ by now‚ mysteriously disappeared. Another ploy to disrupt any flow to the game perchance? A good two minutes elapsed before a ball was eventually found. With 67 minutes on the watch‚ Jason Rees took a quick free kick and slotted the ball to the unmarked Speakman; but he was half asleep and too slow to react. Up the other end, Danny Williams got a shot in on the Tivvy goal which saw the ball slither through Paul Edward´s hands but, fortunately, he was able to recover before the ball went over the line. On 72 minutes, Leon Jackson replaced Williams and Steve Ovens came on for Speakman.
It was then that Bilston sprung these obscure injuries and it became more and more obvious that Tivvy would not get back into the swing of things. In the 87th minute, Jason Smith was fouled by Jason Rees and the Welshman was cautioned for his troubles. Curiously, Dave Toomey was tackled in almost the same manner by Stone but no yellow card was proffered, probably because he had already been booked. In the 90th minute, Toomey was fouled in the box but you just knew that it was not to be Tivvy´s day as appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears. Instead, Pete Conning came on for Steve Daly. With seven minutes of added time played, Scott Voice gave the visiting supporters a scare as he zoomed in on goal. His shot ricocheted off two Tivvy players, sending Paul Edwards the wrong way in the process, before the ball went off for a corner. A scant nine minutes and 55 seconds were added on for all the timewasting and injuries but, to be perfectly honest, Tivvy could have played until midnight and they still wouldn´t have scored. The portents for next Saturday are not looking too good. And the thought that Speakman might be cup-tied for the Trophy are unfounded. He went back to Exeter prior to Bashley´s 1st Round match. Shame. Let´s hope he makes me eat my words.

Line up: 1 Paul Edwards, 2 Stuart 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 (SteveDaly 90), 14 Steve Ovens (Rob Speakman 72) 15 Luke Vinnicombe (Phil Everett 51)

Bilston Town: 1. Matthew Boswell, 2. Neil Manton, 3. Gary Osbourne, 4. Gavin Stone, 5. Mark Clifton, 6. Brett Wilcox, 7. Danny Williams, 8. Leon Woodley, 9. Scott Voice, 10. Lee Rollason (Captain), 11. Jason Smith, 12. Nathan Rose-Laing, 14. Dave Read (for Gary Osbourne, 59m), 15. Leon Jackson (for Danny Williams, 72m).

This report ©2000 Nigel Davis

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