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Redditch United 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 09/12/2000   Southern League First Division
Nigel Davis

The late withdrawal through illness of Phil Everett meant a starting line-up that included Luke Vinnicombe at right back and Steve Ovens partnering Dave Toomey up front‚ relegating Rob Speakman to the bench. Vinnicombe´s performance did enough to show that he is getting back to full fitness and deserves a run at his favoured position‚ leaving the way for Everett to take his rightful place up front on his return from his sick-bed. And boy do Tivvy need him. And where was the Gold Army? Despite Tivvy bringing three coaches‚ they were nowhere to be seen. A plethora of chances went begging in this pulsating game that reached a sparkling climax in the final few minutes. With the game locked at 0-0 and 85 minutes played‚ up popped Paul Danks to crash home the opener. Seven and half minutes later‚ it was Danks again - yet only a scant four minutes had been played in between as the home side ate into the final minutes by dithering around with substitutions that‚ at times‚ bordered on farce. Then Steve Daly popped up to head Tivvy back into the game in the 96th minute. Unfortunately‚ it was all too little too late as the ref brought the game to a conclusion 80 seconds later. But what a match. It was thud and blunder - forget midfield - and action aplenty at both ends. Considering the varied state of the pitch‚ it was an exceedingly entertaining game - if ultimately frustrating for Martyn Rogers come the final whistle.
The opening skirmishes were slightly in Redditch´s favour as their pacy forward line tested Tivvy´s defence. After 10 minutes‚ a poor challenge by Nicky Cross - an aggressive but talented centre forward who caught the eye - left Steve Daly needing treatment on the halfway line and led to a stern ticking off from the ref. With the ref trying to let the game flow‚ and reacting to challenges as if there was an element of the conditions making life difficult‚ the game started simmering. On 14 minutes‚ he awarded a free kick to Tivvy on the half way line and‚ as he turned away‚ Redditch´s Martin Myers crashed into Jason Rees. Initially he thought it was a problem caused by Rees but his assistant put him right on the matter and Myers also got a talking to. He was lucky not to be carded. We then had goalmouth action from the resultant free kick when‚ Redditch having failed to clear‚ Rees and Scott Rogers both saw shots blocked. Seven minutes later we had a repeat performance triggered by Steve Ovens´ powerful angled drive following great work by Dave Toomey. But Man of the Match Scott Colcombe riled the Tivvy bench with the first of a number of dubious challenges that were missed by the officials. Within a minute‚ with Tivvy still forcing the pace‚ Dave Toomey headed the ball against the foot of a post with the keeper well beaten. You somehow thought it was going to be one of those days.
In the 25th minute‚ one foul too many prompted the ref to reach for his card and Nick Marker was the guilty culprit - but at least the ref had shown he had had enough. If Dave Toomey thought he was unlucky then‚ in the 31st minute‚ the same could be said of Nicky Cross who timed his run into space to perfection only for the ball to squelch in the mud forcing him to overrun the ball with the goal at his mercy. A real let-off for Tivvy.
With the game taking on a see-saw appearance it was Tivvy´s turn to cause problems and Redditch were lucky to survive as Myers clearly handled the ball inside the box as he went to clear with Scott Rogers breathing down his neck. The assistant was perfectly placed to see the incident but Redditch got away with it. Not surprisingly‚ the next real action came up the other end. This time it resulted from a free kick awarded against Neil Saunders who had been sucked in to the right back position! When the ball came over‚ Jason Rees got his body in the way and the ball ballooned up and fell invitingly for loan signing Karl Brennan to crash it goalwards on the volley. Fortunately for Tivvy‚ it whistled past the far post with Paul Edwards left scrambling across his goal.
So‚ honours even at half time. Within two minutes of the restart‚ Redditch´s skipper Adam Nicholls was booked for showing his studs in a tackle on Luke Vinnicombe and when the game restarted the ball found Jason Rees 35 yards from goal. He unleashed a piledriver that Mark Shiels saw late but enough of to push the ball round for a corner. We then had the saga of Lee Knight. He is the sort of player who would go through brick walls for you. Today he rarely touched the ball but he hassled‚ tugged‚ jostled and fought for the ball on every occasion. The sort of player you love to hate but‚ secretly‚ would also love to have on your side rather than against you. In typical squashbucking style in his man-to-man marking of Steve Ovens he injured himself in one attempt to prise the ball away from the wiry forward. Within seconds of returning to the pitch he again went in on Ovens and again came off worse. The ref called for a stretcher but there was no way Knight would quit. The only way he wouldn´t make it to the final whistle was if he was sent off. Despite there being another half hour or so to go‚ he picked himself up and rejoined the fray. He typified the gutsy performance that Redditch displayed. Both sides then had chances to break the deadlock. First‚ Stuart Smith saw a shot blocked then play switched to the Tivvy goalmouth and it was the turn of Paul Edwards to save‚ the ball being diverted to Cross whose goalbound header was blocked on the line by Marker. Two minutes later Paul Danks and Matty Hall combined but were again denied by Edwards.
So‚ into the 80th minute of this breathtaking encounter and Luke was crunched on the edge of the box as he went to shoot. He was not happy with Colcombe - or the ref who allowed play to continue whilst he writhed in agony. Yet Tivvy had possession and eventually won a free kick on the edge of the box.
But it was all in vain and you know the rest. Even the news that Mangotsfield had been defeated by Evesham failed to raise the mood in the bar and the consensus of opionion was that Tivvy´s reputation is greater than their ability at the moment. However‚ I doubt if Redditch raise their game to this pitch in every encounter. They were still reeling after the 5-1 demolition at Ladysmead back in October and had a point to prove. However‚ with them out of the Trophy and the League Cup‚ we won´t meet again until late 2001 at the earliest. Redditch won´t mind. This victory catapulted them over Tivvy and up to 5th. Promotion for Tivvy looks a long way off now - but a lot can change‚ so at least yours truly isn´t disheartened. We´re still seeing a better quality of football week in week out than we did in the Western League.

Line up: 1 Paul Edwards‚ 2 Luke Vinnicombe‚ 3 Neil Saunders‚ 4 Paul Tatterton, 5 Nick Marker, 6 Scott Rogers, 7 Jason Rees, 8 Dave Toomey, 9 Steve Ovens, 10 Steve Daly, 11 Stewart Smith.

Subs: 12 Rob Speakman, 14 Pete Conning, 15 Martyn Grimshaw

Redditch United: Mark Shiels, Ian Mitchell, Scott Colcombe, Lee Knight, Leon Jackson, Martin Myers, Matty Hall (Nigel Brown, 90m), Adam Nicholls, Nicky Cross (Ian Bennett, 88m), Paul Danks, Karl Brennan (Richard Field, 87m)

This report ©2000 Nigel Davis

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