Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 1 Atherstone United

   Saturday 16/12/2000   Southern League First Division
Nigel Davis

Someone must have been reading the musings on this web-site because‚ lo and behold‚ Phil Everett started up front for this game. Not only that‚ Steve Ovens came out at the start of the second half in place of a sadly out-of-form Scott Rogers and that meant we had him‚ Dave Toomey and Phil Everett all up front for the first time. Unfortunately‚ it didn´t translate into goals‚ but it certainty added to the entertainment value that was somewhat diminished by the Adders´ frustrating offside trap. The wet weather leading up to the game meant that the normally excellent Ladysmead pitch soon cut up making it difficult to play a neat passing game and‚ to be honest‚ come midway through the first half‚ it was getting so heavy that it was all credit to the players that they kept the entertainment level high for the remainder of the match. Tivvy started lively enough in what was their first home league match for a month. The awaydays had borne little fruit but that was as much down to the fact that we had looked disjointed and unbalanced. The Everett/Toomey double act quickly proved to be a winner with their contrasting styles causing mega-problems for the visitors. And it was Everett who completed a five-man Tivvy manoeuvre after 18 minutes to open the scoring. With Jason Rees now departed to Torquay‚ Pete Conning was restored to the starting line-up. And it was his cross from the left that found Everett´s head. Tivvy´s top scorer just had to check his run a tad before heading the ball firmly past Dave Belford for the opener. I had just started to annotate this goal on my notepad and was in the process of saying that this could be the goal to open the floodgates when‚ blow me‚ Stuart Smith launched another cross form the left and‚ this time‚ found the head of Dave Toomey who calmly proceeded to give us an action replay of what had happened 60 seconds earlier and it was 2-0. If we were still playing in the Western League‚ this would have been the point that the opposition packed their bags and went. Not so in the Dr Martens Western Division. Atherstone‚ who had arrived at Ladysmead with a robust reputation‚ plugged away and pulled a deserved goal back on 25 minutes through Gareth Seddon. Whoever promulgated this reputation‚ it certainly was not in evidence today‚ as there was hardly a bad challenge from the Adders all game. What we hadn´t heard about was their squeeze´ tactics that saw the ref´s assistant raise his flag for offside pretty well every other minute. Unfortunately‚ the lack of knowledge of this law of the game was sadly in evidence from the officials. In fact it was like watching the game through a time-warp. They had no concept of active play´‚ so much so that when three Tivvy players were caught between the last defender and the goalie‚ up went the flag - despite the fact that all three were sauntering back towards the half-way line and none of them made any attempt to turn around and chase the through ball. It got so bad in the second half that‚ every time the flag went up‚ there were derisory cheers from the crowd so that the atmosphere bordered on farce. Also‚ the ref seemed to have an affinity with Rob Higgs and Steve Farmer‚ the visiting centre-halves. So much so that‚ when Higgs brought Everett down in the box after 39 minutes‚ he was in the minority who thought the challenge legal. Then‚ in the 76th minute‚ Farmer wrestled Ovens to the ground on the edge of the box - right in front of the ref - and he ignored it. The fact that Farmer had an arm-lock on him seemed to matter little. Maybe the ref was just a fan of the panto known as WWF??? Unfortunately for Ovens‚ this latest decision´ just fuelled his frustration. In Tivvy´s next attack‚ a few seconds later‚ up went the flag again and‚ after the whistle‚ the wiry striker despatched the ball goalwards prompting the ref to write his name in his book. And I don´t think it was his Christmas card list... What the plethora of offsides did do for the Adders was to keep up the pressure on the Tivvy defence who‚ I have to say‚ were outstanding. The amount of work that they all put in was a joy and‚ quite rightly‚ Paul Tatterton was singled out to be the sponsor´s man of the match. Atherstone will be disappointed that they didn´t come away with a point. They had a glorious opportunity to equalise in injury time but their first half hero Seddon‚ despite having a clear view of goal‚ managed to pull his shot wide. Definitely a case of tired legs. But‚ by then, Tivvy should have wrapped the game up. Unfortunately, the few times that Tivvy sprung the offside trap they met their match in Belford or the ball fell to Ovens who, on more than one occasion, opted to shoot when others were better placed. It is about time that Ovens realised that he has more chance of playing games for Tivvy if he played more as a team member than as an individual. You can see he desperately wants to score but he must remember that for every wayward shot he is only adding to his own frustration - and, no doubt, that of manager Martyn Rogers.
As a footnote, it was interesting to see that the subs bench was choc-a-bloc with forwards, Rob Speakman and Richard Pears completing the line-up. I´m not sure of the chances of Speakman pulling on a Tivvy shirt again as his one month´s loan is now surely up. Indeed, it was a surprise that he was there at all so, maybe, he has been granted an extension. Indeed, Tivvy need players from somewhere otherwise they will be asking for volunteers from the crowd to make up the numbers! With the weather forecast again predicting mega-showers in the next few days, the chances that the League Cup tie against Havant will go ahead this year is surely slim. This Wednesday is the newly rescheduled date (kick-off 7.45, not 7.30 as had been mooted). So it may well be Boxing Day that we next see action at Ladysmead when our old rivals Mangotsfield arrive for a 1 o´clock kick-off. In between, Tivvy travel to Paget next Saturday. There is one more game of interest and that is this Monday when, weather permitting, Hendon travel to Worcester for their FA Trophy replay. Tivvy are away to the winners. But, with Worcester having played at home on Saturday, what chance is there of them staging this replay? That is, surely, in the lap of the Gods....

Line up: 1 Paul Edwards, 2 Luke Vinnicombe, 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 Stewart Smith.

Subs: 14 Rob Speakman, 15 Richard Pears

ATHERSTONE UNITED: Dale Belford, Lee Middleton, Danny Martin (captain), Rob Higgs, Steve Farmer, John Newall, Scott Blair, Kevin Casson (15 Ian Purvey, 85m), Leon Kelly, Gareth Seddon, Leon Doughty
Subs: Paul White, Paul Jones

This report ©2000 Nigel Davis

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