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Tiverton Town 0 - 0 Mangotsfield United

   Tuesday 26/12/2000   Southern League First Division
Nigel Davis

After a season´s absence‚ it was back to the classic encounters that epitomise Tivvy v Mangotsfield. It was just a shame that the 1 o´clock kick-off meant that it clashed with the high noon clash at St James´ Park between Exeter and Torquay - not to mention it slicing through the Boxing Day lunch festivities.
Not surprisingly‚ the attendance failed to hit four figures‚ although it was hugely disappointing to see so few faces from Gloucestershire. With a team that is going like crazy (or was‚ until David Seal succumbed to injury)‚ you would have hoped that they would have a fervent following by now. Alas‚ it appears that their exploits have failed to capture the locals´ imagination - yet they are the losers because‚ if this was typical of the ´Field´s performances‚ they have a team that is going places‚ and playing some superb football along the way. Whereas Tivvy had the penetration mingled in with silky skills‚ you rarely saw a Mangotsfield pass go astray. So crisp was their play that it is not surprising that they have created a plethora of chances this season. But they are really missing their target man and so‚ once again‚ they failed to gain maximum points meaning they have managed just one win in eight starts. But they succeeded in their quest to ensure that Tivvy´s home run was halted. It was the first time that Tivvy had failed to win at Ladysmead since mid-October when Gloucester ousted them from the FA Cup. With Laurence Jones as custodian of the whistle‚ the game was never likely to get out of control. He has refereeed Tivvy a few times over the past few seasons (remember him at Ash in the Vase?) and has proved to be one who takes no messing. Indeed‚ within seconds of the start‚ Stuart Smith committed a foul in front of the visitors´ dug-out. Manager Andy Black spoke out of turn and this immediately elicited a trot over to the dugout by Mr Jones who suggested in no uncertain terms that Mr Black sit down and shut up otherwise he would be watching the rest of the game from the stand! As to the action‚ it was down to Paul Edwards in the Tivvy goal to be on his mettle as early as the seventh minute when he tipped Nicky Brooks´ shot over the bar. Indeed‚ Edwards was to go on and be named Man of the Match although this gives a distorted reflection on the game as he was only called into play on a handful of occasions - but each time it was to make a crucial save. Tivvy had the lion´s share of the goal-scoring opportunities but were guilty of wayward shooting or pure bad luck. Debutant Steve Winter‚ on loan from Basingstoke (Ryman Premier) looked a very useful acquisition. And so he should be. A few years ago he joined Taunton only to be snapped up by Torquay United for 10‚000 after two games. Unfortunately for him‚ the pro-game did not offer him much of a career and he landed up at Forest Green‚ only to depart from them under a bit of a cloud. However‚ it looks as if he has matured into an excellent right wing/back and Tivvy must hope that they will get the chance to play regularly before his one month is up. However‚ the weather forecast‚ along with news that Gloucester´s pitch resembles a swimming pool‚ means that we may have to wait until later on in January before he pulls on a Tivvy shirt again. One good thing‚ he knew some of the Tivvy players prior to signing so he didn´t take too long to fit in. And he showed some great skills on the ball‚ never afraid to take on opponents and‚ more often than not‚ beating them. Whereas he was fast and nimble on the heavy Ladysmead pitch‚ the same could not be said of Nick Marker whose clumsy challenge after 11 minutes saw him use some of the lead in Mr Jones´ pencil. Six minutes later‚ Steve Daly followed him into the book for a rash challenge. However‚ it is good to see Arfur´ back into the swing of things. He looks as if he is‚ once more‚ enjoying his football. He is certainly giving his all again. With Scott Rogers returning from injury‚ his fresh legs added an extra dimension to Tivvy´s game although he looked as if he may have felt a twinge of his groin strain early on as he won Tivvy´s first corner. Mangotsfield managed to survive Tivvy´s domination and‚ when they did mount an attack they always looked dangerous. On the half hour Paul Tatterton made a rare mistake and let Darren Edwards in but it was his namesake that won the battle‚ blocking his shot. A minute later‚ the action was again up the other end and Phil Everett was brought down on the edge of the box by Danny Hallett when it looked like he was in with a chance of breaking the deadlock. Not surprisingly‚ Hallett became the game´s third booking and‚ three minutes later‚ Nicky Brooks joined him for leaving his foot in on a challenge on Pete Conning. Two further bookings occurred after the half-time break. First to be cautioned was Stuart Smith after 58 minutes and‚ five minutes later, Dave Elsey followed him for an awful two-footed challenge on Pete Conning on the half-way line. In other games it would probably have been a red card but Mr Jones decided a caution was sufficient. It was still Tivvy who looked the more likely to open the scoring, especially when Dave Toomey hared into the box but, with Phil Everett in an unmarked position, all Toomey could do was blast the ball into the side netting. The problem was that he was going so fast that he would not have been able to control the ball to cross it to Phil and, if he didn´t try a shot, the ball would have gone out for a goal-kick. ´Field brought on fresh legs after 70 minutes with Chris Churchill replacing the disappointing Rob Claridge but it looked as if they were happy to eke out a draw as the now common time-wasting tactics crept in - slow throw-ins and goal-kicks, but not as blatant as some teams that have visited Ladysmead this term. After 78 minutes it looked as if, at long last, Tivvy would score. Dave Toomey got to the bye-line before crossing the ball to the near post. In screamed Scott Rogers but his deft diversion of the ball goalwards was thwarted by the portly Paul Thompson who got part of his body in the way to force the ball wide for a corner. Even the introduction of Steve Ovens for Pete Conning for the final ten minutes failed to give Tivvy the edge and it was down to the visitors to play the last card when Noel O´Sullivan replaced Edwards with seven minutes left on the watch. Mr Jones decided to only play a couple of minutes of injury time before drawing the curtain down on a hard-fought, if unproductive, game. There is no doubt who was the happier manager because this was a six-pointer that Tivvy needed to win in order to have any chance of catching Mangotsfield. However, the longer that the ´Field are without Seal, the more points they are likely to drop and the news is not good for the former pro who, apparently, failed to complete his first outing for the reserves. And with other teams ahead of Tivvy dropping points, most notably Hinckley losing at Shepshed, there is still plenty to play for. Certainly Tivvy looked a more cohesive unit in this game and, if they continue to play to this calibre, should fear no-one over the coming months.

Line up: 1 Paul Edwards, 2 Steve Winter, 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: 12 Steve Ovens (Pete Conning 80), 14 Luke Vinnicombe, 15 Martyn Grimshaw

MANGOTSFIELD UNITED: Paul Thompson, Jonathan Crowley, Danny Hallett, Lee Barlass (captain), Dave Elsey, Gareth Loydon, Dean Pendry, Adam Sims, Darren Edwards (15 Noel O´Sullivan, 83m), Rob Claridge (12 Chris Churchill, 70m), Nicky Brooks
Sub: 14 Hadleigh Winter

This report ©2000 Nigel Davis

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