Match report

Tiverton Town 6 - 0 Rugby

   Saturday 06/01/2001   Southern League First Division
Nigel Davis

This was dreamsville. Tivvy continued where they had left off against Mangotsfield - masterful‚ stylish and‚ more to the point‚ now finding the back of the net. Was the return of Kevin Nancekivell‚ albeit on a month´s loan from Argyle‚ the catalyst? Well‚ he certainly added an edge that we have been missing. But this game was not about Nancekivell - it was about an all-round team performance. Any spies from Hendon must have left with furrowed brows - not to mention anyone from Havant. Yes‚ here we are in January and we now have two tricky games against Premier Division sides to look forward to and to still be in all competitions (bar the FA Cup) at this stage of the season is surely down to the off-the-park team effort that has epitomised Tivvy´s success of the past decade. The amount of negotiating that must have gone on to get first Steve Winter and now Kevin Nancekivell looks like reaping instant dividends - the side now looks more balanced than ever and there is a buzz about the town of Tiverton once more.
A crowd of 672 - the best non-Bank Holiday league crowd since the opening day of the season - witnessed a superb polished display that saw the visitors from Rugby totally overawed on the day. And when the news came through that Atherstone had won at Mangotsfield and Evesham had also lost at home‚ well you can´t describe the pleasure flowing through all our veins. Maybe‚ just maybe‚ promotion is still a possibility??? It is now back in Tivvy´s hands. All(!) they have to do is win their remaining matches. Of course‚ this won´t happen - but one can dream‚ can´t one? Rugby came to Ladysmead breathing down Tivvy´s necks with the slimmest of chances of leap-frogging them if they managed a five-goal victory margin. However‚ the real statistic was the fact that they had played more games than anyone else. Indeed‚ they were the only team to have started the second half of their campaign. Ten defeats and a goal difference of -1 gave us all hope that we would see an open game - and we weren´t disappointed. It was Rugby who set the stage after 5 minutes when‚ following a foul by Neil Saunders out by the touchline‚ a beautifully flighted free kick found Gary Redgate at the far post and his powerful downward header would have beaten many a keeper. But this was no ordinary keeper. Paul Edwards is in sparkling form at the moment and his instinctive one-handed save - at ground level - must have been a body-blow to the visitors. Especially when he launched the ball out of his area‚ so releasing the twin threat of Scott Rogers and Kevin Nancekivell who had beaten the ramshackle offside trap. (Hint for Rugby players/management. If you want to see an offside trap orchestrated to perfection‚ pop down the road and look at Atherstone. The Adders have got it off to a tee - and most frustrating it is for the opposition!). However‚ they then got in each other´s way and that gave the Rugby defence enough time to react - the ball being hoofed out for a corner. Danger passed? No way. Steve Winter chipped the ball onto Dave Toomey´s head and his deft flick found Phil Everett in salmon-leap mode and his trusty forehead diverted the ball home. Just six minutes on the watch and Tivvy were in front! This was exactly what the vociferous crowd needed to spur them on further. And‚ when Nancekivell fired a shot at Paul Beresford inside 60 seconds‚ the optimists were muttering thoughts about a landslide. How prophetic this would be. But the tricky Robbie Beard was out to show that there were two sides on show and his jink into the Tivvy box on 15 minutes deceived Paul Tatterton who was sucked in to a challenge that saw the flying winger tumble in the box. Penalty! No worries....
Up stepped Paul O´Brien and it was a wonder strike. The perfect penalty - almost. But he was up against the renowned penalty saver known as Paul Edwards and a spectacular leap saw him claw the ball away to preserve Tivvy´s slender lead. With both sides finding it difficult to keep their feet‚ it was inevitable that some challenges would be deemed to be bookable - and it was no surprise that it was a foul on Phil Everett‚ who had borne the brunt of many a challenge during the afternoon‚ that saw referee Emrys Pritchard whip out his yellow card. The guilty player was Rugby´s Pete Spacey and it was unfortunate that his foul tipped the balance in the ref´s mind as it was his first offence - and didn´t look that horrific. But‚ having found his pencil after 23 minutes‚ he found it again 12 minutes later when Martin Ruddock also fouled Everett. Ruddock didn´t look like a central defender and‚ being ignorant of his normal position‚ I would say he preferred playing on the wing or up front‚ and his afternoon was to go further downhill as the game progressed. He was nearly sorely punished from the resultant free-kick‚ again masterfully taken by Steve Winter‚ which eluded all and sundry and trickled in at the far post. Fortunately for Ruddock (and Rugby) the ref had spotted a push in the box and the goal´ was cancelled. In the next attack‚ a few seconds later‚ Scott Rogers again sprang the offside trap and it took a good stop from Beresford to deny him. But five minutes later‚ in the 41st minute‚ the whole Rugby midfield and defence were powerless to stop Dave Toomey. His run started on the half-way line and ended with a deft side-step of the last two defenders which saw him drag the ball over their tackles (sounds painful‚ but I´m sure you know what I mean) before blasting the ball home from the edge of the box to make it 2-0. As the game crept into injury time‚ Tivvy´s Steve Daly was booked for a foul on Danny O´Toole‚ his second caution in as many matches - most rare. Another dangerous free-kick was flighted over and stand-in skipper Scott Machin really should have done better with his header as he had the goal at his mercy. Within 15 seconds of the start of the second half‚ it was Toomey´s pace that saw him beat the onrushing Beresford to a through ball. A deft flick and the ball was between him and an open goal and the speedy striker had no hesitation in hammering the ball into the vacated goal for his second and Tivvy´s third. Three minutes later it looked as if Toomey would clinch his maiden hat-trick for the club when he raced through to pick up the ball following a raking header by Stuart Smith whose interception put Rugby once more under pressure. With Nancekivell steaming in at the far post‚ a cross was the wiser option‚ but he elected to shoot and Beresford managed to get his body in the way to block the ball. Back it went to Toomey and‚ this time, he did cross. He found Everett´s head and the Tivvy predator, despite intense pressure, somehow not only managed to get his head to the ball, but he also got his header in on target and the ball shot downwards towards the goalline and into the back of the net. 4-0 to the Ambers. Four minutes later, Smith was cautioned for a foul on O´Toole who seemed to come out of nowhere, surprising Smith as well as sections of the crowd. You couldn´t fault O´Toole´s commitment. After 57 minutes, Pete Spacey got away with just a ticking off after catching Paul Edwards with what looked like a mixture of elbows and an old-fashioned forearm smash. It left the Tivvy custodian more bemused than dazed but certainly displeased the officials, but it was a rare piece of nastiness and, had he not been booked earlier, may well have picked up a caution. As it was, it was an isolated incident and he stayed to complete the game. One who didn´t was Scott Rogers, replaced after 62 minutes by Pete Conning and, within a minute, Rugby brought on the Warren Patmore lookalike Luke Vincent for Chris Goodman. He was immediately in the thick of the action, forcing Edwards into a point blank save. But a minute later, Tivvy ensured there was to be no comeback for Rugby when Toomey completed his hat-trick to score Tivvy´s fifth. It was a calamitous mistake by Ruddock who stumbled as he attempted to clear the ball but, under pressure from Toomey, he was caught out - as was Beresford who had advanced off his line. Toomey looked up and lobbed the ball over Rugby´s number one. Not only was this his first hat-trick for the club, it was the first one of the season for any Tivvy player, and it will do his confidence a power of good.
Five minutes later, mindful of the impending one match ban for Nick Marker, Martyn Rogers replaced Everett and Marker with Steve Ovens and Luke Vinnicombe. Vinnicombe took over at left wing-back allowing Smith to take over in central defence. Three minutes later, the hapless Ruddock was replaced by Chris Evans who had hardly taken up his position before Kevin Nancekivell capped a sterling return to Ladysmead by retaining his poise and composure to slot the ball home off the far post for number six on 73 minutes. All of Tivvy´s goals were classy - certainly six of the best - and Rugby were left nursing their wounds. But, with ten minutes to go, a rare penetrating run by Redgate saw him slice through the Tivvy defence before releasing Beard but, once more, he was thwarted by Edwards. Two minutes later we had the final substitution - Lee Hughes replacing Lee Darlison. The final piece of action saw the referee in consultation with his assistant before he, once more, reached for his card. It looked as if it was to be the 12 who would be on the receiving end - and so it proved, but the wrong one! Instead of the expected caution for Vincent, it was Pete Conning who was singled out. I must have missed something... Now Tivvy´s groundstaff have the monumental task of sorting out the badly cut-up park in time for the long-awaited Dr Martens League Cup tie against Havant & Waterlooville scheduled for Wednesday. They follow that with a trip to Ryman League Premier Division side Hendon whose pitch is in such a poor state that they have only managed one home game in over two months. Both sides lost 3-2 away on Saturday, Havant at Stafford Rangers having gifted them a first minute opener thanks to an own goal by captain Gary MacDonald. The warning for Tivvy is that David Leworthy found the back of the net. If he is in form, God help the Tivvy defence. Hendon, meanwhile, battled back from three goals down at Canvey Island. On the day when Canvey could have been playing Kingstonian in the FA Cup, had their fortunes fared better at Southend last month, the Islanders (and former foes of Tivvy) did their chance of promotion to the Conference no harm at all. But it was a great fightback from Hendon.
Both cup ties will surely be classics. But I fear that Tivvy´s progress will be halted and, if I were given the chance of choosing which cup to progress in, I´m afraid I would plump for the Trophy. However, I have a sneaky suspicion that we may find that Tivvy are bundled out of both. Not a bad thing if it leaves the way for a concerted assault on the Western Division runners-up slot. Let´s hope I am proved to be just a tad too pessimistic. It has to be said that Tivvy are playing better than ever so there has never been a better time to take on higher opposition. What a fillip it would be if they pulled off a bit of giant killing once more?

Line up: 1 Paul Edwards, 2 Steve Winter, 3 Neil Saunders, 4 Paul Tatterton, 5 Nick Marker, 6 Scott Rogers, 7 Kevin Nancekivell, 8 Dave Toomey, 9 Phil Everett, 10 Steve Daly, 11 Stewart Smith.

Subs: 12 Pete Conning (Scott Rogers 62), 14 Steve Ovens ( Phil Everett 70), 15 Luke Vinnicombe (Nicky Marker 70).

RUGBY UNITED: Paul Beresford, Paul O´Brien, Lee Darlison (15 Lee Hughes, 82m), Nigel Niblett, Gary Redgate, Martin Ruddock (14 Chris Evans, 73m), Chris Goodman (12 Luke Vincent, 63m), Danny O´Toole, Pete Spacey, Scott Machin (captain), Robbie Beard.

This report ©2001 Nigel Davis






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