Match report

Tiverton Town 4 - 0 Havant & Waterlooville

   Wednesday 10/01/2001   Southern League Cup
Nigel Davis

Preparations for this game started as soon as the final whistle had been blown the previous Saturday‚ with Gordon and his merry men tackling the ravaged Ladysmead surface. Many hours of hard work were put in so that this oft-postponed tie finally got the thumbs up to go ahead. And boy was it worth it (unless you were one of the few visitors from Hampshire). With Nick Marker suspended‚ there was no surprise that Stuart Smith took over his role alongside Paul Tatterton and Neil Saunders. The real surprise was the return of Dave Leonard - and most welcome it was too. He was better than ever. Something tells me that the move of Jason Rees to Torquay has helped a lot of people rethink their roles within the side and everything seems to be coming together just at the right time. Tivvy found their Premier opponents oozing confidence and playing some wonderful football - but they matched them during a compelling opening half hour. And it was during the opening minutes that I noticed that Luke Vinnicombe wasn´t on the bench - but that Martyn Grimshaw was named as sub. Oh no´‚ I thought‚ Vinni´s gone. That brief run out at left-back on Saturday must have been the final straw.´ I glanced up and saw our number two whiz through a handful of tackles with close control and made a mental note that Steve Winter was coming along in leaps and bounds....
It was only after a quarter of an hour that I looked closer at who was wearing that shirt and realised that it was Luke. And what a game he was playing. He looked back to his old form from last season. Absolutely brilliant! Not surprising‚ Havant posed plenty of danger going forward and had it not been for Paul Edwards I´m sure that Jamie O´Rourke would have opened the scoring - but Eddie was there to tip the ball over for a niinth minute corner. Both defences seemed to be in control for the next quarter of an hour as the ball was being sweetly played around - and the game was allowed to flow thanks to intelligent use of advantage by referee Mike Gooding - but he felt that there was one shirt-pull too many as Kevin Nancekivell was spun to the floor by Dean Blake who was shown the first of three yellow cards in the match.
That was after 26 minutes and‚ six minutes later‚ Phil Everett was put through on goal by Nance but Paul Nicholls saved with his legs. With Tivvy continuing to press forward‚ Stuart Smith was unlucky to see his shot ping wide. But there was no stopping Tivvy now and‚ in the 36th minute‚ with Dave Toomey and Nancekivell pulling the Havant defence all over the place‚ Phil was able to rampage in on goal and sent in a stinging shot that Nicholls‚ signed in the close season from Chelsea‚ could not hold onto‚ Kevin Nancekivell snapping up the rebound with aplomb. Oh how we have missed his predatorial instincts in the box.
This goal really stunned Havant‚ as well as warmed the home crowd who had braved the bitter wind. Try as they may Havant couldn´t regain the composure that they had found in the opening half an hour and there was a genuine thought that maybe a bit of giant-killing might be in the air. And with every Tivvy player on top form there really was a chance.
But we really had no inkling of what was to come in the second half. Within five minutes of the restart‚ Dave Leonard battled his way through the Havant half‚ being fouled along the way. When it was obvious that there was no advantage‚ the whistle blew. A short free-kick found Scott Rogers who dinked the ball forward for Everett to run onto and the evergreen striker unselfishly crossed the ball. It bounced twice on the edge of the six-yard box before Luke Vinnicombe pounced to hammer it home through a plethora of legs for Tivvy´s second of the night and his maiden goal for the club. It capped a wonderful performance from the youngster who has been dogged by injury and illness (the jinx of the number 2 shirt maybe???).
Four minutes later and we were in Tivvy heaven as Dave Toomey raced through‚ tempting the keeper out to the edge of the box. A quick swivel to create space also saw Nicholls stranded as the ball was propelled goalwards. Two defenders had managed to race back to cover but they were powerless to do anything other than tee the ball up (amidst a suspicion of handball) for Kevin Nancekivell. He scooped it home for‚ incredibly‚ his third goal in two games.
On the hour‚ both sides made a substitution with Havant bringing on Gary Connolly for Lee Waterman and Tivvy´s Pete Conning coming on for Scott Rogers. Ten minutes later‚ though‚ there was a much more telling double substitution - Havant´s right back Lee Waterman being replaced by the more attack-minded Paul Wood (an ex-pro with 350+ Football League appearances to his name) and Nancekivell making way for Steve Ovens.
In the next move‚ Ovens crashed the ball home from the edge of the box with his first touch of the game to make it 4-0 - and it was where Waterman would normally be covering. The Havant defence were prised open by some glorious football. It was bordering on exhibition stuff this and brought back memories of our heyday in the Western League. So‚ who would have thought it? Four goals to the good against a more than useful side from the Premier.
With a quarter of an hour left on the watch‚ Mr Gooding finally lost patience with Havant´s skipper Gary MacDonald‚ who had tried to verbally run the game all evening. He must have said one word too many and became the second recipient of a yellow card. You would have thought that this would have calmed him down‚ yet a few seconds later he went in on Everett and caught his standing leg‚ bringing the striker down on the edge of the box. It didn´t take someone with a degree in nuclear science to see what would happen next - he received his second caution of the night and sprinted off to have an early bath. In Tivvy´s next attack‚ Everett benefitted from some great play by Steve Daly and Dave Leonard to get in a cross/shot that hit the far post before bouncing back onto the edge of the six-yard box where only quick thinking by Nicholls deprived Vinnicombe of his second of the game.
But the best entertainment of the evening was still to come as assistant manager Martyn Grimshaw replaced Everett at the same time as Neil Champion came on for last season´s leading goalscorer‚ James Taylor. That gave him nine minutes to make his mark and his appearance was greeted with hearty cheers and warm applause - and he nearly struck gold with his first shot within seconds of arriving. Unfortunately there were too many bodies in the way - but he did get in a telling shot (as had Steve Daly a little earlier - but his long-range goalbound exocet hit an unfortunate visiting player on the way....).
The last laugh came from Paul Edwards who had to be at his best to save Timmy Hambley´s 85th minute free-kick from the edge of the box. He dived at full stretch‚ determined to set a new mini-record for Tivvy. The first time we had kept four clean sheets on the bounce since our elevation to the Dr Martens. And well deserved it was as well - for every Tivvy player to a man had played exceptionally well. I can´t believe we can repeat this feat on Saturday but at least it was good practice for this forthcoming FA Trophy game as both Havant and Hendon have similar styles and similarly talented players. Let´s hope that Hendon haven´t seen us play since Christmas. They could be in for a surprise....

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

Subs: 12 Pete Conning (Scott Rogers 60), 14 Steve Ovens (Kevin Nancekivell 70). 15 Martyn Grimshaw (Phil Everett 81).

HAVANT & WATERLOOVILLE: Paul Nicholls, Lee Waterman (12 Paul Wood, 70m), Ben Price (15 Gary Connolly, 60m), Gary MacDonald (captain), Aaron Cook, Liam Diash, Craig Anstey, Timmy Hambley, Jamie ONeil Champion, 81m), Dean Blake´Rourke, James Taylor.

This report ©2001 Nigel Davis

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