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Bedworth United 0 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 27/01/2001   Southern League First Division
Nigel Davis

It was rather apt that‚ with the US economy in the public eye once more‚ Tivvy should be at the home of the Greenbacks. And you can bet your bottom dollar that they are pleased as punch at picking up maximum points - as well as keeping a clean sheet for the second successive season.
Yet‚ for so long‚ it looked as if the match officials had bet on it being a goalless draw - as last year. It seemed that every time anyone looked as if they were in a good position to break the deadlock‚ the whistle would go or a flag would be raised. If it was frustrating for the spectators‚ it was doubly so for the players. Twice Tivvy got the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for offside. Kevin Nancekivell in the first half (when it was Steve Ovens - not in active play - who was marginally off) and Dave Toomey in the second when it was his pace that caught out the assistant - he was onside when the ball was played.
You have to give Tivvy credit for putting in a battling performance on a bobbly pitch against a side that refused to give an inch. Every ball was fought for - and quite a few challenges made me wince. Fortunately‚ all came through unscathed and‚ even without the flu-ridden Phil Everett‚ the Ambers conjured another win on the road.
Just as well‚ because all the sides above them also won - except for Evesham who were at leaders Bilston. There is now a nine point cushion between the leading pack of Bilston‚ Hinckley‚ Mangotsfield‚ Evesham‚ Redditch and Tivvy and the next club‚ Solihull Borough. And‚ with Tivvy having three games in hand over the four above them‚ and four games in hand over Bilston‚ it can only be a matter of time before the Ladysmead lads make themselves firm favourites for elevation to the Premier Division.
Some wonderful flowing football by Tivvy failed to see them break through before the break‚ although a speculative shot by Steve Ovens after nine minutes nearly deceived Craig Clover in the home goal. And Scott Rogers also came close with a glancing header in the 21st minute after a great build-up down the left. Bedworth kept plugging away but rarely got a sniff as Tivvy´s miserly defence ruled the roost once more.
Even when Kevin Nancekivell‚ subject of much interest from Conference strugglers Forest Green Rovers‚ zipped into the box on 39 minutes‚ only to be sandwiched to the ground‚ the referee only awarded a corner.
With a plethora of two-footed tackles flying in‚ referee Roger Burton seemed oblivious to the fact that he had the power to calm proceedings and some‚ cruelly‚ commented that the only thing he got right was to blow the whistle for half-time.
Bedworth decided to make a change at the break‚ substituting right back Scott Tallis with Dan Barber and they seemed to have a more attacking edge to them for this change. For long periods‚ Tivvy were under pressure but they resolutely stuck to their task and‚ cheered on by over 150 supporters (from the crowd of 220)‚ they rose to the challenge.
On 62 minutes Tivvy launched a rare convincing attack which saw Steve Ovens whip the ball over from the right for Dave Toomey to head goalwards - but Glover positioned himself well and caught the ball at ground level. It was refreshing to see Ovens and Toomey linking up like this as too often they were guilty of running the same channels in the first half and‚ inevitably‚ getting in each other´s way.
But this rare flash of attacking inspiration was soon forgotten as‚ within two minutes‚ Bedworth harried and hustled so much that all the visiting defence could do was faff around with the ball‚ failing on numerous occasions to clear properly. Had it not been for Craig Whitmore´s rising drive‚ which saw the ball just clear the crossbar‚ the pressure would have been on for longer. But then‚ from Paul Edward´s goalkick‚ the ball was pumped back into the box and Adam Webster was but a sniff away from connecting with the ball before Edwards hurriedly gathered.
After 72 minutes‚ Stuart Smith was booked for a foul on the Greenback´s skipper Ian Drewitt who had been dishing out his fair share of dubious challenges but‚ seemingly on first name terms with the ref‚ he got away with them. Psycho was a tad upset with the booking - but that´s football for you.
Three minutes later, Steve Winter scampered down the right wing to swing the fortunes Tivvy´s way. He has been criticised for failing to lift the ball at crosses - and this cross fell in the same category. However, the pace of the ball deceived all and sundry and, blow me, if at the last moment it didn´t swerve to curl in at the far post with Glover caught flat-footed.
It is events like these - nay games like these - on which championships are won or lost. Last season we had to settle for a point. This time, in just as dour an encounter, all three were gleaned.
Immediately after the goal was scored, Martyn Rogers pulled off Steve Daly and Dave Toomey. At the time most pundits were expecting Scott Rogers and Steve Ovens to be replaced but, yet again, his decisions proved right. It as only after the game that we found out that Dales was suffering from the flu and Scott, who had drifted until then, suddenly started to impose himself on the game, putting in some crucial tackles as well as setting up the forwards. The two subs were Pete Conning and Richard Pears and they immediately slotted into the pace of the game.
A surprise move by the home management saw Martin Speight replaced by Paul McCann - a central defender for a right back - and Tivvy found a few more gaps to exploit.
The only danger up the other end came from the diminutive Drewitt but his foolish lashing out to knock Paul Edwards over as he saved the ball deservedly earnt him a booking. Other refs might have already yellow-carded him for one of his many two-footed challenges, so he can count himself lucky to have stayed the distance.
With six minutes of normal time remaining, Luke Vinnicombe replaced Steve Winter who looked to have picked up a reoccurrence of the injury sustained at Hendon. Let´s hope it isn´t as bad as I fear.
With five minutes of injury time played, Tivvy kept up the pressure, even winning a corner at the death to ensure that victory was theirs.
So, now all Tivvy have to do is to play one more league game and they will be at the halfway point of the season! With the oft-postponed home game against Cinderford now pencilled in for this Wednesday, let´s hope that it gets played. As to Saturday´s epic encounter with Boston, the long range weather forecast does not bode well. Some are predicting minus 15. Winter draws on, I say.

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 Steve Ovens, 10 Steve Daly, 11 Stewart Smith.

Subs: 12 Pete Conning (Steve Daly 76), 14 Richard Pears (Dave Toomey 76), 15 Luke Vinnicombe (Steve Winter 84)

BEDWORTH UNITED: Craig Glover, Scott Tallis, Spencer Parsons, Jamie Richardson, Martin Speight, Martin Hier, Bobby Stevenson, Scott Clamp, Adam Webster, Ian Drewitt (captain), Craig Whitmore
Subs: 12 Dan Barber (Scott Tallis, half time), 14 Gary Bradder, 15 Paul McGann (Martin Speight, 80m)

This report ©2001 Nigel Davis

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