Match report

Nuneaton 0 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 18/10/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Never was the conflict between similar sounding adages on a given theme better illustrated than through the 90 minutes of Tivvy´s first visit to Manor Park‚ home of fallen Conference giants Nuneaton Borough. Town had produced a series of erratic performances that had seen them yo-yo up and down the league table‚ not to mention make an unexpected and hurried exit from the FA Cup. The fans were naturally unhappy‚ not entirely sure that the problem lay entirely in the fact that injuries had decimated the squad from the outset‚ thus leaving unsettled side. The official club stance was that things would improve when everybody was fit and a full sixteen could be fielded. There were those that doubted; like Thomas they wanted to see with their own eyes. Actions speaker louder than words.......

Such was the pace of the action in the opening ten minutes that there was no time for talk anyway. Words would have been as pointless as trying to persuade Hyacinth Bucket to wear jeans to the Vicarage Tea Party. And the good thing from the point of view of the travelling supporters was that the majority of the worthwhile action‚ frantic though it was‚ was coming from The Yellows. They looked sharp‚ fit and out to prove both themselves and manager Martyn Rogers right. Far from being overawed by the table topping position of their opponents nor their reputation of having the tightest defence in the division‚ Tivvy set about seeking a way to breach that defence. As early as the third minute Richard Pears found a way through down the left flank but his cross was weak and though it reached Jamie Mudge the youngsters shot was equally as impotent - not to mention wide. The contest in midfield was the liveliest and was to remain so for a long time as neither set of players were able to stamp their dominance‚ but it was Chris Holloway
and Paul Chenoweth that were getting the better of the frantic fracas in the areas around the centre circle‚ and that without a great deal of support from Kevin Nancekivell who was able to add his weight more to the attacking moves. Town won the first corner of the game in the 6th minute. It came to nothing. Boro made their first threatening move after 8‚ that too brought little excitement as a cross from their left swirled out high and wide of Stuart Fraser´s goal. Despite the majority of the probing at defences coming from Tiverton it was the home side that had the first clear cut‚ gold plated‚ chance. And like so many precious metal coated things‚ it came in a presentation pack. Perhaps lulled into a false sense of security by the Yellows obvious (at this point) superior footballing skills‚ Steve Winter tried to carry the ball out of defence. As he cut infield he was robbed by Matthew Collins who was able to split the remnants of Towns right side defence to send highly reputed‚ if somewhat lazy looking striker‚ Brian Quailey‚ closing in on goal. Fraser came‚ Quailey shot‚ down and spreading went Stuart. But Quailey had scuffed his shot and the ball didn´t fly. Somehow the Tivvy keeper managed to scoop it away where it was hoofed to safety. Tiverton´s traditional defensive c**k up´ had been survived. In fairness to Winter‚ the lesson was learnt‚ both by he and his colleagues and The Yellows continued to look the better side and to play the better soccer.

Most people in the ground thought Town had won their deserved reward after 17 minutes. Two more corners in rapid succession. The first crossed in long‚ defended out for the second. The second taken low towards the man running out along the by line. Turned back to the man advancing down the touch line. Then the cross‚ and a glancing header from Nancekivell that flicked off the outside of the upright for the safety of a goal kick. It was to be another fifteen minutes before the deadlock was broken. It was to be quarter of an hour that saw the Home side come into the game more but still be lagging behind when it came to looking like possible goal scorers. One difference that was noticeable was that when a home attack was broken up the Tivvy defence were able to play the ball clear almost unopposed. When a Tiverton attack broke down‚ all those involved were immediately hustling the defenders to hurry and harry them into mistakes. Mudge did just that to Colin Hoyle on Nuneaton´s right. Hoyle miskicked and the ball span down for Jamie who promptly snapped it up and headed towards the face of the penalty area. Boro´s back line of five was strung across the edge of the box and started to close in. Jamie didn´t take them on. He didn´t wait. He unleashed a shot from behind the 18 yd line that had home keeper Darren Acton at full stretch but still a foot or more
from reaching the ball as it curled past him and into the net. A fine goal - even the locals were prepared to admit. It was to be the highlight of the half. Boro tried to up their game to haul themselves level but even their best efforts only brought them to a level that could only be described as second best - and that is not good enough when their are only two teams on the pitch.


Before the game had started there had been an announcement that Boro manager Alan Lewer and the clubs Chairman were going to sign a contract on Monday - this after a week of speculation and accusations and generally acrimonious statements from the pair of them that seemed to signify Lewer´s imminent departure for pastures new. (According to The Press‚ that is). The statement had been greeted with muted cheers and I wondered what the reaction might have been had it been made at the interval. True it might have been merely words‚ but Lewer himself must have found some choice ones in the break to have transformed his team so dramatically. One change‚ Danny Williams for Quaile who´s attitude suggested that he would have rather been doing his weekly shop at the local Tesco´s. And Williams was certainly the liveliest player in a blue shirt that we had seen all afternoon. It was the home side´s turn to push from the start‚ win an early corner‚ and have a shot go wide. There the similarity with Tivvy´s opening to the first half ended. The pressure stayed on‚ relentlessly and seemingly undeniable. For the first 15 minutes of the second period the ball seldom strayed beyond the half way line. Most of the action though was wide on the wings and although the crosses were finding their way in‚ Fraser was dealing with them admirably. On the occasions when the ball came lower and further back‚ nothing was being given away as Tivvy defended in numbers‚ resolution and determination. One mighty clearance did find Mudge who took a snapshot that made sure Acton was on his toes to get the slightest of touches to send the ball wide but for minutes at a time the Boro keeper was wandering around outside his area trying to get a clearer view and urging his team mates on.



That was to remain the picture. Pears and Mudge continued to work their socks off chasing clearances and did combine once but Richard´s shot lacked power and was cleared off the line after its placement had beaten Acton. Lewer´s half time words obviously continued to ring in his players ears‚ reinforced by additions brought on by further substitutes. The reaction was more and more effort - words proving stronger than the sword? - but no reward and few real chances for all the buzzing around the Tiverton box. Fraser made one excellent save to reach back and turn a high cross from the left over for a corner when it looked as if the ball might drop behind him and into the net‚ but anything else resembling a shot was beaten out by boot or head before it had a chance to spoil his laundry. Steve Ovens was brought on to replace Mudge on 81 minutes and the same time saw Paul Milsom replace Nancekivell. It gave Town more life at the front and relieved the pressure for five minutes until Ovo was crunched´. He hobbled for a couple more minutes before the defence was shored up for the expected final assault. It never really came‚ or if it did it was no more ferocious than what The Yellows had already endured for 45 minutes and was dealt with equally efficiently. As a final act of defiance‚ Graeme Power made a late dash and crossed for Pears to have a final shot that was deflected for a corner. Three minutes of added time couldn´t change the fact that it was Tivvy´s day.

Hopefully the first of many. The actions on this day were a close match for the words of promise doubted by the Thomas´s. If those actions continue to be as powerful then there´s many a team that will be put to the sword by Tivvy before the season is out.

Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser‚ Steve Winter‚ Graeme Power‚ Jason Rees‚ Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell (Paul Milsom, 81), Chris Holloway, Richard Pears, Paul Chenoweth, Jamie Mudge ( Steve Ovens, 81 ( David Steele, 86))
Subs: Shaun Goff, Danny Haines.

Nuneaton Borough: Darren Acton, Colin Hoyle, Chris Tullin ( Gary Fitzpatrick, 50), Matthew Collins, Neil Moore, Terry Angus, Mark Clifford, Brian McGorry, Brian Quailey ( Danny Williams, 46), Gez Murphy ( Andy Corbett), Stuart Whittaker.
Subs: Matthew Lamb, Damien Quaile.


Att: 902

Referee: O Langford (Bhoglanda)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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