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Tiverton Town 2 - 0 Gloucester City

   Saturday 14/04/2001   Southern League First Division
Nigel Davis

A bumper Easter Saturday crowd saw Tivvy´s promotion push stay on track with a hard-fought victory over ten-man Gloucester.
The Tigers came to Ladysmead on the back of a run of defeats that had started with us turning around a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 win back on March 13th. But the way that they played during the first half‚ you could have been fooled into believing that they were one of the better sides in the League. It really just goes to show that there are not many easy games at this level. Straight from the starting block‚ Tivvy won three corners in the opening three minutes but just couldn´t squeeze the ball home.
Gloucester‚ resorting to clearing their lines with long balls hoping to catch Tivvy on the break‚ caused brief moments of worry in Tivvy´s reshuffled defence which included Dave Leonard at number 4‚ just 24 hours after he had played in Liskeard´s 4-4 draw with Saltash. Paul Tatterton´s absence‚ due to wedding commitments‚ had been kept out of the press but couldn´t have come at a worse time what with injuries to Stuart Smith and Paul Chenoweth. So Dave played in an unfamiliar centre back role - but excelled‚ so much so that he was named man-of-the-match. Phil Everett was sacrificed from the forward line‚ playing at left wing-back (although often to be seen joining the attack with Neil Saunders slotting in behind him) allowing Dave Toomey and Steve Ovens to torment the Tigers´ defence.
Unfortunately for Tivvy‚ Toomey had picked up a knock on Tuesday at Rocester. His diving header had resulted in him injurung his ribs and‚ although he managed to get through the Gresley game‚ this injury was now impairing his breathing and‚ despite his valiant efforts‚ he could not perform to his potential.
Having seen off Tivvy´s opening burst‚ Gloucester spent the next ten minutes in Tivvy´s half. Paul Edwards had to be alert to pluck Lee Smith´s cross out of the air and then‚ a couple of minutes later‚ had to deal with Gloucester´s first corner of the game.
It was soon after that that Gloucester´s indiscipline let them down. Neil Griffiths committed a foul and then kicked the ball away and was promptly booked. Ten minutes later Jimmy Cox was similarly punished after he blasted the ball away having been flagged offside.
In between‚ player/manager Tommy Callinan fouled Phil Everett but the quickly taken free kick was stopped by the alert Ally Hines between the Gloucester sticks.
In the 31st minute‚ Matt Parnell saved the day with a timely challenge on Steve Ovens as he was about to burst through. This intervention was then followed by a clearance up field. Nicky Marker went to head the ball away from Cox but misjudged it in the wind. Cox´s first time cross found Lee Smith and‚ with Paul Edwards out of position‚ he was about to stroke the ball into the empty net when out of nowhere Dave Leonard appeared and blocked what would have been a certain goal. Tivvy finished the half in the ascendency with Ovens being denied by a fine Hines save at the expense of another corner. Gloucester were forced into substituting Gary Marshall at half time‚ bringing on Will Steadman. He was immediately called into action as Tivvy surged forward from the kick-off‚ Gloucester´s massed ranks denying Steve Ovens once more‚ a corner being the scant scrap for Tivvy´s efforts.
Twelve minutes into the half‚ Dave Toomey was recalled from the fray‚ being replaced by Russell Jee. Jee took over Phil Everett´s role allowing the big man to go up front. This change of tactics took Gloucester by surprise and they really could not cope with the attacking verve shown by Tivvy. So much so that‚ four minutes later‚ Steve Ovens burst through to the edge of the box before being barged down by Andy Tucker who‚ as last man‚ was shown the red card for his troubles. Incensed by the decision he chucked his captain´s armband to the ground and trudged off at snail´s pace. The free kick came to nothing and I´m sure that Tivvy would have swapped a goal for Tucker not committing the foul and staying on the park... The pattern of play that had started in the closing minutes of the first half whereby Gloucester eked out the seconds at throw-ins‚ free kicks and goal kicks became even more annoying as they did everything in their power to break up the flow of the game. It was to backfire on them later.
The lively Ovens‚ barely two minutes after Tucker´s dismissal‚ was again tormenting the visiting defence‚ so much so that he was manhandled to the ground by Steadman. Steve Winter´s searching free kick found Nicky Marker´s head but the ball just missed the target.
On the other wing‚ Russell Jee was causing plenty of problems with his pace and he looked as if he had been a regular all season. Within seconds‚ Tivvy got the goal they deserved when following some mesmerising stuff‚ Neil Saunders whipped in a cross and‚ out of the blue‚ there was Steve Winter getting ahead of Hines by a fraction of a second to tuck the ball home with the outside of his left boot in the 69th minute.
Funnily enough‚ after that goal went in‚ Gloucester´s time-wasting tactics evaporated. Strange that!
Nine minutes later Winter became provider when he crossed from the right for Phil Everett to leap high and head home number two.
Pete Conning then replaced Nicky Marker with Steve Daly dropping back into defence in a well tried tactic to elongate Marker´s playing days and Tivvy were unlucky not to extend their lead. Neil Saunders saw one header blocked by Hines before Winter followed up but could only find the side netting from a narrow angle. Then‚ substitute Richard Pears - on for Phil Everett - came close before unwittingly stopping the ball on the line to deny Winter his second of the game. But there was no doubt who was the team pushing for promotion. It was all Tivvy at the end. And had it not been for a superb block by Hines, Steve Ovens would surely have added his name to the scoresheet.
So, come Monday evening, Tivvy will be into the last quarter of their league campaign - all squeezed into under three weeks. However, they are not alone in wondering when they will be able to play all their games - more matches were postponed on Saturday, one affecting Mangotsfield whose trip to in-form Cirencester fell foul of the weather. And with Solihull´s problems with their Damson Parkway pitch continuing (they were hoping to play there on Saturday but the ref called off their match against Paget Rangers), they have once more gone cap in hand to Redditch for loan of their park. We now have the ridiculous situation of, on Easter Monday, Redditch kicking off at 3pm against Bromsgrove followed by 7.30 kick-off for Solihull v Evesham - both on the same pitch. I´d be surprised if both get played.

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

Subs: 12 Pete Conning (Nicky Marker 78), 14 Richard Pears (Phil Everett 85), 15 Russell Jee (Dave Toomey 57).

GLOUCESTER CITY: 1 Ally Hines, 2 Gary Marshall, 3 Scott Medcroft, 4 Andy Tucker (captain), 5 Matt Parnell, 6 Tommy Callinan, 7 Mark Abbott, 8 Lee Smith, 9 Jimmy Cox, 10 Karl Bayliss, 11 Neil Griffiths.
Subs: 12 Will Steadman (for Gary Marshall, half time), 14 Steve Jenkins (for Tommy Callinan, 77m), 15 Gavin Rae (for Lee Smith, 85m)

REFEREE: Lee Probert (Bridgwater)

This report ©2001 Nigel Davis

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