Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 1 Grantham Town

   Saturday 22/11/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Perhaps it has been The Yellows inconsistency this season‚ and therefore never knowing what to expect as the form book is constantly turned on its head‚ but neither the anticipation or actuality of games has sent me into misty expanses of nostalgia or reverie. Until this visit of Grantham Town‚ that is. And even then it took a little time for the effect to take place‚ and when it did it was a little different from what has occurred previously in as much as it had nothing to do with a past game‚ indeed it was only tentatively related to my football watching past. There was a time in the late 70´s and early 80´s when for a variety of reasons I watched very little live football. I was working shifts that certainly consisted of unsociable hours and even though they never actually involved Saturday working I was seldom either out of bed after a late finishing night shift or sufficiently refreshed to be inclined towards making the effort to go and watch a game - even though I lived within a goal kick of Exeter´s St James´ Park. So Saturday afternoons were usually spent in a state of semi suspended animation in front of the box watching either Grandstand or World of Sport. And there´s the link to the latest fare served up at Ladysmead. Just like those Saturday afternoon television extravaganzas we were fed a mixture of Rugby mauls‚ Boxing low punches and all in Wrestling sandwiched between slices of footballing action. The problem for me was‚ that unlike the TV shows where you were told in advance what to expect‚ it was only soccer that was intended to be on the bill´ as Tivvy took on the Gingerbreads.

It was a quiet start‚ the first five minutes only being punctuated by the click‚ click´ of my pen as the tip was exposed - retracted - exposed whilst I waited for something to happen worth committing to paper. Stuart Fraser was still sidelined and though he was present in body he looked as if he was far away in sprit‚ and probably should have been physically too. As last week at Weston Nathan Murphy had stepped into the breach and was to prove a competent replacement once more. David Steele was also in the starting XI. It took five minutes for the noteworthy to occur. Town won the first of what was to be a plethora of corners. From the right-hand quadrant Paul Chenoweth flighted in an inswinging kick that was headed clear from close in on goal‚ but at least the incident brought the game to life. Chenoweth and Chris Holloway established themselves as the dominant pairing in midfield‚ with David Steele making the forward moves to link with Jamie Mudge and Richard Pears at the front. That was enough to give Tivvy control of the game‚ particularly since Mudge was‚ as ever‚ proving a handful for the Grantham defence wherever he happened to pop up´‚ which seemed to be anywhere and everywhere. On ten minutes he went jinking through the middle‚ only to shoot well wide. A minute later he was caught offside by a massive margin but two minutes on he was bursting down the right to send through a low cross to Pears that the Tivvy No.9 failed to connect to with any power and caused Gingerbread´s keeper Pascal Foreman - himself a stand in for regular glovesman Mario Ziccardi who was suspended - no problem. The Yellows were now well on top and functioning well in every department. The defence was cruising with the visitors offering little threat. The midfield‚ where the majority of football was being played‚ was Tiverton territory from where a constant stream of raids were being mounted. Both Steve Winter and Graeme Power were breaking down their respective flanks effectively but one thing was missing; that last incisive touch that changes an attack into a goal. That final touch might (should?) have come in the 22nd minute of the game. Mudge was away again down the right. Foreman came to the edge of his area‚ Jamie bundled his way past on the outside but the move narrowed his prospective striking angle to minimalist proportions. Across in the centre of the penalty area there was a charge of half a dozen players of mixed shirt colours struggling to catch up with the pace of Jamie´s break. The Tiverton striker tried to curl in a shot; it didn´t curl enough and bobbled around among the feet of the pursuing pack the final touch in the scramble going to Chenoweth who could only stretch to make contact and failed to find the right direction or power and the ball trickled wide of the upright.
Grantham began to become a little more adventurous themselves‚ no doubt gaining confidence from the fact that their organisation at the back appeared to be efficient enough to hold The Yellows. Add to that the fact that the Tivvy back line had been having an easyish time and the scene was set for an against the run of play goal to upset the apple cart. It might have come on 25 minutes. Jason Rees had a clearance charged down by Stuart Wilson. It was‚ or would have been a decent clearance‚ there was nothing careless or casual about it‚ just that Wilson stuck a foot up and the one in a hundred chance of making contact came off‚ with the ball falling perfectly for the Grantham man to be able to burst clear. One on one with Murphy‚ Wilson looked odds on to break the deadlock but Nathan dashed off his line to get just enough of a touch to deflect the ball away to the retreating Rees who was able to calmly lay it back for Rob Cousins to clear upfield. As Tivvy broke quickly Winter found himself in a similar position at the other end as he lost the race for a forward ball to Foreman. The game was coming alive in a big way now as the visitors came into things more‚ though the majority of openings were coming The Yellows way. Winter won another corner on 35 minutes. Chenoweth curled it in close again ‚ and again it was headed clear from close in under the crossbar. But only as far as Pears who swung a boot - and skied the ball into the top of the netting above the roof of the Sponsors End cover. At the other end‚ former Dr Martens Championship winner with Kettering Town‚ Dale Watkins showed some ball juggling skills in an attempt to find space to force in a shot but by the time he had brought the ball to earth had been forced wide and out of position. He had another opportunity shortly after but was beaten to the ball as Murphy slid out to smother at at his feet. Another corner from the right by Chenoweth fell to Pears but this time is shot flew of Paul Wilkins when both the direction and power were enough to set the net bulging‚ as was a drive from Chris Holloway that was deflected for a corner by Rob Gould. The half was brought to an end with yet another corner by Chenoweth. This time Chens´ second cross flew over the heads of both Rudge and Pears and away for a goal kick. So many chances - so few (zero) goals.

The visitors were even more lively after the break‚ though it was Tivvy that had the first opportunity when Steele‚ who had faded after a bright start‚ was crowded out and could only manage a weak‚ high and wide shot three minutes in. By the time ten minutes had passed Grantham were looking as if they were getting the better of things and the pressure was beginning to tell on The Yellows as they were being forced to defend. The foul count against the home side began to mount‚ though most were for minor offences - the only ones that the officials seemed able to spot. Winter collected the first yellow card of the afternoon and the stop / start nature of what was becoming a scrappy‚ if open‚ game was further disrupted by Rees being forced to limp out of the action to be replaced by Kevin Nancekivell. The openness of the contest was illustrated two minutes either side of the hour mark. Before the chimes struck Nathan Rudge sent Mudge scooting down the left. Jamie laid the ball in to Holloway‚ powering through the middle in support. Chris was just about to crack in a shot when the ball was poked off his toe by Gould. Four minutes later and Wilson was bursting through the Tiverton back line and into the penalty area. It looked as if all he had left to do was to beat Murphy when he was felled by Winter. Penalty no doubt. What was amazing was that there was no card to accompany the offence. Perhaps not so amazing when one considers some of the other offences that had been‚ and were to‚ go un-noticed or unpunished by an incompetent set of officials who were questionably of South Western League standard. However, on this occasion the visitors were not going to argue and were even happier when, after treatment, Wilson picked himself up, brushed himself of, and caused Tivvy to start all over again by driving an impressive spot shot past Murphy.
The Yellows were quick to respond, winning two corners in quick succession as they pushed for the equaliser. Once more the organisation in the Grantham defence thwarted their efforts and as frustration set in so tempers on both sides became frayed. A foul by Holloway sparked a general melee involving a dozen players, with the man in black watching passively whilst playing an accompanying soundtrack on his whistle from a distance of several yards. Once the fracas had been sorted out by the players themselves, Mr. Grenfell held a debate with his linesman and decided that both No.5´s should be shown yellow cards, though Rudge had hardly been involved. Next in line was Holloway for a high and rash tackle, and then the pinnacle of farce was reached in the 74th minute. Paul Chenoweth tackled and dispossessed Kevin Slinn (I think) who had replaced Wilson shortly after the penalty. Both players ended up on the deck with the Grantham man clambering to his feet first. As he moved free he stamped. Chenoweth´s shin took the studs. Right in front of the main stand, right in front of the Referee´s Assistant, 40 yards from the Tiverton dug-out where Jason Rees was still fulfilling the vocal part of his captains duty. Play continued as Tiverton remained in possession and attacked down the left. Rees, understandably gave the official some stick, and persisted to do so even when the ball went out of play at the other end of the field. The linesman called over the referee whilst Chenoweth was treated. Having heard his colleague out the referee then proceeded to the dugout where he flashed the red card at the Tivvy skipper. It would have been far more appropriate to have shown his assistant an appointment card for their local Cornish branch of Specsavers!
Back to the action, the ball was out of play because Tiverton had won yet another corner. And they replied to the dubious refereeing in the best possible way - by scoring an indisputable goal. Over came the cross, deep enough to be clear of Foreman and therefore eliminate the risk of the slightest contact being regarded as a shove, the ball fell to Kevin Nancekivell who, back to goal, swivelled and poked the ball through a crowded six yard box and into the net with 15 minutes still to go. Two minutes later Nance´ could have given the Yellows the lead as he fired over the top. And that was to be the story of that last quarter of an hour as Tivvy pushed for the winning goal. Rob Cousins split the Gingerbread´s defence to release Mudge down the left. Pears failed to connect with the cross. Mudge broke down the right. Pears scooped his first time shot over the crossbar when the cross came in. Even in added time Pears could have won it when another first time volley flew inches wide.

It wasn´t to be for the Yellows and the cheers at the final whistle from the Grantham fans that had made the long trip from Lincolnshire were a clear indication of which side were happiest with a draw. Hardly surprising - it was only the fifth away point of the season for the Gingerbreads and they have all come from drawn games.
One consolation for both sets of fans. The referee was being assessed. If there is any justice he will not be allowed out of Cornwall for a considerable time. The Jolly´s Cornish Combination need match officials.


Tiverton Town: Nathan Murphy, Steve Winter, Graeme Power, Jason Rees (Kevin Nancekivell, 56), Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, David Steele, Chris Holloway, Richard Pears, Paul Chenoweth, James Mudge.
Subs not used: Shaun Goff, Paul Milsom, Steve Ovens, Stuart Fraser.
Bookings: Winter, Rudge, Holloway, Steele.
Red Card: Rees (from touchline after substitution).

Grantham Town: Pascal Foreman, Tim Wooding, Steve Wenlock, Paul Wilkins, Simon Dakin, Rob Gould, Stuart Wilson (Kevin Slinn, 68), Jason Minnett, Kevin Wilkins, Dale Watkins, Jamie Kearns.
Subs not used:, Adrian Speed, Dominic Hallows, Graham Bowater.
Bookings: Dakin

Referee: Peter Grenfell (St Just)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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