Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 3 Torquay United

   Thursday 11/05/2000   Devon St Luke's Cup
Nigel Davis

A wonderful end to another wonderful season and what a match! Torquay‚ who so narrowly missed out on a place in the play-offs when they lost at home to our old friends Northampton Town on Saturday‚ paid Tivvy the respect they deserved by naming no fewer than eight from Saturday´s squad. Ostensibly they played their reserve defence‚ with the exception of the towering first teamer Jimmy Aggrey‚ along with the majority of their first choice midfield and forward line. They lined up with Ryan Northmore in goal‚ Steve Tully‚ James Jones‚ Matt Hockley‚ Jimmy Aggrey‚ Brian Healy‚ Jimmy Bienfield‚ Chris Brandon‚ Mick O´Brien‚ Tom Stocco and Eifion Williams with Simon Lyons‚ Tom Barwell and Tony Bedeau on the bench. Of that side‚ Aggrey‚ Healy‚ Brandon‚ Bedeau and Williams all started against Northampton whilst Stocco came off the bench which also included Northmore and O´Brien. Tivvy were at full strength apart from the usual walking wounded plus Pete Varley who teaches in London during the week. Luke Vinnicombe was preferred to Dominic Richardson and Steve Ovens started up front.
Prior to the game‚ midfielder Kevin Nancekivell was announced as the Supporters´ Player of the Year - a popular choice for this season´s top scorer.
The game got off to a ferocious start with plenty of neat football from both sides. Considering that this was a cup final‚ neither side showed any signs of nerves in a pacy encounter full of fabulous flowing football bordering‚ at times‚ on exhibition fayre. With the pitch looking better than ever - you wouldn´t have thought it was the end of a taxing season - the 780 spectators (with a disappointing 50 to 100 from Torquay) were in for a real treat. It was tailor made for the silky skills of the likes of Steve Daly - and he used it to great effect.
Eifion Williams came closest to breaking the deadlock for Torquay in the 11th minute. His hard low angled drive looked a goal until Paul Edwards dived to take the sting out of the ball and Stuart Smith was on hand inside the six yard box to clear at the expense of a corner. Up the other end‚ Steve Ovens was tormenting the visiting defence but came a cropper in one challenge with Aggrey‚ needing attention to his shoulder. The next time he competed for the ball‚ he again went down clutching his shoulder. This was after 17 minutes and he had to leave the field of play in order to receive further treatment. It was eventually decided to give him one more chance but the talented wiry forward found it a struggle.
Just after he returned to the fray‚ Torquay won a corner and‚ having scrambled the ball off the line‚ Tivvy were relieved to see Matt Hockley´s shot go wide with Paul Edwards still scurrying back into position. A minute later‚ an opportunistic shot from Williams on the turn saw the ball flash just wide of the target. Torquay were certainly testing the Tivvy defence.
But Tivvy were by no means under the cosh and‚ in their next attack‚ some neat interplay between Scott Rogers and Kevin Nancekivell ended with a raking cross from the right wing that eluded Ryan Northmore in the Gulls´ goal. Phil Everett arrived at the far post but‚ at full stretch‚ could only toe-poke the ball wide. But it showed that Tivvy could get behind the Nationwide side´s defence.
After 34 minutes‚ Steve Ovens had to concede defeat and he was replaced by Richard Pears. To some‚ it felt as if this would be the last chance we would have of scoring as Ovens´ pace was one of the telling factors in keeping Torquay on their toes. However‚ Pears came on and caused no end of problems with his skills. On this performance‚ he may well feature next season‚ although it is doubtful that Tivvy would want to keep him on contract‚ having played so few games this campaign.
A few seconds after Pears arrived on the scene‚ Scott Rogers was upended on the half-way line by a crunching tackle from visiting skipper Steve Tully which earned him a booking. Scott was not amused. Indeed he was most upset at the ferocity of the challenge. From the free-kick‚ Nancekivell managed to squeeze in a shot that looped goalwards but Northmore was in fine form to tip the ball over the bar for a corner.
A few seconds later‚ the young Rogers was again in the wars, this time from a cynical clattering from Brian Healy who made no attempt to play the ball. He was very fortunate to be only cautioned - many have been dismissed for less. Maybe it looked worse than it was, for at least Rogers was able to continue. And he had the last laugh.
By now Torquay were on the rack. Two minutes later, in the 39th to be precise, the ball fell to Scott Rogers a good 30 yards out from goal. He pulled back the trigger and fired the ball home sweetly with the outside of his right boot. 1-0 to Tivvy.
In their next attack, Phil Everett slipped the ball through the Gulls´ defence to Kevin Nancekivell and he was but a whisker away from doubling Tivvy´s lead. We didn´t have to wait too long.
Just four minutes after Rogers´ goal, Phil Everett was able to control the ball on the edge of the six-yard box before firing it left-footed past Northmore. This was certainly not in the script - and certainly beyond our wildest dreams.
Torquay supremo Wes Saunders looked in pensive move as he drifted towards the dressing room a good two minutes before the half-time whistle. He certainly had plenty to think about. The Gulls set their stall at the start of the second half and played some glorious one-touch football. But Tivvy were never bamboozled. One lapse of concentration, though, and they were made to pay dearly. Having introduced Tony Bedeau for Mick O´Brien in the 55th minute, Torquay upped the tempo and, four minutes later, Eifion Williams was there to nod the ball home to make it 2-1. Game on.
Tivvy´s only booking of the night came after a collision in midfield between Nicky Marker and Tom Stocco, Marker catching Stocco as he got up. This was midway between Williams´ opener and Torquay´s equaliser which came on 66 minutes. And what a goal it was. Brian Healy dribbled through the Tivvy midfield and defence as if they weren´t there to place an unstoppable shot past Edwards. A really classy goal. Now, would Tivvy crumble? Bedeau prevented Stuart Smith from taking a throw-in by the Tivvy bench and ructions ensued with both parties told to calm it by Mr Greenwood before Tivvy were on the attack again. This time Northmore thwarted Everett. By now, Tivvy were getting adventurous. Even Paul Tatterton joined the attack and got into the visitors´ box before crossing - but Tully slid in to intercept and boot the ball away for a corner. Over it came and Nancekivell was just a fraction of a second away from restoring Tivvy´s lead but Northmore scooped the ball off his head to safety.
Some of the attacking play from Tivvy was a joy to behold. Richard Pears turned on the style with the odd cheeky back-heel and defence splitting pass. This was form unseen from him for too long - but worth the wait.
With ten minutes of normal time remaining, Nancekivell was penalised about 40 yards out in front of goal. Up stepped Healy and his free kick was perfectly flighted, aiming for the top right hand corner. It looked a goal all the way but Edwards judged the flight of the ball to perfection and saved with apparent ease. So, to extra time.
Barely 90 seconds were on the watch before Tivvy regained the lead. Again it was that predator Phil Everett and he smacked the ball past Northmore much to the chagrin of the handful of Torquay fans who had elected not to swap ends.
In the 99th minute, Bedeau finally tested the referee´s patience once too often as he nibbled at Stuart Smith who was flying down the left touchline, so becoming the third Gull to have his wings clipped. We then saw the introduction of Pete Conning for Scott Rogers who had been dumped a couple of minutes earlier and who needed Dai´s magic sponge once more.
With five minutes of the game remaining, Dominic Richardson replaced Phil Everett. Rather than slotting into his more recent role of defender, he was pushed up front as Tivvy gave no signs of trying to shore up the defence. It has always been their policy that the best form of defence is attack but within seconds of his arrival, Torquay had levelled again. Sometime during extra time, Torquay had brought on Tom Barwell and the new boy made a quick impact, turning the ball home with four minutes remaining after Edwards had been drawn out of his goal. But he redeemed himself with a super stop to deny Bedeau in the final minute.
So, it was all down to penalties.
Torquay were the first to go and Brian Healy duly put them ahead. This was quickly cancelled by Luke Vinnicombe. Up stepped Chris Brandon but he met his match as Paul Edwards dived to save. It was then Steve Daly´s chance to put Tivvy ahead but Ryan Northmore had other ideas, blocking his spot kick. So, two down and one apiece. Torquay´s skipper, Steve Tully, cracked the ball goalwards but Paul Edwards somehow got his left hand to the ball and it went wide. Nicky Marker then strode forward and despatched his penalty with aplomb. Tivvy were 2-1 up. Jimmy Aggrey kept his cool under much barracking to make it 2-2 when a miss would have virtually given Tivvy the tie. It was then down to Richard Pears who, in his last penalty, had blasted the ball wide. This time he made no mistake and Tivvy were 3-2 up.
It was Tony Bedeau v Paul Edwards and Bedeau hit his shot hard and low to Edwards´ left but, again, Tivvy´s number one was there to tip the ball away and Tivvy had done it! The first side outside of the Football League to have lifted the Devon St Lukes Bowl since the introduction of the non-league sides to the competition in 1997, it having been previously contested by Exeter, Plymouth and Torquay. It also continued Martyn Rogers´ illustrious career of winning at least one trophy per season since he took over the helm in 1992 - extending this sequence, started by John Owen, to ten years. It also completed a remarkable treble over the three professional sides this
season with Argyle losing in pre-season and Exeter City in a friendly in February.
What a wonderful end to another wonderful season.
Line up: Edwards, Vinnicombe, Saunders, Tatterton, Marker, Rogers, Nancekivell, Ovens, Everett, Daly, Smith.
Subs: Pears (Ovens 34), Conning (Rogers 103), Richardson (Everett 115).

This report ©2000 Nigel Davis

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