Match report

Bridgwater Town 0 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Monday 19/07/2004   Friendly
John Reidy

Disappointment‚ despair‚ even perhaps‚ disillusionment tinged with despondency. Such were the emotions of Tivvy fans as they departed St James´ Park at the end of last season. It could have been worse - at least there was the prospect of a summer of sport ahead. But in reality there was little to cheer in the close season. Summer failed to materialise apart from an odd weekend in early June. England failed to hold onto a lead twice in Euro2004 as once again they under achieved. Tim Henman reacted as always to the housewifely and schoolgirly hysteria that surrounds his Wimbledon appearances by succumbing to a lower ranked player at The All England Tennis Club‚ and The British Grand Prix followed the well established pattern of boring the pants off over a hundred thousand spectators who had paid upwards of 190 a head to watch a race´ that saw not one overtaking manoeuvre from a top four placed driver in an hour and a half of circulating Silverstone. Thank goodness‚ then‚ for the return of the domestic football season. the majority of the fans that shot up the M5 to Bridgwater might have been thinking. Like the expeditions of the Starship Enterprise it was really a trip into the unknown. Names‚ it sometimes seemed like hundreds‚ had been bandied around. Some had been confirmed as having signed‚ others merely as being on trial or coming for pre-season training. Who was going to turn out in the Yellow shirt for this first game of the season?

As it turned out‚ nobody: Tivvy took the field in their change kit of white. New faces there were in abundance‚ though Club skipper Jason Smith was absent due to being on a re-hab visit to Lillishall. Just three familiar names were called over the tannoy as the line-ups were announced. Paul Edwards in goal‚ Darren Edwards leading the front line and David Hallett in the No.7 shirt vacated by Kevin Nancekivell. Little wonder that there was an energetic if not particularly flowing start to the game as so many players sought to stake a claim to a contract. That enthusiasm‚ plus the fact that there was clearly a difference in class between the players on either side‚ brought an early domination of proceedings by Tivvy - a dominance that was rewarded in the sixth minute by a goal for trialist Jamie Densham‚ a hot property´ at Exmouth Town last season. A long ball was played forward from the left flank just inside the Bridgwater half and fell perfectly for Darren Edwards on the far corner of the penalty area. Back to goal‚ Darren might well have swivelled and swept in a shot on the turn but he spotted Densham cutting in diagonally from the right and laid the ball into his path. Jamie connected perfectly and though the home keeper flung himself across the goal the ball was already nestling in the net by the time he hit the ground.

Tivvy continued to have most of the play and in patches showed some good football‚ particularly in midfield‚ but plainly lacked understanding of each other´s game; a fact that inevitably caused moves to break down when faced with a massed red and white defence. The overall effect was reminiscent of a Western League match - plenty of hard work but a dearth of finesse. The Tivvy back line was seldom threatened and Paul Edwards was largely inactive‚ having only to clear a few back passes and dash out to collect speculative forward balls. All in all it was not much of a spectacle - a typical pre-season friendly. Tiverton´s second strike came five minutes before the interval. Steve Browne burst into the penalty area from the left but had his momentum curtailed by a pair of defenders. Hitting the ground with a resounding thud that underlined a possible need to lose a pound or two Steve´s effort was none-the-less rewarded when the referee pointed the spot with little hesitation. There was equally little celebration at the penalty award‚ after all a spot kick does not automatically mean a goal as Mr Beckham and millions of television viewers will only too painfully testify. But on this occasion there was no soft spot to trip the taker or magically move the ball milli-seconds before the moment of impact. Darren Edwards hit it low and straight. The keeper threw himself to his left‚ out of the path of the ball and The Yellows took a two goal lead into half time.

Just Tom Stocco and Paul Edwards were the only two of the starting eleven to emerge from the dressing rooms for the second period. It might have been expected that the more established members of the Tiverton squad would continue and even increase their dominance. Not so. Bridgwater too had made changes and it was their turn to show that chasing a contract can result in players raising their game. The home side showed more forward momentum and made the likes of Nathan Rudge and Rob Cousins work hard. Twenty minutes into the half and even Paul Edwards found himself stretched as The Robins won a corner and Eddie had to rise high in his goalmouth to punch clear from amidst a clutch of rising attackers and defenders. It was the only time that the visitor´s goal was threatened and in truth the Bridgwater net was put under equally little pressure. Tivvy´s best chance came five minutes before the end when Jamie Mudge was through one on one with the keeper‚ sent him the wrong way but was foiled by a stray´ leg that deflected the ball away. As the evening became decidedly chilly there was almost a sense of relief when the final whistle sounded.

A 2-0 victory was a reasonable result from a makeshift and experimental side. There were a number of competent displays from some of the new faces but nothing to rave about. Time and more games will answer a few more questions as well as providing the opportunity for the side to gel. Wait and see would be a sensible verdict on this season´s opener.

Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards‚ Matthew Lock‚ Steve Browne‚ Jack Martin‚ Tom Stocco‚ Jon Haytor‚ Dave Hallett‚ Lee Collier‚ Darren Edwards‚ Mike Booth‚ Jamie Densham.

Subs: (all used from half-time) Steve Winter‚ Rob Cousins‚ Nathan Rudge‚ Paul Milsom‚ James Mudge‚ David Steele‚ Kevin Wills‚ Shaun Goff‚ Ian Patchett.

Attendance: 300 (approx.)

This report ©2004 John Reidy

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