Match report

Tiverton Town 5 - 0 Willand Rovers

   Friday 23/07/2004   Friendly
John Reidy

Sometimes it is difficult to raise any enthusiasm for pre-season games. Against higher rated teams they frequently turn out to be anti-climaxes as the opposition field mix and match line-ups‚ or as too often is the case use the games to view trialists and fringe players. Against lower´ opposition‚ then‚ there is an obvious tendency for the boot to be on the other foot. The end product is quite often a contest‚ and the word is used in it´s vaguest context‚ of little entertainment value. That was my frame of mind as I made my way through town for this Friday evening visit of Willand Rovers to Ladysmead. The trend‚ however‚ was bucked to a great extent - certainly in the entertainment stakes.

Once again Martyn Rogers sent out a starting squad that must resemble closely what he has in mind as his preferred line up for the beginning of competitive games in three weeks time. For those in the comparatively sparse crowd that had seen the opening two encounters in Tivvy´s preparations for the coming season there were few doubts about the majority of places‚ the most up for grabs´ positions being the front men. On this occasion it was Jamie Mudge and Darren Edwards that were given the first opportunity to stake their claim. They wasted little time in doing just that‚ combining within just 41 seconds to give the Yellows the lead. From the kick off the visitors made a little forward but unthreatening progress. The Town defence broke up the move and the ball was cleared upfield. Edwards rose to head it on 10 yards inside the Willand half and Mudge pounced on the loose ball poking it beyond Rovers Steve Shore. The two of them chased with Shore having the slight advantage. Keeper Justin Paramore came forward off his line‚ failed to communicate with his team-mate and as the two met Jamie was able to touch the ball past the keeper‚ avoid the potential collision with the two confused visitors and touch the ball over the line‚ where it was heading anyway. Such an early goal might have been expected to be the harbinger of a landslide but the visitors were not going to capitulate. They worked hard to keep Tivvy at bay and gave the home side´s midfield a good test. It was a test that the revamped part of the side came through with flying colours. Kevin Wills‚ Matthew Locke and Mike Booth all looked supremely adept. Behind them Tom Stocco and Chris Vinnicombe appeared - as they had against Exeter City 48 hours earlier‚ comfortable and efficient alongside skipper Rob Cousins and Nathan Rudge. Edwards and Mudge were both lively‚ and with Steve Winter adding attacking options on the right it was Tivvy that were the side that looked most likely to find the net.

To their credit Rovers´ defence held them for 25 minutes. Chances fell to Winter who had a cheeky attempt at chipping Paramore grabbed by the keeper‚ Edwards who´s header from a Wills stabbed cross after a short corner was inches wide of the upright and Winter again with a long range shot that Paramore held well. But the pressure told in the 26th minute. Mudge was again involved as he snapped in a strong shot that the keeper‚ diving forward to attempt to beat the bounce as the ball dropped‚ failed to hold. Stocco showed that his reputation as a predatory striker‚ as well as a more than capable central defender‚ was justified as he followed up to slot the ball home to double the lead. As the half progressed so the visitors began to wilt. More chances came. Paramore held another well hit Mudge shot after Edwards had again shown his skill in the air to nod the ball down‚ Wills hit a shot wide. The third goal came in the 36th minute. Mudge chased a ball down into the right hand corner‚ the first time he had noticeably ventured to that side of the field. He whipped in a cross and Edwards was up at the far post to head the ball home. Winter had another effort fly wide before Rovers at last had their first chance to test Danny Brimble between the Tivvy posts in the 41st minute. Test him they did as Dan Green found a gap in the defensive wall from a free kick just outside the penalty area and central. Brimble saved well with his feet and on the stroke of half time might have had to perform the same feet feat again from an almost identical position were it not for the fact that on the second occasion the wall did it´s job and deflected the ball away to the sound of the half time whistle.

Five second half changes for The Yellows did not seriously dent their superiority‚ but then with the experience and quality of the players coming they on should not have done so. David Hallett‚ Paul Milsom‚ Shaun Goff‚ Steve Brown‚ Jamie Densham: hardly players that were not up to scratch. Still the defence and midfield looked solid‚ Hallett in particular looking as though - on his current form - he must be in contention for a place in the starting line up. The question marks remained in the same place and although Tivvy continued to have the greater possession and territorial advantage the attempts on goal were fewer. The dominance in midfield was also reduced as Wills and Locke were replaced just after the hour mark. Stocco came close to adding to the scoresheet when he headed over the top from a typical curling Goff corner from the right and Steve Brown was denied when his rocket of a shot from fully 30 yards crashed down off the underside of the crossbar on the wrong side of the line and was scrambled away. 73 minutes and the last man on the bench - apart from Ian Nott - was given the nod‚ Jack Martin replacing Rudge. But it wasn´t to be the final substitution as Jamie Mudge was reintroduced to the fray two minutes later.

By now there were signs that the balance of the side had been disturbed. The game needed another goal to brighten it up. Hallett tried to provide the required tonic by working a perfect 1-2 with Goff and firing in a solid drive from the edge of the area but Paramore brought off his best save of the evening to get down low and turn the ball round the foot his left hand upright. Again Willand began to tire as the game approached the final minutes. With 5 to go Jamie Densham dropped off his marker and was in acres of space to take a diagonal ball from the left at the back of the penalty area. 15 yards from goal‚ he took one touch to bring the ball down and one touch to hit the back of the net‚ with Paramore still thinking about moving. The icing on the cake came with what was the last serious touch of the game. Mudge cut in from the left‚ across the face of the penalty area‚ found the gap and drove in a shot that barely left the ground to bring The Yellow´s tally to five.

Two factors stood out. The cohesion in the team‚ even when the first changes were made. Ignore the fact that Rovers play three levels below Town. If players lack that togetherness then they will not look good even against the blind school. Secondly when things didn´t quite work out between players there was an acknowledgement of the good play and an apology for the error that caused the failure. No ranting‚ just get on with the next phase of the game and work to make it successful next time.

Most refreshing!

Tiverton Town: Danny Brimble‚ Steve Winter (Dave Hallett‚ 46)‚ Chris Vinnicombe (Shaun Goff‚ 65)‚ Tom Stocco (James Mudge‚ 75)‚ Nathan Rudge (Jack Martin, 73), Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills (David Steele, 62), Matthew Locke (Ian Patchett, 62), Darren Edwards (Jamie Densham, 46), James Mudge (Paul Milsom, 46), Mike Booth (Steve Brown, 46).

Sub (not used ): Ian Nott.

This report ©2004 John Reidy

Please note: The � or ? character in some older reports denotes where an error has occured in translation when the reports were transfered between databases