Match report

Tiverton Town 8 - 1 St Blazey

   Tuesday 27/07/2004   Friendly
John Reidy

Despite having a religious‚ or at least semi-religious‚ upbringing (anyway‚ enough to enable me to distinguish the difference between nuns and penguins)‚ I have never really got to grips with the concept of sainthood. Reflecting on it now after decades of enthusiastic personal unconcern about the subject‚ I seem to recall having early doubts about the whole matter. Vague recollections of a saint´ being defined as someone who had entered heaven‚ conflict with memories of other opinions - that saints were those that had lead such exemplary lives that The Church could be certain that they were on the right side of purgatory. And amongst all my mental confusion was an inkling that there had to be some kind of heavenly sign to justify canonisation‚ as in the case of the apparition (alleged) to St Teresa at Lourdes. Whatever the criteria it would seem that the County of Cornwall must have had more than it´s fair share of outstandingly pious men and women. No doubt if I had the time and inclination to do the research I would find that all the place names in the Duchey that include the prefix St.´ are used in honour of some genuine occupier of a place in The Kingdom of God and not just added for effect (maybe they should try that in Gloucestershire - St. Chipping Sodbury does have a certain ring´ to it). But there are just so many Cornish saints that doubt has to be thrown on their authenticity‚ just as St George and his legend are patently false. Or perhaps it was some long departed Pope padding out the ecclesiastical equivalent of a New Year´s honours list by including a few of his old - and one assumes‚ departed - mates and thus preceding the (alleged) cronyism of Tony Blair by a good few centuries. Undecided‚ but continuing to passively ponder these imponderables‚ I thought it best that I resolved to keep my lips buttoned on the issue as Tivvy faced a side from further South West than Plymouth in their fourth pre season encounter of the new football season. It would not be polite to cast such aspersions on the integrity of one´s guests‚ so...... welcome to the real world St Blazey!

It was a warm welcome too. With a good number of fans still draining their pre match beverages or attending to other matters in the clubhouse‚ Tivvy took less than a couple of minutes to make certain that St Blazey´s stairway to heaven was going to be a steep climb. Kevin Wills was the man‚ leaning first right‚ then left to evade half hearted challenges before firmly placing the ball under the advancing goalkeeper from just inside the penalty area. Not as swift as Darren Edwards opener in the last match against Willand Rovers but recent FA Vase/Cup results between the two clubs would suggest that the Cornish outfit had the edge over the Silver Street gang. Indeed St Blazey came to Ladysmead with something of a reputation of being Cornwall´s best‚ likely to provide stiff opposition for Town. Whether it was them having an off day or Tivvy hitting a fine vein of form‚ or a combination of both‚ it was a reputation that was to be well and truly tarnished throughout the following 88 minutes of action. The Yellows kept their foot on the pedal and continued to press forward. Six minutes in and Steve Winter came close to adding the second as his long curling effort from way out on the right flank cannoned off the joint of the far upright and crossbar with the Saints keeper casually but erroneously watching it go safely clear. As if to prove that they could get forward if given the opportunity‚ St Blazey did come close to levelling with ten minutes gone when Steve Daly headed past the post from what was to be a rare corner for the visitors. It was a clear cut chance but the execution was faulty by the former Tiverton midfielder‚ now employed in a sweeper role by his new bosses. Two minutes further on and he was shown how it should be done by Nathan Rudge of all people. Chris Vinnicombe curled in a free kick from wide on the left. It was one of a plethora of pinpoint crosses that were to pepper the St Blazey penalty area throughout the contest. Rudge timed his run into the six yard box to perfection and altered the path of the ball to the perfect minute degree with a glancing header to double the lead.

Tivvy were rampant and it took another Town former regular to save their blushes in the 16th minute - Graham Waters hacking the ball off the goal-line in a scramble following a Tivvy corner. But with Carl Cliff-Brown and Darren Edwards hustling and bustling at the front and a host of yellow shirts always pushing forward in support‚ there was to be no respite for their guests. Vinnicombe again supplied the cross that saw Edwards head home solidly at the near post for the third goal on 18 minutes and apart from one shot on target which he dealt with comfortably Danny Brimble was little more than a spectator as the home side played the ball around - and mostly on the superb green carpet - two score yards or more in front of him. With the half hour mark still two minutes away Wills cut across the face of the penalty area about 25 yards out to smash in a curving ground level shot that was only stopped by the keeper´s feet - upending him in the process - but three minutes later the virtual barrage of the St Blazey goal proved successful again as Cliff-Brown thundered in a drive that the hapless keeper could only parry across his goalmouth to where Edwards delightedly rolled it into the gaping net. Midway through the remaining quarter of an hour it was Vinnicombe´s turn to be thwarted by the woodwork as his rising shot crashed off the crossbar after he worked a sweet and penetrative 1-2 with debutant Iain Harvey. With the referee checking his watch the action seemed to be over for the first half when suddenly the visitors pulled the proverbial rabbit from the hat and came up with a goal as their No.9 (appologies to anx Cornish pixies reading this but I arrived too close to kick off to get a team sheet) escaped the attention of the Tivvy defence and used the space well to pounce on a long through header from Waters and crash the ball past the underworked Brimble. Tiverton‚ though‚ were not having their lead cut like that - just as they were expecting to take a four goal margin into the break. Forward they poured from the restart and Wills crossed in for Cliff-Brown to head the fifth goal - a just reward for an industrious 45 minutes.

The half time changes made by Martyn Rogers had little or no effect on the shape and dominance of the host team. Jamie Densham in the front line in place of Cliff-Brown responded to the managers challenge to earn himself a contract by putting himself around as much as CC-B had. Matthew Locke gave skipper Rob Cousins a break from the (lack of) action at the back and on current form there seems little to choose between David Hallett and his replacement at the break‚ David Steele; though four minutes after the re-start Steele brought the save of the game from the visitors keeper when a first fine save from Edwards had only been partially cleared as far as the Tivvy midfielder who hit an exorcet of a shot from 35 yards. A couple of minutes later and Wills fired inches wide as the blitz of the St Blazey net persisted but the visitors fortunes changed a degree as blocks and outstretched limbs managed to divert the ball from the target. Wills‚ Densham‚ Edwards: all saw goal bound efforts turned away. Mike Booth and Shaun Goff were brought on for Wills and Winter but still there was no noticeable change in the incessant flow of the game towards the St Blazey goal. The build up was accurate. Foot to foot passing‚ the angle of attack regularly varied and best of all‚ most of it below knee level. Still‚ however‚ the Cornishmen held the deficit to four. Until the floodgates were re-opened midway through the second half. Densham it was that broke the embargo on goals in the 72nd minute to start a sequence that saw all three half time substitutes finding the net. Six minutes later it was the turn of Locke to score his first goal for Town. Densham chased a ball that looked as if were destined to beat him to the touchline by a clear 5 yards. It might have seemed a futile exercise but Jamie won the race and managed to turn the ball back along the left touch line to Vinnicombe who .......guess what? Yes‚ just as he had all evening‚ swung in a curling cross that diminutive Locke rose to head home. The triumvirate of strikes was rounded of by Steele taking on the St Blazey defence with a solo run to complete the scoring via a firmly hit shot with seven minutes to go.

It was a resounding victory for The Yellows against a side that completely failed to either live up to their reputation or rise to the occasion. I recall my parents and teachers in infant school telling me that if I wanted to get to heaven I had to be good. If that is correct and being good is the criteria for sainthood then on this showing St Blazey did not justify their title. Or maybe it was just that Tivvy were even better.....angels‚ perhaps?

Tiverton Town: Danny Brimble‚ Steve Winter (Shaun Goff‚ 62)‚ Chris Vinnicombe‚ Paul Milsom (Hallett‚ 87)‚ Nathan Rudge (Cousins‚ 72)‚ Rob Cousins (Matthew Locke‚ 46), Kevin Wills (Mike Booth, 62), Dave Hallett (David Steele, 46), Darren Edwards (Ian Patchett, 62), Carl Cliff-Brown (Jamie Densham, 46), Iain Harvey.

This report ©2004 John Reidy

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