Match report

Exmouth Town 1 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Thursday 29/07/2004   Friendly
John Reidy

From the moment that the draw for the first round of this season´s Devon Bowl paired Tivvy and Exmouth Town together‚ doubt was shed on the validity of any pre-season friendly between the two clubs. Many Yellows fans expected that‚ like the proposed warm up game with Mangotsfield which was called off because of the likelihood of the two sides meeting in the FA Cup‚ the trip to the seaside would also bite the dust. Of course the other option was to take the first encounter - or at least the result of it - a lot less seriously than might have been originally intended. As it turned out the second option seems to have been the path that was followed‚ though the effort on the field did appear to indicate that the result was not of total insignificance.

Though Town´s starting line up was patently not the one that the fans would expect to see in the first league game of the season‚ the individual performances in the previous games of the players that were included was enough to suggest that they would be too strong for their Western League opponents. There was one factor that was not in evidence‚ however - the cohesion and togetherness. In the opening exchanges Tivvy still showed the skills and effort that had been on display in earlier contests but lacked the cohesion and understanding that had been gradually developing. The result was that the opening twenty minutes proved to be scrappy and mainly contested in midfield. It was not until 20 minutes that there was a clear scoring chance for either side and when one did come and the ball dropped for Jamie Densham in the Exmouth penalty area he was unable to control it. Both sides were working hard but cancelling each other out. The second chance for Tiverton to take the lead fell to Darren Edwards after he and Densham had prised their way through with a tidy diagonal move across the penalty area but Edwards final touch was hacked off the goal-line by an Exmouth boot. The home side broke upfield‚ pushed the ball out to the right and had the Tiverton defence on the back foot retreating for their life after pushing forward in attack. The cross was forced into the middle‚ low across the Tiverton penalty area. The first forward missed it. The second was Paul Pocock who steadied himself and hammered the ball home. The celebrations would not have been out of place had the former Wellington player just scored the winning goal in the last minute if extra time in the World Cup Final. Blue shirt off‚ windmilling it at the crowd‚ the full works. Had it been a higher profile‚ televised and video recorded game‚ the scorer would have been less happy later as he faced charges of bringing the game into disrepute for his torrent of foul language abusively aimed at the visiting supporters‚ woman and children included. Disgusting.

With ten minutes to retrieve something before the break there was an increased urgency to The Yellows game as they restarted but it was matched by an equal or greater determination by the home players to defend what they had gained. They did it admirably. Firm but clean tackles‚ thoughtful marking and a willingness to muck in´ and support their colleagues. They comfortably held their lead to the half time whistle.

There was just one change at the break as Jamie Mudge replaced Edwards. It made little difference to the overall shape of the visitors team though the half time pep talk´ did result in renewed efforts to play football on a surface that was not really amiable to such endeavours. As the initial momentum began to falter so the standard of play began to sink. For the first time this season we witnessed Tivvy hoofing the ball forward in the hope that one of the front men might be able to get on the end of it and create something. Midfield play became almost non existent as the men we would have expected to see in the central areas were either back with the defenders or charging forward in pursuit of the long balls. Midfield was as effectively by-passed as any rural town by a motorway. And just as those rural towns become quiet shadows of their former selves‚ so did Tivvy. Mudge could have raised the spirits of The Yellows had he converted either of two excellent chances that came his way. A David Steele free kick was curled into the penalty area from the left‚ and created chaos in the Exmouth box. The ball fell to Mudge eight yards out but he poked his final touch wide of the upright. Then he was given the chance of a virtually free header as Matthew Locke swung in a cross from the opposite flank but despite rising well‚ timing the flexing of his neck muscles to perfection to add even more power‚ Jamie´s header powered wide of goal.

Midway through the second half Martyn Rogers played his last four cards in an attempt to win the trick. Chris Vinnicombe‚ Mike Booth‚ Kevin Wills and young Jack Martin were brought on. But despite the experience of the first three and enthusiasm to do well by the last‚ it was too late. Town did look far more likely to make a break through but the Exmouth defence - and that included every man who was needed to help out - was by now well established and organised. Vinnicombe caused them some problems on the left but his crosses were well covered by the blue shirted defence or thumped away by the fists of Simon Harris in goal. Tivvy found more width on both flanks but Exmouth found more determination‚ resolution and confidence to carry themselves through to the final whistle.

Both Exmouth and Tiverton deserved what they got. Yes‚ the result might mean very little...and I don´t believe in things like jinxes. What I do believe is that Tivvy have got to find a way of getting results against teams like Exmouth and on pitches like theirs. They could find themselves in the same position in an FA Cup or FA trophy game‚ even - heaven forbid - a League match. One thing is sure‚ they´ll have to face the same task in the Devon Bowl. Fourth time lucky?

Tiverton Town: Danny Brimble‚ Matthew Locke‚ Shaun Goff (Chris Vinnicombe‚ 68)‚ Paul Milsom‚ Steve Winter (Jack Martin‚ 68)‚ Rob Cousins‚ Jamie Densham‚ Iain Harvey‚ Darren Edwards (James Mudge‚ 48)‚ David Steele (Kevin Wills‚ 68)‚ Dave Hallett (Mike Booth‚ 68).

Subs (not used): Ian Patchett.

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