Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 2 Cirencester Town

   Wednesday 18/08/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Perhaps it is due to a personal lack of interest in the subject‚ or maybe it´s a comment of the post war education system‚ but I have to admit to an embarrassingly sparse knowledge of British / English history prior to 1066 AD. Indeed‚ it is highly likely that‚ thanks to the prolifically chronicled exploits of Asterix the Gaul and his cohorts‚ I possess a truer impression of what life was like under the Roman Occupation over our friends on the other side of La Manche´ than I do over the pre Christian Italians incursion into my own homeland. Other than it took place some eleven hundred years prior to Harold being smacked in the eye by a wayward arrow‚ my ignorance abounds. Yes‚ it was about 60 years BC - though I assume that conquered and conquerors alike didn´t realise it‚ Crystal Balls not yet being invented - that the Roman armies swept all before them and subdued (almost) the contemporary Britons. Though some‚ I believe‚ reached as far as the River Exe‚ it would seem they were the exception and that they generally ceased their Roman roamin´ up in Somerset and Wiltshire‚ the great historical towns of Bath‚ and to a lesser extent Cirencester‚ marking the extremes of their travels and major settlements. For modern day ignoramuses (ignoramusii?) such as myself one of the major reminders of this fact - if it is a fact and not a mere personal misconception - is the use of the nickname Romans´ for the football teams emanating from those minor metropolises (metropolii ?). Like those invaders of over two millennium ago‚ the contemporary Romans have made little impact on their visits to Devon and like their counterparts have tended to cross the border not in legions but in mere scattered handfuls. The contingent of Cirencester Town fans behind the goal on this Wednesday evening was testament to the later. The local hoards‚ minus their woad on this occasion‚ certainly hoped that the impact made by the insurgents would be similarly minimal........



Had there been a Roman road from home to Ladysmead I might have had time to gather myself before the game. As it was I entered the ground just in time to hit the button on my stopwatch as the game proceeded. Two things struck me immediately. 1) It was going to be a complete waste of time shouting at the referee unless he was looking at you. 2) Said official‚ Mr. Rhodda‚ newly promoted I assume‚ appeared to have made a gaff´ in allowing Tivvy glovesman‚ Mark Ovendale‚ to wear a sky blue jersey when the visitors shirts were of remarkably similar hue. Well. at least it gave me something to think about as the first fifteen minutes were enacted. Apart from the frantic pace of that opening quarter hour there was little of note happening. True there were half chances at both ends‚ the majority of them falling Tivvy´s way‚ which was a fair reflection of the fact that they were the more adventurous in attack. Steve Winter was pushing forward frequently on the right‚ Darren Edwards and Jamie Mudge were looking lively at the front‚ as was Kevin Wills just behind them; and through sheer hard work Iain Harvey was beginning to dominate midfield. Town were on top but were getting nowhere thanks to a well organised Cirencester back line that often boasted seven members when under attack. Then from out of the wide blue yonder came the moment where everybody involved in a Tiverton attack got everything right. A throw in level with the left hand edge of the visitors penalty area. Mudge chested the ball down and as he turned lobbed in a cross to the opposite corner of the area. Wills had his back to goal but despite the attention of a defender behind him‚ managed to bring the ball down and under control. With little or no hope of turning he chose the obvious option and laid it back to Winter‚ charging forward and in from the right. Wills went left‚ taking the Cirencester man with him and opening the path for Winter who followed the clear route for five yards before letting fly just as Kevin Halliday lunged in with a tackle. Sure‚ the ball took a deflection but it was a long hard Winter shot and Paul Thompson in the Cirencester goal couldn´t claim he was deceived by the flight of the ball - he hadn´t moved either way anyway. One - nil‚ and we were on our way‚ weren´t we?

Yes and No was the answer. Tivvy continued to have the better of things but were no way rampant. Winter touched a ball through for Mudge to pounce on but the young forward´s shot was deflected away for a corner. Cirencester´s Scott Griffin tangled with Nathan Rudge who‚ though the deed was foul and earned the Roman a yellow card‚ admirably kept his cool. Steadily Town increased their proportion of the play and the fans began to anticipate another goal as the balance moved from on top´ to dominant´. Stocco headed wide from a Winter free kick; David Steele fired in a low curling effort from the left hand side of the penalty area that checked that Thompson was still awake‚ and a slick passing move between Chris Vinnicombe‚ Wills and Mudge ten minutes before the break‚ saw the keeper again having to field an on target effort from the Tiverton striker. Then it all went quiet. The openings dried up and the game reverted to a midfield contest that was still in a state of stalemate when the half time whistle sounded.



There were no changes to the line-ups at the interval but the visitors appeared to have had the proverbial rocket fired up their posteriors. They looked 100 percent more lively and had the Tivvy defence on the brink of panic with a series of three consecutive corners in the 48th minute. Tivvy gathered themselves together‚ survived the onslaught‚ and moved forward themselves but there was a difference. No longer were The Yellows allowed to play the game at their own pace. They were being made to work to find the space they had enjoyed in the first period and as a consequence were becoming their own worse enemies as attacking moves broke down through misplaced passes or they were caught in possession. Any superiority in midfield evaporated as Steele and a noticably tiring Harvey failed to get the better of the central battle. Cirencester had upped the pace and Tiverton began to flag. Then with 56 minutes on the clock there was a rare moment of cohesion. As for the opening goal‚ Tivvy suddenly did everything right. Steele‚ just inside the Cirencester half on the left hand side flighted the ball the width of the field to Winter in acres of space on the right. In one sweeping move Winter played Mudge forward down the touchline. Mudge took the ball all the way to the by-line before floating in his cross to the back of the six yard box where Wills was unattended as he hit his opening competitive goal for Tiverton. That could have‚ and should have, been the end of the contest but it wasn´t. Cirencester were unfazed by the setback. They had done enough in the opening ten minutes of the half to prove, to themselves if not the home side, that they were quite capable of mounting a come-back. Fresh legs were introduced to their attacking spearhead and forward they went again.

For a while they made little impact. The Tiverton back line held them but the midfield was being forced to play deeper to withstand the greater urgency of the attackers. The Romans were now chasing everything that was going. Fifty-fifty balls became sixty-forty balls in their favour and though Ovendale in the Tiverton goal was put under little direct pressure the play was far closer to his territory than it had been. The inevitable happened in the 71st minute. Scott Griffin took the ball down just inside the left hand corner of the Tiverton penalty area. The danger was not immediately obvious since he appeared to be well covered. But as the ball dropped Griffin turned neatly to his left, found an extra foot of space and lobbed in a speculative shot that looped beyond Ovendale and into the far side of the net. Cirencester were back in the game. They clearly meant to chase the points. More fresh legs were introduced and they were put to good use as their hunger for the ball increased still further. Tivvy were reduced to long balls out from the back as their sole means of attack. Mudge was a willing chaser but too often was a lone ranger as Edwards became the midfielder and the midfielders became defenders. Mudge did latch onto one ball and manage to find a gap between three defenders as they closed him down but Thompson easily collected the shot above his head. The Yellows mounted one significant collective foray into the Cirencester penalty area with a dozen minutes remaining and might have felt hard done by when Wills was tumbled over in the penalty area as he rounded a defender. Had the Tivvy man not gone down he would have been in an excellent shooting position but the appeals fell on deaf ears as Mr Rhodda checked with his assistant and saw that the goal kick was being signalled. The 88th minute and Wills was once more in the action as he tried to carry the ball clear deep in his own half. One man too many and Cirencester were back in possession, forcing a corner from a tired and stretched looking defence. The kick came into the near post. Ovendale came but failed to claim the ball. It dropped and a short scramble developed, terminated by the boot of substitute Nick Stanley forcing the ball over the line for the equaliser. There was time for one further Mudge solo run. Again the defence got the better of him and a corner was all Tivvy could muster. Unlike their visitors they were unable to capitalise on the late chance and both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

It was clear from the reaction of the respective benches´ that Cirencester regarded their point as one gained, whilst the home side had to see the outcome as two points lost. And that was true. Tivvy should have won this game. Where was the adventurous attacking football any fan has a right to expect at home? Lost in a rigid adherence to a tactical system that is not working? More too the point, where was the injection of life that a tiring team was crying out for? Your guess is as good as mine. Two points from two games is not promotion form. It would if continued for the entire season bring 40 points....and that would see Western Division football at Ladysmead next season. The side has the quality, has the players, let´s hope that they are used. If not we could always try Asterix.........



Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe, Tom Stocco, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills, Iain Harvey, Darren Edwards, David Steele, James Mudge.

Subs not used (!!??!!): Matt Lock, Shaun Goff, David Hallett, Mike Booth, Jamie Densham.



Cirencester Town: Paul Thompson, Neil Arndale, Kevin Halliday, Michael Jackson, Adam Mayo (Adam Hemmings, 82), Garry Wotton, Alan Bird, Shaun Wimble, Jody Bevan (Nick Stanley, 58), Scott Griffin, Nathan Edwards (Ben Fitch, 73).

Subs not used: Michael Davis, Darren Robinson.

Referee: Andrew Rhodda (Exeter).

Att: 456

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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