Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 0 Stamford

   Saturday 21/08/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

As soon as I´d got the Cirencester game off my chest and my words were committed to hard drive‚ the evening in question was as near as possible wiped from my mind - as it deserved to be - and I began looking forward to the next encounter at Ladysmead. Stamford‚ a new name to visit Tivvy; the first of many that will be headed this way through the coming season. As always on such occasions I trawled my memory for connections. I couldn´t find any significant ones. Dredging deep for links (fore‚ links - Golf ?) the nearest I could come up with was a vague memory that The Yellows travelling supporters passed through the Lincolnshire (ahh! Lincs!) Town on the way to an unsavoury FA Vase tie with Spalding a few years back. Not wanting to either revive memories of that chapter in Tivvy´s‚ history despite the winning result‚ or to tar our visitors with the same brush as the non-hospitable Tulips´‚ I gave up; deciding that under the circumstances it would be better to approach the game with a completely open mind and settle for the fact that the nearest I could come to a footballing association with Stamford was that there was a Bridge of the same name in Fulham‚ London; and that was miles away and not really relevant. So‚ open mind; blank notepad - or should that be the other way round?



The Yellows kicked off and moved forward as you´d expect any team having the first touch to do‚ even the local pub team playing against a Premiership side. Stamford held them off thanks to Steve Winter donating a gratis first touch to the visiting keeper by lobbing a free kick harmlessly into his hands‚ and did their own little bit of feeling their way forward. The Lincolnshire side were not as generous in giving the ball away and for the opening five minutes looked the livelier and more attacking side. Town´s defence were under a little pressure and were forced to use block and hoof tactics to clear their lines‚ a ploy that failed as‚ inevitably‚ the ball came straight back at them. But eventually the involvement of the midfield in defensive duties paid off as Kevin Wills did his bit and carried the ball out from the danger area to proceed on an attacking run which saw him ride a tackle of dubious timing‚ and therefore legality‚ before forcing in a cross from the right. It was a weak ball but served to indicate that the visitors were vulnerable if they were run at which was clearly going to be good news for the Tivvy wingback pairing of Winter and Vinnicombe. It was the former who was to make the early impression as he combined with Wills in the 11th minute. His low free kick into the edge of the Stamford penalty area was touched wide by Wills for Wints to collect the return as he sprinted round the back of a defender and sent in a telling cross to the far post. Or it would have been telling´ had there been a yellow shirted player in the vicinity. Tivvy´s run at em´ tactics were complimented by some accurate passes on the smooth green Ladysmead pitch and under the strain of the yellow tide Stamford were struggling‚ a fact illustrated by the increasing number of ticks in the fouls committed column. Two minutes after his goalmouth centre had sailed harmlessly across the six yard box‚ Winter repeated the back post cross and saw a better outcome. David Steele had started the move on the left that had been halted by the latest addition to the foul tally. Winter took the kick and Steele‚ adding height in the area‚ connected cleanly with a header that Stamford keeper Darren Watts had only the minimal chance of stopping as it flew into the net. The Yellows were now in full flow‚ showing the type of play that had caused so much pre-season optimism. James Mudge was creating havoc with his enthusiastic efforts‚ particularly when drifting out to the left hand side‚ and it seemed the only way the visitors could contain him was with fouls. When Nick Ashby upended him down in the corner‚ Tivvy might well have increased their lead had Nathan Rudge´s header from the back of the penalty area when the free kick was taken been a little lower and a little straighter. In what had become a rare Stamford forward move Mark Ovendale was put under pressure as he was forced to head clear a back pass. It was a reasonable header but fell to Gareth Pritchard who thundered a shot wide from 25 yards.

That was about the total sum of the threat from the visitors. There were ample opportunities‚ though‚ at the other end as Tivvy ran the game. The reasons that they were held to a single goal lead were twofold; a lack of the killer touch and some desperate defending. Wills turned round a defender and tumbled to the green as he was tackled: his shot being deflected for a corner. Winter‚ Mudge and Steele combined in a swift passing attack that came to an end when Mudge was upended five yards outside the area. Clearly the visitors were taking no risks of conceding a penalty but the fans were treated to this season´s variation on the 2003/2004 party piece free kick; though Mudge´s shot was well over the top. Darren Edwards got in on the act as the ball was hoofed off his toe after he´d done the hard part in controlling Mudge´s cross as he turned towards goal‚ and another slick passing sequence gave Wills a further sight of the target but his effort was also way above the target. Rudge again made a run from deep for a corner but in the ensuing chaos in the Stamford penalty area Edwards was deemed to have been too enthusiastic in his attempt to get a foot to the ball and a free kick was conceded. In time added on at the end of the half Edwards again had the ball poked away from his shooting foot at the last second after Mudge had bundled his way past another doubtful tackle to force in a cross. Just a single goal was scant reward for a dominant first half display by The Yellows.

The opening minutes of the second period were very similar to those of the first - with the exception that The red shirted side had first touch so didn´t have to win the ball before exerting their few minutes of pressure. The margin in the free kick´s column narrowed as the Tiverton defence was momentarily stretched but the test was short lived and Town were soon back in the ascendancy. The 48th minute saw them win a series of three throw ins that saw them progress steadily along two thirds of their right hand touchline in the best tactical tradition of the egg shaped ball code of the game. The third throw found Mudge and his cross gave Steele a chance to repeat his first half feat. This time though the lanky midfielder had to stretch forward to meet the ball and his header was only a glancing contact that sent the ball well wide. The pattern of the first half was well re-established. Chris Vinnicombe began to push forward more as the focus of the Tiverton forward play moved from right to left. He combined in an interchange with Wills and Edwards that saw the latter manage to get a shot in at last - typically for the game - it was inches past the angle of crossbar and upright. Just past the hour mark Stamford decided to freshen things up. Two substitutions by the visitors brought almost instant results in the 65th minute - for Tivvy. A long clearance from Ovendale was chested down just inside his opponents half by Vinnicombe. With negligible hesitation he swept the ball the width of the field to the right hand corner of the penalty area where Mudge nipped in behind his (not very effective) marker to collect the ball in space‚ controlling it and cutting in towards goal for a few yards before hammering it past the isolated Watts.

The Lincs lot had no option but to throw everything forward‚ including their last substitute. They initially made little impact apart from giving the Tiverton defence slightly more exercise. The fresh legs did mean that the Tiverton midfield spent more time linking up with their defensive colleagues than the forwards but it was still Tivvy in the driving seat. Iain Harvey‚ as he had been all afternoon‚ seemed to be everywhere there was any action. If he wasn´t directly involved he was lurking ready to take a hand if needed. Steele was now playing right among the back line and Wills was lying much deeper. Sitting back or being forced back? Either way it was still Tivvy who had the scoring chances on the break. Mudge running on the right. A cross into Edwards. Not quite to toe and Edwards losing the battle with the last defender. It was Edwards´ final contribution. Dave Hallet replaced him. Wills moved forward to partner Mudge and Hallett dropped into midfield. Tactically a strengthening of the defensive capabilities. Mudge on the run on the left. Hacked to the turf. Play waved on as the ball ran for Wills‚ tackled and tumbled as he entered the penalty area. The whistle. Wills involved in a bit of handbaging saw yellow for his trouble but it was Tiverton´s free kick for the tackle´ on Mudge. Suddenly the referee had decided to stop blowing his whistle! Rudge was next to hit the deck under a foul by Danny Steadman. Again Tivvy had the ball and only when they lost it and play came to a natural break did the official backtrack to wave yellow at the culprit. With three minutes of normal time remaining it was time to shut up shop and Matt Lock and Shaun Goff replaced Winter and Vinnicombe. Lucky lads‚ they played a full ten minutes thanks to the extended added time that Mr Newell managed to find.

Just reading through what has gone before‚ I realise that there are two Tiverton players that haven´t had a mention. Both Tom Stocco and skipper Rob Cousins quietly and efficiently did their job. No heroics‚ nothing spectacular‚ just plain solid work. Stocco is turning out to be one of the soundest‚ most consistent and reliable members of the team. Cousins has been for the last couple of seasons. Rob must have had a poor game.....he failed to make a goal-line clearance all afternoon! Maybe that says something about the striking capabilities of Stamford´s forwards.


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale‚ Steve Winter (Matt Locke‚ 87)‚ Chris Vinnicombe (Shaun Goff‚ 87)‚ Tom Stocco, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills, Iain Harvey, Darren Edwards (David Hallett, 74), David Steele, James Mudge.

Subs not used: Mike Booth, Jamie Densham.

Yellow card: Wills.

Stamford: Darren Watts, Danny Steadman, Andy Peaks, Nick Ashby, Delroy Gordon, Robbie Maddox, Ryan Nash (Kevin Ainslie, 64), Gary Butterworth, Matt Green (James Fox, 62), Gareth Pritchard, Ian Edge (Glen Thompson, 69).

Subs not used: Mike Boyle-Chong.

Yellow Cards: Ashby, Steadman.

Referee: A Newell (Bristol)

Att: 461

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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