Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 0 Newport County

   Saturday 13/12/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Perhaps it was the point at which the seeds of my tendency to be pedantic were sown‚ but I can remember in my childhood being baffled upon hearing the phrase There´s no such thing as a free lunch´. My young mind could not see beyond my immediate environs where lunch appeared free´ every day at about the same noon hour. Certainly it cost me nothing and with the selfishness of youth I was not likely to consider the blood‚ sweat and tears that might have been spilt by my father in earning the wherewithal to purchase the ingredients or the slaving over a hot stove by my mother in order to put the repast before me at the appointed hour. I have continued to question the authenticity of that old adage throughout my life‚ though as the years have rolled on I have learned from experience that the general principle that it was intended to convey was quite accurate. More appropriate sayings of similar ilk might be‚ No pain‚ no gain´ or You only reap what you sow´ - it is a universally accepted fact that effort should re rewarded with achievement. With that kind of thought in mind‚ and a socialist (in the broadest sense) outlook‚ I can´t help but feel at least slightly aggrieved when I see or hear about endeavours that fail to reap their due - or what I would consider fair - rewards. Hence‚ as the last few minutes of this contest with our Celtic visitors ticked by‚ and it became obvious that the spoils were going to be shared‚ I was left feeling a little deflated that The Yellows were not going to be enjoying the three point lunch´ that I felt their exertions warranted.

Even before Jamie Mudge rolled the ball sideways to Kevin Nancekivell to get the match underway‚ the need for a gargantuan effort from The Yellows‚ were they to overcome adversity‚ was clear. The continuing saga of mass suspensions and the less avoidable problems of injuries had disrupted the balance of the side. There was good news in as far as Stuart Fraser´s injury at Crawley‚ was not as bad as first suspected and he was able to take his place between the posts. Richard Pears‚ however‚ was not as fortunate and was destined to be nothing more than a name on the team sheet as he was consigned to the bench. Rudge and Holloway continuing their bans left the Tiverton squad sadly depleted‚ even the introduction of Simon Bryant‚ on loan from the Gasheads´ at Bristol Rovers‚ only boosted the number of genuinely available substitutes to two. Little wonder then that the team took a little while to settle and adjust to its new formation. Tentative though the early attacking moves were‚ and not overly frequent‚ they moved in the right direction for the Tivvy supporters - towards the swimming pool end‚ itself something of a rarity for first half action at Ladysmead after the teams had changed ends before kick off. Four minutes in and Steve Winter hit a long cross in from the right that was reached by Newport keeper Duncan Roberts but then fumbled. Any hopes that The Yellows might have of facing a dodgy custodian were to be dispelled‚ though the promise offered by the early burst from Winter was to be realised as he went on to have one of his best games for a long while in a yellow shirt. By the quarter of an hour mark it was clear that Town were edging their way on top. Jason Rees was again giving a commanding performance at the back‚ particularly in the way he was powering away high balls‚ which was about all the visitors could muster in the way of forward play‚ with firm headers. In front of him Paul Milsom was dominating the defensive areas of midfield‚ though like Winter and Graeme Power there were occasional bursts forward to add weight (?!) to Tivvy´s forward momentum. The pace increased from Town and The Exiles were forced onto the back foot and held there.
The 19th minute saw Kevin Nancekivell fouled as the tried to turn towards goal but was shepherded out of the penalty area on the right. Winter swung in the kick‚ Power met it with his head but not as he intended and the ball flew almost vertically before falling to a Welsh defender´s head to be nodded away for a corner. Partially cleared the ball came out to Rob Cousins won the left‚ whose second cross found Milsom in space around the penalty spot. Milsom swung a foot and misconnected sending the ball flying into orbit somewhere above the derelict petrol station behind the covered terracing at the swimming pool (ahem‚ should that now be Leisure Centre?) end. Two minutes later and Winter drove in a fierce shot that had Roberts dropping to his tight to clutch cleanly and as The Yellows maintained their concerted attack Mudge skied an effort from 25 yards. Town were enjoying as much as 90% of both the possession and territorial advantage‚ swinging the ball around at speed‚ finding their men and ever moving in the right direction. It was a situation that continued well beyond the half hour mark but all without reward‚ which is where the feeling of injustice began to creep in - even my dogs would be given a biscuit for doing everything so right for so long! Roberts did his bit to thwart Tivvy when dashing out to get his legs to block Mudge´s shot after Jamie had burst onto a defence splitting ball by Simon Bryant. When the ball flew uncontrollably across the goal‚ Bryant‚ who had followed up‚ directed his header down but Roberts was back to scramble it away past the upright. For five minutes or so the visitors came back into the game but still failed to threaten Fraser´s goal. Industrious Steve Ovens had been busy chasing and harrying from the outset and in the 40th minute got the better of a defender in the right hand corner and laid the ball back into the path of Rees - yes the captain risked a nosebleed by moving forward so far - whose low drive was on target but straight to the safe hands of the visitors keeper. And that was the tale of first half gone. Slow start‚ plenty of action‚ but despite the effort‚ no lunch . Even though it could be fairly argued that it had been paid for.

It was probably inevitable that there would be a change in the game after the break. Having been so far on top in the first half there was little that Martyn Rogers could be expected to do in the way of improvement where-as the scope for his counterpart in The Exiles camp was far greater. Newport improved. Another slow start but still Tivvy shaded things for the first ten minutes. A Paul Chenoweth corner‚ swung in from the right‚ nearly snuck in under the crossbar but nearly is not close enough. Newport were moving forward more but still not really creating anything as they approached the Tivvy penalty area. The greatest threat was coming from their captain and full back Gary Lloyd. He sent in a low skidding free kick in the 56th minute that had Fraser bamboozled but luckily skewed away off Stuart´s feet for a corner and as County started to force their way on top another free kick given away in a dangerous position just outside the area turned away for another corner by Rob Cousins to choruses of handball´ from the healthy contingent of travelling fans gathered behind the Tiverton goal. By the hour mark there could be little doubt that the game had turned in Newport´s favour. Not as dominant as Town had been during the first half but undoubtedly on top. A long cross from Lloyd on the left was sent wide by a glancing header from Ashley Williams and Tiverton began to struggle to hold their visitors at bay. There was a dramatic increase in the number of free kicks being conceded in the Tivvy half of the field‚ a sure sign that The Yellows were hanging on, though most of the fouls were not serious, more petty and niggling, and more importantly unnecessary and risky. First to pay the price was Power, the price being....yes...a yellow card. With just over quarter of an hour remaining, and the pitch getting heavier by the moment, it was time to ring the changes. Newport started it by bringing on a fresher, and younger, pair of legs at the front, 17yr old replacing 18yr old!
The Yellows responded by adding a little more weight to their front line in the shape of Milsom at the expense of Ovens who had been less involved than in the first period, though it has to be said that like Nancekivell who also appeared to be wilting, it could have been an illusion caused by the fact that Tiverton were not producing as many attacking moves. Milsom´s midfield role was filled by David Steele. On the 80th minute yellow was again being flashed by the man in the middle as Mudge was felled on the edge of the Newport penalty area whilst in full flight. The foul itself brought only the sound of the referee´s whistle. The aftermath of a contretemps between Jamie and Lloyd - who was not the perpetrator of the original foul, saw them both add to their tally of cautions. The kick was to be taken from a yard or two outside the penalty area and two the right. Just the position for Tivvy´s party piece, and yet again it worked...almost. The move was perfectly executed until the final touch, Chenoweth´s shot. This time Cheno didn´t quite get his timing right and the shot lacked both power and direction. A minute later and Steele made his first impact with a run on the left. Just when it looked as if he had been eased into too tight a corner, he forced in his cross. The ball span up from a Newport boot as cross attempt and tackle coincided, and had Roberts stretching backwards in vain but being relieved to see the it drop onto the top of the crossbar for a corner. One corner was followed a second, the later falling out to Cousins on the left who fired in a shot that made its way through the crowd of legs in the goalmouth but was hooked off the line by Lloyd. Milsom was putting himself around as Tiverton mounted a final effort and got themselves on top again. Even Bryant managed to get in on the action around the County penalty area, firing in a 25 yard effort. But it was with the clock ticking away the final two minutes that the clearest chance for a late winner came. Winter curled a ball down the right flank. Mudge didn´t at first look to have the pace left to out run the defence but he did and hit in a cross ball that headed for Chenoweth, charging through unmarked from midfield. Chenoweth was in acres of space and lunged at the ball with the goal at his mercy. It wasn´t to be the Tivvy mans glory day ,though. He failed to make any contact what-so-ever and what had been looking like a goal-less draw for most of the second half, turned out to be just that.

All credit to Newport. They were happier with a single point than the locals, but then that is probably what they came for. It certainly looked that way for all but a fifteen minute spell in the second half where they appeared to make an effort to pinch´ all the points. Depleted squad or not it was a resolute and at times determined effort from Town. Sometimes, it would seem, even when you pay, you don´t get the lunch.

Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser, Steve Winter, Paul Chenoweth, Jason Rees, Graeme Power, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Simon Bryant, Steve Ovens (David Steele, 76), Paul Milsom, James Mudge.
Subs not used: Shaun Goff, Richard Pears.
Bookings: Power, Mudge.


Newport County: Duncan Roberts, Terry Evans, Gary Lloyd, Nathan Davies, Jeffrey Eckhardt, Scott Morgan, Steven Williams, Ashley Williams, Gary Shephard (Allan Stevenson, 80), John Phillips (Sam O´Sullivan, 73), Gareth Phillips.
Subs not used: Andrew Thomas, Raith Plant, Gareth Wesson.
Bookings: Lloyd, Williams A., Stevenson.

Referee: Ian Ansell (Exeter).

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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