Match report

Bath City 1 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 24/08/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

It is a source of some regret to me that Tiverton Town did not make it to the Southern League earlier, about fifteen years earlier would have been ideal. It’s not just that I had to wait so long before being able to follow a team that I had an interest in to Twerton Park – the scene of my first ever ‘away’ game in 1960 – though that is certainly part of it. I had managed to find my way there in the days when nomadic Bristol Rovers used the ground but somehow that was not quite the same. No, had Tivvy been visitors whilst I was still considerably younger, and had I been in the same situation regarding travelling arrangements as I am now, a trip to the ancient Roman City would have given me the opportunity to deliver one of my worse chat-up lines ever, and stand a chance of being able to capitalise in the unlikely event of the response being in the affirmative.  “Are we going to Bath together next week”, might be loaded with double-entendre but these days, sadly, it is only the travelling meaning that is of any importance to me. Still, even had I been able to deliver the line when I was capable of acting on a positive reply to both meanings, I suspect that the best response might have been along the lines of, “In your dreams!” Clearly then, nothing much has been lost as time erodes any ambitions towards the erotic possibilities that an agreeable answer might have provided. Dreams, though still feature strongly in my thoughts about Bath City v Tiverton Town meetings. The difference being that those fantasies are now centred on the seemingly remote possibility that I will see a thrilling and victorious performance from the Yellows against the Romans. In recent years, even when Tivvy have come away from Twerton with the win, I cannot recall being particularly enthralled. Would it be any different this time…?




 




 




Even before the kick off it was obvious that the travelling fans would not be wending their way back to Devon bursting with pride in the Tiverton shirt. Yes, the Yellows were in yellow - but it was the more pastel shade of City’s change kit and trimmed with Royal Blue, as the Devon men had turned up with only their white shirts! Under the circumstances it was not surprising that the home side started with the upper hand, a situation that was to remain unchanged for almost the entirety of the first half hour; Mark Ovendale was soon in action, something else that was to remain a constant, as he rose well to collect a corner in the second minute. The ’keeper was also instrumental in preventing an early goal as he threw himself down well to divert former Torquay United man Jimmy Benefield´s´ curling low shot from way out on the right, across his goalmouth to be cleared upfield by the boot of Rob Cousins. It was not until the tenth minute that Tivvy managed to approach Justin Shuttlewood’s goal at the opposite end with anything that even resembled threat but when they did it was the clearest scoring chance of the evening to date. A foul just inside the City half gave Cousins the chance to lob the free kick forward to the edge of the penalty area. Nathan Rudge had moved forward and as the ball floated forward the big defender rose to nod it on, over the line of defenders to Jamie Mudge who had ghosted in behind them to the left hand corner of the six yard box. The ball dropped to Mudge’s foot and he swung a boot that sent the ball flying towards the net on the far side but took just enough of a deflection to bring a corner as the only reward. Two minutes later, though, Bath should have taken the lead themselves. A mishit clearance span to Benefield who sent the ball across the Tiverton area to Russell Milton who somehow, but thankfully for the Yellows, contrived to screw his shot wide from six yards out with the goal at his mercy. City were on a mission and there seemed little that Tivvy could do to stem the flow of balls into their penalty area. Steve Tweddle forced in a cross for Benefield to fire in a shot that was well saved by Ovendale – as far as Milton who this time found his direction sensor working but was denied by a Tiverton boot and then, as the game continued to be played in the Tivvy half Ovendale again came to the rescue by cutting out a long cross from Bobby Ford.




 




Midway through the first half and the Tiverton man of the match award was well on the way to Ovendale as he continued to be their only outstanding representative. A 35-yard looping effort from Benefield was cleanly held as was another, admittedly weak, effort from Milton after the ball had dropped to his toe after a bout of head tennis. Just to remind everyone that the unexpected can happen, Mudge startled the spectators by heading of on a run through the middle to drive a shot well wide but then it was back home for the ball, down in the Tivvy goalmouth as City Player/Manager Gary Owers fired in a tremendous free kick that Ovendale palmed away for the comparative safety of a corner. There was a little light relief for the increasingly deflated Tivertonians on the terraces as a pair of free kicks saw Town move again into City territory, the second one being headed wide by Rudge in the 37th minute. As the break approached there was also statistical, if not visual, evidence that the Yellows were beginning to have a greater impact on the game. The chances for the home side had dried up… well almost. Just as it looked as if Tivvy had survived the first 45 minutes a crack appeared. Graeme Power sent a hopeful ball along the left touchline for Tweddle to chase. Tom Stocco got to it in front of the City man and tried to allow it to run down the slope and out for the goal kick. Tweddle had other thoughts and as the ball stalled, hooked it back from the line, passed Stocco and fired in a cross that John Williams blasted into the net from close range at the far post. There could be no complaints about going behind from the visitors - the Romans deserved a greater half time lead than that single goal.




 




The spell in the dressing rooms brought little change to Tivvy’s play and what there was was none too pleasing. Possibly they had been berated for their lack of competitiveness but if so the consequences were hardly worth the effort. True the (pale) Yellows competed more fiercely but their reward was not a greater share of the ball, only the sight of the yellow card as it was waved at first Mudge and then Winter in the opening couple of minutes. The game picked up where it had left off. The chances were infrequent as was the constructive play - from either team it has to be admitted. Scrappy! Mudge brightened up proceedings in the 57th minute with a sprightly sprint down the right but what looked as if it might have been a dangerous cross was deflected back to him off a defender and Shuttlewood had no difficulty in plucking the second attempt out of the air. City too had tried to bring a bit of life to the game with the introduction of Renier Moor to replace Tweddle and though full of running which kept Rudge on his toes, the young former Exeter City man’s most spectacular contribution to the game came minutes after he joined the conflict when he fired in a speculative effort from all of 35 yards that Ovendale was able to calmly watch float wide. If Tivvy were ever going to make the breakthrough, and it looked highly unlikely, then it probably would have come from a solo effort from Mudge. It might have come in the 71st minute when another burst down the right brought a cross that had both Darren Edwards and David Steele missing the ball as it flew across the penalty area to the opposite wing.




 




Milton had his umpteenth chance of the game to get on the scoresheet but his attempt to chip the ball over Ovendale was stillborn as he missed the target in the process and with just over ten minutes remaining Tiverton had their last chance of an equaliser when a scramble developed in the City goalmouth but the ball was eventually hacked off the goal-line by Mike Trought. Belatedly, Jamie Densham and Matt Lock were brought on to replace the predominantly ineffective Edwards and Steele but before either had an opportunity to show more than energetic enthusiasm the final whistle sounded to bring the first defeat of the season to Tivvy.




 




So that’s this season’s Bath out of the way… well, not quite… there is the trip to the ‘other’ side yet to come. Bath twice in one season… very good for personal hygiene me thinks. But then if Tivvy continue to perform as they did on this occasion then there might be no need for such ablutions. We’ll be seeing plenty of the shower.




 




Changes please… and not just because they’re forced.




 




Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe, Tom Stocco, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills, Iain Harvey, Darren Edwards (Jamie Densham 82), David Steele (Matt Lock 82), Jamie Mudge




Subs not used: Shaun Goff, Mike Booth, Dave Hallett




Booked: Winter, Vinnicombe, Mudge, Rudge




Sent off: None




 




Bath City: Justin Shuttlewood, Jimmy Rollo, Graeme Power, Matt Coupe, Mike Trought, Bobby Ford, Jimmy Benfield, Gary Owers, Steve Tweddle (Renier Moor 53), John Williams, Russell Milton.




Subs not used: Ricky Hulbert, Grant Monelle, Jan Klukowski, Stuart Fraser.




Goal: Williams 45




Booked: None




Sent off: None




Att: 628





Referee: Simon Knapp (Bristol)



This report ©2004 John Reidy






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