Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 2 Mangotsfield United

   Saturday 18/09/2004   FA Cup
John Reidy

It happened when I was about six‚ I guess. Mum told me that the paper boy would be bringing me a comic each week. At first it was Robin´. which soon changed to Swift´. Then it became Eagle´ for me and Girl for my sister. Every Wednesday I´d thrill to the adventures of Dan Dare and Digby - grossly fat for an astronaught‚ I thought - as they battled against the evil Venusians. Strange fellows they were. Green and tall and bald. Paid respect to their leader‚ a miniature version of the same odd species that floated around on half a ball and who‚ forty five years later‚ was to provide the model for a British political frontman by the name of William Haig...another born loser. Yes‚ I remember them well. But then I grew bored with them - the Venusians not William Haig and his crew‚ that came later. Tiger´‚ was the attraction. A cover story of Roy Race and Blackie‚ and mother dear‚ accepting the direction that my interests were going was happy to change the paper order. Roy of the Rovers‚ Melchester Rovers that is! Grotty red shirts with yellow sleeves but all the glamour and excitement‚ all the wheeling and dealing‚ the heartbreak and celebration‚ the success and very occasionally failure‚ of your local Football Club. Drama‚ or what the writers would have you believe was drama‚ unfolded every week. It must have been a struggle to come up with new story lines. Hang on.....At the weekend‚ weren´t we part of what might have been adapted to fit into a couple of week´s editions? Manager returns to club he served for yonks. Striker that he transferred from new club to old club and then took back when said player failed to fit in‚ also returns and promptly hits a brace of goals to keep his underdogs´ team in contention in the big cup game? Was it for real or just a pre-teen football fantasy?

Adding to the comic book drama was the feeling that the game was a make or break contest for the mighty´ Rovers...whoops‚ Tiverton Town. A run of poor results‚ matched only by the performances that achieved them‚ had seen the club encased in an aurora of gloom and pessimism. Financially‚ at least‚ the game deserved its must win´ billing. As with the majority of cup matches the encounter started at a frantic pace.

Time on the ball was something granted to no player and sweet football was at a premium in the early exchanges. Fittingly‚ perhaps‚ it was the returning striker that had first touch of the ball as Mangotsfield charged into the Tiverton half and won the first corner of the game after just 29 seconds. It was taken short and the second ball was sent too long and drifted out for a goal kick. Off upfield went The Yellows and won an equalising corner when Chris Vinnicombe´s cross was turned away before it reached the danger area. Like United‚ Tivvy sent the ball long and Jamie Mudge blasted in a shot from the back of the area that was deflected out to Nathan Rudge who delivered a typical defenders effort on goal lifting the ball high into the netting above the terracing. A pattern was emerging. Town were the more attacking side and six minutes in were really applying all the pressure. Kevin Wills had a cross palmed away from Mudge by Mangotsfield keeper Mark Bryant and then David Steele won another corner from which Mudge again fired in a shot but this time was off target. Maintaining the momentum Vinnicombe came across to the right to send in a cross from a free kick that Nathan Rudge´s head was only inches away from making contact with - even if it wouldn´t have mattered because of the shoving that was going on as the ball was flighted in - and Iain Harvey split the United defence with a pass that Mudge helped on its way to the foot of Jamie Densham‚ making his first start for Town‚ who failed to beat the advancing defensive line and was caught offside. With quarter of an hour gone and the home fans beginning to wonder if it was to be another of those occasions when Tivvy made all the running for no reward‚ the breakthrough came to open a six minute spell that brought three goals. Town took the lead when Iain Harvey sent Steele bursting through the middle onto an inch perfect pass. Steele‚ who had already been showing signs of having an on day´ took the ball cleanly on his right foot and without breaking stride was clear of the back line with only Bryant to beat. The advancing keeper‚ though‚ was well beaten as Steele hoisted the ball past him and into the net with a strike as sweet as any regular marksman might deliver.
The goal saw the visitors make more of an attacking effort but they were still largely relying on the chasing efforts of Rob Claridge and Edwards and though forcing the Tiverton back line and midfield into upping their pace there was little obvious evidence of them mounting a rapid comeback. Edwards did manage to bring a good save from Ovendale after he had rounded Paul Milsom with consummate ease but Tivvy seemed to have weathered the dangerous first minutes of retaliation - we thought.
Then‚ as they began pushing forward once more‚ Tiverton were caught on the break. Chris Lane collected a long forward ball and thundered down the Mangotsfield left flank. No looping centre for this man‚ he drove a full blooded low cross into the six yard box where Edwards‚ who had made a parallel run connected first time to send the ball screaming into the net. The celebrations from the rejected former Yellow were just what might have been expected‚ a sort of Up yours - I knew I could do it´. though expressed in a slightly more dignified manner. The visitors delight at pulling themselves level. however‚ was remarkably short lived. Tivvy are not renowned for their ability to recover instantly from setbacks but on this occasion they excelled themselves‚ restoring their advantage before their visitors celebrations had waned. Kevin Wills‚ who in many peoples views has yet to live up to pre-season promise‚ threaded the ball out of midfield to Mudge who weaved his way into the midst of the United defence. That defence, as was so frequent an occurrence on this afternoon, managed to get a limb in the way of Mudge´s attempt at finding the target. The deflection, though came right back to the boot of Tiverton´s greatest threat and this time the ball was hit low under Bryant to restore the Tiverton lead. Once again Town were in the driving seat and this time they did manage to hold onto their advantage, dominating the game but failing to turn supremacy into goals. Steele came close with a shot that rolled up Bryant´s body and out over the crossbar for a corner and after rounding two defenders Wills might have done better than fire in a not too powerful effort that Bryant held with ease. It took until the 39th minute before Tiverton reaped their just rewards, and even then it took a mistake from Bryant to help them increase the Margin. Set free through the middle by a perceptive ball from Steve Winter, Densham rounded of his run at the Mango´s keeper with a wimpish shot that the glovesman appeared to, and by rights should have had, well covered. But somehow Bryant contrived to let the ball slip out of his grasp, under his body, and trickle towards the goal-line. Before the unfortunate and embarrassed keeper could gather his composure - or cone to that, the ball -
Jamie Mudge skipped in behind him to thrash the ball into the back of the net with a tremendous twelve inch drive. Three - one, comfortable - we thought.
But the action was far from over. Just as United had taken five minutes to recover from the first goal, so they were to bounce back from the third. As Winter chested down a deflected attempt at a cross from the visitor´s right, he was adjudged to have handled the ball - harshly it appeared from the halfway line. Being where he was at the time of the offence (alleged) the ball was duly placed on the penalty spot. Up stepped Roy Race - sorry, Darren Edwards - to feature in the next frame of the comic strip. Edwards hit the ball hard and low, almost the perfect placement for a spot kick. Almost, but not quite for Ovendale threw himself in the right direction and there was a resounding thud as the ball hit his gloves and stuck! A fine save and Edwards was transformed from hero to muppet in a matter of seconds. But it was only for moments as from Ovendale´s clearance upfield Mangotsfield regained possession and again came at the Tiverton defence down the left wing. This time it was skipper James Zabek that sent in the cross and he did lift in the high one. High or low, the result was the same as Edwards connected first time to head the ball firmly where he thought he´d put it less than sixty seconds earlier. In the Tiverton net. The half time scoreline of 3-2 flattered United and showed that once again Town could be their own worse enemies by failing to take advantage of having the lion´s share of the game.

The second 45 minutes were to prove to be an anti climax. Tiverton continued to have the better of things despite the fact that their visitors putt up a resolute performance. The slight shift in balance saw the game develop into a predominately midfield contest that neither side seemed able to resolve. Subsequently the chances of changing the scoreline became as rare as the proverbial hens teeth as both sets of players were guilty of some slipshod passes. The home side did look as if they might have regained the initiative from apparent stalemate just after the hour mark when Bryant again failed to hold a shot, this time a 30 yarder from Winter, and managed to grab the ball at the second attempt just as Wills threatened to do what Mudge had done earlier. Then Mudge emerged from a comparatively subdued spell to make a run on the left before firing in a low cross goal shot that missed the far post by a foot when all it needed was the slightest of touches by a colleague to kill the game. There was nobody there to supply the final touch and the game continued to hang on to the thinnest threads of life. For the visitors to maintain any hope of continuing their FA Cup dreams, they had to lift themselves. They began to throw caution to the wind and press forward Pete Sheppard left Winter flat footed as he cut down the left flank but his cross goal shot was way wide of the mark. Substitutions brought fresh legs but disruption. Steele and Wills did manage to string together a series of accurate passes that carried them forward into the visitors penalty area where the move was terminated as Steele was squeezed out between two defenders and left sprawling on the turf as the terrace behind the goal screamed for a penalty. It was the kind of situation that, had the referee had doubts concerning his decision at the end of the first half, he might have used to redress the balance. Mr Grenfell had no such inclination and waved play on.
The final throes of the game saw a roles reversal exercise as United did most of the pushing and Tivvy had to rely on breaks. For the visitors there was little reward for their attempt to move forward. They were held, admittedly not convincingly at times, at bay. The upfield movement left them exposed to the breaks and substitute Mike Booth saw his effort blocked after he had taken a long cross field pass from Harvey and then another ball from Tiverton´s sometimes under rated midfielder created chaos between Bryant and a defensive colleague that presented Tivvy with a corner. Nothing came of it and the last scenes of this week´s saga were drawn round the Tivvy goal, Edwards turned Milsom for the last time out on the United right but there was nobody in the middle to take advantage of his resultant cross. As the watch showed two minutes of added time Claridge fired wide as he cut in from the right. The final whistle sounded to herald muted celebrations from the home side´s fans. The result had been what they wanted but the performance had been unconvincing.

So, not quite the fairytale ending that Tiger´ writers would have indubitably come up with. The returning manager and his reject striker had failed to follow the script and help the underdogs to prevail. This, though, is the real world and the cheque will be paid into Tivvy´s account with hopefully more to follow. In cup football it is only the result that counts.

Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter (Matt Lock, 84), Chris Vinnicombe (Shaun Goff, 67), David Steele, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills, Iain Harvey, Jamie Densham (Mike Booth, 77), Paul Milsom, James Mudge.

Subs not used: David Hallett, Ian Nott

Yellow cards: None

Mangotsfield United: Mark Bryant, Dean Pendry, Chris Lane (Shane Hobbs, 46), Mark Summers, Gary Warren (Jason Drysdale, 37), Ollie Price, Drew Shore, James Zabek, Rob Claridge, Darren Edwards, Pete Sheppard (Gareth Loydon, 78).

Subs not used: Danny Hallett, Lee Collier.

Yellow Cards: None

Referee: S Grenfell

Att: 566

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