Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 0 Bideford

   Saturday 02/10/2004   FA Cup
John Reidy

Through my life I have‚ at times‚ believed in a multitude of things both materiel and abstract. From the theory that the world was flat to the tooth fairy‚ from Santa Clause to the concept that there is good in even the most evil of men. Time and evidence have changed those beliefs periodically‚ as happened with my conviction that all fire engines were called Denis - after all that was the name that was displayed on the front of such appliances. Another notion that was exploded quite early in my age of reasoning was the belief in that enigmatic concept‚ magic. The inexplicable was revealed to be a fraud as soon as I was let loose in the local library and discovered books that were full of magic´ tricks. Magic suddenly became nothing more than an illusion‚ so when having reached the ripe old age of my teens I heard the phrase the magic of the FA Cup´ I was not expecting some green genie to emerge from the trophy the moment it was rubbed. Even at that tender age‚ though‚ the cynical aspect of my nature was beginning to emerge and I recall thinking that‚ yes‚ there was a certain charm and excitement when one of the minnows toppled a giant‚ but was that magic? I doubt Goliath thought so after receiving a whack from David´s slingshot ammunition. But still it comes round - the Cup that is. Charm and magic´ somewhat diminished by the widening gap between the levels of football that make the giant killing acts less likely. Financial rewards are greater but the need for them to keep a small club viable has increased too. Not so much magic as pressure to succeed - and even greater if you are one of the comparative giants. So it was in this tie. Tivvy two levels higher and with home advantage were on a hiding to nothing - well 2‚250 actually - but the principle was the same. They should win. If they didn´t there would be incriminations at every level and little praise for the opponents‚ it would all be down to The Yellows failing not the Robins succeeding. If they did win.....well so they should.

The hoped for new signing´ had failed to materialise to bolster Tivvy in front of goal so the line up was predictable. Rob Cousins was still sidelined and Matt Lock continued in his place. Bideford opened with an unpredictable stiff breeze at their backs. They made the best of it to push forward into the Tivvy half whilst Town struggled to come to terms with it as well despite early hoisted clearances being held up short. When They did manage to move forward and keep the ball low they were more successful and won the first corner of the game in the third minute. Not that it was a sign of things to come for Tivvy‚ far from it and in fact when Bideford won their first corner they came far closer to taking the lead than Tiverton had from theirs. Hoisted over from the left hand quadrant the ball hung tantalisingly in the air over the near post. Mark Ovendale failed to claim it and as the ball dropped it evaded nearly every boot. Not quire every as one made a contact to send the ball bobbling towards the goal-line until Nathan Rudge was able to apply the boot that kept the scoresheet blank. Jamie Mudge was the key to almost every threat that Tiverton had to offer but too often he was short of support. Typical were the runs he made in the thirteenth minute. Firstly on the left and then on the right where he turned Tom Kelly inside out before firing in a cross that curled across the goalmouth but was a wasted effort since nobody had made the run to apply the finishing touch at the far post. The Robins had another chance in the 16th minute when Nike Southgate rounded Iain Harvey ‚ slipped the ball into the path of Lee Langmead who saw his shot blocked. Bideford‚ though not dominantly so‚ were getting on top and Ovendale had to rapidly adjust his movement when a long curling lob shot from Ian Down took a deflection. Half way through the first half there was a glimmer of hope for the home fans - it must have been so for the moment a free kick was awarded to Tivvy about eight yards outside the centre of the Bideford penalty area there were feint strains of Come on you Yellows from the terraces. But it was too far out for you know what´‚ and Steve Winter´s direct shot was powerful but inches wide of Drapers right hand post.
I did not note for what infringement of the laws that kick was awarded but three minutes later there was absolutely no doubt what caused Tiverton to be awarded another one out on the right flank. Having been given a torrid time battling against a torrent of taps and clattering tackles as he skipped his way through the Bideford back line‚ Mudge was eventually scythed down uncompromisingly by Matt Hare. It was as late a tackle as we have seen this season at Ladysmead and the follow through was prolonged enough to have taken out a second man had there been one following. It set the home fans howling and frankly they could not be deemed unreasonable in their shouts for Hare to walk. No‚ Mr Knapp was content to wave the yellow card and after several minutes delay as Mudge received first aid‚ play resumed with the kick. Over floated the ball‚ up went Rudge‚ Past the angle of upright and crossbar went the ball down came Rudge in a heap on the turf. Paul Milsom had also been airborne and as he landed he stumbled over the bundle that was Rudge‚ stuck out his hands automatically to break his fall and in doing so shoved Hare. The Bideford man took exception and a melee broke out to the accompaniment of the referees blasting whistle. It was the players themselves that restored a degree of calm and allowed the official to speak once more to the perpetrators with a cool it´ word of warning. Off we went again with Mudge doing his utmost to break the deadlock Twice he managed to round Darren Hawkings. The first time his rising shot easily cleared the crossbar and the second time the defender managed to get a boot in to block the shot. The clearest chance of the half fell to the visitors from a 37th minute corner. Ellis Laight rose to head firmly and cleanly at goal but also right into the safe arms of Ovendale. Mudge again featured as he swung in a fierce low cross from the right that Wills just failed to connect with at the far post after 42 minutes but the last word was cheeped by The Robins when deep into added time‚ some three minutes or more which gives some indication of the treatment needed by Mudge earlier‚ Southgate latched onto a long ball through the middle‚ slipped away from Rudge as the big defender tripped over his own bootlaces‚ rounded Stocco with ease and was only stopped from scoring by the well placed legs of the advancing Ovendale. The interval...and the visiting fans were far more bouyant than their hosts. Rightly so.~

There was no radical change as the second half got underway. Bideford again managed to match the home side and even on occasions better them. The 52nd minute saw Tiverton struggling to clear their lines following a corner‚ won when Tom Kelly had broken forward from defence to get round the back of the Tiverton defence. Town were using the wind to get greater range in their forward balls but still they were too often being played to heads rather than feet and the height of the Robin´s two central defenders compared to Tivvy´s front runners (Mudge and Wills) made that a futile exercise. Attempts on goal became more limited as the players became more familiar with each other (oooh errr) and both sides kept things as tight as possible. On 62 minutes Mudge with another right wing charge that saw his cross turned out for a corner. From the kick Chris Vinnicombe´s shot was deflected and from the second kick David Steele headed wide. Wills made a brief attacking appearance when he broke through the middle by outpacing two defenders but shot wide from 30 yards out. It was all pretty uninspiring stuff and with the visitors content to operate a comfortable containing operation it was difficult to see where a goal was going to come from. The answer as far as The Yellows was‚ as always‚ Jamie Mudge or an accident. Bideford were well aware of that and kept a close guard on Tivvy´s only source of firepower whilst maintaining their cool to prevent the latter. Mudge tried‚ how he tried. Casing onto a long ball from Lock in the 70th minute he rounded one man and cut across the edge of the penalty area. Always confronted with a wall of red he was unable to find the gap but shot anyway since there was no other option. Blocked. the ball was cleared away up field once more.
A four minute burst of as many substitutions saw only one significant piece of action as Shane Powell tested Ovendale´s reactions with a low drive that the keeper did well to turn round the foot of his post for a corner. Back at the other end Mudge was upended for the umpteenth time just outside the penalty are. This time the positioning was right for the practice ground routine. Unfortunately the execution was not. The first touches worked perfectly bit the ball came to Mudge with a defender in front of him and the necessary second touch was enough to scupper the move. Steele sliced a shot that Ryan Draper touched over the bar and Tom Stocco headed the resultant corner wide. A long throw was headed down to Paul Milsom´s boot and then hoisted high over the bar‚ which is just what happened when Wills directed a long crossfield ball to Mudge‚ who finding himself wide on the edge of the penalty area laid the ball back into the path of substitute Mike Booth. Two minutes of added time brought nothing to a game that had little to offer throughout.

Bideford manager Sean Joyce was candid enough to admit before the game that a draw would suit The Robins just fine. His side got that. He also named Tivvy as the benchmark that other West Country Clubs sought to emulate. On this disjointed and uninspiring performance from the team one has to wonder why? Maybe they also believe in magic‚ Santa Claus and fairies!

Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale‚ Steve Winter‚ Chris Vinnicombe (Shaun Goff‚ 76)‚ Paul Milsom‚ Nathan Rudge‚ Matt Lock (Mike Booth‚ 76) Kevin Wills, Iain Harvey, Tom Stocco, David Steele, James Mudge.

Subs not used: David Hallett, Jamie Densham, Paul Edwards,.

Yellow cards: None

Bideford: Ryan Draper, Shane Powell, Steve Orchard, Tom Kelly, Darren Hawkings, Matt Hare, Ian Down, Lee Groves, Mike Southgate, Lee Langmead, Ellis Laight.

Subs not used: Robert Gough, James Alexander, Andy Stevens, Simon Langmead, Jamie Skinner.

Yellow Cards: Hare, Groves.

Referee: Simon Knapp (Bristol)

Att: 863

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