Match report

Bideford 1 - 3 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 05/10/2004   FA Cup
John Reidy

So where was I before Sunday and Monday interrupted me......... Ah‚ Yes...Magic‚ Santa Claus and fairies! Well‚ certainly the first encounter of this tie had failed to provide much evidence in support of the existence of any of those concepts. Despite my assertion that the term magic´‚ when applied to the FA Cup was a mis-definition - rather like disc jockeys on the radio who incessantly refer to the latest recording by some mediocre artist they are plugging‚ as a great´ new record when in reality it is just another mundane performance from some semi-talented warbler that will be wiped from the memory within three months - I have to admit that there was a lack of that something special´ that can give such fixtures that extra edge. Santa Claus and his predilection for giving gifts was nowhere to be seen as neither side were prepared to give anything away‚ and the treatment meted out to Jamie Mudge and every part of his anatomy below his thighs was not in the slightest way reminiscent of the gossamer behaviour one would expect from fairies. That all left us with the prospect of doing it all again in North Devon‚ though a repeat of the outcome was a definite impossibility - there would be no second third or fourth replay as Bideford had once been involved in‚ in a tie with Falmouth (I973-4 season). No‚ this time the tie was going to be resolved on the night. Extra Time and then‚ heaven forbid‚ penalties if necessary. The tactical element of caution was no longer a realistic possibility. A decision had to be reached and believe in what you may‚ magic‚ Santa or fairies‚ if it were to go Tiverton´s way they were going to have to do it by dint of their own efforts. Despite the wide open spaces of Bideford´s Sports Ground home there was a sharper atmosphere amongst the assembling crowd. Mostly‚ it has to be admitted‚ it was generated by the home contingent with many of the Mid Devon visitors being apprehensive‚ and who could blame them‚ about the outcome. A celebration or a wake? Party frock or mourning dress?

After the toss and changing of ends‚ Tivvy went into a mid pitch bonding´ huddle - an unwelcome import from across the Atlantic: God spare us the piped organ anthems every time anything remotely dramatic happens on the field - before getting the match underway with the first touch. As might have been expected as a reaction to Saturday´s pedestrian game‚ this one started at a frantic pace. Tiverton took the initiative in the early exchanges and powered forward. Plenty of energy but little finesse. The Yellows won the first corner of the game in the third minute and Tom Stocco moved upfield to head wide. Two minutes later Bideford mounted their first attack and we saw Lee Groves send a curling long range effort well wide and getting wider. By the ten minute mark there was a pattern emerging. Although the speed of the game had not diminished Tivvy were taking control of midfield and clearly had taken on board the need to push forward and support the front men. Both Iain Harvey‚ and more frequently Matt Lock‚ made attacking runs but as in the previous encounter the Biddy defence was well organised and hardly ever seriously stretched. It was also true that Tiverton´s main threat was once more coming from Jamie Mudge who was again on the painful end of some uncompromising attention from those home defenders. When he did evade the tackles though‚ there was still a lack of support. By the midway mark of the first half there had been a subtle but noticeable change. The home side were beginning to venture forward more and with that the Tivvy midfield was being forced deeper. A marked gap between the front two and the central three became evident when watching from the half way line.
The first shot on target did come from a combination of those increasingly isolated Tiverton front men. It materialised in the 24th minute when Kevin Wills‚ again unconvincing in his forward role‚ threaded a pass through to Mudge towards the left. The young Yellows front man twisted and turned to find a narrow angle from which to shoot and forced Robins keeper Ryan Draper into bringing off the first serious save of the game with a chipped lob shot that had the custodian leaping to touch over for a corner. A couple of minutes passed and there was another chance for The Yellows when they were awarded a free kick out on the right. Chris Vinnicombe came across to curl the ball into the danger zone at the near post. A Bideford boot got to it first but only managed to direct it as far as Lock who shot sadly wide. With the game slowing down and evening out‚ it became even more reminiscent of Saturday´s affair - a tedious midfield battle with caution not adventure as the keyword. A Tivvy free kick about ten yards inside their own half was eventually lobbed forward into the opposing penalty area by Mark Ovendale - who more than any player on the field was suffering from a distinct lack of involvement - but when Stocco´s header carried nicely to the hands of Draper everything seemed set for another goal-less forty five minutes. That mark was reached comfortably‚ the 45 minutes that is. But the half wasn´t over and deep into added time it was the lively Mike Southgate that conjured up the Bideford opener. Taking on the Tiverton line with a twisting run he slipped the ball out to Ellis Laight on the left hand side of the penalty area. Laight looped in a cross to the far side of the box and Robbie Gough calmly hoisted the ball over Ovendale to trigger wild celebrations from the North Devon contingent on either side of the perimeter wall. The home side´s elation was still in evidence as they made their way off the field at the interval.

Matt Lock had paid the price for his lively first half forays at the Bideford defence - a knock that was enough to keep him from starting the second half. With the obvious need to get forward and find a goal the answer for Tivvy was simple. Wills back into Lock´s midfield slot and the second striker to be brought on. Enter Jamie No.2 - Densham. The truth of the supposition that brief appearances as substitutes did not give them enough time to even get up to pace was well illustrated. Densham made little impact in the opening ten minutes‚ but then neither did anybody else. The game stagnated until suddenly bursting alight in the 55th. It was that man Southgate that fired the revival. As Tiverton pushed towards The Robin´s goal‚ a big hoof was applied. Southgate gathered the ball in the centre circle leaving one defender as he did and bursting past a second as he headed for goal‚ chased by the pair of them. Both the wide men had been pushing forward and Southgate had only to beat Ovendale. Maintaining his pace‚ he rounded the keeper and stroked the ball towards the net. 2-0 we thought. All except Chris Vinnicombe who had moved even faster than the Bideford No. 9 and as the ball bobbled towards the goal somehow managed to reach it with an outstretched leg and hook it off the line. The ball was not in the net but Vinni was‚ tangled like a dolphin in a trawl‚ and by the time he managed to free himself the ball gad been scrambled away for a corner. It was‚ though we weren´t to know it at the time‚ the turning point. The corner was cleared upfield. Mudge held it and headed in a weaving route towards the Biddy penalty area. Vinnicombe continued his momentum by charging forward on the left and when Mudge ran up against the inevitable barricade of red shirts he lobbed a cross to the left hand side of the penalty area where Vinnicombe let fly with a rising near post shot that somehow managed to thunder between the upright and Draper to hit the roof of the net for the equaliser. It was Tivvy´s turn for elation!
The Yellows were on a high and could have been over the moon´ two minutes later. Densham was proving to be as much as a handful for the Bideford defence as Mudge had been throughout. The effect was to split their resources. Which Jamie to chase? They were being pulled into all kind of weird contortions by the pair of them and the effect was to give each more space. Densham burst free on the left and fired in a cross to the far corner of the six yard box. David Steele had not been the most forward of the Tivvy midfielders when it came to getting into the danger positions but he was there this time and in the clear with the goal at his mercy.....only to miss the target and leave the unfortunate Steele with little to do but wish the earth would open up and swallow him. Head in hands he retreated as the game restarted with the goal kick. Town were now well on top and most of the action was taking place on the approaches to the home penalty area. The corner count mounted at that end but a second goal was elusive. Then in the 70th minute a rare Bideford chance as Robbie Gough did what Southgate had done earlier‚ to find himself one on one with Ovendale. This time the keeper brought the threat to an end earlier as he got his legs to the ball and the ensuing loose scramble produced only a wide shot from the home side. Route one goal kick. Long through the middle‚ to Jamie No. 1‚ Mudge. Down came the ball. Instantly under control and up to pace as Mudge twisted left and right‚ created the space he desired and fired in a rocket that was way beyond the reach of Draper. The Robins were silenced. Not a cheep or a chirp. Tivvy were boisterous in their celebrations and rightly so‚ they had pulled it back and were now well and truly in the driving seat. But being in control doesn´t always win matches and Town had the best part of twenty minutes to go. Bideford had to throw the kitchen sink forward and Tiverton had to defend. They did it in the best possible continuing to attack and not allowing their hosts to put them under much pressure. There was only one effort on goal from the home side in that last quarter of the game‚ a Gough shot that went harmlessly wide. But The Yellow´s attacking policy brought them results with a clincher in added time. Substitute Dave Hallet collected the ball in midfield and sent Mudge on another telling run. Heading diagonally out towards the left Jamie saw Hallett keeping pace and drew the remnants of the Bideford defence before laying the ball into the path of the midfielder. From just about the same point as Steele had missed from Jamie No. 2´s pass twenty minutes earlier‚ Hallett rounded of the game with a confident finish to send the locals into a rush to evacuate the terraces

It had not begun in convincing fashion but it certainly ended that way. The use of the substitutions was right, as were the tactics in defending the lead. Those two points alone, plus the confidence that has to be generated from a run of five unbeaten games, will perhaps see more league points on their way and less nervous performances to follow. Not to mention the possibility of further financial aid with progress in the FA Cup.......

Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter (Dave Hallett, 80) Chris Vinnicombe, Paul Milsom, Nathan Rudge, Matt Lock (Jamie Densham, 46), Kevin Wills (Mike Booth, 72), Iain Harvey, Tom Stocco, David Steele, James Mudge.

Subs not used: Shaun Goff, Paul Edwards.

Booked: Wills, Stocco, Lock.

Bideford: Ryan Draper, Shane Powell, Steve Orchard, Tom Kelly (Andy Stevens, 88), Darren Hawkings, Matt Hare (Ben Rowe), Ian Down, Lee Groves (Simon Langmead, 80), Mike Southgate, Robbie Gough, Ellis Laight.

Subs not used: James Alexander, Steve Oliver.

Booked: None.

Att: 732

Referee: Malcolm West (St Austell)

This report ©2004 John Reidy

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