Match report

Eastleigh 0 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Wednesday 20/10/2004   FA Cup
John Reidy

It was the kind of thinking that led‚ in part‚ to the perpetuation of the English Public School system and was then extended to support the continuation of National Service beyond it´s justifiable and reasonable life span. Give em a tough time and it´ll make men of them. If they have things too easy they´ll turn into wimps : overcoming adversity will be character forming and make them better men. Of course the difference between those ideals and Tiverton Town Football club is that the propounders of toughening up the subjects were doing it from outside where-as the Tivvy team seem to be doing it to themselves. Certainly they appear to have developed a trait for making their tasks more difficult than they initially look to be - well‚ in the FA Cup at least. Home ties in all three rounds contested to date‚ all against teams of lesser or equal standing. Shouldn´t have been the most difficult of challenges‚ one would have thought‚ but here we were again having to travel to watch the side do things the hard way with a replay of a game they should have won first time out. Perhaps they have a masochistic streak‚ enjoying the self inflicted pain and suffering before moving on to the next opportunity for self torture. Unfortunately‚ if that is true then they must also be considered as sadists for not only does their predilection for taking the difficult path cause them discomfort it also brings suffering to their followers. Ah‚ how pleasant it is when one stops banging one´s head against the wall and the pain subsides; less so for those that were mere spectators....but a relief none the less. At least the scene for the second escapade of this nature this season was reasonably pleasant. It all helped those able to make the journey to view the event less susceptible to stress‚ even if those back home were biting their finger nails and pulling out their hair as they waited for news.......

Eastleigh´s impressive new stand was to be put to good use as the rains were to bring visions of Noah to Hampshire. Despite the deluge that had preceded the game the playing surface looked pristine and the prospect of a fine footballing contest was a reality. The home side clearly thought that they just needed to continue where they had laid off on Saturday in order to progress and to that end were straight into top gear and moving forward from the kick off. Not that they caused any great consternation among the Tiverton defence and the visitors dealt with their moves comfortably and replied in kind with their own forward foray. It was all a bit tentative. Not exploratory - more a careful confirmation of what the two teams knew about each other and it was not until the 7th minute that there was any serious attempt on goal. Rob Cousins‚ bereft of the responsibility of the captain´s armband‚ gave away a free kick when he arrived late in the tackle on Michael Beck 10 yards outside the penalty area. Tyrone Bowers who had scored within two minutes of coming on as substitute in the first game‚ curled and lifted the ball over the defensive wall and crossbar alike. Three minutes later Beck tried his luck twice within sixty seconds‚ neither attempt causing Mark Ovendale any problem and as Tivvy came away Dave Hallett threaded a ball through to Kezie Ibe who twisted to find space but failed to connect with any power to his shot which eased it´s way past the foot of Colin Matthews´ left post. The thirteenth minute gave Chris Vinnicombe the opportunity to repeat what he´d been so effective at on Saturday by firing in a curving free kick from wide on the right and the outcome was similar as the ball was missed by defenders and keeper...and also the Tiverton forwards....and flew harmlessly away on the far side of the goal. It was as even if not as open a game as the first encounter but the tightness was reflected by the fact that the first corner of the game was not conceded until the 17th minute when Steve Winters sprint down the right wing was interrupted by an Eastleigh boot. The kick‚ curled in by Vinnicombe was defended back out but the second ball in‚ a definite shot not cross‚ flew woefully wide.
By the midway mark of the first half it was clear that neither side were winning the battle for control of midfield and Tiverton were frequently by-passing the area anyway. Both Jamie Mudge and Ibe were full of running as they chased long balls but so were the home defenders and chances‚ even half chances were scarce. Mudge made a run and got round the back of the Eastleigh defence but Ibe was crowded out at the near post and Vinnicombe was called across the field again when Mudge was fouled but Matthews did manage to get a fist to the ball as it was sent in high. The Conditions began to deteriorate and the pitch was clearly becoming slippery as players began to loose their footing frequently. When Rob cousins stumbled to the turf when under no great pressure as he moved to sweep up a long through ball‚ the home side won their first corner but it was not only the players that were getting bogged down ‚ the game was too. The 35th minute saw a concerted effort from the home side that had the Tivvy defence looking a little shaky for a while but they regrouped and gathered themselves together and the last attempt on goal of the half was created by Mudge as he twisted and turned in front of the Eastleigh back line to bend in a shot that had Matthews at full stretch to palm the ball away at the foot of his left hand upright. Nothing separated the sides as they made their way to the dressing rooms for the break.

The tie at Ladysmead had seen Eastleigh returning after the break with a large hill‚ if not a mountain‚ to climb. They had been given their pep talk and had been convinced that it was a mere slope....and so turned up their game to find the goal that would haul them back in contention. This time out they turned up their game in search of the lead. They forced Tivvy onto the back foot for a good five minutes but The Yellows held them and then fired a warning shot themselves when Winter sent in a cross hard and low to the near post that found Ibe who‚ under pressure‚ could only fire wide. Eastleigh heeded the warning and tightened up again at the expense of all out attack and once more the game developed into a tense midfield battle. So tense in fact that tempers began to surface and Bowers and Iain Harvey saw yellow when they failed to control there´s and partook of a little contretemps. It was all pretty even. As in the first half there were chances for both sides. Wyeth fired wide for the home side‚ Stocco headed wide for Tivvy. David Steele was brought on in place of Dave Hallett to ad a little more punch (metaphorically speaking‚ of course) to Tiverton´s midfield and with the change the visitors began to exert greater control. The 66th minute saw a Tivvy free kick ten yards outside the Eastleigh penalty area - just outside party piece range - that Winter drove at the wall and when the second ball was lifted over the defenders Mudge was caught offside as he closed in at the far post. The game was flowing from end to end but it was the visitors that were beginning to look more convincing though in the 72nd minute Ovendale was forced to make a spectacular save when a cross from the Eastleigh right deflected off Rob Cousins head and looked bound for the bottom corner until the keeper steered it round the post for a corner.
Into the last ten minutes and it was clear that The visitors had the initiative. Mick Booth won a bone shaking tackle on Bowers and sent Mudge away through the middle but The Tiverton striker couldn´t quite control the ball and Matthews cleared it away and then Winter charged down the right like a rampant buffalo only to be somersaulted to the squelching turf by a blatant trip. Across came Vinnicombe and this time his curler found Mudge at the far post but Mudge didn´t find the target and the shot went wide. It wasn´t only Tiverton´s lack of accurate sights though‚ that kept the ball out of the net. That big man Matthews played his part and though his handling was below par compared to Saturday he was spreading himself (and there´s certainly a lot of him to spread) well‚ as he did to save with his legs when Winter put Ibe through in the 83rd. Winter was given another opportunity to break the deadlock with three minutes remaining with another free kick just a few yards too far out. He nearly pulled it off with a low driven shot that fooled all the defenders expecting a far post cross. All except Matthews who was alert to the deception and scampered across his goal to see the ball skid inches past his post. Ibe took on the Eastleigh back line but scooped his shot high. Steele split the defence with a ball through for Mudge to run onto towards the right but Ibe was just beaten in the race for the pass back into the box by Matthews. It was the final through and with the heavens still chucking down the rain we faced another half hour.

No...please God.....not penalties! It was a thought that must have run through the minds of 500 or more people. Certainly Eastleigh did what they had done after the first interval and attacked. It was comparatively short lived - one shot from Danny Smith that was well wide. And then it was back as it had been in the last 15 minutes of normal time....Tiverton looking lively and likely. It took until the 97th minute. Mudge took the ball from a short corner and twisted and turned as only he can to find space as he was closed down. Still wide on the left he found the gap and fired in a low shot that might have been a cross. Whatever it was there was Nathan Rudge‚ still forward for the high corner that hadn´t come but still looking for the sniff of a chance. Matthews went down...mishandled not for the first time...and Rudge was on the score sheet. Captain Marvel had put the Yellows in front. The delight on the pitch was clear. The delight on the terrace behind the goal where the noisiest Tivvy contingent of the season were gathered was.....noisy! The lead was not to be threatened before the Extra time turnaround.

Even after the break it was no different. Town defended early on by attacking and when the attacks broke down they defended well just outside the penalty area.....the Eastleigh penalty area. Ibe and Mudge were still running.....ankle deep in water in some areas of the pitch where the ball would suddenly stop as the bow waves held it up. Matthews was brought to the fore again by a low shot from Mudge after Ibe had sent him through. The Yellows kept the screw turned with a sequence of three corners immediately after the save but the inevitable all or nothing effort from the home side developed. It was to be nothing - the Tiverton defence saw to that. Eastleigh never really looked like finding an equaliser and with every white shirted player looking to get forward the best chances came Tiverton´s way through Ibe and Mudge. Matthews´ feet did what his hands hadn´t as they deflected the ball away from Ibe and a puddle caused Mudge to over run a ball that suddenly stopped dead. It could have been more. But‚ as has been said so often before: one goal is enough in cup football.

Now‚ Tivvy ain´t going to win the FA Cup but it´s nice while it lasts. More important is the league position. The Yellows could do with a few points so forget about Bring on Newport‚ Bring on Itchin!

Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale‚ Steve Winter (Kevin Wills‚ 90)‚ Chris Vinnicombe (Shaun Goff‚ 91)‚ Tom Stocco‚ Nathan Rudge‚ Rob Cousins‚ David Hallett (David Steele‚ 61)‚ Iain Harvey, Mike Booth, Kezie Ibe, James Mudge.

Subs not used:, Jamie Densham, Paul Edwards

Yellow cards: Harvey.

Eastleigh: Colin Matthews, Sam Wyeth, Chris Collins, Martin Thomas (Nicky Banger, 33), Danny Rofe, Rob Marshall, Danny Smith, David Hughes, Tyronne Bowers (John Mulhern, 90), Martin Beck (James Stokoe, 69), Christer Warren.

Subs not used: Ryan Ashford, Wayne Shaw.

Yellow Cards: Smith, Bowers,Collins, Mulhern.

Att: 488

Referee: William Lillington (Dorchester)

This report ©2004 John Reidy

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