Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 3 Doncaster Rovers

   Saturday 13/11/2004   FA Cup
John Reidy

I have frequently prefaced my view of the match with glances towards the abstract concepts of dreams‚ hopes‚ wishes‚ even expectations - and not forgetting‚ of course‚ the multitudal possibilities encompassed by that minuscule word‚ if´. Tivvy´s seventh visit to the First Round of the FA Cup had me experiencing just about all in the emotions associated with such ideas in the week leading up to the game. Yes‚ I did have a dream‚ though it was nothing as earth shattering as Martin Luther King´s dream and since it had absolutely nothing to do with football was of little use to me in mental preparation for the weekend anyway. The hopes‚ wishes and if´ factor were probably much the same as the majority of Tiverton fans and only the most optimistic could honestly be expecting a Yellows win‚ so there was little inspiration from those channels. So whilst the prospects of success were limited it depends on how success was to be measured. A money spinning crowd‚ a fighting performance‚ a goal - at least one - for The Yellows; all would count in the judgement of the day. True‚ occasionally there will be the outstanding or freak result but the realist in me does not allow such daydreams much credence. Fine for song writers like John Lennon to Imagine‚ but when it comes to Tiverton Town‚ and particularly this season‚ I find it better‚ personally‚ to keep both feet planted in the real of expect nothing and you´ll not be disappointed.

Despite that mental approach it was difficult not to feel the excitement as kick off neared. And within a minute of the start it was nigh on impossible to contain as The Yellows almost wrote the first headline of the day for the multitude of media that had descended on Ladysmead. Having had the kick off and being repelled on the left Tivvy tried the right but were halted by a foul. Chris Vinnicombe made his regular pilgrimage across the field to curl in a threat laden free kick that had Rovers keeper Andy Warrington struggling to reach the ball as the heads went up all around him. He managed to make contact with a fist but the ball only just cleared the penalty area where it was met by Jamie Mudge who unleashed a ferocious rising drive that left the crossbar quivering as the ball cannoned back into play to be desperately hoiked away by a defender. Just over a minute gone and the heart-rate had been doubled. Just when the beats to the minute had reverted to normal as Doncaster made a move into the Tiverton half it was once again spurred into overdrive as Nathan Rudge broke up the attack and sent a long clearance ten yards beyond the halfway line. Mudge brought the ball down and under control and slipped it sideways and forward to send Kezie Ibe through on Donny keeper Andy Warrington. Ibe drifted to the keeper´s left and only needed to find the target but somehow managed to contrive to send the ball crashing into the wall wide of the goal. Two golden chances for the home side in the opening five minutes.......ah‚ that word if´ again. Donny‚ and that includes the fans massed behind their goal‚ had been given a scare and they responded by settling down to the task in hand. It took them all of five minutes to get the game under their control and from that point on‚ that was where it was to remain. Notice was given of their intentions in the tenth minute when James Coppinger´s pace saw him get Rovers first shot on goal in‚ bringing the first of a multitude of dignity saving stops from Mark Ovendale‚ albeit this one was a little undignified as he scrambled the ball away with his feet. Five minutes later‚ though‚ there was nothing untidy about the keepers part in defending Rovers´ first corner as he rose above the pack of assorted forwards and defenders to punch the threat away upfield where it was collected by Ibe who rather fluffed the chance of a break by pushing it on too far and too hard beyond Mudge‚ Coppinger‚ after a subdued start was bubbling on the visitors right flank and was using his remarkable pace to carve his way through with ease. Inevitably the pressure eventually told and one such charge led to the opening goal. The former Grecian´s cross was hoisted into the six-yard box where a scramble developed that saw the ball bouncing around and threatening to find it´s way into the net on a couple of occasions - once being cleared off the line by Steve Winter after bouncing down off the crossbar from a Neil Roberts header - before it was finally forced over the line by Michael McIndoe.
Once the celebrations were over for the visitors and the game restarted Coppinger was at it again immediate‚ forcing Ovendale to get down well to turn his shot away for a corner and with Tivvy under the cosh their dreams of glory all but evaporated in the 26th minute. This time it was a free kick wide on the right that brought the goal. Swung in to the penalty area. Nathan Rudge headed Paul Greens effort off the line‚ forcing the ball well clear of the danger area to the left. But Dave Morley was following in and flighted his cross in for Nick Fenton to give Doncaster their second strike and make them look as comfortable as they no doubt were. The four divisions difference between the levels at which the teams play was patently obvious. Their defence was not troubled in the slightest by the occasional breaks out of defence by The Yellows front men. Midfield was Rovers territory as their Tivvy counterparts were hauled back to join in the rearguard action‚ and McIndoe‚ Coppinger et al laid siege to the Tiverton goal in their quest for a scoreline that might normally be more associated with the egg chasers´ code of the game. Coppinger had two chances‚ Roberts thundered one wide‚ Green could have killed the game. That the score remained level to the break was due to a combination of lack of finishing by the visitors and some desperate defending by the Tiverton back line and brave‚ committed goalkeeping from Ovendale. It wasn´t quite trench warfare but the yellows certainly took a pounding.

Ten minutes truce saw insignificant change. There were no casualties sent from the front to be replaced by fresh troops and the battle took much the same shape as hostilities recommenced. It those watching thought that things might be a little different after the half time pep talks they were disproved as early as the 46th minute as a Rovers free kick was touched sideways and blasted inches wide by Morley from 25 yards out. But the home lads were not going to give up the fight and though they had only the slimmest of opportunities of forcing their way back into the game they battled for every ball. Ovendale made an almost miraculous save to beat out a close range shot from Green in the 51st minute and as the barrage continued the frustration of so little involvement for the Tivvy front men was shown as Mudge collected a yellow card. Ten minutes into the second period and Coppinger made an incisive diagonal run across the box but fired woefully - for Rovers - way over the top and again Ovendale took the plaudits as he saved well from Green. From the goal kick Tivvy made minor inroads into the visitors territory but were pulled up by a foul. Thirty yards out it was a bit to far to operate the Tivvy Deception Routine so Winter took a pot and almost matched Coppinger´s miss margin. That - free kick situations - was about the only time that The Yellows looked like getting on the scoresheet and it happened again midway through the half when Winter curled in another set piece that had Warrington leaping and stretching to touch the ball out for a corner but back swarmed the red and white hoops of Rovers with Greg Blundell bursting free down the left only to watch as his nigh perfect cross was headed wide by Ricky Ravenhill.
Something had to give. Something had to change. The Yorkshiremen started by replacing Coppinger. If ever there was justification for regarding football as a squad game then this was a fair example. The one time Exeter livewire had burnt a full 90 minutes of energy in just 70. Fresh legs brought renewed verve maintaining rather than changing the tactics. The pressure stayed on Tiverton but it was time to throw caution to the wind. Paul Milsom was added to the forward line. The moved was matched....McIndoe was replaced. Still Doncaster applied the squeeze. Tivvy refreshed midfield with ten minutes remaining. To cover for the reduced numbers having to work harder as they pushed forward in search of a late recovery or to hang on to respectability? The benefit of the doubt has to go to the former ploy as the home side did make a final effort. But they were caught when in the 84th minute one of their substitutes‚ the alarmingly named Germane McSporran‚ fired in an exorcet of a shot that Ovendale did well to get down for but could only get a single hand to. The ball was off his glove right to the toe of Blundell who had the simplest task to touch home the Division One sides third goal. The final minute saw a repeat of the opening scenario as Jamie Mudge jinked his way through to unleash a cracking shot that had Warrington beaten all the way. Again the woodwork intervened and despite the fact that even the visiting fans would probably have admitted that it would have been the goal of the game‚ Mudge and Tivvy still had the big 0 next to their name. Deep into injury time The Yellows got what they deserved. It is normal for players to wait until the final whistle to tear off their shirts to swap. One Rovers player was clearly determined to claim Ibe´s and decided to grab it as the Tiverton frontman twisted and turned in the penalty area. The referee hesitated (why?) before glancing at his assistant who had no better view‚ and deciding‚ what the hell‚ it won´t make any difference - penalty!. Steve Winter stepped up and thumped the ball past Warrington to add just that little touch of respectability to the final score.

The dream was over for the Devonians in the crowd but it was no more than expected. The if´ factor was duly trotted out in relationship to what might have happened in the first five minutes. The plaudits for the underdog´s efforts were duly voiced. When all the dust had settled and reality returned it boiled down to the normal cool analysis. Four levels of football is a gulf too wide to bridge.....usually.

Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale‚ Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe, Mike Booth (Shaun Goff, 80), Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills Iain Harvey (David Steele, 81), Tom Stocco (Paul Milsom, 76), Kezie Ibe, James Mudge.

Subs not used: David Hallett, Jamie Densham.

Yellow cards: Mudge, Winter, Harvey.

Doncaster Rovers: Andy Warrington, Tim Ryan, Dave Morley, Greg Blundell, Nick Fenton, Jamie Price, Ricky Ravenhill, Paul Green, Michael McIndoe (Adriano Rigolioso, 77), James Coppinger (Jermaine McSporran, 70), Neil Roberts (Chris Beardsley, 87).

Subs not used: Mark Albrighton, Stuart Jones.

Yellow Cards: Morley.

Referee: Lee Probert (Bristol)

Att: 1618

This report ©2004 John Reidy

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