Match report

Solihull Borough 3 - 3 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 04/12/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Duffel Coats‚ Dinner Jackets‚ and Anoraks come in all sizes. If as a result of my interest in Non League football and Tiverton Town in particular‚ I were to be classed in the later category‚ I would probably only fall into the smallest size. There are two reasons I would admit to a tendency towards anoraksia or whatever the condition might be medically termed and that is my desire to collect enamel badges from all the clubs whose grounds I have visited on my travels with Tivvy since they joined the ranks of the Southern League and on a wider basis‚ to visit as many different grounds as possible...not to the extent of being a groundhopper and merely going to the stadiums for the sake of it‚ more going to the ground because there is a game that I want to see taking place there. On the first count I have been mainly successful - only this season's visit to Chesham failed to provide an additional piece of multi-coloured metal to my collection‚ a shortfall that will hopefully be repaired when the Buckinghamshire side come to Ladysmead for the return fixture. Saturday say another ground visited added to my list as Tivvy travelled to Solihull to take on Borough. Two previous encounters had taken place whilst Solihull had been homeless‚ or more correctly in the second instance waiting for their new pitch to recover after it had been found to be able to cope with heavy rain. Both fixtures had‚ therefore been played at their groundshare venue at Redditch United. So new territory...and hopes that there would be a new‚ improved‚ better Yellows on display.

Certainly there was a different look to the team as they took the field. Rob Cousins was out again‚ injured‚ as was Tom Stocco. Back came David Steele and Shaun Goff started at left back‚ with Chris Vinnicombe moving inside in the back four; and Dave Hambly was given a place on the bench - as was the far from fully fit Matt Lock.

Tiverton survived an early scare in the 3rd minute when a Solihull cross from the right was turned against Mark Ovendale's legs by Steve Winter but Tivvy did have the honour of sending in the first shot on target two minutes later when a long throw in on their left was directed to Jamie Mudge who turned round his marker as he carried the ball left to right away from goal‚ turning to fire in an effort as he reached the right edge of the penalty area. A shot‚ but without enough power to cause Mark Gayle the slightest difficulty in the Solihull goal.

With The Yellows looking the more attacking side‚ even though play from both sides was hardly describable as flowing‚ it was Boro's turn to collect the next 'first' as Scott Voice collected a yellow card for a foul on Steele and as the resulting free kick was dropped into the home penalty area and forced towards goal by Nathan Rudge there was n enthusiastic shout for a penalty for handball but the referee waved and shouted for play to continue.

By the tenth minute the foul tally against the home side was rising at the rate of three to one against Tivvy's and they were nearly made to pay when they conceded one just outside their penalty area. A simplified routine saw Winter touch the ball to Vinnicombe who was denied the afternoon's opening goal by the woodwork as he drove the ball crisply through a gap in the wall only for it to thud off the base of Gayle's left hand post. Then the game dozed off. Neither team seemed able to string together enough passes to mount any serious threat on their opponents penalty area and it was the grass within about twenty-five yards of the centre spot that took the brunt of the stud wear.

The home side did manage a brief spurt of energetic forward play around the nineteenth mark that brought them a couple of corner kicks as first Aden Cooper's shot was deflected by Mike Booth‚ and then Morton Titterton - finally escaping from Hinckley - drove in a fierce shot that was also deflected away‚ but then the game reverted to the semi somnolent state from which it has briefly emerged until the alarm repeater went of again as the half hour came up.

In fact the buzzer had been going but comparatively quietly since the start of the game...one Marcus Jackson on loan from Bromsgrove Rovers had been causing problems for Shaun Goff all afternoon. This time he shot past him like a bullet and did the same as Vinnicombe moved wider. Tivvy were fortunate that his cross was overhit but it was a warning shot that needed heeding.

And on the opposite wing there was an equal though not as frequent threat in the shape of Rob Taylor who combined well with Mark Shepherd in a break that brought the home side a series of corners in the 37th and 38th minute‚ though Ovendale was in fine form with his fists and the Solihull forwards were awry with the direction of their shooting so although they seemed to be having the better of things the scoresheet remained blank. When Titterton did manage to find the target Ovendale was sharp to palm the ball away‚ and Mudge fired in a rare Tivvy shot at the other end that was only a foot or so wide.
With the final seconds of the half ticking away Mudge latched on to a through ball that set him free approaching the left hand edge of the Solihull penalty area. It was the kind of position that usually sees the Tivvy striker cur across the face of the area but he was forced to head for the by-line‚ where he escaped the challenging defender and laid the ball back deep to the penalty spot area where Kezie Ibe was perfectly placed to break his recent goal drought with a well hit side footed shot through a clutch of players. The deadlock broken on the stroke of half time...and unusually‚ it was Tiverton scoring rather than conceding‚ so it made the first 45 minutes worthwhile‚ but from the quality of the play - only just.

The respective half time dressing room rollickings saw both sides start the second period with a little bit more energy on display. First to show were The Yellows as Mudge‚ and he had been the liveliest Tivvy man in the first half so that was hardly surpassing‚ fired in a cross from the left that was turned out for a corner‚ and then the hosts broke and Voice took a pot that curled wide at the other end.

But it was the home side that maintained the momentum longest. Goff continued to struggle wide on the left - to such an extent that he was reduced to a wild lunge that brought him the sight of a yellow card‚ and the pressure brought reward for Solihull in the 51st minute. Ovendale brought off a magnificent save from a well hit shot from Voice but was unable to hold on to it. The ball was scooped up into the air by one defender and headed out a bit further to the left side of the penalty area but only to the boot of Taylor who unleashed a tremendous rising shot from an acute angle that set the rood of the net bulging.

The equaliser signalled the end of the afternoon's involvement for Paul Milsom who had been struggling since taking a first half knock. Jamie Densham was given his chance as the three pronged attack tactic was continued. It put the onus for providing the physical presence of the Tiverton attack firmly on the shoulders of Ibe and in the 58th minute it looked as if he might have responded in the correct fashion as he hustled his way past two defenders on the right‚ cut in along the goal line and past another Boro' man and with the keeper close on the near post tried to squeeze the ball in from what seemed like an impossible angle. If only - that little word 'if' again - he had done as Mudge had done in the final minute of the first half and laid the ball back towards the penalty spot... Two minutes later Ibe was again in the thick of the action as Tivvy edged their way on top when he headed down a lobbed cross from Winter that Kevin Wills touched to Mudge whose shot was only millimetres outside Gayle's upright.

Fifteen minutes seemed to be the maximum length of time that the teams could manage to provide entertainment and the game descended once more into a period of tedium.

Then‚ as is so often the case‚ from the midst of mediocrity came a moment of brightness. Suddenly‚ with the planes coming in to land at nearby Birmingham International Airport proving to be more interesting than the game (yes‚ I admit it‚ I wasn't watching the action on the field!)‚ a ball was lofted in from the left towards Ibe on the edge of the Solihull area. It fell slightly behind him‚ but back to goal‚ he brought it down as he turned and sent in a perfectly lobbed shot that rose over Gayle as the keeper advanced and dropped under the bar to restore Tiverton's lead in the 65th minute.

Five minutes later and the lead was doubled. A Tivvy free kick ten yards outside the Boro' penalty area was blasted off the wall for a corner on the left. Hoisted into the middle the ball was pushed out wide towards the back of the six yard box where Densham lurked and hit his shot sweetly home from the angle to record his first Southern League goal for the Yellows.

Twenty minutes to go and a two goal lead. It looked good but 'Chickens'‚ 'counting'‚ and 'eggs'‚ are words that we have come to associate with such situations and we didn't have to wait long for them to be brought back to mind. Just two minutes in fact, as Solihull were awarded a free kick just outside the Tiverton box. All the usual tugging and pulling in the wall, the dummying and delaying over the ball (poetry?). In the end it was a quite plain free kick. Plain but effective as Voice thumped the ball through the barrier and low into the net just inside Ovendale's right upright with no defender on the post.

Eighteen to go...and Solihull were up for it. Their two wide men came into their own. Taylor fired in a shot that took Ovendale's breath away as it thudded into his gut, Jackson left Goff sitting on the turf with legs outstretched but unmarked colleagues in the centre failed to meet his cross which carried through for Winter to turn out for a corner.
The Yellows were generally reduced to breaks. A foul brought one to an end and Steele rolled the ball into the path of Mudge who leant back and lifted the ball out of the ground. Ibe made his way to the line and this time did lay the ball back into the path of Mudge who again gave the ball boys work on the other side of the perimeter fence.

It was a struggle at times as Solihull threw everything they had at Tiverton, but survival and three points became increasing likely as the minutes and then the seconds ticked away. Just forty of the smaller units remaining on my watch, breath holding time. Agggh...a Boro' corner...no...it can't happen. Oh yes it can...and did. Near post, touch on, touch in by Jackson. All square, and added time. One last chance as Mudge broke and fed the ball to Wills, but the shot was straight at Gayle.

The final whistle saw Boro rehearsing their celebration routine for when they win the FA Cup. The quality of play may not have been up to the standard of a Millennium Stadium Final but those celebrations were an indication of just how important the game was to two struggling teams. It should have been us...again!


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe, Mike Booth, Nathan Rudge, Shaun Goff, Kevin Wills, David Steele, Paul Milsom (Jamie Densham 52), Kezie Ibe (Dave Hambly 88), James Mudge
Booked: Goff

Solihull Borough: Mark Gayle, Andy Smith, Martin Heir (Jamie Petty 88), Adam Cooper, Richard Robinson, Dean Peer (Mark Faulds 82) Marcus Jackson, Morton Titterton (Matt Hawker 64), Scott Voice, Mark Shepherd, Rob Taylor.
Booked: Voice, Titterton

Attendance: 140

Referee: Mr. C. Baldwin (Daventry)


This report ©2004 John Reidy






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