Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 1 Dunstable Town

   Saturday 11/12/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Guilty‚ M´Lord. Guilty as charged. And what was the charge? That I have committed the cardinal offence in Journalism - be it for pecuniary gain or mere literary self gratification - of failing to undertake the necessary research. No‚ I am guilty‚ as is not uncommon with my efforts on this site‚ of relying solely on past connections and memories from which to concoct an introduction to my view of Tivvy´s most recent encounter. Mind you‚ even before the jury returned‚ the verdict was declared‚ let alone sentence being passed‚ I find myself paying the price of my neglect as I struggle to find connections with the fair town of Dunstable in the data bank of my memory. So few are the entries concerning our latest visitors that I only just avoided making a reference to Tiverton´s current two game run of victories as a Hertfordshire Double´ - which might well have turned out to have been a Capital offence in the eyes of our guests from Bedfordshire. So what did I mange to come up with? Well‚ the first of three connections‚ revealed by my search engine‚ left me expecting the opposition to be playing in brown kit! Something to do with an advert for a certain brand of aerated chocolate bar‚ I guess‚ that played on the misnomer Dunsta-bubble´. More concrete (though I seem to recall that a refrigerated Aero bar was as hard as concrete!) was the memory that when biking it from Oxford‚ I knew that on passing through Dunstable (by all accounts the best course of action)‚ I was not far short of Kenilworth Road and the home of the Hatters´. Which prompted to mind the third vague link...football....George Best. In another time when the club were also struggling‚ the wayward star‚ long out of his remarkable career‚ went to their aid by signing and turning out for them on a few occasions. It might have saved the club by swelling their gates‚ which was more than Georgie boy managed to do for his liver - though that also‚ apparently‚ increased considerably in size. So‚ the club is once again in crisis. Will Kerry Dixon come to their aid? Kerry who? I may have felt sympathy prior to kick off but not to the extent that charity would be acceptable. Tivvy needed all three points if their trial were not to be prolonged.

Three points were on the menu‚ as long as the chefs didn´t foul up. And sure enough‚ after the visitors had made the first foray forward‚ it was The Yellows that exerted the first sustained pressure. Down the left they steadily progressed through a series of throw ins (throws in - as in fathers in laws??) with Jamie Mudge finally forcing in a cross which found Mike Booth well forward to fire in the first shot of the game‚ which took a deflection out for a corner on the right. Chris Vinnicombe´s kick from the quadrant was cleared by the Dunstable defence but not without them looking decidedly shaky. And that doubt was confirmed in the fifth minute when Kevin Wills scooped a first time ball from the Tivvy defence over two blue striped shirted players to send Mudge haring off down the right touchline. Jamie never lost momentum as he levelled with the penalty spot and sent in a low cross to the foot of Kezie Ibe who had the simplest of tasks to tuck the ball home from six yards.
Tivvy had realised that the visitors defence was not the best they had faced this season and set about trying to expose it as possibly the worst. It was not a particularly difficult task. The Bedfordshire side´s back line looked sluggish and disorganised - the menu had changed from a satisfactory three points to a veritable goal feast but Tiverton seemed to be on a self imposed diet. Like a member of the Royal family at a State Banquet they nibbled but declined to tuck in. After Dunstable had been allowed a token attack that had seen Robbie Kean (No....this one has no e´ on the end of his name) fire wide‚ Vinnicombe fired in a shot from a free kick that had keeper Paul Taylor taking two grabs at the ball before getting a grip on it and then Mudge lifted an effort high and wide after Booth‚ Winter and Ibe had strung together a sequence of first time passes that left the opposition flat-footed. Hopes of a second goal spiralled as usual when Tivvy were awarded a free kick just outside the Dunstable penalty area in the 18th minute but though the routine worked well Mudge scuffed his shot wide.
As the midway point of the first half passed it was becoming more obvious from their play and body language that Tivvy needed to find the net again. All three front men were carrying on where they had left off on Wednesday evening - which was fine‚ just fine‚ as far and Ibe and Mudge were concerned but not what was required from new boy Canham - and the same could be said of David Steele who almost broke through when a poor clearance fell to him and he ran full tilt at the defence but lost control as he burst through the wall. No mad swipe by a defender to slice the ball into the net this time‚ instead it ran to Canham whose powder puff shot would not have worried a stray cat let alone Taylor. Worrying‚ it was. Dunstable were definitely having a greater share of the game and the Tiverton defence were having to work rather than cruise.
Then the Yellows got it together again. Mudge away on the right had Ibe in parallel but when he cut inside and put the ball across the penalty area it was behind his fellow striker. All the same it was a good chance missed as Steele was powering in behind Ibe and connected well with a low drive that brought a full length stop from Taylor. At the opposite end Ovendale was yelling for‚ and collecting‚ all the high balls that Dunstable managed to fling in towards his goal. It took a set piece to eventually bring up Tivvy´s second goal. Ibe was upended as he went for goal in a straight line through the middle. It was 25 yards plus out‚ too far for party pieces and anyway they had been revealed. So plan b´. Up stepped Steve Winter and blasted the ball straight‚ true and into the net.
Vulnerable as ever in the aftermath of scoring The Yellows defence were all over the place two minutes later as their guests gratefully accepted a seasonal gift to re-instate their single goal deficit. A free kick wide on the right was lifted into the six yard box. For once - just about the only time all afternoon - Ovendale failed to claim it but still it was sent on towards the back of the penalty area. The lack of concentration came when it was dropped straight back into the centre with Ovendale still back peddling into position. The ball fell to ground around the penalty spot‚ right in the midst of four players‚ three yellow shirts and a single blue and white striped one. Typically it was Kean that got his foot to the ball and despite getting over and down to the shot´ Ovendale´s hands failed to make contact. Tivvy looked nervous after the setback but their lead was not threatened‚ nor did they threaten to increase it as the game stuttered to the half time break.

And stuttering was an apt description of the action when the second period got underway. It all seemed lively enough but went just about nowhere until‚ despite Tivvy having marginally the better of things‚ Dunstable won a corner in the 52nd minute. The kick was nothing out of the ordinary but the clearance fell to Stuart Strange well over 35 yards out who let fly with a shot that was only inches wide. Tiverton continued to have the greater possession but lacked penetration‚ frequently being their own nemesis as they failed to find colleagues and gave the ball away before they were close enough to threaten Taylor´s goal. And thanks to The Yellows´ seasonal benevolence their guests came more and more into the game but like Tivvy lacked the co-ordination to cover much ground as passes went astray. If the early exchanges had seen the match going nowhere then by the hour mark it had stalled entirely as a contest - lying twitching, almost dead, in midfield. Tivvy tried to freshen their game up by the replacing of the ineffective Canham with the potentially more energetic Goff in the 65th minute. It made little difference to the quality of the play overall. There was a little more movement but it was hoof and chase end to end rubbish.
Perhaps it was due to the players tiring and becoming a little more clumsy´ but the only incidents that were worth noting were those that brought the yellow card out. Tivvy looked nervous and a better team might well have taken advantage, but after 35 minutes of forgettable action we were at last woken from our dream state when Tivvy were awarded a free kick wide on the left. Winter crossed the pitch and curled in the cross. Jamie Mudge timed both his jump and the nod of his head to direct the ball into the net perfectly to notch his umpteenth goal of the season. A rare headed´ goal for Mudgie. More substitutions to disrupt the flow of the game, another yellow card, this one shown to Booth after a dubious tackle. and talked´ into the referee´s book when the official showed no inclination to do more than award the free kick. Don´t blame the Tivvy man, the relevant talking came from Dunstable´s Ryan Frater - and they call them sportsman´! Goff made a lively run at the visitors defence but his ball through for Mudge was a little too close to Taylor who was able to shield it from Mudge and allow it to run for a goal kick, and in added time Mudge was tumbled over ten yards outside the penalty area and Goof, trying to emulate the Winter free kick of the first half, crashed his drive against the defensive wall. The final whistle brought a feeling of relief that it was over, as well as the very welcome three points.

Two consecutive league wins - a distinct novelty for Tivvy - have seen a six place climb up the table. Another, at Banbury next weekend could bring the top half of the table into sight.....particularly if the vista is not clouded over at Histon on the following Tuesday.


Tiverton Town: .Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe (Dave Hambly, 85), Mike Booth, Paul Milsom, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills, David Steele, Sean Canham (Shaun Goff, 65), Kezie Ibe (Jamie Densham, 84), James Mudge.

Subs not used: Matt Lock, Ian Nott.

Booked: Steele, Booth.


Dunstable Town: Paul Taylor, Chris Harvey (Matthew Childs, 82), Marc Kefford, Dean Walker, Ryan Frater, Adam Smith, Robbie Kean, Jonathan Barnett (Daniel Appleby, 44), Thomas Hayes (Wayne Mills, 8), Anthony Francis, Stuart Strange.

Subs not used: Nick Massie.

Booked: Frater, Walker, Strange.


Att: 445


Referee: Mark Mackreth (Bristol).

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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