Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 2 Team Bath

   Monday 27/12/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

The top levels of sport and Universities have always had a close link. Wasn´t it the quad´ of his Cambridge college that provided the track for Harold Abrahams training for the 1924 Olympics - and wasn´t his behaviour and attitude in taking on a professional´ trainer considered poor form‚ eh! what?´ by the University Dons? Aren´t the Varsity cricket teams rated highly enough to face visiting Test sides at The Parks´ or Venners´? How many Blues´ have been included in the home countries International Rugby squads? And back to the runners - weren´t the trio of Chattaway‚ Brasher and Bannister that cracked the four minute mile barrier before my very eyes at the Iffley Road Track home of Oxford University Athletics‚ all part of that Varsity? Even within our own chosen sport of football the Universities have a tradition of being involved at high levels. Oxford University won the FA Cup in 1874‚ Pegasus (the combined Oxford/Cambridge University side) won the Amateur Cup twice in the early 50´s. So what´s new about Team Bath? It has to be said that the term student´ is applied somewhat loosely in their case. Rather than students who play football the trait now would seem to be for footballers that study. But that too‚ is nothing new. The Sports Scholarship idea was imported from the USA long ago. Just look at the Varsity Boat Race eights! Indeed‚ even without the scholarships it is nothing new. Forty years ago‚ I myself was guilty of signing up for a course with the sole aim of becoming eligible to play for the Students Union funded football team. The Students Union was partially funded by the local ratepayers......Team Ratepayer? Team Bath are not a bunch of students...they are a football team and my thoughts entering this match were that Tivvy should regard them as such...or pay the consequences.

That the game survived the weather was a tribute to the Ladysmead ground staff‚ though the pitch resembled a glue pot. Slippery and heavy we were treated to opening minute exhibitions of players almost flying a´ over t´ as they misjudged their footing. All the same it was clear that there was going to be some attempt at playing football from both sides. First to show were Tivvy with a forward move that saw Shaun Goff‚ included for the late withdrawing Mike Booth‚ firing in a low shot that skimmed wide in the second minute . Three minutes later The Yellows had a golden opportunity to take the lead when Team Bath keeper Darren Chitty sliced a back pass straight to Jamie Mudge but was saved from further embarrassment when Mudge´s shot at the empty net flew a foot wide.
It was by no means one way traffic though. Team bath had already shown that they could overcome the conditions and play some foot to foot passing football. Add to that the fact that they clearly had two lively wide men and the writing was clear to be seen. It was one of those two diminutive wing men that caused Tiverton´s initial defensive problems. Luke Prince‚ wearing 7 but operating initially on the left‚ began to give Steve Winter the run-around‚ Not that he limited himself to that side of the field; frequently wandering over to the opposite flank leaving his wing back Danny Maye to follow forward into the space.
Yet‚ despite Team Bath grabbing most of the play it was the home fans that were cheering the opening goal in the 12th minute. As Tivvy relieved themselves - of pressure‚ you understand? - the ball was played out of defence to midfield where Goff steered it first time through the middle. One place where the visitors had looked a little dodgy´ had been in the middle of their defence and Mudge underlined this as he burst free of the two centre backs to close on Chitty and slide the ball neatly past the advancing keeper to nestle comfortably in the net.
Having beaten league leaders Histon on their own patch in their last game one would not have expected TB to have been fazed by going a goal down...and one would have been right. Off they went with a business like ´Lets redress the balance attitude´ and within a minute Carl Heiniger had rifled in a 40 yard shot that failed to worry stand in keeper Paul Edwards - drafted in at the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute when Mark Ovendale was involved in a car accident on the way to the game. The visitors determination to get back on terms saw them lay siege to the Tiverton penalty area forcing the home side back with every man except Mudge battling to block‚ tackle‚ or defend the lead as best they could. It was just as well Mudge was not sucked into the rearguard effort for when Tivvy did get possession and Kevin Wills managed to find the time and space to look up there was Mudge ready to repeat his solo run feat. Wills looped the ball forward‚ Mudge burst free of the two centre backs to close on Chitty and slide the ball neatly past the advancing keeper to nestle comfortably in the net. (Why write different words? the goal was as near as damnit identical!). Sixteen minutes gone...were we in for a Tivvy goalfest?
Nope! All the goal brought was an increase in pressure from the visitors who seemed to take the view that if their back line was suspect the best option was to keep the ball at the other end of the field. Matt Lewis nearly set them on the road back as he sailed past Chris Vinnicombe and then Goff before whipping in a cross that was met by Prince who shot just wide and a few minutes later Prince found the target but Edwards held the ball low.
Lewis again provided the cross that saw Stefan Wojciechowski (bet my spell-check rejects that one!) head over the bar and it was only in the last five minutes of the half that the Tiverton fans were given a sniff of something to give them hope. As always it was Mudge....onto a through ball by Paul Milsom this time; and this time dispossessed by a well timed last ditch tackle by Ali Otto‚ and again as the referee prepared to blow for half time but failing to control the dropping ball. There was just enough time for Tivvy to record their first corner of the game before the break and leave the fans wondering if they could withstand another 45 minutes of what had been going on for the last half hour.

Shaun Goff retired at half time with a hamstring problem. Team Bath´s No.6 was retired with a lack of pace...it was he that had been left by Mudge for both goals. Otherwise not a lot changed. 7/11 continued to dominate proceedings and when they combined early on somehow the cross being turned for a corner seemed to be a satisfactory result for The Yellows. Team Bath continued to swing the cosh‚ Tivvy were under it and it seemed like only a matter of time before they were hit. Milsom collected a yellow card for last years tackle on Prince - to howls of protest from the visitors bench as they accused Mils of deliberately trying to take Prince out of the game.
Yet despite the almost exclusive rights to attack that The University side were enjoying it was Kevin Wills that came closest to finding the net. Finding himself going forward‚ and with little apparent support‚ he kept going. When the defensive line decided to stop backing off and stand their ground‚ still with no other option he still kept going.....stumbling his way through until with only Chitty left to beat he was stopped by the keeper´s legs. And then Mudge escaped again but this time wide on the right. Cutting in he was faced with a choice. Either try to round Chitty or beat him with a shot from the angle. Jamie tried the latter but his lob was not high enough and Chitty clawed it down from above his head.
That brought the hour up and another change from Team Bath. Tomas Jaukovic replaced Wojciechowski (that´s really blown the spell check!) and immediately pushed forward more than his predecessor. It proved to be a crucial change for the visitors when in the 66th minute Jaukovic was fouled just outside the penalty area and when the kick was fired in and chaos reigned in the goalmouth Nathan Rudge was spotted swinging Caleb Kamara-Taylor to the ground and a penalty was given. Jaukovic thumped the ball past Edwards and Team Bath were on their way.
Five minutes later and it was Tiverton´s turn to change things. The heavy conditions had taken their toll on Milsom so his replacement by the likely to be more mobile Jamie Densham seemed logical. Briefly it seemed that the extra movement up front might enable Tivvy to relieve the incessant pressure‚ at least for slightly longer spells as Densham held the ball. When he did so and made a run on the left there were even brief hopes of even more‚ but they soon vanished as Densham´s attempted pass inside to Mudge was underweight and allowed the visitors to clear up and set off on the rampage again. Prince (who else?) made the run and slid the ball inside to Heiniger whose shot was mere inches above both Edwards hands and the crossbar. Prince. though‚ was not to be contained. The 77th minute saw him once again charging down the right‚ Having swapped sides almost permanently now‚ to lay a low cross into the six yard box. Kamara-Taylor made the right connection and Edwards made the right move to get his legs to the ball. But up span the sphere and K-T was the first to react as it descended‚ crashing it up into the roof of the net for the equaliser.
Sixty six minutes: Seventy seven minutes: what was lined up for the eighty eighth? We nearly didn´t have to wait that long. The eighty third saw Prince‚ Jaukovic and K-T combine in an interchange that saw the later fire just wide. This time Tivvy reacted with another chance of their own when Wills sent Mudge through on Chitty for the umpteenth time. By now the keeper was wise and spread himself well to block Mudge´s hat-trick attempt and the potential fatal minute passed with Mudge again being stopped by a last minute tackle from substitute Nick Hudson after Tivvy´s last change‚ Sean Canham‚ had sent him away again. A final flurry of attack then from the home side‚ but too little too late and when deep into added time Densham burst free on the right to send in a cross that was flying behind Mudge until it brought a spectacular overhead attempt that flew wide‚ we all knew that a point was the best we would be taking.

And on reflection‚ that could have been more than was deserved.


Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards‚ Steve Winter (Sean Canham‚ 87)‚ Chris Vinnicombe‚ Shaun Goff (David Steele‚ 46)‚ Nathan Rudge‚ Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills, Iain Harvey, Paul Milsom (Jamie Densham, 71), Bradley Haynes, James Mudge.

Subs: Ian Nott

Yellow Cards: Milsom, Mudge.


Team Bath: Darren Chitty, Ali Otto, Danny Maye, Lee Richardson, Chris Holland, Alex Ball (Nick Hudson, 46), Luke Prince, Carl Heiniger, Caleb Kamara-Taylor, Stefan (Tomas Jaukovic, 61), Matt Lewis (Marc Canham, 75).

Subs: Neil Saunders, Antoni Pacora.

Yellow cards: None.


Att: 785


Referee: Mr. D. Hine (Worcester).

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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