Match report

Chippenham Town 0 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 01/01/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Please; use the few moments you would normally take to read my pre report ramblings to reflect on the horrific events of the last week in Southern Asia.

The loss of life and the plight of the survivors makes the problems of the two clubs involved in this opening fixture of 2005 pale into insignificance. If the people of Sumatra‚ Thailand‚ Sri Lanka and other affected places had only to worry about when the next home´ win was going to come or how they were going to climb away from the relegation zone‚ then the world would be a far better place in which to start the New Year.


The conditions at Hardenhuish Park were far from conducive to slick skilful football. A steady drizzle driven by an equally steady wind that sent grey lowering clouds scudding just metres high over an already soggy and slippery pitch. Yuk! No wonder that‚ with the added tensions of the respective club´s recent records and the local derby´ status of the fixture‚ the action was far from enthralling in the opening ten minutes.
Indeed it was not until the 9th minute that there was any action worth clicking my pen at. Until then there had been the usual gently gently feely our way manoeuvres but when one time Tivvy target David Gilroy became more adventurous and skipped past and inside Rob Cousins we were woken from our slumbers. Gilroy made a few more yards towards the centre before unleashing a screamer of a shot from 25 yards that sent Mark Ovendale flying to his right to spectacularly turn the ball round the post for a corner. Sadly it was not to be a general wake up signal for the game which quickly reverted to its previous semi somnolent state with neither side appearing to have any game plan or tactics other than wait and see´ how it´s going.
So‚ rather than moves and chances being built and created they just seemed to occur at random. The 15th and 22nd minute brought openings Tiverton´s way despite the fact that Chippenham had been edging the possession and territorial advantage stakes. Firstly a cross from Steve Winter out on the right saw Kevin Wills send a glancing header a foot wide and high of the crossbar/upright angle‚ and then Paul Milsom nodded on an Ovendale goal kick to Wills who hooked it further forward to send James Mudge bursting through the offside trap only to fire wide as he broke into the penalty area.
In truth the nearest we were to get to a goal was in the 25th minute when a wildly sliced clearance saw the home side win´ a corner. and skipper for the day Gary Thorne (standing in for his absent brother) powered in a header that Steve Winter stretched to hook off the line with the home fans already celebrating the lead. Tivvy replied with a free kick at the opposite end when Winter was upended but Chris Vinnicombe´s free kick was so testing´ that both Rudge with his head and Mudge following in with his boot behind failed to make the minimal contact that would have put The Yellows in front. One more serious shot at goal from each side - Thorne for The Bluebirds and Winter for Tiverton - and that was about the sum of the action for a pretty dire forty five minutes.


Half time brought a change.....the weather worsened and span through a semi-circle so that the rain was again beating into the Tiverton faces. Not only did the wind turn‚ if increased in velocity........unlike the football - for a while at least. We were treated (?) to more of the same. An attempt towards goal every five minutes or so interspersed with spells of attempts to deal with the conditions that sometimes bordered on the comical. Ovendale struggled to kick the ball as far as the halfway line from the edge of his penalty area while Mark Hervin gently lobbed the ball from his goal line into the Tiverton keepers hands as he tried to give his forwards a breakthrough. Even at ground level the home side were overweighting their passes causing the ball to run nicely to the defenders feet‚ defenders who‚ it has to be said looked solid and well organised with new boy Mike Walker not only fitting in well but looking like a defender rather that a forward being asked to do an unaccustomed job.
So‚ those early attempts on goal. 53 minutes. A Chippenham free kick blasted against the wall and not cleanly cleared away resulting in a second free kick that saw Lee Davidson blast well wide. Two minutes later Winter taking advantage of a momentary lapse in wind strength to send Mudge on a solo run that carried the Tivvy goal hope too far wide and having to settle for a corner.
But then a further two minutes and Mudge again at full throttle to thump in a shot that had Hervin emulating Ovendale´s first half save to palm the ball away at full stretch. As if to celebrate the hour mark the home side upped their pace. All that brought was an increase in the number of condition induced errors and a glut of yellow cards as tackles were mis-timed‚ tempers became frayed and the play sunk even lower into a mish mash of unedifying disarray.
The low point came in the 75th minute when Mudge was hacked down by Matthew McEntagart. The Chippenham player was rightly shown the Yellow card after the referee and his assistant had sorted out the scuffles that broke out as a result of Mudge´s retaliation. Mudge was also shown yellow‚ though how he avoided the sight of a straight red was beyond anyone in the ground.
If that was the low point then one could logically expect the only way to be to be up. Such things are relevant. Up the game might have headed but not a lot. Scott Walker swivelled and fired in a snapshot that flew across the face of the Tivvy goal in the 83rd minute and the clearest chance for either team to secure all the points came just after. A low ball in from the right had Ovendale diving forward at the foot of the near post. For the first‚ and only‚ time in the game Ovo´ spilled the ball and as he struggled to launch himself forward again to reclaim it could only push it back out towards the right wing. James Constable collected the loose ball and made to cut back into the penalty area only to be stopped by a sliding tackle from Walker. Down went Constable up went the shouts and peep´ went the whistle.
Ball on the spot with Walker preparing to take the kick. But wait.....the star of the afternoon´s pantomime had to play it´s part. The wind blew the ball off the spot as Walker approached. Walker replaced it and once again took his run and hammered the ball towards the bottom left hand corner. Down went Ovendale to his right....glove and ball connected and 0-0 was confirmed as the Tivvy defenders scrambled the ball clear.
One last chance for the home side when Constable twisted and turned his way into space an the corner of the penalty area to create the space to force in a cross that Walker headed centimetres wide and then the referee must have decided enough was enough and neither side was going to score if they stayed on the pitch until the next New Year. Despite the stoppages for yellow cards and injuries he added just 25 seconds (I don´t stop my watch when play is held up) to the standard 45 minutes allotted to the second half.

Not that there would have been many complaints from the paying fans. It hardly stood up even as pantomime.
Neither side had quite laid their ghosts but the optimists in both camps can at least claim to be unbeaten in 2005. Is it all that important?


Tiverton Town: .Mark Ovendale‚ Steve Winter‚ Chris Vinnicombe‚ Mike Walker‚ Nathan Rudge‚ Rob Cousins‚ Kevin Wills‚ Iain Harvey‚ Paul Milsom‚ Shaun Goff‚ James Mudge.

Subs not used: David Steele‚ Jamie Densham‚ Sean Canham‚ Dave Hambly‚ Tom Stocco.

Booked: Milsom‚ Vinnicombe‚ Harvey‚ Mudge‚ Rudge.


Chippenham Town: Mark Hervin‚ Rene Regis‚ Matthew McEntagart‚ Gary Thorne‚ Ian Herring‚ Lee Davidson‚ James Constable‚ Ben Kirk‚ David Gilroy‚ Sam Allison, Scott Walker.

Subs not used: Simon Charity, Gary Horgan, Sam Jones, Martin Paul, Ellis Wilmott.

Booked: Walker, McEntagart, Thorne.


Att: 617


Referee: Mr. Martin Bryant (Littlestoke, Bristol)

This report ©2005 John Reidy






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