Match report

Bath City 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Friday 26/12/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

It´s a Mad World. For followers of pop´ music nothing could underline the fact more than the fact that this year´s Christmas No.1 in the charts was a song with that title. That two American bar-room performers‚ virtually unknown in their own country let alone on this Eastern side of the pond‚ should find themselves‚ by virtue of a cameo performance in a far from blockbuster film‚ outselling the seasonal offerings of both the traditional British contenders and the hottest new acts for the Xmas top slot accolade‚ was surely an indication of just what a crazy world we live in. That the song was a total rebuild of a ditty that was a hit in the charts of twenty one years ago and is barely remembered‚ even as a Golden Oldie´‚ merely underlines the fact to the committed aficionado or even the casual chart watcher like myself‚ that it is‚ indeed‚ a mad world. Whilst I have to admit that the number was my personal favourite of those having their odds quoted by the bookmakers‚ I wasn´t confident enough about its chances to have even contemplated having a flutter´. With hindsight I obviously wish I had‚ but then hindsight is a wonderful thing. With hindsight‚ I might not have travelled up to Twerton Park on Boxing Day in the belief that Tivvy would be returning with at least one‚ if not all three points. Not that I thought that it was a foregone conclusion‚ far from it. With The Yellows erratic form there was another prospective banana skin in the offing despite the poor record of The Romans this season. No‚ with the benefit of hindsight‚ I would have realised that this was going to be Bath´s day.

With suspensions served and injury worries not realised there was an almost full squad to choose from. The one disappointment was that Carl Cliff-Brown was required by Clyst Rovers and was therefore not available. Never-the-less‚ the bench was filled‚ something that had happened only once in the previous eight games. The selections for the starting line up raised more than one set of eyebrows as Martyn Rogers once again proved he was his own man and chose the players and positions he thought could best do the job on the day and in the prevailing conditions‚ but as the game got underway and dragged through the opening stages the eyebrows failed to descend as Tiverton played an equal role to their hosts in providing a lifeless display. We waited patiently for eleven minutes before anything noteworthy happened. If that other traditional form of British Boxing Day entertainment had started so bereft of action then there would have been many a dozing child in the theatre. When it action did come it was provided by the home side. Jason Eaton‚ a striker once feared throughout the Conference but now a mere shadow of his former self‚ turned round returning Town central defender Nathan Rudge and ran on goal but had to be content with a corner‚ rapidly followed by a second as the Tiverton defence failed to clear at the first attempt. Another seven minutes elapsed - that´s the wonderful thing about time‚ it continues to move on‚ it only seems to drag - before the same Bath man was involved in the second piece of action‚ this time firing well wide from the left hand edge of the penalty area. By now even the adults accompanying the theatre going children would have been dropping off. It was dour and dire fare. Then suddenly‚ with all the panache and flamboyance of the head chef producing the main course of a stuffed Boars Head after a mediocre selection of starters prepared by his lowest minions‚ the game sprang to life. Kevin Nancekivell escaped down the Tiverton right and with the defence back tracking‚ but several yards adrift‚ fired a cross in that had the visiting fans clearing their throats in preparation of the celebrations to come as Paul Chenoweth charged in to meet the ball and tuck it in at the far post. There was a gap of a foot between Chens and the post and somehow the ball found its way through it. First chance missed but Tivvy were looking the brighter of the two sides. The twenty third minute and another half hearted attempt to push forward by The Yellows was broken up. City made as if to clear but the ball was mis hit by a defender and fell to Jamie Mudge‚ who took a snap shot at goal (No‚ he wasn´t carrying a camera) but there was too much snap and not enough shot and the ball flew well wide. But it was a start and the action continued.
Another Tiverton raid looked to have failed. Former Roman Paul Milsom had other ideas and charged like a bull at the City´s Mike Trought‚ who understandably not wishing to be trampled underfoot‚ was caught in two minds. Undecided as to whether to hoist the ball upfield or tap it back to his advancing goalkeeper he did neither and found himself taking the Lib Dem. viewpoint and settling somewhere between the two. The result was that the ball went high over Ryan Northmore as he came to the edge of the area. Kevin Nancekivell who had been matching Milsom´s run a few yards behind and to the left was able to nip in behind the stranded keeper and tuck the ball into an unprotected net. Noses in front‚ then‚ for Tivvy and even the locals near me suspected that there was to be little Christmas cheer for the home side and that the flood gates were likely to open. Their despondency was to be as short lived as the feelings of confidence emanating from The Yellows fans. Within two minutes the Romans had pulled themselves level. Graeme Power was turned and left behind as Frankie Bennett made a burst down the Bath right. Power chased and did enough to force the City man into the corner but he kept enough control to find space again and to fire in a low cross that evaded Stuart Fraser‚ a home forward and a clutch of defenders before falling to Darren Hawkins at the back of the six yard box. Hawkins hesitated not‚ and drove the ball home with certainty. Back to square one after 27 minutes. Tiverton were not fazed by the rapid equaliser and continued to push forward‚ having the better of things but not able to make it count. The Yellows won a brace of corners‚ the second conceded by Josh Jefferies as he deflected Steve Winter´s shot from the first‚ round the post. Simon Bryant‚ who was having a very controlled game in midfield crashed a free kick through the wall from 30 yards but the deflection directed the ball straight to the chest of forward diving Northmore, rather than into the net. As Town turned the screw Bryant blasted a similar effort from 5 yards nearer against the wall and as the ball looped back to him side-stepped neatly to allow the better balanced Winter to take a poke - wide by inches. So at the interval it was still looking reasonably rosy for the Devon crew.

And there was nothing to alter that view as the second 45 got underway in the midst of a torrential downpour. Stair-rods that turned the pitch into a virtual skating rink. The strange thing was that, despite the conditions, Town provided the best (prettiest) passing football of the afternoon on that surface. The approach work was beyond criticism. Milsom and Mudge combined to send the City defence slithering out on the left, with Jamie making a run across the face of the penalty area before not quite finding the gap and seeing his shot deflected for a corner. Eight minutes in and Jason Rees lobbed the ball cleverly forward and Milsom rose with the keeper, got his head to the ball but failed to find the right direction and headed wide. Etc. etc., which doesn´t win matches. Milsom, Nancekivell, Mudge. Slick passing but no incision. Winter down the right, teasing low cross but only the goalkeeper near it. Another shot from Mudge deflected wide - likewise from Chenoweth on 70 minutes. Then as so often happens, one decent opposition attack and the ball ends up in the net. The galling thing is that it wasn´t really that good a move. True, Bennett had looked Bath´s most dangerous forward player with his runs on the right, but in the 71st minute he was allowed to run too far. The defenders backed off, and backed off, and backed off; allowing Bennett to hit in another hard cross. There was not much threat coming through the middle - a couple of forwards being well covered by Rees. When the ball came across it was clear that it was going to beat Fraser who had gone to the near post. It was also clear that Rees was going to get to the ball before the forwards. He did. And sent it as clean as a whistle into the net! Two - one to City. Against the run of play but The Romans fans weren´t complaining.
Come to that neither were the players. Sensing that they might be on the verge of their first victory in the League since mid September, they responded by holding on to what they had. It wasn´t by negative tactics, either, but by good solid graft, the kind that Tivvy themselves have used - at times. They fought for every ball. Eight or nine men in defence, six or seven in midfield. As and when required. The frustration got to Chenoweth and he saw the yellow for a rash challenge. It almost worked out in Town´s favour as Mudge gathered the clearance from the resulting free kick but his cross from the left into Winter only brought another corner as the marauding wing back´s shot was turned unsuspectingly aside. Winter in fact, could have turned the game back in The Yellows favour, for two minutes later - with just five remaining - he cracked in another shot that brought the save of the afternoon from Northmore. Even with three minutes to go Tivvy should have been level. Milsom with only the keeper to beat poked the ball goalwards only to see it stick in the mud in the six yard box where Steve Jenkins dashed in to hoof it away to safety. Ironically the mud that had heralded Tivvy´s best spell had also prevented them salvaging anything from the match. It´s a Mad World.

As I said in my pre-amble, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Had I researched that No.1 record with a view to a small wager, I would have found that it was written, and the original recording was made by a band called Tears for Fears´. They would be receiving a hefty royalties cheque from the revival. Tears for Fears´ were from........Bath. It was bound to be City´s day!


Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser; Steve Winter, Paul Chenoweth, Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Graeme Power, Kevin Nancekivell (David Steele, 85), Chris Holloway (Richard Pears, 85), Simon Bryant, Paul Milsom, Jamie Mudge.
Subs not used: Steve Peters, Steve Ovens, Shaun Goff.
Booked: Paul Chenoweth.

Bath City: Ryan Northmore, Matt Coupe, Steve Jenkins, Steve Jones, Mike Trought, Jim Rollo, Josh Jeffries (Daniel Cleverley, 61), Gary Owers, Jason Eaton, Frankie Bennett, Daren Hawkins.
Subs not used: Adam Howarth, Mark Bryant, Tom Welch, Yan Klukowski
Booked: Steve Jenkins.

Referee: Andy Graves (Weston-super-Mare)

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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