Match report

Dunstable Town 0 - 3 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 22/01/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Despite having been fortunate enough to have made the Grand Tour´ that took me to most of the non Scandinavian countries of Europe west of the Iron Curtain when I was 15‚ and having filled in almost all the gaps since‚ I have yet to set foot out of the continent. By the time the Far East became easily accessible to the package tourist‚ the finances were not available‚ even North Africa and the Middle East were beyond my means. So to me a Far East holiday meant a long weekend in Great Yarmouth or Scarborough‚ and using that as a measure‚ I guess the trip over to Dunstable might be regarded as a journey to the Middle East. Would there be Pyramids? Sphinxes? Unlikely‚ but then not being into geometry - or for that matter a mummies´ boy - I wasn´t going to be too disappointed. What I was not prepared for‚ however‚ was a football ground that resembled something from the civil war torn streets of Lebanese capital‚ Beirut! But internal strife and adversity has a habit of breeding fierce loyalty and devotion among those that do not seek refugee status in pastures new and more comfortable. So it is at Dunstable. The Regiment´‚ as the loyalist supporters like to be known - though their numbers are more akin to a platoon - are the most affable bunch of fans that you could hope to meet. Working their butts off to keep their club afloat‚ and despite the despondency that inevitably surrounds an organisation in their position‚ they were still able to mount a friendly welcome and cheery visage. Most strange when they don´t even appear to be able to afford a light bulb to enable one to see what one is doing´ in the loo´s behind the stand! One can only wish that by the next time we have reason to head their way‚ the upturn that is at present on the horizon‚ has materialised and they can greet us in surroundings that match the brightness of their followers.

How they manage to remain so upbeat is a mystery when you consider what took place on the field of play. A scrappy opening saw little constructive football in the initial ten minutes but then Tivvy started to nose in front. The first reward came in the eighth minute with a corner on the Tivvy left. A variation despite the fact that Steve Winter had crossed to take the kick. This time it was taken short (luckily not in that sense of the word in view of the a-fore mentioned facilities) but Paul Buckle´s low drive from the corner of the penalty area was well wide of the mark. A few minutes later and Jamie Mudge had his first chance of the afternoon courtesy of Mike Walker heading a Dunstable goal kick straight back in the direction whence it had come‚ for Mudgie´ to pounce on as he got behind the advancing defenders. Jamie might well have done better than to unleash his shot so early and send it looping high over the crossbar. That was a pattern that was to emerge again five minutes later as Mudge intercepted a wayward free kick to flick the ball beyond the home back line to put Kurt Nogan into a shooting position - only for Nogan to hook his effort wide‚ and again from the resulting goal kick the ball was sent right back into the penalty area where Mudge killed it dead for Mike Booth to take in his stride and take a pot at the target.....wide again!

All these efforts were from outside or on the edge of the area‚ as was Mudge´s high and wide shot from Buckle´s header forward in the 16th minute but they always seemed to be taken in a hurry‚ quick....before I´m closed down...´ The line between rushing and taking too long on the ball is a fine one. Not that it was all Tivvy. Though they had far fewer opportunities‚ thanks to a grossly efficient Tivvy back line‚ at least the home side did manage a few shots of their own‚ including what was to be the only on target effort of the first 45 minutes that Ben L´Honore drove straight at Mark Ovendale. Add to that a glancing header from Thomas Hayes as he connected with one of the few free kicks to be conceded and it was enough to keep the noisy handful behind the Tivvy goal in optimistic frame of mind‚ despite the fact that the match developed into a game of table tennis between the two back lines with the ball pinging and ponging back and forth and neither side showing any penetration through to the half time break.

Well done to the snack bar ladies that managed to furnish me with the required (delicious) bacon roll and cuppa in time for me to start my stopwatch as Dunstable got the contest back underway. A quick glance to check that it was running and a mouthful of pigmeat and I was looking again to see that the ball had hit the net in just 14 seconds. Tivvy had won possession and fired the ball down the left touch-line for Nogan to collect. A little jiggery-pokery to avoid defenders and he was cutting in towards the edge of the penalty area where he laid the ball across the face of the six yard box. Mudge took delivery but it was with his back to goal with a blue shirted defender in close contact with his spine. Did Jamie lay the ball back or was it prodded away by the defender? Irrelevant. It rolled out to Paul Buckle who drove it hard and low wide of Paul Taylor in the Dunstable goal. For five minutes or so the home side tried to mount a comeback. It was not very effective. They could only get as far as the edge of the Tivvy penalty area where they were either dispossessed or generously gave the ball to the Yellows.

The optimism of the loyal platoon began to fade if noise level was any meter. Once again the match was being played between the two back lines‚ the difference being that Tiverton looked far more dangerous than their hosts when on the forward move. They had more options. Winter and Vinnicombe were getting further forward‚ Mudge and Nogan were getting wider‚ Booth‚ Wills and Buckle were always looking to come through the middle. Less than ten minutes into the second period and it was none of these things that brought the second goal. Route one. Big ball out of defence (Vinnicombe? Winter? - there were differing views and I had my nose buried in the dregs of my tea). What was important though‚ was that Mudge collected it cleanly and just onside. Making a bee-line for the penalty area he easily outpaced the chasing defence to be able to steady himself before drilling the ball under the advancing and dropping keeper to consolidate Tivvy´s lead in the 53rd minute.

Other opponents this season‚ particularly at Ladysmead‚ have taken a two goal deficit as a signal to throw everything they could at Tivvy‚ sadly not the case with Dunstable. The towel was dropped if not thrown in. They had nothing to offer than what they had already given. Far from forcing The Yellows back they retreated into their shells like some hibernating tortoise. And Tivvy pursued them. it took all of four minutes for the coup-de-grace to be delivered‚ thus bringing an end to the resistance. Winter forward down the right to Mudge. Mudge cutting in towards the angle of the six yard box with Taylor edging forward. A delicate little lob over the keeper and Booth waiting‚ goal side of his marker‚ to force the ball over the line. This time it really was job done´ for Tiverton. With little threat emanating from the deflated home side they went on the rampage‚ tearing the edges of the blues defence to pieces. That the deluge stopped at three was down to one man. Two brilliant saves from Taylor‚ plus a deflection that he surely knew nothing about‚ kept the scoreline reasonably respectable.

The first came when Buckle sent Mudge on another run and the keeper managed to palm Jamie´s fierce drive away for a corner. Then Vinnicombe released Mudge on the left to lift in a cross that Nogan met with a textbook power header that had Taylor stretching full length to turn away. And that scenario was only varied slightly‚ by the height of the cross‚ when Nogan´s neat back heel flick ricocheted off the keeper to keep the Tivvy No. 9 off the scoresheet with quarter of an hour remaining. That last 15 minutes saw the game disrupted by the usual spate of substitutions. Dunstable even came back into the match a little though they seldom looked likely to grab even a consolation goal - that would really have been likely to spark wild celebrations and increased banter aimed at Ovendale. Tivvy were left to cruise comfortably to only their second away win of the season against what is‚ sadly for that loyal bunch of fans‚ a side that justifies its position in the table.

Tiverton´s performance‚ particularly after the break, was enough to bring back memories of the pre-season hopes. There were plenty of signs that The Yellows could be a force to be reckoned with in the division. If the standard is maintained then the bad times could be over. The next two games will see confirmation - or otherwise. For Dunstable things look grim. The parting of our ways would be a sad thing both for The Regiment´ and the Tivvy fans that have both given and enjoyed their hospitality.


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe, Michael Walker, Tom Stocco, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills (Iain Harvey, 74), Mike Booth(Bradley Haynes, 74), Kurt Nogan, Paul Buckle, James Mudge (Jamie Densham, 82).

Subs not used: Shaun Goff, David Steele,

Booked: None


Dunstable Town: Paul Taylor, Matthew Childs (Bernard Christie, 77), Stuart Strange, Paul Covington, Marc Kefford, Darren Saryll, Robbie Kean, Jonathan Barnett, Bradley Stamp, Thomas Hayes, Ben L´Honore.

Subs not used: Nick Massie, Wayne Mills, Jonathan Cox.

Booked: Kefford


Att: 205


Referee: Mr. P. A.. Forrester.

This report ©2005 John Reidy






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