Match report

Tiverton Town 4 - 3 Aylesbury United

   Wednesday 26/01/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

There always have to be doubts about the appropriateness of football club nick-names when they involve animals or birds. True‚ they sometimes relate to the colours that the club play in‚ but one tends to mentally over-ride that fact and look for the name to reflect the demeanour of the team. Thus the Tigers´ might be expected to be fearsome but that was belied by the last visit of the Gloucester version who‚ far from roaring´‚ left Ladysmead with their tails tucked firmly between their legs and uttering a mere pussy-cat mewing until they reached the safety of home territory. How many Robins have really come bob-bob-bobbin in and out of Tiverton - let alone Bluebirds swooping through the Devon skies? The last time The Ducks appeared at Ladysmead‚ if I remember rightly‚ was the winter before last when in a particularly damp´ spell‚ Mother Mallard waddled up from the Exe with offspring in file abaft‚ to sample the worms on offer on the waterlogged pitch. These other Ducks´ though‚ the Aylesbury ones‚ had been far from waddlers when they last visited - for a FA Trophy 2nd Round tie back in December 2000. And‚ apart from the soundtrack to which they took the field‚ there had been little sign of them being even slightly quackers´ when Tivvy had succumbed to them 3-1 earlier this season at their pond. Their form had continue.....they lay in fourth place.....a sharp test for the new´ Tivvy. We were going to need some accurate shots to shoot them down.


Certainly The Yellows came out with both barrels primed and loaded - and Jamie Mudge with an itchy finger just waiting‚ waiting to squeeze the trigger. The lad didn´t have to wait long. Less than thirty seconds saw Tivvy beating their way to the edge of the Aylesbury area‚ a ball in to Kurt Nogan who applied the slightest of touches to stun it and quickly got out of the way as Mudge let fly with a shot that had United keeper Jack Rahsid flying to his right to turn the effort away for a corner on the left. Typically Winter‚ as in curling in close - not cold‚ it took a defender´s goal-line header to keep the scoreline blank and see the visitors clearing the ball away towards midfield. For the next five minutes the spectators who might have been anticipating settling down for a steady evening´s soccer were denied the chance to do so - or if they did they might well have missed something. The game was played at a hectic pace as both sets of players looked for the early breakthrough.

From end to end it flowed‚ finely balanced and competitive but with one noticeable difference depending on which side had possession. When The Ducks were moving towards the Leisure Centre End they only moved so far before coming up against the Yellow (brick?) wall. Tivvy looked far more likely to find a route through the Buckinghamshire outfit´s back line....as they did when they attacked down the right flank and Nogan again held and touched off the ball to allow Mudge to cut in and run across the face of the 18 yard box before testing Rachid´s ability to fly in both directions with another screaming shot that had the keeper flinging himself to his left. And that was the way it was to continue‚ free flowing‚ fast moving‚ fiercely combative but generally fair football. Tivvy did appear to have lost their attacking edge a little - perhaps having fired off both barrels they were concentrating on re-loading - but with the defence looking as sound as they were there seemed to be little chance of The Ducks´ scoring a direct hit (how‚ and with what‚ they might do that‚ I´ll leave to your imagination).

Little chance‚ that is‚ until Town contrived to shoot themselves in the foot after 14 minutes. Aylesbury broke on their right. Well out wide‚ there seemed little danger even though the ball was in possession of Dean Cracknall‚ playing his swansong game for the club before taking flight for Bishops Stortford in Conference South. Cracknall is leaving the United nest on amicable terms and musty have been delighted to mark the parting of the ways with a goal‚ slightly fortuitous though it might have been. His low powerful drive might have been a cross‚ might have been a wayward shot but whichever it was‚ it would have quite likely have flown way out for a throw in on the far side had it not been for the wicked deflection that saw it flash past Mark Ovendale and into the net.

A deficit was the last thing Tivvy wanted or deserved at this point. The reaction was notable‚ or at least the change in reaction to what we would have expected two months ago. No blame culture. Let´s get on with it. Keep calm. Keep playing football. That is just what they did and the contest continued much as it had for the opening quarter of an hour. The visitors had tightened up at the back ( I seem to recall hearing somewhere that ducks were watertight in that area!) but it was still Tiverton that looked the more likely to find a way through the opposing defence as their own back line put the unfortunate strike behind them. That tightening up brought the first yellow card of the game and also saw a further reduction of goal attempts until.......

Mudge‚ having successfully renewed his ammunition cut in from the left to crack in another shot in the 24th minute. This one flew wide of the upright but heralded Town´s revived ability to prise their way through and also reminded Aylesbury of the threat Mudge posed‚ further demonstrated when he was callously upended on the halfway line a minute later as he started what could well have been another telling run on the left. The free kick looked as if it had been wasted when it was sent down the line rather than straight into the middle but the cross was forced in by Nogan‚ unfortunately falling too awkwardly to Nathan Rudge to allow him to make decent controlled contact‚ but the Tivvy skipper did manage to force the ball sideways to Kevin Wills who let fly to prove Mudge wasn´t the only gun in the shooting party - though Wills either needed to get his sights adjusted or counter the recoil as his shot flew high past the angle of the woodwork.

Tivvy were back to looking incisive but it took a set piece to bring them the equaliser on the half hour. A corner on the right. Vinnicombe across to lift it in so we all knew what where it was going. And it did....with Nogan´s head meeting it as clean as a whistle to send it rocketing into the net. A deserved leveller and the match as finely balanced as one could wish. And so it remained until the break with only Wills having a serious attempt at goal with his second barrel. Clearly some adjustment or coaching required since again it flew high.


The second period showed no sign of being any different from the first‚ apart from perhaps being even more tightly fought. End to end again but eventually coming to a halt in the Tiverton Penalty area in the 50th minute. For the first time in the match‚ excluding the flukey deflection that gave them the lead‚ The Ducks found a chink in the Tivvy armour. Drew Roberts beat the back line to chase onto a through ball with Nathan Rudge caught wrong footed. As Ovendale came to reduce the shooting options Rudge caught the United man and got his foot to the ball‚ albeit from behind. Over went Roberts to minimal appeals from his team-mates and the referee waving play on. Ovendale eventually collected the ball and‚ in sporting fashion since Roberts was still in a heap near the penalty spot‚ put the ball out of play to allow him to receive treatment. With the game stopped the visitors bench‚ and one or two of their players set about the referee, pressurising him into consulting his assistant who admittedly had flagged´ when the tackle was made but had lowered the flag when his boss´ had signalled play on. It took three minutes to sort out the removal of the injured player and the organising of the spot kick, during which time Ovendale managed to talk his way into the book. No doubt, had Ovendale not put the ball out of play the original play on´ decision would have stood.........Cracknall buried the kick.

This time it took Town eight minutes to make amends and again the spirit of the side was evident. Vinnicombe began to get forward more on the left as Winter restricted his right wing pushes, though it was Winter that set up the equaliser as he fed the ball through to Mudge who released a snap-shot that pinged back off the base of the upright. Another squeeze of the trigger and a slight change of aim and Jamie´s shot was nestling in the net.

Obviously Mudgie´ had a second gun, or perhaps a loader, for within a minute he was celebrating another hit and Tivvy were in front for the first time. This time it was the long ball forward - how many times was that tactic criticised earlier in the season? - delivered by Vinnicombe. Mudge´s pace and enthusiasm saw him bursting free fifteen yards inside the touchline. Angling towards the penalty area he kept the momentum going to time his curling drive under Rashid to perfection. Bang - Bang, rapid fire!

The majority of the crowd would have been quite happy to have heard the final whistle there and then, after all the result has been more important than the performance as Tivvy have clawed their way clear of the league table basement. They would have missed an enthralling 30 minutes, or more, of football. The match was still wide open but it was the visitors now chasing the game. They freshened up their attacking options but it was still the home side producing the more incisive attacks, though it has to be admitted that they were increasingly on the counter as The Ducks pushed forward like something out of Hitchcock´s the Birds´.

When Tivvy did break they did it well. The unusual combination of Vinnicombe and Nogan down the left in the 70th minute saw the ball pushed clear of the penalty area by the United defence to be followed up by the equally unusual sight of Rob Cousins straying into the opposition half to have a blast at goal that curled wide. And two minutes later Wills showed that his sights had been lowered as he kept an effort down but also wide of the mark.

With the Aylesbury forwards still banging their heads against the proverbial yellow brick wall of the Tiverton defence it took something out of the ordinary to enable them to even the scoreline up again. A sustained bout of pressure saw them attack on the right. The initial cross was well headed away by Mike Booth but only as far as Liam Folds who hit a tremendous drive towards goal. It didn´t reach the target thanks to the head of Walker filling part of the gap between boot and net. As the Tivvy defender staggered in his effort to remain upright, the ball bounced clear of the penalty area to be lobbed back in towards Ovendale´s right hand post by substitute Colin Baker. Ovendale was content to watch the ball sailing over the crossbar. Or he would have been had it happened that way. As it was the ball took a sudden dip to drop behind him and well under the said bar for United´s equaliser.

Both sides were now chasing the game. The remaining substitutes were used. Luck played it´s part as a lax moment from Rudge allowed an Aylesbury shot that cannoned off the woodwork and a miss kick at a back-pass by Ovendale span inches outside his left upright. But there was no luck involved in the final strike of the game. The sponsors named Jamie Mudge as Man of the Match and to celebrate the announcement Jamie pulled the trigger for the final time in the third minute of added time. Appropriately, too, the goal was orchestrated by the man that has made such a difference to Tivvy´s team play and midfield, Paul Buckle. A breakaway on the right. The enormous temptation to take the ball into the corner and faff´ around settling for the single point. Denied! Instead a constructive ball inside to a clearly tired Mudge.....he hadn´t chased out to the wing either after the ball or to offer support. No, he stayed where he was most dangerous and when Buckle found him he crashed in the winner to spark great celebrations among the Yellow contingent both on the field and on the terraces.

The missing fans who elected to stay at home and watch prima donna´ football on television missed what must be one of the classic matches played at Ladysmead. When will they learn that football is a three dimensional game and therefore is only a shadow when viewed on two dimensional media. Come to that, you can add a fourth dimension; the atmosphere, tension and excitement of real. live action! There was plenty of that at Ladysmead on this occasion.


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe, Michael Walker, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills (Iain Harvey, 80), Mike Booth (Bradley Haynes, 89), Kurt Nogan (Jamie Densham, 90), Paul Buckle, James Mudge.

Subs not used: Shaun Goff, Tom Stocco,

Booked: Wills, Rudge, Ovendale, Winter.


Aylesbury United: Jack Rashid, Greg Williams, Danny Mead, Andrew Hodges, Matt Hayward, Liam Folds, Gavin Jaggard (Dean Powles, 67), Dean Cracknall, Leon Gutzmore (Danny Gray, 83), Drew Roberts (Colin Baker, 52), Paul Edgeworth.

Subs not used: None.

Yellow cards: Hodges, Folds, Roberts, Cracknall.


Att: 367


Referee: Mr. M, Adkins (Saltash).

This report ©2005 John Reidy






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