Match report

Hitchin Town 0 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 05/02/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Throughout the week the trauma of last Saturday´s game gradually wore off. I still couldn´t really get my mind around it but some of the numbness began to dissipate. Until‚ that is‚ I began to look forward to the trip up to Hitchin. Inspiration level - nil. Hitchin a ride....? Nah! Surf around.......see what might be found on the web....The natives are clearly proud of their history which pre-dates the Doomesday Book.....Doomesday.....Nah! A history‚ the showpiece of which is a parish church that anywhere else would be a Cathedral.....Built by King Offa.....an offer not to be refused....Nah‚ just too corny......Offa? wasn´t he into Dykes as well?......nope.....definitely not going down that road. Let´s think about the team.......how would they react? Well there had to be some reaction didn´t there? Who was it....Newton....his third law ....for every action there is a reaction. Obvious really. Hardly rocket science.........err..... err........well....maybe that´s just what it is. Anyway...... how would the team react? How would the travailing fans react? Would Offa have been better off building a Home for the Terminally Bewildered Tivvy Faithful´ than a church or a dyke? Nah....no mileage in any of that. Give up. Wait and see what happens when Saturday comes.


The need for that Home for the Terminally Bewildered´ was strengthened from the minute we arrived in the Hitchin clubhouse. Having armed ourselves with the necessary liquid revival juice‚ at magnificently low prices I have to add‚ we scanned the back page of the matchday magazine and noted that the visitors were to be playing in Red/White/White. Obviously a misprint. Tivvy had to change colours‚ we knew‚ but they´d be in all white‚ wouldn´t they? Wonder where the Red´ came from. More worrying though was the news that Jamie Mudge was laid up with Mumps. Where were the goals going to come from? Out ran the teams....Tivvy in Red. Doh! Mental adjustments rapidly required.


Off we went with the normal touch sideways and hoof forward from the home side. Hoof it back upfield.....hoof it forward again and Winter trying to stop the pattern by bringing the ball down and embarking on a wing run. He didn´t get far before being hacked down by Iuean Lewis whilst still inside his own half. Winter needed prolonged treatment - which he got. Lewis need a good talking to from the referee - which he also got‚ along with the Yellow card which he might not have needed but certainly deserved. Winter recovered after a couple of minutes hobbling around but the game did not. Hoof‚ hoof‚ head ‚ head‚ for the best part of ten minutes.

Thirteen might have proved unlucky for Tiverton‚ for it was in that minute that we witnessed the first attempt on goal from either side‚ and it was a close call for the Reds´. Mark Smith who was to have an impressive game for the home side‚ played Bilal Hassan away down the Hitchin right. Hassan´s cross was high and Shane Hill met it just outside the far post to head firmly but high over the crossbar. Lesson learned for Mark Ovendale! It was just about the only ball to come into his sixyard box in the entire game that he didn´t claim.

The chance marked a change in the game. Without really establishing any dominance Hitchin edged on top‚ marginally. There were still few attempts on goal as the defences were supreme. Nathan Rudge seemed to have sent last week´s mare for a long gallop and was performing solidly if not spectacularly. Mike Walker was benefiting from having his skipper playing reliably alongside him and Rob Cousins looked as sound as he always does when playing well. The wing backs Winter and Vinnicombe were coping well but seldom able to make much forward progress and the midfield trio were battling hard in what was the main theatre of action. Only front pairing Kurt Nogan and |Jamie Densham were out of things - hardly their fault as there seemed to be a blockage in their supply lines.

Even when Hitchin did get close enough to get a sight of goal they seemed not to recognise it´s significance and either tried to get another touch before shooting or fired wide of the mark‚ as did Glen Lamacraft in the 24th minute when put through by a long ball from his keeper Richard Wilmot. Tivvy though‚ were just as sparing at the front and it was not until the 27th minute that Wilmot had to deal with a ball that would have gone into his goal if he´d left it - and even that came from a free kick driven round the wall from five yards outside the penalty area after Mike Booth had been shoved off the ball whilst on a solo run.

Just before the break the home side turned down the opportunity of taking the lead when Hassan again found space on the left to cut in towards goal and send a cute chipped shot over Ovendale but wide of the far post as it came down to earth. 0-0 at half time did at least show that Tiverton´s defence was not in total array as it had been in their last game.....and while there´s life there´s hope‚ though where a goal was likely to come from was anyone´s guess.


Half time changes - nil. The line up ones were to wait a couple of minutes until Mike Booth had done all the hard work defensively to get himself in clear space before stopping and getting caught in possession‚ robbed‚ and giving Hassan the chance to test Ovendale with a shot on the run that had the Tivvy keeper at full stretch. Steve Winter was clearly struggling and was replaced by Iain Harvey with Booth moving into the slot vacated by Winter. Hitchin matched the change‚ replacing their No. 3 Chris McMenamin. Nothing else much happened and ten minutes after the restart Shaun Goff replaced Vinnicombe.

Still there was little action apart from a great deal of huffing and puffing in midfield‚ Little was being created by either side though Tiverton were looking a little more likely to break out of defensive mode when Goff began to fire long balls forward for Nogan and Densham to chase into the left hand corner particularly. And it was one such ball from Goff that gave Densham his first really decent chance to make an impact on the game but he failed to control the ball with his first touch and lost out to two defenders that were keeping a cagey eye on him.

Another change from the home side saw the surprising replacement of Hassan who‚ with his lively wing runs‚ had looked the most likely of the home forwards to open up the Tiverton defence even if it were as provider rather than scorer. As the game moved into the last quarter there were‚ at last‚ signs of Tivvy actually looking to adventure forward. The 71st minute saw the awarding if the first corner kick of the game.......and if that is not a measure of what kind of contest it had been then I must be a prime candidate for a place in that´ Home for the Terminally Bewildered.

To be taken on the Tivvy right‚ there was no Vinni´ to do the honours so Goff beat the cross-field path. His kick was in the same mould as those of the man he had replaced. Inswinging tantalisingly dangerous. Nathan Rudge had arrived too early but still rose above the bunch to make contact‚ albeit uncontrolled. The ball dropped to the deck sparking a typical scramble as socks of both white and green flashed in attempts to get their connected boots to it. It was a white one that made the telling touch that shoved the ball into the net. And owner of that boot was a clearly delighted Kevin Wills.

The travelling fans were still bewildered - who´d have thought we´d go in front? - but equally delighted. Even more so as it became clear that the Hitchin side were not really capable of mounting a sustained effective comeback attempt. Sure they pushed Tivvy back but there was still a dearth of firepower....but then....whoever heard of a Canary with a lethal weapon? They fired a few more blanks‚ including their best chance which fell in added time but was hooked well wide‚ while Tiverton continued to defend with the organisation‚ efficiency and confidence in their ability to keep a clean sheet that they had shown since 3.00 p.m.

Yes‚ it was something of a Smash and Grab raid but when you need three points like THE YELLOWS´ needed three points‚ who´s complaining about the way they were attained? I´m sure there were no Tivvy fans in Hertfordshire moaning about the poor entertainment rating of the game.

Red?? Red?? Doh! Pass me my slippers and night-cap!


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale‚ Steve Winter (Iain Harvey‚ 47)‚ Chris Vinnicombe (Shaun Goff‚ 54)‚ Michael Walker‚ Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills, Mike Booth, Kurt Nogan, Paul Buckle, Jamie Densham (Tom Stocco, 88).

Subs not used: Bradley Haynes

Booked: Vinnicombe


Hitchin Town: Richard Wilmot, Matt Baldry, Chris McMenamin (Gordon Barr, 47), Mark Smith, James Ayres, Aaron Cavill, GlenLamacraft, Shane Hill, Josh Sozzo, Iuean Lewis, Bilal Hassan (Mark Bridge, 67).

Subs not used: Lee McCullouch, Ben Stocker, Neil Cheek.

Booked: Lewis, Barr


Att: 300

Referee: Mr. G. N. L. Jerden.

This report ©2005 John Reidy






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