Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 0 Bristol Manor Farm

   Saturday 16/09/2000   FA Cup
Nigel Davis

What a shambles. The general consensus of opinion was that we had witnessed the worst Tivvy Town performance for many a year. It was abysmal and yet the Gods conspired to let us off the hook with a 1-0 win. Things can only get better. The loss of Kevin Nancekivell is beginning to tell. As is the absence of Micky Fallon. But these omissions do not tell the whole tale.
Probably the single most significant action of the afternoon came when Martyn Rogers performed a double substitution after 31 minutes. Was is out of desperation? Or panic? Or was it calculated? Whatever‚ it couldn´t have done the confidence of either Luke Vinnicombe or Steve Ovens any good as they made way for Pete Varley and Richard Pears. Poor Luke. He has been troubled with illness and hasn´t looked anything like the player he was last season. Yet he came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 24th minute with a raking cross that swerved onto the far post‚ the ball ricocheting back into play. And Steve Ovens. He hustled and bustled against an - at times - seven man Farm defence that were superbly marshalled by Steve Wright. And he was still in deep discussion with Martyn Rogers at half past five as he attempted to find out why he had been singled out.
To be fair‚ we didn´t have enough substitutes to replace all of those that played under par. Vitually everyone let themselves - and the fans - down. Yet the facts speak for themselves. We have only lost twice in 29 competitive outings. Are we expecting too much these days? Probably not. And I wonder if the main reason behind the rot is that there has been a number of new players´ names banded about. With their imminent arrival‚ could it be that the current squad are worried about their future and‚ consequently‚ trying too hard? We certainly didn´t look relaxed out there. There were few calm heads and very little that was positive to come out of the proceedings.
But at least Martyn has seen sense and given Phil Everett the chance to play at right back. It was a topic of discussion prior to kick-off and‚ surprisingly‚ it happened - albeit a third of the way through the game. Now all we need is for Dave Leonard to be given the central midfield role and for Stuart Smith to partner Nicky Marker in defence and our prayers will have been answered. But‚ of course‚ it won´t happen...
And can the blame for our ramshackle performances be laid at one man´s feet? Well. I am sticking my neck out here. But I think it can. The balance of the side has been lost. Jason Rees´ style of play does not fit in well with Tivvy´s brand of football. His raking passes are‚ on occasions‚ awesome - but we are not a �run and chase� sort of team and‚ too often‚ the ball is being pinged over defences for us to race onto. We were built around a short passing game and this has now virtually disappeared.
And what of the game itself? Well‚ we hardly had any worthwhile attempts in the first half and should have turned round 1-0 down. But the ref bottled it when he chose to ignore his assistant´s flag deep into first half injury time. When Neil Saunders slipped and clattered into Mark Cherry inside the Tivvy box‚ the only decision could be �penalty�. It matters not that the collision was accidental. There does not have to be any intent for a foul to be conceded. That part of the law changed a couple of years ago. Put it this way‚ if it had happened at the other end and it was a Tivvy player who had been fouled‚ we would have screamed blue murder. Prior to that‚ Paul Baker‚ Manor Farm´s portly goalkeeper‚ had been troubled by a few crosses‚ but we failed to capitalise on his clumsiness. It was rumoured that he normally played right back for some lowly Bristol Suburban League side‚ although this was not backed up by the Farm players who said he had been in goal for them since the start of the season. Whatever‚ he didn´t have the air of confidence about him. But he needn´t have worried. Our pathetic shooting was only going to upset the pigeons - or any other unfortunate creature that happened to be flying past Ladysmead - so wayward were our shots.
The second half brought its fair share of excitement. A jinking run from Pete Varley six minutes after the restart found Scott Rogers in space. His first time shot cleared the bar at the expense of a corner‚ but it came to nowt. A minute later‚ Farm had their first chance to test Paul Edwards as Campbell Bannerman unleashed a rising drive - but Edwards parried the ball away to safety. Five minutes later‚ Nick Marker foraged forward - not for the first time - and slipped the ball inside to Jason Rees. His shot was hard and low but failed to pick up a deflection from the plethora of legs that stood between him and the goalline. But it prompted a rare few minutes of out-and-out Tivvy pressure which culminated in‚ three minutes later‚ Neil Saunders heading the ball against the cross bar from Scott Rogers´ corner. This came on the hour and it looked as if it would be the nearest we would get to a goal. Thoughts of going up The Creek on Tuesday night began to filter through people´s minds. Within a couple of minutes Farm had a glimmer of a goal. Bannerman received the ball just outside the Tivvy box. If he realised that Paul Edwards had strayed off his line‚ he could have crucified us with a deft lob. Fortunately‚ Paul Tatterton saw the danger and whisked the ball off his toes and we could breathe again. Steve Daly made way for Pete Conning after 66 minutes and we appeared to up the tempo. Richard Pears had a glorious opportunity to put us ahead but‚ when he had time and space‚ he elected to fire the ball straight into Baker´s hands. More frustration. Dave Leonard then spotted Baker in nomansland and heaved the ball goalwards but‚ by the time the ice had thawed on the ball‚ Baker was back to gather the swerving sphere. And then came the turning point. Mark Cherry limped off the field to receive medical attention by the bye-line. With Farm now reduced to ten men‚ they were punished. Within seconds‚ a mixup between Wright and Baker saw the goalkeeper divert the ball away from goal‚ rather than gathering it. Pete Varley made no mistake and swept the ball home for an unlikely winner. This one piece of joy came after 78 minutes of agony and the final whistle couldn´t come a moment too soon.
We now have the dubious pleasure of hosting Weston-super-Mare or Shortwood United in the next round. It would be a pleasure to welcome our old friends from Shortwood to Ladysmead. We shall just have to wait and see.
Highlight of the match? Well‚ apart from that short sharp blast from the ref‚ it has to be the re-introduction of pasties at the �dressing room end� tea-bar. They were magnificent and came from Lloyd Maunders. Well worth a visit. Shame about the game though.

Line up: 1. Paul Edwards‚ 2. Luke Vinnicombe‚ 3. Neil Saunders, 4. Paul Tatterton, 5. Nicky Marker,
6. Scott Rogers, 7. Jason Rees, 8. Steve Ovens, 9. Phil Everett, 10. Steve Daly, 11. Dave Leonard,

Subs: 12. Pete Conning. (Steve Daly 66), 14. Pete Varley (Luke Vinnicombe 31), 15. Richard Pears (Steve Ovens 31), 16. Stuart Smith, 17. Martyn Grimshaw.

BRISTOL MANOR FARM: 1 Paul Baker, 2 Tim Cotter, 3 Mike Aires (captain), 4 Benji Tricker, 5 Steve Wright, 6 Alex Stocker, 7 James Edwards, 8 Neil Waylan, 9 Campbell Bannerman, 10 Mark Cherry, 11 Mark Burnett, 12 Mark Young (for Mark Burnett, 71m) 14 Steve Beacham (for Neil Waylan, 87m) 15 Simon Monks (for Mark Cherry, 82m).

This report ©2000 Nigel Davis