Match report

Cirencester Town 0 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 12/02/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

"A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum" would have been an excellent way to open a report on Tivvy's trip up to Cirencester but unfortunately‚ though literary licence often comes into play in these pre-ambles‚ on this occasion it would have been pushing the boundaries too far. Nothing funny happened! Nothing humorous. Nothing peculiar. Nothing even remotely amusing‚ and anyway it wasn't the Forum we were heading for‚ it was the Corinium....a sort of wide open‚ scaled down and modernised version of the Coliseum. Perhaps in days of yore‚ like approximately one thousand nineteen hundred and fifty years worth of days of yore‚ when some ancient Britons might have made the expedition from the depth of the West Country to face the Centurions from the far away predecessor land of what is now Italy‚ it would have been a journey of epic proportions. Goat skin clothing would have wrung with sweat from the effort involved in such a tremendous adventure. Woad would have needed as frequent touching up as modern day mascara in a weepy movie. And the Centurions would have waited in their neatly pleated little red mini-skirts‚ surmounted by gleaming brass breastplates and helmets sporting scarlet mohican type brushes on top‚ with their welcome. It's all too simple these days. A quick dash up the M5/ M4/ A433 and you're there. No wonder nothing funny happened. And on arrival there is unlikely to be any 'throwing to the lions' going on‚ though the alternative and hoped for friendly welcome failed to materialise in quite the way some expectations had stretched to. No lounging by the steaming swimming pool sized baths being fed grapes and mead by a host of scantily toga'd nubile vestal virgins ("Oooh errr‚ Missus" as Lurcio would have said)...No‚ no‚ honestly‚ no...best on offer was a swift pint and a packet of pork scratchings in the Corinium Sports Bar. Ah...the disappointment of modern day living. Never mind‚ we were there for a football match‚ and what could be an important one for both sides. The pride of Devon needed the win to continue their climb towards the Nirvana of a play off place. The Glocs. outfit were already sitting in such a position‚ though not sitting pretty. They needed to win to stay in the thick of things. It had the makings of a real gladiatorial battle...

From the moment of arrival at the scene of battle it was clear that the afternoon's contest was going to be affected by the wind‚ and how the teams dealt with it (....leave it out‚ Frankie Howerd!). From the fact that Tiverton played with the near gale behind them‚ and down the surprising slope‚ to boot‚ in the first half‚ it would suggest that Nathan Rudge had won the toss. If he did it was won as cleanly as he was going to win anything‚ without a hint of elbows‚ and was to turn out to be a crucial factor. Despite Tivvy having the elements in their favour and making the early running it was the home side that won the first corner of the game in the 5th minute but it was totally wasted‚ being overhit to such an extent that it flew out of play on the opposite side of the field and Tivvy resumed with a throw in.

With Kevin Wills serving a one match suspension à la five yellow cards‚ the attacking midfield role had fallen the way of Mike Booth and he began to revel in it. The seventh minute saw him running full tilt at the Centurion's defence to thread a low pass through to Jamie Mudge who had the ball hacked off his toe for a corner as he steadied himself to shoot. The corner from the left was curled in by Steve Winter and though cleared away by the defence Tivvy swarmed back to maintain the pressure on the home side's goal for a solid two minutes. And it was a very similar scenario a couple of minutes later when Winter made a right wing dash but saw his cross deflected for another corner almost before it had left his boot‚ only this time when the ball eventually came clear of the edge of the Cirencester penalty area Booth split the advancing back line that was following it out to find Stewart Yetton in the clear‚ but the debuting youngster fired wide of the mark.

With the play concentrated in the Cirencester half of the field it was almost inevitable that Tiverton would eventually find a way through and take the lead. It happened in the 18th minute and it seemed appropriate that the chance should be initiated by Booth. Collecting a pass from 'string pulling' Paul Buckle‚ Booth again opened up the home back line with a ball through to Yetton on the left corner of the penalty area. With two defenders blocking any further progress towards the goal‚ Yetton swayed right and then left‚ feinting to try to get past as he tried to avoid over-running the ball‚ but then neatly back heeled the it into the path of Mudge who was bursting into the open space wide of the area. As Mudge collected the ball and made for the by-line‚ Yetton darted past his two shadows and into the six yard box with perfect timing to take Mudge's return pass/cross and turn it past Cirencester keeper Mark Bryant. The slickness of the entire move was what one might have expected from players that had been combining all season not for a mere eighteen minutes.

A single goal margin was always going to be too close for comfort and Tivvy set about increasing their cushion. They came close within three minutes when another corner saw Bryant having to throw himself full length to turn an Iain Harvey effort onto his upright and out for another corner. This time it was Nathan Rudge's turn to make contact with the inswinging quadrant kick but the Big Man's header flew inches wide. Cirencester were trying to make a game of it but though their defence was managing to get the ball away it always seemed to come back at them. If played out from the back the second ball was seldom fed accurately to a team-mate and if hoofed clear then it inevitably was collected by a yellow shirt - after all they were facing in the direction that the ball was coming from. Cirencester's two front men‚ Jody Bevan and Gareth Hopkins might have looked good with their movement off the ball which was fine for them - they had little opportunity to show what they could do on it - but when they did get a touch there was little or no support.

Tivvy‚ meanwhile continued to strive to find another goal but to little avail. Buckle fed Yetton another chance that was fired wide‚ Mudge got his head to a right wing cross but sent that wide too‚ and when Harvey‚ Buckle and Vinnicombe combined on the left Tivvy had to settle for a corner when Vinni's cross was deflected out . Rudge motored forward but only made the slightest of contact to glance the ball out for a goal kick.

With five minutes to go to the break the home side had their best chance so far. A corner on the left was pushed out wide to the right. Ovendale chased but the ball was clearly going away from him thanks to wind assistance. The keeper let it go and turned to hot foot it back into more regular territory. Adam Mayo chipped the ball over the retreating keeper and right to the head of Nick Stanley who directed his header straight into the grateful embrace of Ovendal‚e who took it without breaking stride on his way back to the centre of his goal-line. Despite the missed opportunity‚ with just the single goal deficit it must have been the home dressing room and fans that were most optimistic during the half time break.

The Centurions were on the march from the very start of the second period but if there's one thing Tiverton have had this season it is plenty of practise at defending. For the first ten minutes after the restart a yellow shirt in the Ciren half of the pitch was as rare as hens teeth. All the practice seemed to be paying off as the organisation, determination and, most of all, the concentration of the Tivvy back line held the home side at arms length.

Rudge and Walker in the middle continued to be first to the ball. The wing backs made things difficult for the Cirencester wide men and the midfielders battled and challenged to keep the range long. The Gloucestershire side were at a loss as to how to breach the barricade and were reduced to long range efforts that proved little challenge for Ovendale, who handled them well or was able to watch as they flew well wide of his woodwork. Michael Jackson tried a blast on 55 minutes - still rising as it sailed a metre over the crossbar: Hopkins brought down a cross from the right, one of few to evade the Tiverton central pair, to hammer a shot wide five minutes later; and Kevin Halliday also missed the target after Hopkins had worked well to win the ball down in the right hand corner and lay in a low cross. For all their pressure the home side showed little penetration and gradually Tiverton's confidence began to grow, The ball started to be played away from the back more constructively. Possession began to be maintained. The Mudge/Yetton combination began to have the occasional sight of the ball...; in the 75th minute Tiverton even made enough of a raid to win a corner!

But the escapade nearly brought disaster for the Yellows as Cirencester cleared the kick and switched back into attacking mode to come as close to finding the net as they were to do all day. It is perhaps a measure of either how effective the Tiverton defending had been for that opening half hour or so of the second half, or of the shortcomings of the Cirencester attack, that most of the shots that had found their way through had come from midfielders or defenders. It was no different with this chance. Mayo fired in what was the first effort to test Ovendale since the break. It was powerful(ish), low and on target. Ovo was down well to the ball, if a shade late, and was given a fright as he failed to hold it. Somehow the ball squirmed under his body and trickled through the goalmouth mud towards the line. With no momentum to carry it and no Ciren forward within five yards to add any extra impetus, Ovendale twisted round to pounce on the ball while it was still a yard from the line. And it was before the line - no bendy Old Trafford markings in the Corinium!

The home side continued to make their camp in the Tiverton half but, equally continued to proffer little threat to their actual target. Even the attempts on goal dried up as the balls into the danger area did likewise. Not that the reduction in supply to the front men made a lot of difference - they had not really been making the anticipatory runs that are necessary to pierce a solid defence. One of two things seemed likely to happen as the match entered it's last five minutes. Either the Tiverton defensive concentration would suffer one of it's last minute - or even later - lapses, or The Yellows would pinch a second goal. It was, happily for the travelling contingent, the later.

Mark Bryant, who had suffered a pretty boring three quarters of an hour since his last cup of tea, was called into action. Nothing spectacular, just an ordinary, mundane goal kick. It was a bad one. It carried, despite the wind assistance factor, just as far as Booth in the centre of the park. Booth hammered it back but it angled out to the left. It should have been the defender's ball, there were two of them. Jamie Mudge had other ideas and gave chase. He never really won clean possession but he did enough harassing to unsettle the defenders, get enough control of the ball to poke it across the front of the penalty area where Yetton was lurking. It was not only Yetton's debut, he must have thought it was his also his birthday as he grabbed the opportunity to hammer a decisive low angled shot under Bryant to seal the game.

In the final analysis both teams took from the game what they deserved. Both had the advantage of the wind for half the game. Tiverton had just that little more incisiveness when it was their turn...or was it that that the Cirencester defence was less concentrated. Cirencester used their 45 minutes of wind assisted play to have a greater proportion of the territorial advantage than their visitors had enjoyed but without the bite. Tiverton took their one chance against the elements - The home side spurned three or four. Now, which is the formula for a play-off challenge?

A final thought...So many Centurions; so few Legionnaires.


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe (Shaun Goff 90), Mike Walker, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Mike Booth, Iain Harvey, Stewart Yetton, Paul Buckle, James Mudge
Booked: Harvey.

Cirencester Town: Mark Bryant, Neil Arndale, Kevin Halliday, Adam Mayo, Michael Jackson, Adam Howarth, Adi Viveash, Nick Stanley (Shaun Wimble 56), Gareth Hopkins, Jody Bevan, Ben Fitch (Scott Griffin 87)
Booked: None

Referee: Mr. O. Langford (Wednesbury)

Attendance: 269


This report ©2005 John Reidy






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