Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 0 Grantham Town

   Saturday 19/02/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Football club nicknames come from a wide variety of sources‚ some obvious‚ some not so obvious‚ and some downright obscure or just lost in the mist of time. There are those at the front end which stem from the colours that the team play in or even the club´s name. Boring names such as The Tigers‚ The U´s or The Yellows. Of the obscure ones at Tivvy´s level‚ the most difficult to get a rational explanation of is Halesowen Town - even the supporters and officials of the West Midland club seem to be vague and in disagreement among themselves over the origin of the name Yeltz. Firmly established in the expanse between these two extremes are the majority of clubs whose unofficial label requires only a modicum of local knowledge to explain. The Bulls of Hereford‚ The Romans of Bath‚ The Cobblers of Northampton. On that basis I assume‚ for I can´t be bothered to do the research‚ that at sometime Grantham was famous for its gingerbread. Perhaps that is why I can´t find anything to enthuse about when it comes to the football team from that fair town. Having worked for the Rank Hovis organisation for twenty years in the Baking industry‚ I´m afraid it is impossible for me to get enthusiastic about anything to do with bread. Even fourteen years later‚ what most people refer to as the delightful smell of fresh bread causes a total void in my desensitised nostrils. Add to that the fact that I am of true cockney birth‚ and the connotations of the word 'ginger' in that part of the world´s rhyming slang‚ and the thought of Gingerbread men as being appealing flies right out of the window. Having said that‚ games between Tiverton and Grantham have always been close affairs and this one promised to be the same so the 'brave face' was hoisted into position and keen anticipation feigned.


Tivvy were first off the blocks as the opening whistle sounded. It was clear that either the ball was a little odd‚ changing direction minutely in flight‚ or that the pitch was not quite as smooth as the eyes told us it was; and on closer examination it seemed most likely to be the later. Never-the-less‚ or perhaps because of that‚ The Yellows were instantly alert enough to break up the first Grantham foray forward and hammer the ball forward in the direction of the left wing. Not as alert‚ though was the referee´s assistant out on the clubhouse side for there was more than a hint of Jamie Mudge being offside (like a yard more than a hint) as the ball headed in his direction. Playing to the whistle‚ or more accurately lack of it‚ Mudge took the ball and headed off deeper into opposition territory ‚ cutting in towards goal as he did so. Gingerbread keeper Mario Ziccardi came to meet the breakaway and as Mudge hit his shot on the run managed to parry the ball‚ but not hold it‚ on the edge of the penalty area. The ball flew straight back to Tivvy´s top scorer who made no mistake with his second effort to give his side a 1 minute 39 second lead.

The visitors were not happy but have to be given credit for dropping their protests and getting on with the game. And they did that in fine attacking style as they concentrated on redressing the balance. The Tiverton defence though looked solid‚ as they have done since the last home game‚ and though almost all the White shirts were in their hosts end of the field‚ very few were allowed to stray into the penalty area. A few did manage to make it by a yard or so in the seventh minute but such was the resolution of their hosts blocking and tackling that an almighty scramble developed seventeen yards in front of Mark Ovendale´s goal that the referee called a halt before any physical damage was done and restarted the game with a dropped ball that Tivvy managed to win and clear.

The pattern remained much the same for the opening twenty minutes. Grantham maintained their pressure‚ Tiverton defended well‚ including a goal line clearance from a Tim Wooding free kick that curled round the wall only to be blocked by Rob Cousins standing sentry on the upright. That free kick was indicative of one of the factors of the early stages of the contest. It was given away by Steve Winter after he had given the ball away under pressure by mis-hitting a clearance as the ball did strange things - nowhere near as peculiar as what it did as Ovendale swung his boot at a back pass and almost missed entirely. Only once did Tivvy hold things together long enough to look really threatening as they came out of defence and that was in the 12th minute when A short pass from Iain Harvey saw swept quickly through to Mudge who hammered an early shot high and wide from a position better than the one from which he had earlier scored.

The Yellows held their guests off well and steadily fought their way out of oppression. By the last quarter of an hour of the half the game had totally levelled out‚ it was as 'nip and tuck' as had been expected. A tidy Yetton‚ Vinnicombe‚ Mudge‚ Vinnicombe move on the left was brought to an end when Vinni was upended and Winter´s viciously hit and wickedly bending free kick was heading for the near post until a visiting defender´s head sent it whistling past the woodwork on the wrong side‚ for a corner.

At the other end Nathan Rudge coolly controlled a long ball‚ turned inside to find space‚ and then blotted his copybook by making a present of it to a white shirted player that sent a splitting pass through to Jason White. With only Ovendale to beat the equaliser was on the cards - had White not crashed his shot inches wide of the target.

Continuing the steady pendulum effect the next aggressive move saw Winter curl a long ball along the right hand touch-line that Mudge took well‚ cut inside and unleashed a shot that hit the angle of the crossbar and right hand upright a glancing blow on its way to the safety - Grantham viewpoint - of a goal kick. One last piece of action of note saw Rudge pump the ball forward to send Yetton on a run only for the debuting (home) forward to be upended by a tackle from Steve Julian that enticed the yellow card out of the referee´s pocket for the second time (Paul Buckle had talked his way into the book 10 minutes earlier). From the low level free kick Buckle was a foot away getting the touch that would have diverted the ball past the keeper as the Tivvy midfielder nipped in front of the custodian.

Half time. Nothing much in it‚ just a single goal. It could so easily have been less.

The half time managerial dressing room verbosity seemed to have had much the same effect as the goal. From the visitors point of view they had added an urgency to get back on terms. Tivvy realised‚ or had been told two things. Firstly that the opposition would more than likely throw everything at them when the game restarted and secondly that when that happened they had to retain their composure and‚ most of all‚ concentrate. That was exactly what happened. The Gingerbreads edged on top again - not as convincingly as they had early in the second half - and they were to a degree aided by Tivvy´s concentration and desire to play the ball out of defence rather than just hoof it away and wait for the next assault. Some might have believed they were faffing around too much‚ others that they were sitting back. Neither would have been strictly true; they were concentrating , trying to absorb the pressure and making efforts to build from the back. And it was a policy that began to bear fruit after about ten minutes when Winter robbed Dominic Hallows as he prepared to launch the ball back upfield, and made tracks down the flank to hammer in a low cross that blasted out by a central defender, and on the 63rd minute Yetton had his effort deflected away from the target as he turned neatly to fire in a shot.

Generally though, the evening out of the game had seen it restricted to midfield and become scrappy until the second half of the second period when a few chances again began to appear, First scare for Tivvy came when Adam Sturgess drove forward from the Grantham midfield, made progress towards the right, cut in across the face of the Tiverton penalty area and unleashed a low drive that thudded off the base of Ovendale´s left hand post with the keeper still a yard away. Tiverton responded with another long ball from Winter (again!) freeing Mudge (again!) who skipped past Julian as if he was non-existent, but was way, way wide with his cross-goal shot.

If it were not for one failing the Yellows would have been well in control. They were giving away possession too frequently. Too often, without a great deal of apparent reason, there were passes going astray - and worse they were falling not in 'no mans land' where there was a chance of retrieval, but right to an opponents boot. Luckily for Tivvy, Grantham were almost as bad and therefore unable to capitalise on their gifts.

It was a trait that thankfully faded as the game moved into the final ten minutes.....or at least as far as the home side were concerned. As the seconds swept by, though, there was little indication that the final score would be anything over than what it had been for all but the opening 99 seconds. Tivvy were well on top and creating chances for a pass time but there was an air about Ladysmead that suggested they wouldn´t find the net again. Even when, in the 84th minute, Booth sent Mudge on a run that saw him one on one with Ziccardi, there was a feeling that the keeper would keep him out and sure enough that´s the way it was as the Gingerbread man blocked with his body. A minute later Yetton was fed by Mudge and shot high and whilst we waited for the goal kick Shaun Goff replaced Vinnicombe.

Three minutes of normal time remaining and Grantham´s turn to attack. Rudge cleared the lines with a long header. Mudge collected and, turning his man on the left wing played the ball long into Yetton in the middle of the park. Yetton took the ball in his stride and embarked on a jinking, twisting run into the penalty area where he was challenged and bundled over as he teed up a shot. The referee looked,....lifted his whistle.....looked again and waited as the ball ran wide towards the left side of the penalty are where Shaun Goff was cutting in to have his first touch of the game and hit the back of the net to deny The Yellows a penalty. Two - nil. That was probably about right over the 90 minutes as a whole, perhaps a little generous to Tivvy but then there ain´t no such thing as one and a half - nil!

Harvey provided Mudge with a touch that might have increased the margin to faltering proportions but Ziccardi saved at full length to deny the Tivvy striker as the 90 minutes flicked over into added time. Time for one more chance for Yetton to add his name to the scoresheet on his home debut, well two really. The first came as he again drifted off his marker to find space in the penalty area but was denied by a two footed tackle by Ziccardi that took the ball, but also the man. This time the referee didn´t wait to see if any advantage came the home side´s way. Immediate peep and finger pointing to the spot. Yetton´s second chance....he grabbed the ball, wanting to take the kick. Denied again - this time by team-mate Winter who justified hanging on to his status as the team´s penalty taker by rifling the kick into the net.

Three - nil. Flattering to the victors. But so too was that one - six result last time at Ladysmead. That´s football - the cookie crumbles both ways and you don´t refuse any crumbs that come your way.......at least, not when you´re in the position that The Yellows are now.


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe (Shaun Goff 85), Mike Walker, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Mike Booth (Kevin Wills 88), Iain Harvey, Stewart Yetton, Paul Buckle, James Mudge
Booked: Buckle

Grantham Town: Mario Ziccardi, Tim Wooding, Dominic Hallows, Adam Sturgess, Steve Julian, Adrian Speed, Lee Glover, Willis Francis, Jason White (Josh Quailey 80), Jason Turner, James Rowe
Booked: Julian

Referee: Mr. P. Brown (Taunton)

Attendance: 553


This report ©2005 John Reidy






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