Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 1 Banbury United

   Saturday 26/02/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

I didn't really appreciate it at the time I was growing up‚ but my father fulfilled the role that was quite 'the norm' at that time‚ the role of provider. All I noticed‚ though‚ was that he was seldom around for in order to make the family's life as free of need as he could‚ he worked permanent night shift. Of course‚ that meant that the upbringing of the children was left very much to my mother‚ and though I have no complaints about the way in which she carried out the task‚ and the absence of my father did not cause great mental anguish that led to me becoming a juvenile delinquent‚ there are certain roles that a father can fulfil better than a mother. Take 'The Facts of Life' (or if you are of similar vintage to myself then you can probably take 'em or leave 'em). Most of what I learnt was from my peers (contemporaries NOT nobility) or through instinct and personal experience. That you could wait an hour for a bus and then three would turn up in convoy: that if you were trying to sneak out from a gathering you didn't want to be at‚ in through the door would come a new arrival that greeted you with such vigour that the entire company's attention was attracted: that the traffic queuing in the other two lanes of the motorway always moved faster than in the lane you were in. Yes‚ those facts of life‚ The ones ruled by Murphy's Law. Ones like - if anything can go 'belly up'‚ it will. Like hundreds of others I didn't consider it was likely to happen as Banbury United made their first visit to Ladysmead‚ but then that's life‚ that's football.

With United just as desperate for points to keep themselves out of the relegation places as Tivvy were to close the gap on a play-off slot‚ it was never going to be an easy task. The opening minutes saw play swing from end to end but it was The Yellows that created the first chance in the third minute when Jamie Mudge swung a ball in from wide on the left that Puritans keeper Simon Tricker scooped off Stewart Yetton's toe. The pendulum slowly moved in Tiverton's favour‚ they won the first corner of the game after six minutes and looked to be steadily‚ if slowly‚ taking control of the contest. Too slowly as it turned out‚ for though the defence looked solid‚ and with three clean sheets behind them that is no more than you would expect‚ there was a moments hesitation from Nathan Rudge and Rob Cousins in dealing with clearing a long ball forward in the 12th minute. Howard Forinton has a history of capitalising on such defensive errors and this one was no exception as he sprang on the loose ball to carry it clear of the back line and crack a rising shot over Mark Ovendale and into the roof of the net. United in front and a familiar uphill battle facing Tivvy.

Heads didn't drop among the home players and they continued in pretty much the way they had been playing before the setback. There was a difference though‚ in the demeanour of the visitors. Their tails were up‚ defensively at least‚ elevated by the goal. For a while Tiverton tried to build from the back and it was Vinnicombe rather than Winter who was pushing forward the most. Indeed it was Vinni that was viciously hacked to the ground by Banbury's Adi Fuller with a tackle left over from last week's game. The referee‚ in a good decision in an erratic performance that varied from excellent to abysmal‚ allowed play to go on since Tiverton maintained possession and an attacking position. If was a full two minutes before the ball went out of play to allow the culprit to be shown the yellow card. Despite Tivvy providing most of the attacking momentum it was increasingly becoming due to long balls being fired forward in the hope that Mudge‚ Yetton or occasionally Kevin Wills might be able to chase them down and create an opening‚ though on 20 minutes there was one particularly fluid movement involving Yetton‚ Paul Buckle and Vinnicombe that was brought to an end again by Tricker being sharp to intercept Vinnicombe's cross with Wills ready to pounce in the six yard box.

The Banbury back line were mounting a gritty defence of their single goal lead. Their tackling was hard‚ committed and generally fair. There awareness of Tiverton players off the ball was enough to constantly reduce the home side's options‚ and Tivvy began to run out of ideas as t how to break the resistance. As seems to be the way of things these days‚ what threat there was to the visitors stemmed from the boots of Mudge‚ but he was not having the best of days and was finding just one to many white shirted defender to block any run he made - especially if it were anywhere but wide on the wings. Tiverton's closest attempt on goal came in the 32nd minute when Mudge received the ball from a throw in on the right and span (spun?) to fire in a powerful cross that was met with an equally powerful header from Yetton to bring a spectacular save from Tricker. With growing confidence United began to venture forward a little more as the break approached and the game evened out considerably. By the interval‚ in fact the visitors might have been considered to be marginally on top. Certainly the half time scoreline suggested they were.

If Tricker's alertness and handling had kept United in the game in the first period‚ then there was further evidence in support of that theory as the second half commenced. A good opening move from Town saw Booth feed the ball wide to Vinnicombe who in turn laid the ball inside for Mudge. Jamie was in space for a change and unleashed a tremendous shot on the turn that had the Banbury keeper at full stretch to palm the ball out for a corner. United‚ however‚ weren't in the business of sitting on their lead and cleared away in their own attack winning a corner on the right - followed by a second as the near post ball was headed back out. Tivvy managed to clear in the right direction at the second attempt but only a few yards outside the penalty area where Mudge‚ dropping back to give a hand‚ conceded a free kick in a dangerous position. Tivvy survived but only at the expense of another brace of corners from the left. The composure under pressure that had been so blatant in the past few weeks seemed to have evaporated.

Indicative of The Yellows lack of inventiveness was the 53rd minute free kick awarded when Wayne Blossom was yellowed for a tackle on Mudge midway inside the United half. Steve Winter hoisted the kick forward into the Puritans penalty area only for the ball to float harmlessly past the mass of bodies there gathered‚ and out for a goal kick. With the hour mark approaching Martyn Rogers rang the changes. Vinnicombe and Wills were replaced by Shaun Goff and Kurt Nogan. The Tivvy faithful on the terraces and in the stand were cheered by the implication. They were attacking changes.

So Tiverton attacked but the threat still came from the same source - Mudge. Though clearly not at his best he still looked like Tivvy's greatest chance of redemption. Another twist and turn to find a space and a shot fired in that was deflected away for a corner was the best that the striker could muster. And still United had an eye for the break as their hosts pushed forward‚ with Ian King nearly pinching a second goal as he turned and shot just wide in the 72nd minute.

But as the minutes ticked away it looked ever increasing likely that the visitors were going to hang on. Their defence had found a groove and were firmly entrenched in it. It was going to take something exceptional to break them down, and though Goff had added a little more width and forward movement, Nogan had failed to make any impact. Six minutes to go and the final throw of the dice. Jamie Densham for Rob Cousins. Four at the front.

All it brought was pressure Tiverton threw caution to the wind and everything else forward in a last ditch attempt to salvage something, anything , from the game. All they got was another Mudge effort being deflected away and a couple of corners. Banbury wanted the three points and the delight shown by manager Kevin Brock when the final whistle sounded showed just how much they wanted them - and needed them.

It was, compared to recent performances, a lacklustre Tiverton show. It was not the kind of thing that you would expect from a side pushing for a chance to win promotion. But then Banbury's defending - cool, calm and collected without a sign of desperation - was not what you would expect from a side under threat of relegation. Funny old game football......and isn't that a fact of life?


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe (Shaun Goff, 58), Mike Walker, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins (Jamie Densham 84), Mike Booth, Kevin Wills (Kurt Nogan 58), Stewart Yetton, Paul Buckle, James Mudge
Booked: Buckle, Rudge, Goff

Banbury United: Simon Tricker, Adi Fuller, Chris Jackson, Kieran Sullivan, Les Robinson (Ollie Stanbridge 25), Jody McKay, Ian King, Wayne Blossom, Howard Forinton, George Redknapp, Chris Potter
Booked: Fuller, Forinton, Blossom, McKay

Referee: Mr. A. Biddulph (Hampshire)

Attendance: 564


This report ©2005 John Reidy






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