Match report

Bedford Town 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 05/03/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

It´s hard to be nostalgic when you can´t remember´‚ says a motto that stares at me from atop my computer tower. It wasn´t until the last days before the trip to Bedford that I gave those words of wisdom much thought‚ or indeed‚ realised just how true they were. I checked the dictionary definition of the word Nostalgia´‚ confirming that it only referred to sentimental or fond memories‚ and that eased my mind about the condition of my recall facility. My most recent visit to the home of the Eagles‚ like most Tiverton fans‚ was that balmy - perhaps that should more correctly be barmy´ - day when Tivvy trekked over to Bedfordshire in the FA Vase‚ came away with a hard earned 2-1 win against the then Isthmian League outfit and went on to win the thing at Wembley. But there was a certainty that there had been a good few previous visits‚ albeit to the original Eyrie‚ a long time ago. A little research provided the reason for the lack of nostalgia´ about those earlier outings. Nothing fond about the memories. Inglorious replay exit from the FA Cup‚ a victim of a giant killing act´ when the gaining of League status had moved the boot from one foot to the other for Oxford United. No spectacular victories for my then favourites as the two clubs shared the Southern League stage in the late 50´s and early 60´s. The balance needed redressing if I was once again to be able to justifiably claim Nostalgia Rules‚ OK´ as I mentally daubed my graffiti over the remaining games of this season.

With the Eagles riding high on the air currents over the top of the table and a run of twelve straight home victories behind them it was little wonder that the home side began confidently. It was a confidence that was lost on Tivvy who were in no way overawed or over-run by their hosts and for the first ten minutes the game moved back and forth at a hectic pace with neither side able to establish any lasting form of supremacy. When an edge did eventually appear it was the home side that showed it when in the 10th minute they could well have taken the lead. Top scorer Chris Dillon split the Tiverton defence with a diagonal ball that put Richard Challinor clear as he burst into the penalty area on the right. Mark Ovendale dashed from his line but Challinor should still have done better than scoop the ball high over the crossbar with just the keeper to beat‚ and four minutes later the Eagles again failed to live up to their Bird of Prey´ reputation when livewire left-hand wide man Parys Okai pounced on a missed clearance by Steve Winter and fired in a low cross that thanks perhaps to the close attention of Mike Walker‚ Rene Howe somehow managed to turn wide from three yards out.
The scares clearly concentrated the minds of the Tiverton rearguard and they tightened up their act effectively from that point on‚ steadily building more frequent raids forward of their own. Jamie Mudge fired in an off target and wide of the post effort in the first show of attacking reply and then came considerably closer when Paul Buckle brought down a high ball with his head‚ slid it on to Iain Harvey who gave it another touch to set Jamie up with an angled shot that he cannoned off Bedford keeper James Robinson´s feet in the 18th minute.
The pace of the game had marginally dropped and we were seeing a finely balanced contest with both sides trying to create openings but neither managing to impose themselves as the dominant force. If one side had to be granted the accolade of edging in front then it had to be Bedford and that delicate bias was confirmed in the 25th minute when their more frequent attacks brought them a corner on the right. Curled in close to goal the ball was headed on and out‚ and seemed to be carrying past the last forward and Mike Booth when It struck the arm of the Tivvy midfielder as he followed it´s flight. There was no doubt about the award of the spot kick‚ nor the way in which Lee Howarth sent Mark Ovendale the wrong way to put the home side in front.
The goal gave Bedford a marked lift and they were straight back on the attack‚ though the save that was brought from Ovendale was from a wildly sliced attempted clearance by Walker on the edge of the penalty area which had the comedians´ behind the goal appealing for a back pass‚ as Ovo collected the unintentional lob. The save that the Tivvy keeper was forced to make on the half hour might well have been for keeping The Yellows in the game as another corned had the defence at sixes and sevens´‚ allowing Steve Jackman to unleash an exorcet of a shot that Ovendale heroically turned away at the expense of a further addition to the tally of home corners.
Despite the pressure Tiverton´s heads remained erect‚ their resolution undiminished and their concentration intact. They managed one break up field where Chris Vinnicombe sharply intercepted a midfield pass to take advantage of back peddling defenders to cover the best part of 50 yards before firing in a low shot that forced Robinson to be careful with his handling if not spectacularly agile. Half time; one down; but still in contention. It could have been so much worse......or better if all the luck had gone Tivvy´s way.

The Yellows claims on Lady Luck´s benevolence were extended into the opening five minutes of the second period. Four minutes in The Eagles swooped down the left flank - Okai again! - to fire in a low cross that looked a god-send for a predator of Dillon´s reputation. Obviously here was one bird who was either not so hungry or just felt that others were in greater need of sustenance as he generously passed up the tasty morsel and allowed it to pass to nestmate Ashley Blake who had been introduced at half time. Unfortunately‚ for the feathered contingent‚ the newcomer seemed surprised to be the recipient of the goodies and could only poke the ball wide with the goal‚ and Ovendale‚ gaping.
In the 55th minute Tiverton fashioned their best opportunity of drawing level. Winter looped in a long cross from the right and Mudge met the ball perfectly to power a header that brought an excellent save from Robinson who could only parry it. Jackman swung a boot at the ball but failed to clear cleanly and the ball again fell to Mudge who was denied for the second time in seconds by the full length dive of keeper Robinson. There was‚ by this time‚ clear indication that the game was beginning to swing slightly more towards the visitors and their more frequent forward momentum eventually brought reward when Mudge‚ on a trademark burst across the eighteen yard line in search of a shot to fire through following a Tiverton throw-in on the right‚ was upended by a trip right in front of the referee.
If the man in black had shown no hesitation in the award of Bedford´s place kick then he showed even less about this one - and why should he‚ he was right on the spot. As was the ball despite the rather silly verbals being given to his assistant who was still being harangued about claims that he had given the original throw-in to the wrong team! So Steve Winter had to wait while the linesman spoke to the referee‚ the referee spoke to and then yellow carded Okai‚ and then returned to the centre to take up position for the penalty. Winter wasn´t fazed. He hit the ball low to Robinson´s right as the keeper threw himself to his left. Twenty five minutes to go. All square at one a-piece....penalties as well as goals.
It was Tiverton´s turn to have morale boosted by a goal and the home side´s turn to be a little deflated....reflected by the fact that before the game could be restarted‚ a second Bedford player‚ Eddie Lawley‚ saw a yellow card for continuing the throw-in protestations.
Tivvy went on the hunt for a clincher. It was never a rampant onslaught - that would have been risky in the extreme against a team of Bedford´s quality‚ but they were certainly the side with the bit between their teeth. Minute 75: Buckle spreads the ball wide to Mudge on the left who appears to have run out of space until he checks‚ turns back and covers a yard or two before swinging in a right footed curler that flashes past a static Robinson but inches wide of the far upright. Minute 79: Mudge is caught offside as he makes to chase down a long ball out from the back. It is‚ remarkably the first off-side decision of the game and even more oddly is repeated for the final time within the minute!
Minute 80: Tiverton batter the Bedford goalmouth after Mudge has escaped on the left and fires a cross in towards the penalty spot. First Buckle lets fly but his shot is blocked. The ball comes out deeper to substitute Shaun Goff who also tries his luck with the same result only this time the ball is helped on its way by a home boot and Tivvy have to start from midfield again. Booth picks up the ball in space and motors forward‚ catches a sight of the goal and gives it a try but lifts it high over the crossbar to bring relief to the home side - and a chance to gather themselves for their own final effort.
Not that there was much of an effort from them. Of the two teams they appeared the more contented to settle for a point‚ though from the number of their followers that were passing in front of the stand in a slow drift towards the exit‚ not everybody was quite as content. They introduced fresh blood - it had little effect. Tiverton did likewise - it only had the effect of disrupting the game, though the introduction of Kevin Wills to replace Winter might have been judged as an aggressive move. Tiverton maintained their position as the team with forward momentum without really opening up the opposition defence. The game spluttered through it´s final five minutes waiting for the mistake that would swing it in either direction. Nobody made the mistake. The contest remained unresolved. One point each and far more cheerful Devonian faces around the New Eyrie than there were Bedfordian visages.


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter (Kevin Wills, 84), Chris Vinnicombe (Shaun Goff, 46), Mike Walker, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Mike Booth, Iain Harvey, Stewart Yetton (Kurt Nogan, 84), Paul Buckle, James Mudge.

Subs not used: Paul Milsom, Pete Conning.

Booked: Harvey.


Bedford Town: James Robinson, Steve Jackman, Parys Okai, Craig Rydeheard, Lee Howarth, Jason James (Dean McElroy, 83), Richard Challinor (Ashley Blake, 46), Derwayne Stupple, Chris Dillon, Rene Howe (Daniel Purzycki, 90), Eddie Lawley.

Subs not used: Scott Priestnall, Andrew Stevens (GK).

Booked: Okai, Lawley.


Att: 479


Referee: Mr. J. D. Woodruffe.

This report ©2005 John Reidy






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