Match report

Stamford 0 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 19/03/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Just what the connection is between Stamford FC and their nickname of The Daniels remains something of a mystery to me. (Not so subtle hint for any Lincolnshire fan reading this‚ to e-mail me an explanation.) If it is some kind of reflection on the biblical story of Daniel in the lions den‚ With Stamford casting themselves in the hero´s role‚ then it could well be appropriate as all the faith in the power of The Almighty to save his chosen believers will be required if Tivvy are to make a return trip to this venue. Stamford‚ on the evidence of this game‚ are doomed to relegation. Far from displaying bravery of the kind reputed to have been shown by the early Christians‚ they appeared to be resigned to their fate of sacrificial lambs‚ and this was not in the lions den but on their own territory so the scenario was more a case of The lions in Daniel´s den rather than the other way around. Not that The Yellows showed much resemblance to Lions‚ and certainly not to starving ones ready to gorge themselves on easy meat.

It all started encouragingly enough for the travelling fans who had left the sunshine of Devon to venture into the mist and greyness of the East Midlands. Tivvy were sharply out of the traps and creating openings before their hosts had managed to find first gear. Steve Winter broke free with a driving run down the right touch line and crossed the ball in perfectly for Shaun Goff cutting in from the left‚ but Goff´s header‚ though powerful‚ flew wide with the goal gaping. Three minutes on and it was the turn of the left flank to host a Tivvy break. This time it was Jamie Mudge out wide to send in the cross which evaded first Stewart Yetton´s head and then Kevin Wills´ boot as it flew across the goalmouth and out of play for a goal kick.
Inevitably Stamford began to settle and could well have opened the scoring in the 11th minute when Ryan Nash split the Tiverton defence to send James Rowe clear with only Mark Ovendale to beat. Ovendale came to narrow the angle‚ Rowe shot‚ Ovendale was nowhere near it as the ball took a bobble just as the Stamford man swung his boot and ended up being sliced ten yards wide of the goal. Just to make the point that they might take the game if given the opportunity Stamford also provided shots from Kevin Aislie that flew way over the crossbar‚ and Delroy Gordon whose low drive gave Ovendale his first serious test.
The game had evened out by the 20th minute and it was becoming increasingly clear that the pitch was not a good one on which to attempt to play smooth flowing football. Neither team were capable of stringing together more than three or four passes before the ball would do something erratic and break up the move. The home side coped with the situation better than did The Yellows by hitting the ball hard‚ and where possible low‚ to their front men. Tivvy struggled and only looked dangerous from set piece situations. Winter was the main architect of those threats. A 20th minute free kick floated into the area and easily headed away by a defender but falling to Mudge who let fly from the edge of the area but was wide of the mark‚ and four minutes later a more central place kick that Winter bent round the defensive wall to send Stamford keeper Darren Watts full length to turn round the post for a corner.
That was just about the sole attacking contribution from Tiverton for the second part of the first half. In fact they managed to put together little constructive play anywhere on the park. Stamford were not a lot better but they managed to hold the ball for longer periods and when they did they tried to move forward. Yetton was suffering from the onset of flu and was replaced just before the half hour mark by Kurt Nogan but even the experienced Welshman had difficulty controlling the ball and made little if any impact up to the break.
All in all the game deteriorated to an abysmal level‚ scrappy and formless. A typical end of season game between two poor sides with nothing to gain and nothing to lose - and there lies the enigma‚ both teams were playing for a prize. Never-the-less it was scrappy rubbish‚ The home side had two vague chances from free kicks‚ the first headed fir a corner by Mike Walker the second held by Ovendale at the second attempt after it had taken a strange bounce. The half time whistle brought blessed relief.

The second half opened reasonably brightly‚ but then that wasn´t going to be difficult. It also continued the most memorable aspect of the first half with the man in the middle giving a virtuoso performance of that well known musical piece Rhapsody in black´‚ arranged for whistle and wagging finger. If it weren´t bad enough having the playing surface disrupting the flow of play we also had an official that seemed determined that possession of the ball would change every fifteen seconds. First to take advantage of a donated free kick were the home side three minutes after the re-start when Glenn Gibb collected the second ball to make a run at the centre of the Tiverton defence and unleash a firm drive that had Ovendale down and stretching to turn for a corner.
Tivvy kept plugging away and gradually found that they could pass the ball and when Ovendale punted a long ball forward that Mudge did manage to bring down and control‚ the Tiverton striker was able to stroke the ball out wide where Kevin Wills had made a run. Wills also controlled the ball but looked as if he had got himself trapped in the corner until he poked the ball past the closing defender‚ along the goal line and laid it along the ground diagonally back across the penalty area for..........a Stamford defender to hoof clear since there was not a yellow shirt in sight.
At least it was a piece of constructive attacking play and was the first if a number of chances that were to be created by the visitors as they began to steadily take the upper hand. Two minutes later Winter was again involved as a free kick on the left was taken by Paul Buckle and found its way out to Winter on the right. The Tivvy wing back turned inside and past a defender‚ carried the ball on a couple of yards to the angle of the penalty area and took a shot that knocked the breath out of Watts as he took it in the midriff.
The sixty-fourth minute had the Devonians in the crowd´‚ ready to celebrate as Mudge again escaped through the middle but it all fell flat‚ as did Mudge‚ when having looked to have controlled the ball‚ it took another bobble just as he was about to pass the last defender and the pair of them ended up in a heap on the edge of the penalty area. Meanwhile Shaun Goff had taken a knock that had required lengthy attention and‚ having failed to run it off´. he was replaced by Paul Milsom and Winter moved to the left in a flat back four as Tivvy began to clearly dominate with Buckle and Mike Booth running the middle of the pitch.
But for all that‚ Tiverton actually achieved very little as the home side apparently decided to settle for a point - strange since they as much as Tiverton needed all three. Even a sequence of three consecutive corners in the 70th minute brought The Yellows no reward and when a Winter free kick sailed past the angle of crossbar and upright two minutes later even the optimists began to feel it was going to be one of those days for Tivvy.
But whilst there´s life there´s hope and from nowhere up popped a goal. An 84th minute throw in‚ moved on to Wills in space on the right towards the angle of the penalty area‚ There was a gathering of the clans towards the far post awaiting the expected cross. It never came as the defenders backed of and allowed Wills to advance to the edge of the area where he spotted a gap and sent the ball skimming through it to sneak inside the near post.
The home side were not happy! Was somebody offside at the far post? If so the flag stayed down and the referee was happy. The goal stood‚ as no doubt will the two yellow cards that were picked up for the ongoing dissent. The home side failed to mount any attempt at a comeback. They held Tivvy off‚ its true but The Yellows were not really taking any chances though they were still moving forward.

Kevin Wills had played the Get out of jail´ card and so the Tiverton dream edged on. Stamford will surely be making plans for Southern League Eastern Division football next season.


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale‚ Steve Winter Shaun Goff (Paul Milsom‚ 66)‚ Mike Walker‚ Nathan Rudge‚ Rob Cousins‚ Kevin Wills, Mike Booth, Stewart Yetton (Kurt Nogan, 27), Paul Buckle, James Mudge.

Subs not used: Pete Conning.

Booked: Rudge.


Stamford: Darren Watts, Matt Green, Andy Peaks, Glenn Gibb (Matthew Woodman, 77), Delroy Gordon, Carl Holmes, Ryan Nash, Garry Butterworth (Ossie Mintus, 67), Kevin Slinn, James Rowe, Kevin Aislie.

Subs not used: Alex Collyer.

Booked: Gibb, Green, Peaks, Slinn.


Att: 213


Referee: Mr Mark Swift (Grimsby).

This report ©2005 John Reidy






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