Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 1 Bedford Town

   Saturday 02/04/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

As the politicians wind themselves up for the forthcoming General Election campaign it is inevitable that the same old chestnuts get wheeled out as issues. The National Health Service‚ Law and Order (just what chance is there for the nation when one witnesses the shenanigans between Newcastle players over the weekend?)‚ Education. The last subject is one that is frequently misconceived. To the politico´s it merely means school‚ college‚ university education - what in some quarters is regarded somewhat disdainfully as Book-learning´. Of far greater importance to some is the education one gains from life‚ those little things one learns at ones mothers knee‚ the kind of things one absorbs without ever realising you´re doing it or that you are‚ indeed‚ learning - being educated. Having been brought up in the post war years of the boom in the British motor industry‚ and my father being employed in it‚ it came naturally to me to absorb certain information about it - including‚ naturally enough‚ other towns that were centres of the industry. Longbridge on the edge of Birmingham; Ellesmere Port on Mersyside; Dagenham in Essex. Closer to home in Oxford was Coventry just up the road‚ Luton - forever associated with vans´ and of course even before I took any interest in football‚ Bedford - truck town‚ UK. So‚ in it´s way‚ the county town of Bedfordshire was a rival even before my love affair with The Ox´ started and competition was joined on the playing field of Headington. And fifty years on‚ here they are again - though the scene has moved to glorious Devon - The same old Bedford Town FC. Well‚ not quite the same old´ since the old Eagles were wound up and the present club is a result of a re-incarnation‚ or should that be a re-hatching? Whatever‚ Bedford Town were the third from last visitors for the season at Ladysmead and a tough proposition they were likely to be‚ lying as they were in fourth place in the table and fighting to hang on to a play off spot that seemed certain until a dip in form that had seen them fail to win one of their last six league games.

Summer 2005 fell on April 2nd‚ so Ladysmead was bathed in warm sunshine as the game got underway. There were the usual to-ings and fro-ings as each team probed the other - just to refresh their short term memories since they last met less than a month ago.
It was the visitors that had the first break - the kind of break that can often decide a game. Just five minutes were gone and they were moving forward. Mike Walker looked to have broken things up‚ and indeed would have had he applied the often criticised big boot. On this occasion he chose to try and play his way out of trouble as Bedford´s Rene Howe continued to harass him. Walker got himself into deep trouble and almost lost the ball to Howe before managing to get enough of a contact to prod the ball back to Chris Vinnicombe who also immediately received the attentions of Howe. Vinnicombe momentarily seemed to have found space but came under further pressure and tried to lay the ball across the edge of the penalty area for Rob Cousins to clear up-field. Even at the best of times such a pass is a suicidal risk - and this was not the best of times - particularly as the accuracy of the pass left a lot to be desired. In fact had it been delivered by an opposing player it would have been the perfect ball into the path of Paul Danaher who was advancing into the far side of the penalty area and gratefully received the gift by blasting the ball into the unguarded net.
It could have been a disaster for Tivvy‚ but heads didn´t drop as they set about the task of correcting the damage done. It didn´t take them long. Good work in midfield by Dave Hambly saw the ball moved out to Tivvy´s left flank (Jamie Mudge?) and with the forwards and their markers gathering for the cross in the vicinity of the penalty spot it was something of a surprise when the ball was played along the ground to Steve Winter following in from the left back position. With yards of space in front of him Winter was able to set himself for his shot which flew straight and true for twenty five yards‚ through the bodies in the penalty area and beyond the reach of Bedford´s keeper‚ James Robinson‚ to clear the upright by six inches and level the scores.
Seven minutes gone and a goal apiece. Both sides knew that they were capable of both scoring and conceding goals and so‚ although keeping an eye open for the chances‚ were taking no chances at the back. It all became a bit scrappy. plenty of effort and endeavour but not a great deal of finesse. If the ball was lifted into the air‚ as it frequently was by both sides‚ on its return to terra firma its bounce quite often exceeded expectations - a fact soon learned by players on both teams and countered by not allowing the bounce. So lots of huff and puff‚ and the amounts were considerable when the heat was taken into consideration‚ but little football.
The thirteenth minute saw a Vinnicombe free kick curled across the goalmouth where Kurt Nogan just failed to reach it and make the contact that would have turned it inside the post rather than the six inches or so that it flew past on the outside. Then on the 27th minute came the third strike of the afternoon. Vinnicombe sent a long free kick forward and it was collected by Mike Walker who was given little space to do anything other than carry it into the left corner where he had even less space and seemed to be well trapped with his best hope the winning of a corner. Until Jamie Mudge arrived in support. Walker managed to work the ball back to him and as the defenders that had restricted Walker left the corner to close down Mudge‚ he found just that yard of space to flight in an in-swinging cross to the far post where Nogan had ghosted in to allow himself a free and firm header that gave The Yellows the lead.
Bedford had to chase the game and for a while had Tivvy pinned back but the best they could manage was an effort from Stuart Wardley that flew safely a couple of feet over the bar. Mike Booth replaced Winter who was struggling with what looked like a hamstring injury and Tiverton appeared to have weathered the storm. They might well have increased the margin before the break as a beautiful diagonal ball across the field from the left found Booth charging in from the right with only Robinson to beat but the keeper bravely fell at the Tiverton substitutes feet to smother the ball. Tivvy survived a further scare when a Wardley free kick was headed away from goal but fell to the boot of Craig Rydeheard who let fly with a shot that had goal´ written all over it‚ until his own full back James Taylor got in the way to block. Half time and there were more smiles than grimaces around Ladysmead.

First chance of the second period came Tiverton´s way just three minutes after the restart when a high cross was hooked in by Vinnicombe and met by Nogan´s boot but pushed just wide. Otherwise the early moves were very similar to the first half‚ though both teams did seem more interested in building moves. Never the less it was still a solo effort from Mudge that brought the next exciting action for the home fans as he let fly with a fierce drive from all of 30 yards out that Robinson had to be sharp to hold cleanly above his head after 56 minutes‚ and a couple of minutes after the hour mark Mudge was again involved as he took the ball from a throw in‚ swivelled‚ and hoisted in a cross to the far post to find Wills‚ who had charged through unmarked but headed over the crossbar.
Despite these attempts by the home side the majority of the play in the first twenty minutes had taken place in the Tiverton half of the field but a combination of strong defending by The Yellows and forward play that somehow seemed to lack incisive confidence had provided little in the way of scoring opportunities for The Eagles. Typical of the jaded looking forward play was the route one move they mounted in the 64th minute when a massive goal kick by Robinson was headed on by Howe to send top scorer‚ but currently in mid drought, Chris Dillon, away with only Mark Ovendale to beat. Such are Dillon´s problems at the moment, that the Tivvy keeper was not called into action as the striker´ hit an early shot that flew way, way over the roof above the terracing at the Sponsors End.
With Tiverton steadily increasing their share of the ball and play moving more evenly around the pitch if fell to Mudge to illustrate just how such chances should be dealt with. The opportunity came not from a big hoof but from Tivvy breaking up a Bedford raid and playing the ball out of defence into midfield. Wills was the recipient and he perceptively split the visitors defence by moving the ball through the middle for Mudge to chase. Mudge had been caught making his run too early and getting caught by the offside trap on four occasions but this time he caught them to burst free. Right down the middle he motored as if he were following the dotted line down the middle of some imaginary road to goal. Robinson came but stood no chance as Mudge drilled the ball under his body and into the net. 3 - 1 and seventeen minutes to go.
Two goal leads mean very little at Ladysmead as Tivvy may well come to rue at the end if the season. They have been lost before but on those occasions it was inevitably to sides that showed a fighting spirit that forced The Yellows back. Bedford showed no such qualities. They looked like what they were - a side that hasn´t won in their last six games and could see their once convincing position in the play-offs slipping away.
Far from being forced back Tiverton were able to defend their lead by attacking. The game moved for its greater part into the central areas and Bedford´s half, the openings were being created by the home side. Wills took a pot shot from 25 yards that Robinson grabbed at the second time of asking. Mudge curled in a ball from the wide left that didn´t quite turn enough and flew inches past the far post. The closest the visitors came was from a set piece when Howe got a good header in from a Wardley free kick that Ovendale was down to quickly, to hold well.

For Tivvy it was a good result. Hard work and telling finishing had paid dividends even if it had not been a free flowing performance. The Eagles it was not so good, though they were given some consolation as the news filtered through from other places that all their rivals at the top had also faltered. All that means is that the margins have been reduced, it has all become much tighter. The dream lives on. Live the dream!


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter (Mike Booth, 37), Chris Vinnicombe, Mike Walker, Paul Milsom, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills, Shaun Goff (Iain Harvey, 72), Kurt Nogan (Stewart Yetton, 83), Dave Hambly, James Mudge.

Subs not used: Jamie Densham, Ian Nott.

Booked: None.


Bedford Town: James Robinson, James Taylor, Paul Danaher, Craig Rydeheard, Dean McElroy, Stuart Wardley, Ashley Blake, Derwayne Stupple, Chris Dillon, Rene Howe, Eddie Lawley.

Subs not used: Steve Jackman, Parys Okai, Chris Winton, Mark Boland, Craig Grieve.

Booked: None.


Att: 615

Referee: Mr. P. Hutton (Plymouth).

This report ©2005 John Reidy






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