Match report

Hemel Hempstead 0 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 09/04/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

From the time my father sat me on what he called a pillion seat‚ but in reality was little more than a block of rubber fixed to the rear mudguard of his BSA Bantam‚ at the age of six‚ I have always had a fancy for two wheeled travel. Combined with a liking for away days´‚ nurtured in my early teens by travelling to Headington United´s away games‚ it is hardly surprising that when I was old enough and the first chance of a pair of wheels of my own came along‚ I grabbed it. An old heavyweight Diana scooter. Not the ideal machine for the concrete roads that were the preferred choice of Oxford City Council on their residential developments. Slippery when even slightly wet and an absolute death trap on a frosty winter morning‚ the machine was frequently dropped´‚ but at least I was independently mobile. And when the footy season was over I soon began to follow England´s most popular summer spectator sport - if judged on total weekly attendance´s - Speedway. Any night of the week that I fancied inhaling those distinctive fumes of Castrol R´‚ there was something within reach. Even Sunday afternoons‚ before I started spending them at the likes of Brands Hatch‚ Mallory Park or Silverstone watching proper´ bike racing‚ there was a chance of some four lap dirt racing at the rather basic Rye House track at Hoddesdon in Hertfordshire. Nice ride it was too on a sunny summer afternoon. Aylesbury - Tring - Berkhamstead. And then my first encounter with Emel Empstead. Not that I ever saw much of the town. Even in those distant 60´s days there was traffic routing that meant that the centre of any major conurbation was by-passed. Follow the signs to St. Albans and be on your way seemed to be the message‚ and even now the location of the football club´s ground meant that there was no reason to go near the centre and therefore no chance to find out if the nickname of The Tudors reflected the style of the local architecture. Not that I was bothered‚ I was in Hertfordshire to see Tivvy edge closer to a play off spot; not admire ancient wooden framed buildings.

As suspected summer was clearly over. The game commenced wth Tivvy playing into a fierce blow and a none too warm one at that‚ but still they managed to have the better of the opening exchanges‚ even having the first shot on goal in the fourth minute. The chance came as a result of a typical burst across the edge of the penalty area by Jamie Mudge as he searched for a gap in the defensive line that might give him a sight of goal. Before it came he was upended and it was left to Steve Winter to fire in the free kick which curled neatly round the wall but without a great deal of power‚ certainly not enough to make Hemel goalkeeper Ricky Millard struggle in the slightest as he moved across his goal to scoop the shot up. Three minutes later the first part of the scenario was repeated but this time the referee waved play on as Mudge was toppled.
Tiverton continued to have the greater share of the game but without looking to be a serious threat. Partly their edge was due to the effectiveness of the makeshift defence‚ With Nathan Rudge serving the second match of his suspension and Mike Walker suffering whiplash injuries following a motor accident‚ providing the height at the centre of the Tivvy back line became the responsibility of Paul Milsom. With the strike force of Grant Carney and Lee Charles‚ the later having just joined The Tudors from Weymouth and remembered by Tivvy fans for the devastation he caused in a pre-season visit with Aldershot last season‚ Milsom was in for a busy afternoon but seemed to be coping well in those early stages.
Chances were few and far between at either end and seemed to be in danger of drying up completely until the 25th minute saw Kevin wills make it to the by-line to the Tivvy right of the Hemel goal and cut in along to pull back a low hard cross. It wasn´t pulled back quite enough and was cleared away by the boot of a home defender but was straight back to Wills whose second effort was just right for Mudge who sent a low drive that Millard was happy to beat out to be cleared by his defence. We waiter six minutes for the next piece of excitement and this time it was provided at the other end as Hemel managed their first attempt on goal courtesy of Charles who hit in a low shot that Mark Ovendale had to dive full length to reach and hold cleanly with both hands.
The 34th minute might have seen the deadlock broken in The Yellows favour as Dave Hambly battled for and won a ball in midfield which he fed forward for Kurt Nogan to push on to Mudge who was challenged just as he was set to shoot and could only watch as the ball‚ having been poked off his foot‚ crossed the line for a corner. Winter moved over to the left to take the kick but‚ as if to demonstrate the strength and gustiness of the wind it was out of play for a goal kick well before it reached the goalmouth. One further chance (half?) for the visitors when Winter set Mudge away down the right but the cross was diverted out for a corner which again came to nothing.
Hemel turned up their wick for the last five minutes before the break and became bright enough to pin Tivvy back on the defensive apart from one long ball forward that was miscleared by a defender to put Nogan in the clear but the spin imparted by the sliced clearance made the ball almost impossible to control and before Nogan could do that it was hustled away by two retreating and recovering defenders. A goalmouth scramble developed at the Tivvy end in added time but Charles fired wide to bring a pretty dire first half to an end.

Despite the fact that they had proved that playing into the wind was not a disadvantage Tivvy made a bright start to the second period with it at their backs with Mudge getting in with the first post interval shot in the 46th minute‚ wide of the target. for the next quarter of an hour the play moved to and fro between the two penalty areas with little of note actually happening though it was clear that The Tudors were having the better of things. More possession‚ more time in the Tiverton half and creating more work for that makeshift defence than Tivvy were for their own back line. Still there were few chances. When Carney left Milsom for dead as he cut in along the by-line just as Wills had done in the first half Paul Kelly really should have done better than blast wide from the resulting laid back pass.
The best that Tivvy could offer came from Winter in the 67th minute and even that‚ one suspects‚ happened more by accident than intent. What was probably meant as a cross failed to be held and turned by the wind and therefore carried straight towards the right hand angle of upright and crossbar‚ or more accurately a point somewhere about six feet above that joint. Then as everyone watched it to safety it took a sudden dip that saw it miss the woodwork by less than a foot and land in the roof of the net.
Charles‚ who was only a shadow of the striker that had turned out on that sunny afternoon for The Shots´ missed another golden chance in the 68th minute when he cut in from the right and almost beat Ovendale with a low shot that had the Tiverton stopper grabbing the ball late but safely. In form‚ no doubt Charles would have buried his effort and it was no surprise that it was his last contribution to the game before being replaced.. Tivvy replied with a Nogan header from an Iain Harvey cross which Millard took comfortably and then he too was withdrawn in favour of Stewart Yetton.
With about ten minutes remaining there came the last serious scoring opportunity of the afternoon as Carney pierced the wall with a free kick but had to be content with a corner when the man on the post did his job.
Further substitutions by Tiverton freshened up their game a little but not enough to change anything and it was the second of those changes that became one of the noteworthy points of the afternoon for the bored and frustrated - not to mention disappointed - Tiverton followers; namely the introduction of Jak Martin for the last five minutes‚ thus becoming the second graduate from the Youth side to make his Southern League debut for The Yellows.

The chance of a top five placing remains. While there´s life there´s hope. Tivvy will have to show more life in the two upcoming home games if they are to carry the fight into the final day of the season in Norfolk.

Keep the faith!


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale‚ Steve Winter‚ Chris Vinnicombe‚ Shaun Goff (Jak Martin‚ 86)‚ Paul Milsom‚ Rob Cousins‚ Kevin Wills‚ Iain Harvey‚ Kurt Nogan (Stewart Yetton‚ 75), Dave Hambly (Mike Booth, 85), James Mudge.

Subs not used: Terry Skeggs.

Booked: Goff, Harvey.


Hemel Hempstead: Ricky Millard, Steve Dell, Richard Mansell, Richard Harris, Mat Corbould, Fabio Valenti, Paul Kelly, Liam Parrington, Grant Carney, Lee Charles (George Fowler, 71), Tony Fontenelle.

Subs not used: Bryan Hammett, Mark Xavier, Stuart Beevor, Martin Peat.

Booked: Corbould.


Att: 261


Referee: Mr. S. Feerick (Peterborough).

This report ©2005 John Reidy






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