Match report

Tiverton Town 5 - 0 Rugby

   Saturday 16/04/2005   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

It´s always a sad day when a Football Club comes to the end of it´s life. The fact that it is announced well in advance of the event makes it little better‚ no more than knowing that someone close to you has a terminal illness. The end when it comes is just as hard. Rugby United were making their final visit to Ladysmead in this end of season game. True the club will still exist in a different form‚ and since this is the second reincarnation in half a dozen years‚ (somewhat like Dr. Who) there is no reason to believe that the re-birth should not prove successful and that Rugby Town will not step right into the footprints left by it´s predecessor. It is understandable that many of those who love the Warwickshire club are upset. They are told by those responsible that nothing much will change but there must be a feeling that what they are being asked to accept is rather like being offered a puppy to replace a favourite pet that has passed on. What makes it worse from the fan´s point of view is that the operation appears no more than a re-branding. Let´s change the name of our peanut and chocolate confectionery bar from Marathon to Snickers - it´ll give us a better image! Really? What is even stranger is that after most clubs are forced into extinction‚ when they are reborn‚ there is often a fight to reclaim their heritage by reverting as soon as possible to the original name. The year before Tiverton first met Rugby they were playing in the Eastern Division of the Southern League. Due to their location they were the perennial pendulum between Eastern and Western Division‚ swinging from one to the other depending on who was promoted and relegated. But then they were known as VS Rugby. A club with a history. Former FA Vase winners (proudly their Unofficial web-site is named Never Lost at Wembley´‚ something even we at Tivvy can´t claim)‚ some giant killing exploits in the FA Cup. But that was VS.....not United.....and certainly not Town! Who knows‚ in years to come if the trend continues we could be welcoming Rugby Athletic to Ladysmead‚ or Rugby Rovers. VS and United are dead.....long live Town - even if it does seem so pointless!

In recent weeks the visitors had edged to safety at the foot of the league‚ even though it was more thanks to the results of other sides battling against the drop than their own efforts which had yielded a single point from their last four games. Just the kind of form that seems to set up sides to take something away from Ladysmead. Another potential banana skin for The Yellows‚ and one that they could not afford to even go near. Tivvy were quickest out of the blocks‚ gaining their first corner in just the second minute and pressing forward for the first five before the sky blue shirted visitors even showed a sign of moving out of their own half of the field. When they did they too won a corner to level up the count and the game then developed into a scrappy affair as both sides struggled to control the ball on a hard pitch. Tiverton´s first significant chance came after 11 minutes when Jamie Mudge fired in a cross from the left that Kurt Nogan slightly over-ran‚ but still made contact with‚ to send looping over Rugby keeper Beckwith´s top right corner.
As always Mudge was covering every blade of grass in the opposition half and since he was obviously bubbling it was inevitable that the visitors defence were having trouble controlling him. Brought down on the right by one foul attempt at restraint‚ Mudge made his way into the middle as Chris Vinnicombe crossed the field to take the 18th minute free kick. It was well flighted and curling nicely across the penalty area but three‚ yes three‚ yellow shirts were closer to the goal than any blue ones so up went Ms. Kingwell´s flag and we knew one facet of the game that United´s defence were more than competent with - the offside trap!
By midway through the first half Tivvy seemed to have got to grips with the sometimes erratic bounce of the ball and were clearly beginning to take control of proceedings. Yet another free kick for the home side‚ this one out to the right but only just into the Rugby half was pushed forward down the line by Steve Winter to Mudge. Mudge carried the ball almost to the by-line before hooking in a looping cross that was pushed out to Dave Hambly but the midfielder scuffed his shot and Beckwith had no trouble in clawing the ball out of the air above his head. Hambly was getting forward well and when next Mudge popped up on the left wing he seemed to again be set to provide the youngster with a chance until his attempted cross was deflected out for a corner. Not that Tivvy were denied for more than a few seconds when the kick was taken. As the ball bagatelled round the edge of the six yard box following a solid Mudge drive that was blocked but not cleared‚ it eventually rebounded to Iain Harvey who crashed it through a gap to give The Yellows a twenty-fifth minute lead.
Seven minutes later we were treated to the second Tivvy goal‚ and it truly was a treat being one of the best constructed moves to have been seen at Ladysmead this season. Winter started things with a ball out of defence along the right wing to Mudge who was soon faced with a hovering Rugby defender. A neat one-two with Kevin Wills inside him‚ saw Mudge nip past the blue shirt and into space at full throttle to take the return and head for the by-line. It seemed at first as if Mudge´s cross had been overhit‚ but then there would have been nobody in the middle to have capitalised on it had the ball dropped earlier such was the speed of the break. As it was‚ Vinnicombe had chased forward on the opposite flank and though he had to follow the ball towards the left touch line he was in enough space to collect it unchallenged‚ turn‚ and send a cross into the middle where having continued his run after initially releasing Mudge‚ Winter met the ball on the volley to send it whistling past the helpless Beckwith to double the lead. Even some of the Rugby fans applauded.
Tivvy were now comfortable and playing with confidence. Some of the home fans were still not sure‚ given the two goal leads that have evaporated earlier this season‚ but this is a different Tiverton side - in spirit as well as a few names. Just to remind the home side that the game was not yet over‚ Rugby created their first real scoring opportunity a minute before the break when a long cross from their left was headed back and down from the far post but was driven wide by Gary Morgan. 2-0 at half time seemed fair enough‚

It was important that The Yellows keep the momentum up through the second half. Goal difference might come into play in the final shakedown. The players awareness of that might have had something to do with why we witnessed the bonding huddle´ for the second time of the afternoon before the match resumed. United might well have pulled back a goal in the 49th minute. Ovendale came for a ball that Rob Cousins was shadowing back. The Tivvy keeper yelled clearly enough for Cousins to leave it. Cousins complied but as the ball crossed the line into the penalty area and Ovendale bent to pick it up‚ Rugby top scorer Robbie Beard nipped between the two Tiverton players to poke the ball away from the keeper´s hands and towards the goal line. Beard chased and managed to turn the ball back towards the penalty spot but cover had arrived and the Rugby support was unable to force in a shot so laid the ball sideways again for Beard who was promptly tackled‚ giving him the chance to show us his interpretation of the dying swan from Tchaikovsky´s ballet. Lucky escape for Tiverton - just as lucky for Beard!
Town were well in control of the game again but though the openings were coming the goals were not. Milsom came forward for a Tiverton corner in the 51st minute‚ got his head to the ball but sent it over the bar. Another corner on the left saw Mudge´s shot beaten away by the keeper who recovered quickly enough to do the same with Vinnicombe´s follow up and send it out for another corner. That came to nothing but United´s move off of the defensive was soon broken up and again it was The Yellows on the break with Mudge feeding Winter for a change. Winter sent a long crossfield ball through to Hambly who fired just over the crossbar in the 56th minute. The blues response was to create their third chance of the game but it ended up in the same manner as the first - a wide of the mark shot‚ this time by Jon Nichols. Surely something had to happen to give the scoreline a more accurate reflection of the game.
Yes. In the 63rd minute. Tivvy broke from the back and Mudge was away again. Well in from the left touchline he eased past one defender who was joined in the chase by a second. But Mudge was clear and fired in a his shot as he crossed the line into the corner of the penalty area. It might have proved to have caused Beckwith little trouble had Craig Dutton‚ also chasing back‚ not tried to reach it. As it was the ball flicked off Dutton´s outstretched boot not changing the line but lifting it just that foot or so that left the keeper totally confused at its flight. 3-0‚ 27 minutes to go and the score looking more realistic.
Just two minutes later and realistic´ turned into convincing´. There was a slight degree of fortune about the goal but it was deserved anyway and just reward for a fine performance. Winter played the ball forward and long. It looked to be a little too long as it reached the penalty area. Not long enough for Beckwith to allow to run out for the goal kick but he should have had no problem in getting to it and‚ since it was the wrong side of the line for him to be able to handle it‚ apply the big boot. Hambly had other thoughts though and did not give up the chase‚ robbing the dithering keeper and turning through 270 degrees to cut back into the box and slide the ball home while Beckwith wiped the egg off his face. Stewart Yetton replaced hard working Nogan Before the resumption - a sign that Tiverton were not going to sit on a four goal lead.
The Yellows were rampant. They poured forward at every opportunity and the more they did so‚ the poorer United looked. There was some wry humour from one of the handful of travelling supporters when they did get down the Tivvy end but only gave Ovendale the chance of a touch with a goal kick. Trying to whip up some enthusiasm among his team mates as Ovendale placed the ball, a blue shirted player yelled Come on Rugby, let´s win the second ball. Quick as a bullet from behind the goal came the retort, loud and clear, B*gger the second ball Rugby, you need to win the bl**dy first! The comment might have been made with humour but it was also reflected frustration. Rugby were winning nothing. Tiverton were so much on top it was almost embarrassing.......but they needed to score more goals.
Beckwith redeemed himself a little as he dashed out to slide the ball away from Mudge in the 76th minute but could claim no credit three minutes later with Tivvy´s next chance to go begging. Yetton dispossessed a Rugby midfielder as he loitered on the ball in the Tiverton half of the centre circle. Working his way out to the right The Yettie´ seemed to have got himself into trouble until he accelerated startlingly to speed past two defenders and make the by-line. Mudge was in the middle but Yetton´s hanging cross was just out and dropped into the roof of the net. Again it was Beckwith to the rescue in the 80th minute as Milsom threaded a beautiful ball forward for Wills to run onto and fire in a low cross that the keeper fell on to smother at Mudge´s feet. But Wills was soon to be rewarded when he picked up the loose ball from a mix up in the Rugby defence and laid it into the path of Mudge who willingly accepted the chance and blasted his 33rd goal of the season 5-0.
The last minute of normal time saw Ovendale given the chance to justify his claim to a share of the plaudits for a clean sheet, as Rugby substitute Justin Marsden blasted in a close range shot that the Tivvy keeper did well to turn over the crossbar for a corner. All the more credit-worthy when one considers his almost total inactivity since three o´clock.

It was the kind of result that Tiverton needed against one of the least threatening sides that have come to Ladysmead this season. Beard? A threat? Not when being man marked by Milsom. Top scorer? Not impressive. Unlike Jamie Mudge who when he´s on fire, as he was on this afternoon, can even draw applause from opposing fans.

Histon. Kings Lynn. The dream lives on.

Live the dream - keep the faith.


Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe, Paul Milsom, Nathan Rudge (Mike Walker, 81), Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills, Iain Harvey (Shaun Goff, 75) Kurt Nogan (Stewart Yetton, 67), Dave Hambly, James Mudge.

Subs not used: Mike Booth, Ian Nott.

Booked: None.


Rugby United: Rob Beckwith, Gary Morgan (Justin Marsden, 59), Jamie Williams, Adam Hart, Craig Herbert (Andy Commander, 51), Gary Redgate, Rory Squire, Craig Dutton, Robbie Beard, Avun Jephcott, John Nichols (Danny Hall, 81).Subs not used: Jon Douglas, Mike Payne.

Booked: Williams.



Att: 542

Referee: Mr. M. Adkins (Saltash)

This report ©2005 John Reidy






Please note: The � or ? character in some older reports denotes where an error has occured in translation when the reports were transfered between databases