Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 3 Eastbourne Borough

   Saturday 10/01/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Despite parental connections with the area‚ my mother spent part of her early years thirty five or so miles along the coast to the west at Littlehampton (which she assured me was merely the Town's name - not a comment on the anatomical properties of the place's male residents)‚ and the fact that I‚ through my appreciation and involvement with Traditional English Folk song have an interest in the village of Rottingdean just the other side of Beachy Head‚ I can only recall visiting the Town of Eastbourne on one occasion. It was the summer of 1957. I can date it pretty accurately because Paul Anka was topping the charts with Diana‚ the song about his baby-sitter‚ and I was at my first summer camp with the Boy Scouts. We were under canvas a handful of miles to the north‚ in a field just outside the small town of Uckfield. Appropriately named‚ if I remember rightly‚ apart from the omission of the 'Y' that should have preceded it. There were two highlights that stick in my mind about that fortnight. The illicit and unsupervised or authorised 'night raid' on some Girl Guides camped the other side of the town‚ and the visit to Eastbourne on the middle weekend which enabled us to 'pig out' on real food to compensate for the open fire cooked‚ and therefore frequently underdone or burnt‚ fayre that we had endured for a week and faced for another. Fish 'n' chips was never appreciated so much! Even in those days I do recall that the town appeared to be the 'Retirement Centre' of Britain with more than it's share of elderly residents. But that reputation must be erroneous - in part at least. As we well know the elderly do not have the energy‚ inclination or fire to create a forward looking and rapidly growing football club - and that is just what Eastbourne Borough have become over the last decade. Joining the Dr Martens League at the same time as Tiverton‚ under their previous moniker of Langney Sports‚ they had been kept apart from The Yellows through the geographical split of the lower division. Now they had joined us in the higher echelon and were on their way to make their debut at Ladysmead. Variety being the spice of life‚ I was looking forward to the occasion.

From the off Town promised to over-run their visitors. There was ample movement both by players and the ball despite the heavy pitch. As early as the second minute the fans were treated to action involving two of the players whose performances were going to have a bearing on the outcome of the match. Jamie Mudge collected a ball inside the Boro' half and swayed past his marker on his way to the 18 yard box where he unleashed a tremendous rising shot that had it hit the net might have caused damage. That it didn't was down to Eastbourne keeper‚ former Exeter City glovesman‚ Lee Hook who threw himself upwards‚ he's not the tallest of fellows‚ to get a hand on the ball and send it almost vertical before dropping onto the roof of the goal for the first of a plethora of Tiverton corners. That was the nearest Tivvy came to a goal in those opening minutes but they had almost all the possession and looked easily the favourites to find the net. Even when the regulation goal was given away to install Eastbourne as unlikely leaders two minutes later there was little to suggest they would maintain that position. As in last week's visit to Moor Green the goal was a present donated by the benevolent error of the Tiverton defence. Boro' had managed to make progress into the Tivvy half but had not really threatened and Nathan Rudge was comfortably on the ball with time to consider his alternatives. Beside him Jason Rees‚ also in yards of space‚ called for the ball. What Rees could have done that Rudge could not have‚ remains unclear but the big man met the request‚ or at least tried to‚ by slipping the ball sideways to his captain. The pass was short and Ian Pulman darted forward to intercept‚ evaded the challenge of Rees and headed‚ left to right‚ towards and across the edge of the penalty area where as he came close to being tackled he fired in a low shot that never left the ground as it passed a stranded Stuart Fraser and into the back of the net. Down but not despondent‚ The Yellows went in search of the equaliser. Another two minutes passed and it might have come. Richard Pears‚ Paul Chenoweth and Mudge combined in a move down the left that saw Hook again coming to the rescue at the expense of a corner as Pears' follow up was deflected out by a defender. Taken‚ short it was totally wasted when the pass back to set up the second ball cross was misplaced and put harmlessly out for a throw in to the visitors. Yet another corner‚ in the 10th minute‚ brought no reward but the pressure was maintained and as Tiverton surged forward Eastbourne conceded a free kick out wide on the right. Too far out for any well rehearsed trickery the ball was lifted into the danger area by Steve Winter who had been having a lively opening period on the right flank. There were a host of Yellow shirts forward for the kick - they were hardly overworked in midfield and defence. Rudge was there for his height and bulk and managed to get up to the ball and flick it on with a back header. The ball dropped to the back of the six yard box where Chris Holloway threw himself forward to nod in his first Dr Martens goal of the season‚ Tivvy were‚ surely on their way.

So one would have thought and probably been correct were it not for the charitable nature that has become the dominant trait in Town's defensive make up in recent games. It took that defence just five minutes to contrive a means of restoring their guests lead. Generally looking untroubled the back line brought a halt to another Boro' attack. Although the red shirts still had the ball‚ they had been edged out wide on their left and were being gently eased back. The man doing the easing was Graeme Power‚ and doing it quite successfully to. Until he had an apparent brainstorm and though the Eastbourne player was back to goal and going nowhere‚ Power lunged in to dispossess him and in the process gave away a needless free kick. Gratefully accepted‚ since it meant he could face goal and be un-harrassed‚ Danny Simmonds flighted the ball to the far post where Ollie Rowland rose unchallenged to head cleanly home‚ whilst Fraser remained static‚ making no move to claim the cross. Tivvy continued to have the better of the game in open play though, and with a little luck and a few less careless passes might have drawn level as quickly as they had before. Too often their attacking moves were brought to an end not by the Eastbourne defence but by misplaced passes as they approached the danger area. And when they did manage to force in shots on target Hook was in fine form, soundly holding everything that came his way from Mudge, Chenoweth and Pears. The frustration began to show in the Tiverton ranks and with it the flow of their football began to suffer, epitomised when Mudge did all the work with a break through the middle but continued to run into defenders as he tried to line up for a shot with Pears free on his left having made a parallel run. Eastbourne increased in confidence and began to make more frequent foray's of their own. Pulman dashed down the left, split the home defence with his cross which found Rowland, but the scorer of the second goal blasted wide. With the final whistle of the first half pending, the Sussex side again had the ball in the net. A long cross from the right was headed on by Scott Ramsay and then headed in at the near post by Rowland but the linesman's flag was up for offside so Town were able to breathe a sigh of relief as they retired to face the half time inquest.

There was no noticeable change when play resumed. Tivvy won an early corner, the frustration saw a yellow card for a reckless tackle by Rees to balance out that shown to Pulman in the opening minute. Winter made a sprightly run down the right, hotly chased by Rowland, and hoisted in a cross that caused little problem for the defence. All in all it was much the same, even to Mudge again ignoring Pears free in space to his left, along with Steele, as he tried to force his way through a solid wall of red shirts. There could have been an equaliser in the 54th minute when Rees lobbed a free kick into the goalmouth and a scramble developed that saw Mudge, Pears and Chenoweth all have shots blocked. Winter continued to drive forward on the right but his one shot at goal, in the 56th minute, rattled the advertisement hordings above the terracing at the Swimming Pool end. Then came The Yellows third donation to the Eastbourne distress fund. Remarkably similar to his contribution to the firs goal, Rudge got it wrong with a sideways pass out (?) of defence, the main difference being that Rees was not on this occasion the intended recipient. As in the first half it was Pullman that jumped onto the loose ball, took it in his stride and made a bee-line for goal. Fraser did well to stop the Boro' mans fierce drive but could only beat the ball away to the feet of Ramsay who thumped the ball firmly into an undefended net. That changed the game. Eastbourne were determined not to let their lead slip. One man, Ramsay was left forward. The other forward was pulled back into midfield. The defensive midfielders became defenders. They shut up shop. They might just as well have burst into a few choruses of 'You can keep-a knocking but you can't come in', so efficiently did they do their job. Town tried to find a way through but without success, the changes were rung - the consequences of which were to roll on long after the final whistle. Nancekivell, Ovens and Cousins replaced Chenoweth, Rees and Power in the 68th minute. Tivvy came to life immediately forcing another corner on the right. Rudge came forward and powered a header goalwards. The ball took a deflection but Hook's reflexes were up to the task and he threw himself up and to his left to palm the ball away from the top corner and turn it behind.
Five minutes of action, almost entirely centred on the Eastbourne penalty area ensued. Another four corners, a goalmouth scramble, a Pears header wide. Then in the 76th minute the Boro defence managed to clear their lines and with Tiverton pushing forward they were vulnerable. Especially since the clearance fell to Pulman who charged through the middle, into the clear and closed on Fraser in a one on one situation. The Tiverton keeper did well to spread himself as Pulman tried to fire under him. The ball span away with the two players in pursuit. Why Fraser thought it necessary to push Pulman off the ball a yard from the goal-line but two yards wide of the upright, only he will know. Penalty, yellow card. Lenient, there were those who expected Pears to be called into action between the sticks. It is a common clich when a penalty kick of dubious justification is saved or missed to say that justice was done'. That was hardly true in this instance, justice was not done as Ramsay lifted his spot kick high and wide. Town breathed again and once more resumed their assault on the Red Wall. It was not to be breached though and Hook once more came to the visitors rescue with a class save to deny Mudge in the 89th minute. Time ran out, apart from the fact that the man in charge of such matters managed to find an extra five from somewhere. Still Eastbourne' augmented but beleaguered back line held, if not particularly firmly, until the last half of the final added minute. David Steele was fouled. Another penalty. A consolation. And that was what it turned out to be as no sooner had the visitors kicked off after Winter had drilled the ball into their net, than the final whistle was blown to bring down the curtain on what was, the fans will be hoping, Tiverton's final pantomime performance of this season.

Please............ NO ENCORES!


Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser, Steve Winter, David Steele, Jason Rees (Rob Cousins, 68), Nathan Rudge, Graeme Power (Steve Ovens, 68), Paul Chenoweth (Kevin Nancekivell, 68), Chris Holloway, Richard Pears, Simon Bryant, James Mudge
Booked: Rees, Fraser, Ovens.

Eastbourne Borough: Lee Hook, Darren Baker (Stewart Holmes, 17), Stuart Tuck, Andy Ducille, Stuart Playford, Steve Dell, Ian Pulman (Stephen Yates, 77), Daren Pearce, Scott Ramsay, Danny Simmonds, Ollie Rowland (Matt Crabb, 90)
Booked: Ramsay, Pulman.

Referee: B J Malone (Salisbury)


This report ©2004 John Reidy






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