Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 1 Cambridge City

   Saturday 24/01/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

We are frequently told that such and such is the new´ rock an´ roll‚ be it boy bands or computer games. It´s a piece of phraseology that is designed to promote any fad that may be sweeping the nation and in the view‚ or hope‚ of the proposer of the statement may be about to change society. There is of course‚ a similar expression that relates to more staid matters and it was brought to my mind as I awoke in need of the bathroom on Sunday morning. As habit will have it‚ I peered at the clock‚ decided it was far to early to make a permanent rising and hit the radio button so that on my return I could remain in‚ or return to‚ the land of nod for at least another hour. Re-occupying my warm patch after completing the necessary task‚ and beginning to drift‚ I was caught by the announcement of some religious statistics. Islam was taking over the country! For the first time since statistics were kept (and how long might that be‚ I briefly thought‚ pedantic even when semiconscious) weekly attendance´s at Mosques exceeded attendances at Anglican Churches. 930‚000 Moslems regularly carried out acts of worship last year as opposed to 916‚000 Anglicans. The thought wafted around as I slid into slumber‚ added to by the one that said I wonder how many worship at the shrine of their favourite football team? To avoid charges of blasphemy I won´t go into details of the dream that followed‚ suffice to say that Martyn Rogers does not look good in a Mitre. In the cold light of (mid)day the question crystallised into something more tangible. Is football the new religion´? I quickly dismissed the notion. Having heard and read enough of the game´s followers viewpoints on the subject‚ and not only regarding Tiverton Town‚ it was clear that there was at least one concept missing. Faith. To follow a religion‚ be it mainstream or sect‚ one has to have believe‚ and belief is one thing that is singularly lacking in most followers of football. Pray they may. Hope´ is usually abundant. Charity´‚ particularly to followers of other branches‚ frequently scarce. Faith? Almost as rare as rocking horse droppings! And so it was as Tiverton faced Cambridge City. Ample prayer‚ plenty of hope but little faith.

And the rosary beads were given cause to click even faster as the game got underway. Cambridge were up and running before The Yellows had time to catch their breath. No gentle exploration for the visitors‚ full steam ahead for the early goal. They almost got it too as the scythed a way through the Tivvy defence‚ still struggling to get out of second gear‚ in the second minute. Town´s blushes were saved by the underside of the crossbar as Danny Bloomfield´s header deflected down off the underside and was hacked unceremoniously away. Tiverton breathed a sigh of relief and rapidly got their act together. New signing Darren Edwards made his first impression on the home fans‚ and on the match as he combined in a move that swept from right to left across the width of the field. Edwards inside to Jamie Mudge‚ almost straight on to David Steele charging down the wing. Steele shot past a defender and reached the by-line. Somewhat surprisingly he didn´t stop and turn back to bring the ball back onto his right foot but whipped in the cross quickly. That it curled safely behind was unfortunate as both Edwards and Mudge had continued into the penalty area and might have threatened the City goal. A minute later (6th( Mudge nipped round a static Lilywhites´ defence to latch onto a long clearance but his early shot as keeper Martin Davies moved forward was a yard or more over the crossbar and still rising as it hit the Devco end netting. City‚ though‚ continued to look more threatening‚ more speedy and more incisive going forward. With a dozen minutes on the watch Bloomfield again showed his mettle‚ breaking clear to launch a cross ball that strike partner Matt Nolan fired in low. Fraser could only beat the ball away and was thankful for the presence of Jason Rees as the ball span goalwards before the skipper applied ample welly´ to save the day. The Yellows for their part were mounting occasional forward moves but in comparison they were pedestrian‚ frequently being forced into backtracking by the Cambridge defenders who thus had ample time to re-organise. Another lively run from Steele saw Davies gathering his low angled shot at the second attempt‚ Mudge hit another effort high after Edwards had nodded on Rees´ route one ball through the middle and Edwards had his first direct shot after swapping passes with Steele before cutting in across the face of the penalty area. With the overall superior cutting edge it seemed inevitable that the visitors would find the net first. That inevitability was realised almost exactly midway through the first half. Following a City free kick‚ Nolan found space at the back of the penalty area and dribbled in closer before firing in an anything but powerful shot. Mishit‚ but a slight deflection was enough to send Fraser completely the wrong way as the ball trundled into the net. Not for the first time‚ Tiverton were behind‚ at home‚ to the opening goal.
When similar scenarios have arisen in the past there have frequently been hopes that the situation would soon be brought back to normal. Tivvy have often conceded such a goal when they have been playing well. This time the aroura of optimism had no grounds to breed on‚ Town were not playing well. But that was changed as they came to life in their quest for the equaliser. It was still a more measured build up but Edwards and Mudge began to cause problems for the City defence‚ as did Kevin Nancekivell who was again bustling forward from a nominal midfield position. And it was Nance that caused the problem that brought parity to the score line. Breaking free into the area and leaving one defender as he did so , he attempted to round a second white shirt on the outside. He was successful but as he continued on his way the beaten man caught him from behind with an obvious trip. Down went Kevin and almost in unison the referee´s whistle sounded and his assistant´s flag fluttered. There was no hesitation from the officials and little protest from the visiting players. Up stepped Steve Winter and did what he has been doing so efficiently in recent games, blasted the ball home from the spot giving the keeper little or no chance, even though on this occasion Davies had flung himself in the right direction.. The Cambridge lead had lasted just five minutes. Both sides seemed to tighten up their game from then on. City still looked sharper but Town probably created mote half chances. Stuart Niven lifted a free kick high over the crossbar for The Lilywhites and Edwards was wide with an effort at the other end. Rob Cousins misconnected with an attempted headed clearance of a lob out of the City back line and Nolan pounced on the loose ball. Rees, though moved across to close the City man down and persevered enough to hold proceedings up until the remaining defenders could back track from their attacking roles and make things safe. It did emphasise the speed with which the opposition could break and that was a warning well heeded after the break. Before that interval arrived Davies had a busy couple of minutes, fielding a cross from the right from Mudge and then being beaten by the same kind of ball but being relieved to see a colleague head the ball out for Tiverton´s first corner. Holding Paul Chenoweth´s in swinger Davies started another quick City break which gave them a corner but once that was cleared it was time for a cup of tea.

There was one change in the line ups made at the break. Ian Nott was called into action between the Tiverton posts for the second time this season. Town certainly started this 45 minutes more brightly than they had the opening period. Attacking down the right, Edwards´ low cross was poked away for a throw in. Taking the ball from the throw the same man twisted and turned to fire in a low cross that was turned out for a corner. the 53rd minute saw Steele have another half chance as he hit an Edwards head down, but hit it towards outer space. Back came Cambridge and for the next ten minutes most of the action took place around the Tiverton box. If their had been any doubts about the resolution of the Town back line in the first half there was none now. They were determined, solid and generally well organised. Perhaps it was the unknown quantity of Nott wearing the gloves but they had little to fear as the stand in keeper dealt confidently with what balls came his way and even when a long cross from Carl Williams far out on the right was met by a flying horizontal header by Lewis Baillie in the 63rd minute there was no reward for the Lilywhites as the ball flew over the top. Again, Mudge showed that he can be dangerous when in space in the 64th minute. Embarking on a solo run he hammered in his shot before being pounced on by defenders but as before it ended up bouncing back from the advertising hoardings above the goal, though it must be said that on this occasion he had no support and the ball did appear to bobble as he swung his boot for the final time. Two minutes later Mudge again lifted the ball, wide as well this time but the home side were definitely in the ascendancy as well. It was a short spell, though and apart from brief moments of raised pace the contest developed into a tough, but at tomes dour to watch, midfield battle.
Cambridge´s best chance to regain the lead came in the 73rd minute when Cousins was turned by Nolan as the Tiverton man tried to shepherd him wide from the edge of the penalty area. Nolan drove in his shot Nott was to it and a scramble developed before Chris Holloway hooked the ball out for a corner, allowing the Tiverton defence to calm down once more and regroup. With ten minutes left City brought on a third striker in the shape of Robbie Nightingale, who managed one shot on goal in the 85th minute - or rather off goal as the ball skimmed well wide of the upright. Almost immediately Town had their final chance to grab the full quota of points with five minutes remaining when Mudge connected with Steve Winter´s cross, kept it down and on target, but saw the ball deflected out for a corner before it could test Davies. There was next to no time added by the referee and it probably would not have produced anything had it been available, as the game petered out.

There are likely to be more of this kind of game as the season draws to a close. Teams are going to be playing the game tightly, not giving anything away on their travels and hoping to make home advantage count. On that score City did their job better than Town on this occasion. What might happen in the return at Milton Road will be interesting - there was not much seperating the two sides this time round, hence one goal and one point was a fair reflection of their respective performances.


Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser (Ian Nott, 46), Steve Winter, David Steele, Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell (Steve Ovens, 68), Chris Holloway, Darren Edwards, Paul Chenoweth, James Mudge.
Subs not used: Shaun Goff, Pete Conning.
Booked:

Cambridge City: Martin Davies, Craig Pope, Lewis Baillie, Lee Pluck, Matt Lamgston, Stuart Niven (Robbie Simpson,80), Rob Miller, Carl Williams, Matt Nolan, Danny Blomfield, Louis Riddle.
Subs not used: Lee Summerscales, Jamie Godbold, Darren Grieves, Alan Carlton.
Booked: Bloomfield, Baille, Nolan.


Referee: Mike Hawken (St Austell).

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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