Match report

Tiverton Town 5 - 1 Havant & Waterlooville

   Saturday 28/02/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Friday evening saw me conducting an experiment. I one third filled my kitchen sink with water‚ added a handful of salt and having wrapped it in a dishcloth‚ tossed in a block of lard. It floated. Such are the things that come to mind when my thoughts wander‚ as they tends to do before a Tivvy match as I seek some mental link to the game. Apart from Town's previous games with The Hawks‚ there are few - with only one eventually connecting. In my previous Yellow incarnation following Oxford United‚ they went through a period where they slumped to the brink‚ a la Leeds United these days. They were saved not by a massive injection of money but by their debts being underwritten in exchange for the chairmanship by Robert Maxwell who insisted that the club behave in a businesslike manner and pay their way day to day. Thus‚ players had to be sold. When John Aldridge's transfer to Liverpool topped up the coffers just before Christmas‚ astute though manager Jim Smith was‚ no replacement was signed until late Christmas Eve. The faithful turning up to Boxing Day's fixture had little or no idea who Oxford's No.9 was - the tannoy at the Manor was as effective as Ladysmead's. The new centre forward‚ though‚ made an instant impact‚ scoring twice in a festive win for United. Talk spread and by half time most knew he had been signed from Spurs (reserves)‚ one David Leworthy. He never really cut the ice as a replacement for Aldridge - that was a role left for Dean Saunders to later fulfil - and eventually left. I continued to follow his fortunes through non-league football until he turned up again as a veteran and scoring a brace again‚ but this time against the my new Yellows to rob them of victory last season as Havant & Waterlooville completed the double over Tivvy at Westleigh Park. Now Player/Manager of the Hampshire club as they struggle in the nether regions of the Dr Marten's Premier Division‚ I found myself hoping against hope that his influence on this game would turn out to be less significant than that he wielded on both the first and last time I saw him.

As the action opened there was not a snowball's hope in hell of Leworthy making an early impact. Not only was he on the bench rather than the field‚ but the white clad Hawks were over-run from the off. Surging forward like a swarm of demented hornets that had had their nest poked with a stick‚ the Yellows laid siege to the Havant half of the field. Just 29 seconds gone and the first sting was delivered. Jamie Mudge was away down the left. He whacked in a cross. It was not a particularly good one but good enough to put the H&W defence under pressure and Shaun Goff‚ following up‚ sent in the second ball. Carl Cliff-Brown stabbed the ball towards the net. It came back and he had another go. that too was scrambled back to him and at the third attempt he found the gap and Tivvy had scored their fastest goal of the season. Sweet for Carl. Not only had he applied the final touch but the entire move had been started by his control and distribution in the centre circle. Needless to say‚ the goal fired The Yellows and they dominated play as they continued to confidently sweep forward. Cliff-Brown was buzzing and seemed to be involved in everything that was happening. Little surprise then that he was involved in Tivvy's second strike. Controlling a long ball from David Steele‚ he turned neatly round his marker and set Mudge up to coolly slot the ball past Gareth Howells in the Hawks goal. Two down after a mere 10% of the proceedings one might have expected an absolute landslide but such phenomena requires a collapse and the visitors were not about to provide one. They regrouped and battled on‚ gaining a little more possession and discovering that they too were capable of applying a little pressure when they moved forward. With thirteen minutes gone they were thrown a lifeline‚ though their fans believed it should have been a rope with a life buoy attached. A free kick‚ indirect‚ inside the penalty area for obstruction‚ greeted with derision by their supporters who‚ having heard the whistle‚ thought their side had been awarded a penalty. Not so‚ and there was the usual drama and delay as the wall was built‚ moved‚ edged back and assorted consultations took place over the ball. As so often happens the outcome was an anti-climax as the merest sideways touch was followed by Geoff Pitcher hoisting the ball way over the wall and crossbar alike.

But it did prove that things were far from over and the name of the side bottom of the league was mentioned more than once on the terraces and in the stand. Any doubts that the Hawks were still prepared to take flight if given the opportunity were dispelled when Ian Nott‚ once again deputising at short notice when Stu Fraser failed a late fitness test‚ was called into action to save well from a stiffly driven free kick by Dean Blake in the 16th minute. Town were still having the better of things‚ though‚ and Cliff-Brown was still matching Mudge for liveliness as he shot past a defender wide on the right to lay the ball into Mudge's path only for Jamie to push his first touch too far forward and lose the ensuing race to the ball with Howells. Goff tried a long range effort as he latched onto a cross from way out on the right by Paul Milsom but then the visitors found another gear and began to force Town onto the back foot. Another fine sprawling save from Nott denied Chukkie Eribenne as‚ for once‚ he escaped the shackles that were being imposed on him by Rob Cousins but the Tivvy keeper was beaten on the half hour when James Taylor lobbed a high ball in from the right and having flapped the ball to a visiting foot (talon?) was saved the embarrassment of retrieving the ball from the net by the timely intervention of Nathan Rudge on the goal-line. The double scare brought Town back to life and it was Howells that was called into spectacular action to beat away a fierce Mudge effort after the Tivvy front man had been sent clear by a defence splitting through ball from Chris Holloway. With just four minutes to go to the break‚ and Leworthy already making his mind up as to how he was going to change things‚ The Yellows struck again. They won a corner on the right. Curled in dangerously by Goff‚ it threatened and was poked out for another corner on the left. Mudge's turn. Another corner. Mudge again. Near post and flicked on across the goalmouth by Holloway. The ball was probably heading for the netting just inside the far post‚ Havant's right. Chris Ferrett attempted to hook it clear but it was over the line by the time it reached the centre of the goal and despite bouncing around a couple of more times before finally hitting the net on the right hand side of the goal the signal had already come from the flag and the whistle was already blown. So 3-0 it was at the interval‚ though had Mudge connected with a driven cross from the right by an adventurous Cousins it could have been more. Leworthy's changes were going to have to be really inspirational!

So, the changes were made but the man did not include himself in them, electing to remain on the bench. Perhaps he was right for the Hawks were livelier at the restart. Within a minute Eribenne dragged another fine save from Nott and three minutes later Ian had to be rescued by the boot of Nathan Rudge as the big man hooked the ball away from the line after Notty had flapped at a high ball from James Taylor out on the right. Rather akin to the confusion amongst the Havant defence at the opening of the first half, Tiverton's presence in their own penalty area was at sixes and sevens and it hardly came as a surprise when the H & W onslaught caused enough panic to cause Taylor to be pulled back in the penalty area, thus giving the Hampshire side the chance to break their away goal drought from the penalty spot. Eribenne duly obliged and Chelmsford once more sprang to mind. Thoughts of the Essex revival, though were short lived as Tivvy once more got their posteriors into gear and pushed forward. Three minutes on and Jamie Mudge was upended wide of the right hand corner of the visitors penalty area. To those who had come to Ladysmead for the friendly against Plymouth and then made the trek to the Kentish outback of Welling last weekend, it was plain what was about to happen. Diagonally across the field trotted Goff. From defence on the left to forward on the right. Shaun took the kick. There were differences. The trajectory was the most noticeable. Yes, it was fast, yes it was curling. But this time the target area was not the far top corner - or if it was then Shaun mis-hit it. This time the ball never travelled above knee height but the outcome was the same as it hit the net just inside the far post. The margin was restored. It was to be Goff's final contribution of note as he was withdrawn (injury?) minutes later to be replaced by another young man staking his claim for a place, David Hallett. Cliff-Brown created a chance for himself in the 57th minute by touching a long clearance from stalwart sweeper past his marker but shot too early and the game generally quietened down as Tivvy comfortably absorbed the subdued efforts of the visitors and midfield became the centre for what action there was. Hallett was performing competently if not spectacularly in his holding role bit was suddenly the centre of attraction as he was on the receiving end of an over enthusiastic and uncontrolled challenge from Glen Knight, one of Havant's half time changes. For once the abysmal Mr Smith from Bridgwater was positive. Yellow card by-passed. Straight red. There ended whatever forlorn hopes the Hawks might have had, they weren't gonna swoop with feathers missing.

The pay off was almost instantaneous though an unrelated indiscretion led to it's temporary postponement. The 71st minute saw Mudge net for the second time. Route one attack to the right of middle. The ball was hoofed forward and Jamie sprang the offside trap to sprint clear. Howells came to meet him but Jamie neatly and accurately lifted the ball over the keeper and into his net. The man in black had kept pace with the break - well almost, if he was that quick he'd get a game somewhere - and signalled the goal. But his colleague out on the Tivvy left drew his attention to the fact that Hallett was again in a heap on the floor just inside the Havant half and about five yards from the touch-line, and that Dai had come onto the field of play uninvited to attend to him. The slate was wiped clean, or at least the last marl was, and the game was restarted with a H & W free kick from the place that Hallett had been removed from to be ,subsequently to be replaced by another 'debutante' Pete Conning. Town were not going to be denied another goal as they cruised to victory and Cliff-Brown, after a quiet spell - to which he might have been thought to have been entitled - nearly provided it when crossing for Darren Edwards to head wide. Two minutes later it came and it was Carl that this time did supply it. Nancekivell head down, Cliff-Brown poke home. 5-1. Job done. Town strolled their way to the final whistle but even at reduced pace created their openings. Nance was denied by a couple of nasty bobbles, a scintillating run by Mudge saw him draw three defenders bur his unselfish sideways pass towards Cliff-Brown took the slightest deflection. In the last minute Tivvy's new star fired high and wide after doing all the hard work to slip past his marker after being fed by Edwards but he'd done enough, as had every other Yellow.

So, Leworthy had little influence on this game and I can't say I'm sorry.


Tiverton Town: Ian Nott, Steve Winter, Shaun Goff (Dave Hallet 59 (Pete Conning 74)), David Steele, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Carl Cliff-Brown, Paul Milsom (Darren Edwards 67), James Mudge
Booked: Rudge, Cliff-Brown

Havant & Waterlooville: Gareth Howells, Gary Connolly (Don Turner 46), Chris Ferrett, Geoff Pitcher, Alec Masson, Luke Byles (Glen Knight 46), James Ford, Chukkie Eribenne, Brett Poate, James Taylor, Dean Blake (Jamie O'Rourke 66)
Booked: Poate, Taylor, Pitcher, Masson
Sent Off: Knight

Referee: Alan Smith (Bridgwater)

Attendance: 533


This report ©2004 John Reidy






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