Match report

Newport County 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 06/03/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

One thing about having the English Language as one´s native tongue is the degree of variety that it affords. Tones and shades can be adequately described so that unlike Swahili things do not have to be described as good or bad - all the intermediate stages have words to enable them to be expressed. True‚ confusion can arise as usage also evolves. Twenty five years ago I frequently sang a song in folk clubs‚ about a cheerful soldier‚ called The Gay Fusilier´. Somehow I doubt that number would go down well in Aldershot these days. And then there is the famous case of the Male De-odorant Stick introduced by Old Spice´ back in the 70´s. Complaints about the sticky mess that resulted from the more familiar Roll On method of application led the leading men´s cosmetic company to come up with what can only be described as a scented‚ soft wax candle in a tube. Fine‚ until (ding-dong) Avon (calling) came to copy the idea and included instructions on their tube. Push up bottom to apply´‚ they printed round the base of their product. Needless to say it was rapidly withdrawn. When it comes to football club names‚ I always find the use of County´ as a tag a little confusing. Yes‚ Notts´ can be justified as an abbreviation of Nottinghamshire‚ but from whence comes Stockport or our destination on a grey March day‚ Newport? Enigmatic? Perhaps‚ but if that were the greatest concern of the day then it would be trivial and easily dismissed. Unfortunately there were greater riddle´s to occupy our minds by 4.45 p.m.

I must have been tempting fate a little too far as 30 seconds after Tivvy kicked off I facetiously remarked that by this time last week the Yellows were one up. At least they had gone forward from the first kick and stayed forward for the best part of the opening two minutes before County broke and mounted their first attack‚ winning a corner on their left. Flighted in close to goal the ball was pushed out to the right flank but again fell to an Amber socked foot that pushed it to the by-line. Now‚ normally under those circumstances‚ with the goalmouth still packed from the set piece‚ one would have expected the second cross into the danger zone. Not this time. The ball was laid back to the edge of the penalty area where‚ having retreated after the initial corner and leaving his marker - Steve Winter - still guarding the goal-line‚ midfielder Nathan Davies was hovering. The ball was fed to him perfectly‚ as perfectly as his rising shot was hit through the crowd and into the net. One - Newport‚ not an auspicious start. At least there were 87 minutes for Town to bounce back‚ and they motored forward again from their second kick off managing to cause a degree of panic in the County goalmouth which won them a corner. Over came the cross‚ curling in well and threatening as had the home side´s effort 90 seconds earlier. This time though the clearance was more effective. Upfield to the centre circle‚ touched on‚ and Davies was away on his own and closing on Stuart Fraser as the Tiverton keeper tentatively advanced. Davies chose his moment and lobbed the ball over Fraser to double the margin. Tivvy had a Welsh mountain to climb - and it wasn´t Snowdon. For the next five minutes The Whites - change kit - struggled to work their way back into the game but gradually began to gain confidence as they strung together some decent sequences of passes. The first chance came in the 13th minute when Kevin Nancekivell broke free onto a long ball and cut into the County penalty area towards the right. The Exiles keeper‚ Duncan Roberts came and managed to get his body in the way of Nance´s effort to concede another corner but again it was comfortably cleared. The contest was now wide open - apart from the scoreline and the home side could well have added to that after Rob Cousins was penalised for a fierce tackle on County´s John Phillips right on the edge of the Tivvy box. Davies hit the ball straight at the wall which did its blocking job but the ball flew vertically and Fraser´s punch fell straight back to a home boot and would have been in the net but for the timely intervention of Cousins on the line. hat was to be the last clear cut chance for a while as the game became bogged down in midfield where there was plenty of huffing and puffing going on but not a lot of football. Both sets of players found they seldom had to win the ball as with neither side able to find their men they just had to wait a moment and it would be given to them. Not particularly edifying stuff.
Town‚ though‚ could not be criticised for their effort and perseverance and had edged their way on top. A good combination between Jamie Mudge and Nancekivell saw a swift break down the left but the move failed to develop into a serious chance as Nance´s weak cross was swept safely away upfield after 25 minutes and two minutes later Nancekivell was again thwarted by Roberts‚ even if the shot was straight at the keeper. Just past the half hour mark Tivvy reaped their just reward for their battle back from the brink. Paul Milsom‚ who had been having a quiet but steady game as the bulk´ in midfield sent a long ball into the Welsh penalty area from 10 yards beyond the halfway line. Carl Cliff-Brown had been winning more than his share of the ball in forward positions added to his tally by rising to head the ball down. Nancekivell pounced. His first poke at the ball was deflected back to him. He stabbed at it again and this time it was in the net. Town were definitely back in it. Two minutes later they should have been level. A corner from the left and again the ball dropped to Nancekivell´s foot but this time it slid wide. Tiverton were camped around their hosts penalty area for most of the remainder of the half but the home defence were organised enough to keep them at bay. Cliff-Brown did manage to get in a couple of headers‚ one wide the other on target but no problem for Roberts but as the half time whistle sounded the general consensus among the visiting fans was that all was not lost and if The Whites could maintain the momentum then a point‚ if not all three‚ was still a possibility.

Tiverton re-started where they left off. An interchange of passes between David Steele and Mudge saw Jamie´s cross turned away for a corner and Town kept the pressure on the County defence. Leaving just Jason Rees and Cousins in their normal deep positions all the white shirts were a playing a couple of yards forward of where they might have been expected to be. They could have looked vulnerable but there was little threat from the home side as they were pegged back into their own half. But for all the pressure Tivvy created few actual scoring opportunities. On 50 minutes Paul Milsom had a shot on target that was blocked on the line and the same fate befell Steele´s follow up shot. On the hour Shaun Goff came close to finding the equaliser when he jinked his way past a defender and whacked in a cross that flew inches past the far upright having just evaded the forward charge and stretch of Nancekivell. Newport‚ by this time had come back to life and were making the occasional breaks but the half chances were still falling Town´s way. Cliff-Brown bundled his way through but shot wide and right on the midway point of the second half Tivvy´s new boy nodded a long ball from Rees through the middle to set Mudge away but Roberts produced the save of the game to turn the powerfully driven shot away for a corner. In the meantime Fraser had got his legs in the way as County substitute Sam O´Sullivan had broken away to cut into the penalty area towards the right. It was clear though that Fraser was struggling with his thigh injury and the only surprise when he was replaced by Ian Nott in the 69th minute was that it had taken so long for the change to be made.
As the minutes ticked away the home side began to look more and more comfortable in their task of absorbing the pressure and Tivvy looked less and less likely to find the goal that would drag them level. The chances dried up‚ the game became scrappy and even the addition of Darren Edwards to replace Shaun Goff who had been crunched´ did nothing to improve the visitor´s penetration. When Cliff-Brown fed Mudge and the resulting cross was blasted way over the top by Steele‚ the writing was on the wall for Tivvy‚ and like most graffiti‚ it stayed there to the bitter end. The final attempt on goal came from the hosts as O´Sullivan brought a fine save from Nott.

When it was all over and stock was taken‚ Tivvy found themselves in 11th place in the table. Though many of the games in hand that other sides had have now been played there is still one that can pass Town and force them down to 12th. That is a very precarious position to be in.

Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser (Ian Nott‚ 69)‚ Steve Winter‚ Shaun Goff (Darren Edwards‚ 76)‚ Jason Rees, David Steele, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Carl Cliff-Brown, Paul Milsom, James Mudge.
Subs not used: Peter Conning, David Hallett.
Booked: Cliff-Brown, Cousins.

Newport County: Duncan Roberts, Terry Evans, Gary Lloyd, Nathan Davies, Jeff Eckhardty, Darren Jones, Ashley Williams, Gareth Phillips, Jamie Moralee, John Phillips (Sam O´Sullivan, 62), Gethyn Jones (Chris Rogers, 90).
Subs not used: Lloyd Stone, Steve Williams, Andrew Delve.
Booked: Phillips J, Phillips G.

Referee: Kevin Johnson (Patchway).

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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