Match report

Tiverton Town 0 - 0 Nuneaton

   Saturday 13/03/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Perhaps I am suffering from SAD‚ or maybe I´m just becoming (have become?) a sad old git‚ but when the morning of Nuneaton Borough´s first visit to Ladysmead crept greyly and bleakly over my bedroom windowsill accompanied by the staccato rattle of squalling rain against the pane‚ I felt a distinct non enthusiasm about facing the day ahead. An almost total lack of motivation to crawl from beneath the duvet was eventually overcome thanks to the demands of mother nature and the prospect of securing the prize of a first cup of tea of the day. That ´motivation-reward´ thought stayed with me as the resulting brew infused and spread to include wanderings down the related threads of inspiration and stimulation. When applied to my main occupation of autumn‚ winter and spring (which I´m assured is on the way) Saturdays‚ even I have to admit that there has been a marked dearth of all three qualities in recent weeks as Tivvy have battled to maintain station in the league table. With the day´s visitors still maintaining aspirations of mounting a late challenge for the title my expectations were mixed. Perhaps a scintillating game with both sides throwing caution to the winds in search of glory‚ or‚ and I suspected the more likely scenario‚ a tough‚ hard fought battle with neither team prepared to take the slightest risk that might lead to defeat and thereby jeopardise their lingering ambitions.

The action started normally enough with a long hoof forward and into touch. Fair enough‚ every game seems to start that way regardless of who wins the toss. For the first five minutes it was The Yellows that were looking to make forward motion‚ most of the attempts involving Jamie Mudge and Carl Cliff-Brown down the left wing‚ but it was all very tentative‚ perhaps a reaction to last week´s early blitz-kreig by Newport County. Never-the-less Tivvy still managed to look vulnerable at the first sign of a threat from Boro - though it has to be said that the danger was probably the result of nerves on behalf of young Gareth Williams making his first appearance for Tivvy after his late signing from Southampton. the teenage Welshman came to collect a high dropping ball that had been lofted in from way out on the Nuneaton right and missed completely causing a moment of panic in the Town defence before the ball was scrambled away from the six yard box with just six minutes gone. The incident did at least signal the start of the game coming to life a little - certainly as far as the Tivvy attacking moves were concerned. Within a minute Paul Milsom had touched on a goal kick to send Jamie Mudge trough to test former Tamworth keeper Darren Acton for the first time. Another sixty seconds saw David Steele moving forward and sending Carl Cliff-Brown rampaging down the right flank. Carl made to cut in but the ball was deflected away for a corner. Across came Shaun Goff to curl the ball into the six yard box. Up went the shout for hand ball from behind the goal. Play on called and waved the referee from beyond the arc on the edge of the penalty area and away went the ball. But it was soon in that danger area again as Town were awarded a free kick on the right. Too far back (probably) for a Goff classic‚ Shaun still took it and sent in a curling ball that Nathan Rudge got his head to but the contact was a tad too fine and the ball flew past the upright on the wrong side - still‚ it was looking promising. And Town fans were convinced that the promise should have been realised on the quarter of an hour mark. A good move on the left involving Jamie Mudge and Cliff-Brown saw the ball spread right across field where Milsom forced his way in front of Michael Love to control the ball before being bundled unceremoniously over as the two of them cut in from the right hand edge of the area. Play on called and waved the referee again! Mr Spence was later to explain that he did not allow the penalty because Milsom had handled the ball in controlling it. Sorry sir‚ but‚ er‚ shouldn´t that have been a free kick to Nuneaton?
The pattern of the half was set. Borough were not going to take any chances of being caught by Tiverton´s triple pronged strike force. They remained content to contain‚ and in that they became more confident as they took the measure of Milsom‚ Mudge and CC-B. The game developed into more of a midfield battle‚ positively scrappy at times though Town did break out of it more than Boro´. Not that the visitors were going to ignore any chances to catch Tivvy on the break and Williams showed his unease again when he fumbled low at his left hand post and was saved further embarrassment when a follow up shot was curled well wide. Past midway through the first half and Steele broke down the right after Holloway won a loose ball in midfield and sent David on a run. Steele whipped in a hard cross that found Cliff-Brown just outside the six yard box on the left of the goal. With the ball coming at almost waist height (it would have been for Jason Rees) CC-B hooked his leg high and drove it first time . On target but Acton again held well. Mudge made a nice run down the left to cross in for Carl who just failed to make contact and when the ball was poked clear to Kevin Nancekivell the Tivvy man´s lob was just a little too up´ and not enough under´ to creep beneath the bar. Acton was owed a lot by the visitors as he was by far the busier keeper‚ collecting the ball off Milsom´s head from a Mudge cross and holding a free kick that was blasted through the wall by the same player. Williams at the other end was comparatively quiet‚ though he did save well with his feet from Mark Clifford. With the clock just about to enter the final minute of normal time the ball finally found its way past Acton and into the net. Cliff-Brown made ground down the left but found himself trapped in the corner. Working his way back along the touchline‚ closely marshalled by at least two defenders infield of him at all times‚ Carl eventually found a gap to whip in a cross to the head of Milsom. The big man nodded the ball down to the toe of Kevin Nancekivell who lashed it into the net. Short lived celebrations. An excellent move apart from the fact that Nance had been offside. Clearly. One last chance went begging as Chris Holloway sent Mudge away to deliver a weak shot that was well wide. 0-0 at the break.

Half time - change ends - change roles. If Town had been the marginally dominant force in the first half then it was their visitors turn in the second. They started far more brightly than anything they had shown in the first 45 minutes and it was clear that their attitude had changed and they believed the game was there for the winning. But just as The Blues had managed to contain the Yellows‚ so the Tivvy defence were up to the challenge. The game became disrupted with the roundabout of substitutions from both camps‚ including the - at the time - strange decision to replace Darren Edwards
with Paul Chenoweth just seventeen minutes after Edwards had come on for Milsom who was clearly suffering from the clattering he had received in the first half. Williams in the Town goal made a magnificent save at the foot of his right hand post from Stuart Whittaker showing that his nerves had finally been overcome and though it was backs to the wall and all hands to the pumps for The Yellows it was still Acton that was being called on to make the more demanding saves. In the 77th minute Holloway won a loose ball in midfield and threaded a precise pass towards the left hand corner where Mudge collected‚ cut inside and found space to send in another drive to truly test the Nuneaton keeper. And the final chance came also to Mudge but he headed wide in the final minute. The second half had been a dire struggle with few chances and‚ like the entire game‚ fewer goals. the final whistle was almost a welcome relief.

In retrospect I found it a far from satisfactory afternoon. A point saw Town climb two places whilst the same reward saw Borough drop two places. Such are the vagaries created by the closeness of the league and the fixture list. The result was probably fair but would have been more likely to have been received with enthusiasm had there been a goal or two from each side. As it stood there was little to stimulate‚ inspire or motivate. Not that that is the reason for the delay in this report being posted. It wasn´t SAD that left me lethargic on Saturday morning but the onset of some dreaded lurgy that effectively laid me low for the best part of 48 hours. Maybe a visit to the seaside is what is needed. How about Eastbourne in the spring?


Tiverton Town: Gareth Williams‚ Steve Winter‚ Shaun Goff (Jason Rees‚ 84)‚ David Steele‚ Nathan Rudge‚ Rob Cousins‚ Kevin Nancekivell‚ Chris Holloway‚ Carl Cliff-Brown‚ Paul Milsom (Darren Edwards‚ 50 ( Paul Chenoweth, 67)), Jamie Mudge.
Subs not used: Pete Conning, Ian Nott.
Booked: Rudge,

Nuneaton Borough: Darren Acton, Chris Tullin, Michael Love (James Fox, 59), Brian McCorry, Dion Scott, Terry Angus, Mark Clifford, Gary Fitzpatrick, Kevin Wilkin, Michael Brown, Stuart Whittaker.
Subs not used: Matty Lamb, Ryan Poole, Simeon Williams, Andy Crabtree.
Booked:NcCorry, Clifford.


Referee: Colin Spence (Newquay).

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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