Match report

Eastbourne Borough 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 20/03/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

After a first expedition‚ when I was still of pre-school age‚ that took us to a former P.O.W. camp in North Wales; family holidays were inevitably taken in Sussex by the Sea´. At least that was the case until I hit my teens when my parents decided that a more adventurous approach was called for and made the monumental decision to change the tried and tested routine and head for the wonders of the Hampshire / Dorset boundaries and explore the delights of Bournemouth. Those early vacations to the hot spots of Bognor‚ Littlehampton and Worthing‚ complete with excursions to absorb the delights and culture of Arundel‚ Chichester and Pagham Harbour are generally fondly remembered‚ something that is unfortunately untrue of more recent visits to the South Downs. Those pre pubescent interludes at the seaside are stored in my memory as being full of sunny days on the beach‚ carefree visits to The End Of The Pier Show and that distinctive aroma that seems to be prevalent in all BB and Evening Meal establishments. Add to that the return home with souvenirs´ and the inevitable sticks of pink‚ sticky‚ lettered rock and then compare that with what Tiverton Town have carried away from Sussex in recent seasons and it becomes clear why recent trips in that direction show a tendency towards the forgettable. Town´s latest foray along that section of coast‚ though‚ is likely to remain firmly entrenched for the wrong reasons. In need of‚ if not desperate for‚ three points to consolidate their challenge for a top thirteen place finish in the Dr Martens Premier Division‚ Town were denied even a share of the spoils by freak weather and their inability to cope with the same as well as their opponents Eastbourne Borough‚ nee Langney Sports‚ did.

The only doubt about how the flow of the game was likely to go from the start hinged on who won the toss and what decision was made regarding the direction of play. Tivvy were to face the howling gale that charged almost directly from end to end of the Priory Lane pitch and therefore it was obvious that The Yellows would be on the defensive for the opening 45 minutes. And that was just how the game began with Boro tickling the ball forward with the slightest of touches that would carry it 25 yards or more whilst the heftiest boot in the opposite direction would hardly move it beyond reach of an outstretched leg. Despite the air resistance‚ Tivvy did manage to work their way forward on a couple of occasions in the opening ten minutes by keeping the ball at ground level but as when Shaun Goff did just that down the left flank in the fourth minute the resulting cross was cleared away upfield without being touched by a defender. Two minutes later Rob Cousins‚ who was to show his experience by the way he dealt with the conditions throughout the afternoon‚ started a move that involved Kevin Nancekivell and David Steele before the latter´s second attempt at a cross found the head of Carl Cliff-Brown but the Tivvy striker was unable to add power against the gale and Former Grecian Lee Hook in the home goal collected the ball with ease. That was about as good as it was to get for Town as the Sussex side got the measure of the conditions and began to use them to best advantage. Long crossfield balls were carried forward and fell perfectly for their midfielders to run onto before driving in crosses that threatened to be carried either closer to ‚ or even directly into the goal. Even headed clearances changed direction and floated out for corner kicks for the Sports´. Two minutes between the 7th and 9th were taken up exclusively with a series of three corners and the subsequent replacement and retrieval of balls as they flew out of the ground. And Boro were more than willing to take a shot at the merest sight of goal‚ something that they had almost continuously. It was then almost inevitable that the home side would find a chink in Tiverton´s defences sooner or later. It happened in the 14th minute and predictably came from a corner. Matt Crabb had been taking Boro´s kicks on the right‚ using the natural inswing provided by his left foot to augment the swerve provided by the wind. This one was no exception but unlike his previous efforts there was no touch by either defender or colleague as the ball swung across the goal mouth after Gareth Williams had failed to make contact with an attempt to punch clear. On the ball curled finally coming to rest in the net just inside the far post.
It was the first of what threatened to be many as the home side poured forward in the knowledge that Tivvy would come back at them in the second half. More corners and the odd free kick - all at the Tiverton end of the field as Hook watched the game from a distance. If Williams had to accept some of the blame for the goal he could also claim the plaudits for keeping the tally down seven minutes later. Having difficulty in getting his goal kicks to travel any distance‚ indeed one actually caught the wind and flew back and out for yet another corner‚ Williams had one that dropped right to the boot of Danny Simmonds who unleashed a fierce drive from 30 yards out. Williams threw himself to his left to flick the ball up and wide for another corner‚ or as it turned out‚ two‚ the second of which presented Ian Pullman with the simplest of touch in chances at the far post which he thankfully failed to connect with. Five minutes later the goal kick scene was replayed - apart from the fact that the Tivvy keeper this time flew at full stretch to his right to keep the deficit at a single goal. Town did manage to string together another laborious move to the opposite end of the field with about ten minutes of the first half remaining. Goff‚ Mudge‚ Steele‚ Nancekivell - all managed to keep control of the ball for long enough to move the length of the pitch but it all came to an end when Mudge´s low cross‚ though drifting away from Hook‚ was still successfully smothered by the Eastbourne keeper. If nothing else‚ the interlude had provided a slight respite for the Tiverton back line‚ though whether that was an advantage might be debatable as Boro survived and upped their attacking efforts to try and increase their lead before the break and their turn to battle the elements. Desperate defending resulted in a goalmouth scramble in the Tiverton six yard box in the 39th minute and when the ball was eventually cleared it was only as far as Stuart Tuck who fired just inches over the crossbar. Then two minutes later it was Tuck who had another chance. A free kick‚ way out on the right. Every man on the field apart from Hook and Tuck in the Tivvy penalty area. Tuck fired in a shot with his left foot. Into the crowd. Anyone might have got a touch but the honour fell to Simmonds whose deft touch deflected the ball just enough to do what Tucks left foot and the wind had not been enough to do and carry the ball into the net for the second goal. After Williams two brilliant and spectacular saves from the Boro´s No. 10 there was a general feeling that he deserved his strike. There was also a feeling among the home fans as the whistle brought the half to a close‚ that two goals was not a big enough margin to hold onto the three points through the second period.

What caused the doubts was the thought that Tivvy would use the wind to the same effect that the home side had done and before a couple of minutes had passed it looked as if well they might as Cousins lobbed in two shots from just the Eastbourne side of the halfway line ‚ the first looping just over the crossbar and the second inches - well maybe feet - wide. So as expected The Yellows laid siege to the Eastbourne penalty area. One thing though was noticeable - and remarked upon almost immediately by the Sussex contingent in the press box who saw it as giving a glimmer of hope to the home side - Town were playing the majority of balls into the area through the middle and were finding their way blocked by defenders who were directly facing the ball‚ where as Boro had thrown more balls in from the wings which left both their forwards and the defence battling for balls from the side. Despite this difference Town were soon gaining the opportunities to narrow the gap. On 51 minutes Nancekivell connected with a decent shot that was cleared off the line by Darren Pearce and five minutes later an almighty scramble developed in the six yard box following a Tivvy corner but the ball would just not cross the line as it bobbled around among a plethora of bodies and limbs. Darren Edwards was brought on in place of Paul Chenoweth just before the hour mark in an attempt to raise the fire power but the move brought only a greater degree of resolution from the home side to defend their lead. And like Tiverton had been they were not adverse to making the odd break upfield if given the opportunity though initially they were few and far between though they did manage to record the first corner of the afternoon against the wind.
The overall pounding of the Boro´ penalty area continued but there were signs of frustration beginning to show in the Yellows play and the concentration on all out attack came close to proving fatal in the eightieth minute. A swift break out of defence‚ one well touched pass and Ian Pulman was away on his own with the Tivvy defence (or more accurately the remnants of the Tivvy defence since most of it was pushing forward) spread-eagled. Pulman closed in on Williams but appeared to panic at the thought of putting the game beyond doubt and shot early and wide. Town knew they had to do something and do it reasonably quickly. Even greater pressure was applied. Cousins showed that at least he had seen what others had seen over half an hour earlier and pushing forward out towards the flank swung in a wind assisted cross that Edwards headed back down across goal and Cliff-Brown just failed to reach with the touch that would have turned it past Hook. Five minutes remaining and a corner on the left to Tiverton. Like Boro at the end of the first half they decided to take a low one. Not a bad idea as half their previous attempts had flown either too far or out for a goal kick. this one was taken by Mudge and driven towards the near post from where it was returned to him. Jamie carried the ball back and in field before unleashing a tremendous shot that had Hook clawing at the wind‚ completely beaten. Unfortunately for The Yellows the woodwork wasn´t and the ball crashed back off the angle of crossbar and upright to begin another scramble that was again resolved by a home boot. Four minutes remaining. Cliff-Brown chased a ball down into the right hand corner‚ won it‚ turned back and floated in a cross to Edwards head. Nod down. Perfect for Nancekivell. Thunderous shot. Brilliant save at close range from Hook.......did he know anything about it? No minutes remaining and it was looking for all the world as if there was not going to be even a consolation goal. Two minutes added time played and that slight and unimportant reward was forth coming. Cliff-Brown was clearly pushed in the penalty area. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. There was the usual spate of handbags at two yards from some of the players resulting in the first and only yellow card of the afternoon for Boro´s Stuart Playford. Matt Smart followed Jason Rees all the way back to the halfway line wagging his finger in his face. Full credit to the Tivvy captain - he refused to even raise his hands, just kept on walking backwards with Smart in his face. Steve Winter did what he usually does from the spot when he eventually got to take the kick. Blasting it past Hook, though the keeper did get a hand to the ball. It was little consolation though it might be important if goal difference comes into the reckoning come the first of May.

To misquote from Star Trek....It was football - but not as we know it.


Tiverton Town: Gareth Williams, Steve Winter, Shaun Goff, David Steele, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Jason Rees, Carl Cliff-Brown, Paul Chenoweth (Darren Edwards, 59), James Mudge.
Subs not used: David Hallett, Peter Conning, Chris Holloway, Ian Nott
Bookings: None

Eastbourne Borough: Lee Hook, Darren Baker, Stuart Tuck, Matt Smart, Stuart Playford, Steve Dell, Ian Pulman (Andy Ducille, 87), Daren Pearce, Scott Ramsay, Danny Simmonds (Jay Richardson, 88), Matt Crabb (Ollie Rowlands, 46).
Subs not used: John Westcott, Steven Yates.
Booked: Stuart Playford.

Referee: Mr B McLaren (Woking).

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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