Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 0 Bedlington Terriers

   Sunday 16/05/1999   FA Vase

One thing you can't accuse Tiverton Town manager Martyn Rogers of is nepotism. But you could forgive him for picking second cousin and godson Scott Rogers for the rest of his career after Sunday's priceless goal at Wembley. Rogers junior sat on the bench for 70 minutes of the FA Carlsberg Vase final, then came on and stole the limelight with a mis-hit strike he will savour for the rest of his life. The 1-0 victory over Bedlington Terriers means Tivvy enter the record books as the only the third side to succesfully defend the Vase. And it was the perfect way for promoted Yellows to sign off an illustrious history in the competition as they move on to the Doc Martens League and the FA Trophy.

There was a strange sense of deja vu around the famous Twin Towers. A 1-0 win over a tough Northern side with the goal once again coming from a super-sub. But while Pete Varley netted the winner against Tow Law 12 months with 10 minutes to go, Rogers waited until the 89th minute before earning his place in Tivvy history.

It was hardly a classic goal. Rogers nicked the ball off the toes of Varley on the edge of the area, hurried on and across the face of the goal, and scuffed a shot through the legs of Terriers' centreback Craig Melrose. Keeper Paul O'Connor looked odds on to make the save, but the ball bobbled, crept past the scrambling goalie and inside the post. The team, bench and huge swathe of Yellows' fans went bananas and there was no way back for Bedlington. It was a crushing blow for the Terriers who had put up stubborn resistance against the holders and seemed destined to take the tie into extra time. But Rogers senior took a gamble on substitutes and it paid off. He threw on fresh legs in the form of Rogers and Richard Pears in an attempt to win the game in 90 minutes while Terriers counterpart Keith Perry was waiting for extra time to make changes and ultimately paid the price.

The first half was a hugely entertaining affair and threatened to produce the goal-glut that the pedigree of the two team's free-scoring strikers suggested. Tivvy took the early honours, with Dave Leonard having the ball whipped from his feet in front of goal after just three minutes. Everett got no joy from the Terriers defence four minutes later when a superb through ball from Steve Daly sent him clear only to be tackled by Melrose. Then, at the other end, Terriers' strikers Dean Gibb and John Milner bared their fangs and only a block tackle from Yellows' captain Neil Saunders prevented a shot from powerhouse Gibb heading goalwards. And it was Saunders who nearly put Tiverton ahead. A ninth minute short corner routine was drilled into the box by Daly and the skipper swivelled and fired a shot that whizzed the wrong side of the post. Bedlington then started to take the upperhand and it was madcap Tiverton keeper Paul Edwards' turn to earn his corn. Last season, he got the Wembley logo tattooed on his bottom and this year he marked the occasion by dyeing his hair yellow. However, it wasn't his fluorescent barnet, but two quality saves in the space of two minutes that made him stand out. First he raced off his line to beat away midfielder Mickey Cross's shot and then he leapt like the proverbial salmon to grasp a cracking curling effort from tricky winger Steve Boon. Chances came thick and fast at both ends. Gibb stole a yard from Paul Tatterton, but fired off a Geoff Thomas-esque effort that actually went out for a throw-in, while Pete Conning had a rocket drive from the edge of the box narrowly deflected wide of the Bedlington goal. Terriers' Mr Goals Milner was expertly squeezed out of the game by the close attention of Darren Tallon and Saunders. But on the half-hour he gave an all too rare glimpse of why York City are prepared to sign him, by rising well to meet Richie Bond's cross with a header that was big on power, but small on direction. Bond was probably the best player on the pitch for the first 45 minutes, giving Leonard a torrid time on the right wing, but when a poorly defended free-kick fell at his feet in the six-yard box he poked it wastefully wide. Six minutes from the break, Kevin Nancekivell took too long on the ball after O'Connor fluffed a cross and under pressure he lifted his shot high over the bar. Nancekivell set Everett free soon after, but the Tivvy striker loosed off a tame effort that presented O'Connor with no problems. He was troubled in an injury-time scramble though, getting down well to smother a crisp snap-shot from Varley and watching in relief as Leonard stabbed a volley across the goal-mouth after a superb cross from last season's Wembley hero.

Bedlington made a bright start to the second period with Milner and Gary Middleton both wasting half-chances. On the hour mark, Leonard turned the tables on Bond, leaving him in his wake to send in a tantalising cross that Everett met with a header that flew a fraction over. But as the half wore on, both teams got the jitters over conceding and the game became scrappy. Rogers double substitution attempt to conjure up a goal towards the end didn't appear to have worked as neither side looked like scoring. Terriers' defender Melrose made a bid for Wembley glory with three minutes left on the clock, dribbling half the length of the pitch before remembering he was a centre-half not Michael Owen and fluffing his shot. But the glory went to 19-year-old Rogers instead. He nipped in front of Varley to steal the ball, the headlines and the limelight. And no-one would begrudge him that.

It looked for a moment as if they had forgotten the way to those famous steps. They were taking wrong turnings here and there, and the Wembley steward was twice fooled into pointing them in the right direction.

But, leading the Tiverton Town parade, that Neil Saunders, the skipper, and that Paul Edwards, the goalkeeper, they were only a-joshin'. They knew the way up those steps right enough. After all, it was the third time in six years. It was also as if Tivvy knew they were going to win - for an historic second time in succession. True, Bedlington Terriers, who had been sweeping all before them up North, were the red hot favourites with the bookies and many pessimistic Tivvy fans, too. But they obviously had not taken into account that old Ladysmead Vase factor. That's when Tiverton manager summons up the extra 10, maybe 20 per cent or so that carries them through when all seems lost. On the way to Wembley, the Vase factor was most noticeable at Taunton, when the then SDL champions-in-waiting were stunned by a 3-0 semi-final first leg thrashing when they looked set to knock Tiverton out of their Twin Towers stride. Now, deep into the second-half of Sunday's final, it was about to recur. The Bedlington boys thought they were on to a winner as the Woof, Woof, Terriers chant - surely the best in football - echoed around and around the famous old stadium. They thought the strength in Tiverton legs was ebbing. They thought it was their year. And they thought wrong. For Martyn Rogers had pulled a masters-stroke with the double substitution of given-everything Pete Conning and Kevin Nancekivell for Scott Rogers and Richard Pears 20 minutes from time. Suddenly 19-year-old Rogers, the manager's godson, was at bust-a-gut Pete Varley's shoulder and taking the ball off the 1998 Wembley hero's toes. And as Rogers twisted and tumbled, he sent a bobbling left-footer towards Paul O'Connor's left upright. The keeper, for a fraction of a second, an awful time-consuming fraction of a second, would have thought the save was going to be a doddle. But he was wrong. Now the ball was squirming past his groping hands and into the bottom corner and a roar was erupting from myriad Tiverton throats. And for the second May in succession Wembley was turning into a surging sea of Yellow. They were some 10,000 of them there again, outnumbering the North-Easterners 2-1. Tivertonians old, Tivertonians new, Tivertonians in exile home and abroad proudly giving their team the backing they deserved. And what a sight and sound they made as the final whistle sounded and yellow-haired Paul Edwards, the excellent, the extrovert keeper, went through an acrobatic repertoire. There may not be as many soccer fans in the South West as other parts of the country, but they still know how to celebrate a victory.

Bedlington Terriers: Paul O'Connor, Andy Bowes, Martin Pike, Steve Boon (Lee Ludlow 90+3), David Melrose, Warren Teasdale, Micky Cross, Gary Middleton (Glenn Renforth 90+3), Dean Gibb, John Milner, Richie Bond
Booked: Middleton 13
Sent off: None

Tiverton Town: Paul Edwards, Micky Fallon, Neil Saunders, Paul Tatterton, Darren Tallon, Pete Conning (Richard Pears 69), Kevin Nancekivell (Scott Rogers 69), Peter Varley, Phil Everett, Steve Daly, Dave Leonard
Goal: Rogers 89
Booked: None
Sent off: None

Attendance: 13,847

This report ©1999 Unknown

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