Match report

Chelmsford City 3 - 3 Tiverton Town

   Monday 29/03/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

A repeat of the scoreline from the two teams meeting at Ladysmead earlier in the season was just not on the bill as Tivvy journeyed to Billericay to face bottom of the table Chelmsford City. Unfortunately for the travelling players‚ the home side‚ desperate to claw their way out of the basement had not read the script and preferred to delve into the realms of free form theatre‚ add lib-ing at will and prepared to take a chance on some unexpected drama being thus created to provide entertainment and excitement for the paying customers. And so it turned out with the planned and plotted scenario of The Yellows being disrupted to leave both sides with a share of the points and a feeling of de ja vu over the final outcome.

Town´s expected cast was thrown into disarray before they even hit the road. Goalkeeper Gareth Williams contracted Laryngitis and was unavailable at the last minute. Hurried work on the telephone resulted in Kenny Griffiths jumping into the breach at a late hour but it was hardly the ideal start to the expedition. Not that it looked to be too much of a problem as Town got the game underway. Open‚ end to end exchanges‚ saw Carl Cliff Brown and Darren Edwards looking lively and causing problems for the home defenders particularly when Cliff-Brown sent Edwards into space on the right hand side of the Chelmsford penalty area in the 5th minute. Edwards was crowded off the ball by sheer weight of numbers but at the opposite end Fabien Ford did manage to force in his shot from the edge of the penalty box but failed to trouble Griffiths who comfortably and cleanly held the rising ball above his head. Back down to the other end and Tivvy´s two central front men‚ Jamie Mudge was roaming into the wide spaces‚ combined again as Edwards over his head lob saw Cliff-Brown fall foul of the linesman´s flag to bring one of the few offside decisions of the match. For the next ten minutes or so the pattern was set. Claret shirts had the territorial advantage but were comfortably held at arms length around the Tiverton penalty area whilst Town‚ playing in their change kit of white‚ looked increasingly dangerous with swift breaks towards the Chelmsford goal. Tiverton´s version of the plot seemed to be being adhered to when the first goal came in the 18th minute. Jamie Mudge picked up on a clearance and bade his way down the left. Braking sharply and allowing the chasing defender to carry on past him‚ Jamie cut in to the edge of the penalty area to thump in a shot that left Paul Nicholls grounded at full stretch and beaten as the ball rattled against the base of his right hand upright. For once Lady luck smiled on Tivvy as the ball span across the goalmouth and straight to the foot of Cliff-Brown who coolly slotted the ball into the unguarded net. Town in front and all going to plan.
Well‚ almost. The home side´s improvisation almost saw them draw level within two minutes as they sought a rapid reposte but the gods of woodwork were still on the visitor´s side as Griffiths was beaten by a shot across goal from the right but saved by the upright and the ball was scrambled away. Town regained their composure and with it more of the forward moving play. Pressure was exerted from a series of three long throw-ins from the right by David Steele and when Chelmsford found relief and showed that they too could break quickly‚ Griffiths again handled cleanly when the cross was hoisted into the goal-mouth. Cliff-Brown was continuing to prove a difficult handful for the Chelmsford back line and after collecting a Yellow card for an over enthusiastic but hardly malicious encounter with one defender replied five minutes before the break in the best possible manner. Another City meandering attack was broken up and the ball lifted forward into mid field. Edwards hoisted it first time over the City back line and Carl was away in the clear with those defenders still turning. Heading straight through the middle with Nicholls hesitantly approaching he chose his moment perfectly to scoop the ball over the keeper and into the net. Two up and everything looking rosy‚ briefly. As they had done after Tiverton´s first goal‚ the home side looked for a rapid reply. This time they got it. Forward down their right and the cross scrambled back out to that side. Gary Angel fired in a second cross‚ hard and low which was what had been causing the few problems that the Tiverton defence had had to cope with. With the ball headed into the middle it´s course was suddenly changed as it took a deflection off Paul Milsom to wrong foot keeper and white shirted defenders alike and end up nestling in the net. Not in the script‚ and nor was the equaliser that came as the referee was preparing to send the teams in for their half time break. After Jamie Mudge had broken through the middle with Paul Chenoweth to his left and Cliff-Brown to his right‚ both unmarked‚ and fluffed his chance to restore the two goal margin‚ City took advantage of Town´s forward defenders to attack down the right. Another of those low‚ hard dangerous crosses in and the resulting confusion and failure to clear by Tivvy‚ the ball again fell to Ansell who drove home to bring things level from just to the right of the six yard box‚ though the goal was later credited to Steve Norman (not Warman as published on the Dr Martens website) so perhaps there was another deflection but either way the script went out the window‚ this was not meant to happen.

Following the interlude‚ Town were quickly out of the traps as they sought to restore their lead‚ if not superiority. Pushing forward they created enough of an initial problem to win a free kick just outside the Chelmsford penalty area to the right of middle. It was a position that we had seen frequently this season and as Jason Rees and Paul Chenoweth chopped and changed positions over the ball there was little doubt what was to follow. Sure enough it did‚ but Chenoweth´s pile driver was spectacularly tipped over the crossbar by Nicholls for a corner. The Chelmsford keeper´s hero status‚ however‚ was short lived as from the resulting corner he failed to connect powerfully with an attempted punched clearance and the ball only reached Darren Edwards who powered it back past him and into the net. With forty two minutes remaining Town could not afford to sit back and they didn´t. Like in the first half‚ Chelmsford´s desperation to lift themselves off the foot of the table gave them the urgency to attempt a second comeback but Tivvy closed them down well resulting in the majority of the action taking place in the middle third of the field‚ and scrappy action it was for the majority of the time. With that scrappiness came a pair of yellow cards for the home side as Town tried to take advantage of a defence thinned by the need for the City to chase the game and the remaining back men were stretched to indiscretions. Edwards was unlucky not to extend the lead and his individual tally as he sent Mudge down the left and met the return cross well only to see it fly off a defender on the 68th minute. Swapping what few chances were being created City replied with their own attempt‚ a header from a left wing cross that left Griffiths stranded but was nodded off the line by Rob Cousins two minutes later. With thirteen minutes remaining City´s Garry Cross paid the penalty for over voracious reaction to the referee´s decision to award a free kick against one of his colleagues for an incident in which he was not involved. Out came the yellow card again‚ and since Cross had been one of the players cautioned previously it was followed immediately by the red.
It should have been the end for Chelmsford and it took only a couple of minutes for the numerical deficiency to show as Town became more adventurous in forward movement. Just five remaining and David Steele‚ who had not put a foot wrong all evening‚ Lifted in a high cross from the right. Cliff-Brown rose and headed the ball down and back to Edwards. Darren resisted the temptation to attempt a shot through the pack in front of him and‚ instead poked the ball forward again to Carl who had turned to face goal but stumbled as the ball came to his toe. There had been a few stoppages in the second half for injuries - plus the inevitable substitutions - but as 90 minutes appeared on the watch it really did look to be all over. A final burst from the home side was shepherded wide and then safely pushed out for a corner. It should not have been a problem. Should not have been but was as the kick was lifted high to the back post. Griffiths‚ who had looked confident and competent in the air for the previous hour and a half‚ made a pig´s ear of it as he rose to collect the ball under pressure and failed to hold it. The ball dropped in front of him and as the keeper scrambled to regain possession he blatantly shoved a claret shirt away from it. The referee had no hesitation. A blast of the whistle and a finger pointing to the penalty spot. Shaun Goff showed his frustration by protesting too much and collecting an unnecessary yellow. Nicholls left his station between the Chelmsford posts to blast the ball between the Tiverton posts in a final act of dramatic improvisation. City had a point that would lift them off the foot of the table. Town were faced with further pressure to consolidate their position in a Conference Two qualification spot.

The dejection among the Tivvy squad was clear to see as they left the field. Heads were down and morale was low. Both will have to be lifted quickly by those whose task such things are.

Tiverton Town: Kenny Griffiths‚ Steve Winter‚ Paul Chenoweth (Shaun Goff‚ 52)‚ Jason Rees‚ David Steele, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Carl Cliff-Brown, Darren Edwards, Paul Milsom, James Mudge.
Subs not used: David Hallett, Ian Patchett, Peter Conning, Stuart Fraser.
Bookings: Cliff-Brown, Goff.

Chelmsford City: Paul Nicholls, Wes Faulkner, Simon Clarke (Steve Butterworth, 55), Liam Hopkins, Russell Edwards, Iain O´Connell (Rob Whitnell, 83), Garry Cross, Steve Norman, Fabien Forde, Gary Ansell, George Lay.
Subs not used: Gareth Street, Don Trenkel, Terry Penfold.
Booked: Cross, Hopkins.
Sent off: Cross (77mins).

Referee: Mr. M. O´Keefe (Orpington)

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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