Match report

Cheshunt 1 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 23/09/2006   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

Some things simply don´t appeal no matter how hard I try to appreciate them‚ regardless of what I have read or heard‚ and despite the perceived wisdom that they are great´. Star Wars‚ for example‚ was one phenomenon that I simply didn´t understand‚ Alcoholic spirits another. Pizza‚ evenings in front of the television‚ Harry Potter novels‚ fountain pens‚ lads mags. The list is endless. It is not that I am a killjoy‚ of course‚ merely that I don´t understand the glory and esteem with which the above are held. I have tried them all and they are not conducive to the way I like to spend my time. And while there may be one or more in the list that you adore‚ and can´t understand why I am depriving myself of I find myself taken aback when people tell me they don´t like football. It happened just a few weeks ago my own cousin explaining to me how‚ besides snowboarding and one or two other of extreme variety he has never really been interested in sport. I didn´t ask‚ but maybe his first experience of football was a match something like the one which 147 supporters witnessed at Cheshunt last Saturday.

Supporters of Tiverton Town have learnt to take the rough with the smooth over the years‚ and if the late 90s were as smooth as Fairy hands then that was certainly counterweighted by the performance on the fringes of Greater London‚ as Tivvy‚ all white for the first time in a couple of years looked rougher than a backstreet in downtown Detroit. For every pass that hit the mark there were fifty that missed‚ for every glimpse of inspiration there were one-hundred glimpses of mediocrity‚ and for every goalbound effort from the visitors there were... no‚ there were no goalbound efforts at all from the visitors.

But it takes two to tango‚ no matter how poor the dance‚ and Cheshunt were worthy of their place in the game‚ being even more unorganised than Tiverton‚ even less adventurous‚ even less dynamic‚ and even less inspirational. But for all the woes with which the host´s performance was constantly punctuated‚ they did something that Town couldn´t find the back of the net. It wasn´t through lack of trying that Tiverton were unable to breach the Ambers´ backline‚ but Martin Kalli in the Cheshunt goal spent a relatively untroubled afternoon between the sticks‚ only needing to stay alert in order to gather a string of inaccurate crosses‚ or to gather the ball from the handful of visiting fans behind his goal.

The Yellows‚ or the Whites if you prefer‚ did what they always do‚ starting off frantically and with purpose‚ and nearly achieved a repeat of what they did against Bath City four days prior in taking an early lead. Barry McConnell launched a centre from the right flank and Scott Laird was highest to rise but his headed effort hit the unusually square upright‚ fell at the feet of a home defender and was punted clear of the danger zone. And that was just about the sum total of the excitement in the first half‚ a first half barely ninety seconds old. McConnell‚ along with Jamie Mudge and Mike Booth all saw crosses fielded by Kalli‚ one with Steve Flack lurking‚ the rest under no pressure. Cheshunt‚ meanwhile‚ barely ventured into the Tiverton half of the field‚ and it was not until about the forty minute mark that they had their first meaningful attempt. Dewayne Clark scampered down the left touchline, escaped the attentions of Tom Gardner and rifled a shot towards Mark Rock´s near post that the Tivvy keeper saw early and helped out for a corner kick.

Half time arrived with a blank score sheet, and a blank look on the faces of the supporters who had been expecting a game of football rather than the game of hoofball that had transpired. Too much direct play from both sides played comfortably into the hands, or onto the heads of the centre-backs at both ends of the pitch, and a spectacle it most certainly was not.

Things could only get better, surely! But the second period began much as the first had ended, with no creative spark from any of the twenty-two on the pitch, and it was soon apparent that what was being witnessed was one of the most unentertaining games of football even played on God´s green earth. It was high time the talent was allowed to shine, but it was unlikely to come from a white shirt as Chris Holloway, the one Town player that has proven capable of stepping up a few levels this season had taken a knock in the first half and was unable to stamp his authority on the game. If shining talent was to come from an Amber shirted player then Clark or Kerem Bashkal seemed the most likely candidates, as they pushed forward with pace and purpose, chasing inaccurate passes all afternoon. But Laird, Gardner and Danny Harris were controlling matters in front of Rock. Nil-nil all the way.

And it was, at least until Bashkal finally picked up on a not-so inaccurate pass from deep as Tivvy had men committed forward. The nippy forward latched on to the ball, proceeded to shrug off the attentions of his marker and placed the ball beyond the reach of the sprawling Rock to put the hosts a goal to the good with fifteen minutes left on the clock. By this time Mudge and Flack, both lacking meaningful service and both unable to offer creativity were replaced by the willing legs of Anthony Mason and Paul Wyatt, but the energy of the new strike pairing proved little if any more inspiring. Wyatt did break through towards the end but his shot was deflected wide, and a series of three corners provided nothing more than an off target header from Holloway. Gardner thought he had scored when tapping home after Chris Bale´s shot had been parried, but the linesman´s flag was up briskly, and the referee´s whistle sounded almost before the ball crossed the line to signal the Tivvy defender had strayed offside.

As Tivvy chased the game so tempers became frayed, so much so that Glen Parry, Cheshunt´s left-back was shown his marching orders after a tte--tte with Chris Bale, the home player appearing to aim a mouthful of saliva towards the face of the Tiverton number eight. But it was late, too late to salvage even a point, even against ten men, and Jamie Skinner´s introduction in place of Harris did little to redress the balance of the scoreboard. All in all it was a game in which neither team deserved anything, but points are awarded for results and not performances, and at least in that respect one team got exactly what they deserved, going home empty-handed, no chequebook or pen.

If this had been the first game I had seen then I don´t think I would want to come back for more, so my cousin may have been put off the beautiful game´ in his formative years by being subjected to a particularly unbeautiful game´. But we pay out money and take our chance, and now I can rest safe in the knowledge that it will never be quite as bad again. If it is then I will spend my Saturdays catching up on the Star Wars hexology in the future.

This report ©2006 Alan Reidy






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