Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 1 Rugby

   Saturday 07/10/2006   Southern League Premier Division
Alan Reidy

Two-hundred and thirty-seven years had passed‚ to the day since Captain James Cook; voyaging like only he knew how‚ and accompanied by a Tahitian he picked up on the way was alleged to have discovered New Zealand. But it is not true‚ for the pair of islands were already known amongst the local inhabitants of the South Pacific‚ and in fact Cook was not even the first European to have anchored up there; the marginally less famous Abel Tasman having discovered´ the place more than one-hundred years earlier. Nevertheless‚ it is likely that the claim of the Captain mapping both the North and South islands is more accurate‚ and he is widely credited with realising that New Zealand did indeed come in two parts‚ separated by the Cook Straight (named not coincidentally!)

The best part of two and a half centuries down the line‚ and New Zealand is still widely untouched by the human monster; forests‚ lakes‚ mountains still abound in their natural splendour‚ indigenous tribes still thrive in an environment widely neglected by globalisation. Not only do they thrive‚ but they also integrate freely with the ever-increasing influx of European immigrants‚ and this is never more apparent that in their remarkably impressive Rugby Union teams over the years. And thus we can thank Captain James Cook and William Webb-Ellis for conveniently bringing this match report together‚ for it was young Webb-Ellis‚ of course‚ that is sensationalistically bestowed the honour of inventing´ Rugby Football‚ thanks to his misbehaviour whilst attending Rugby School back in 1823.

It´s folklore‚ legend‚ an old wives tale‚ call it what you will‚ but the chances are there is as much mistruth as fact in the story of Little Willie. But Saturday 7th October 2006 was not a day for rugby but for soccer‚ and what is most certainly not made of myth is that Tiverton Town never seem to win when the England national team are playing on the same day. Curious‚ but true‚ and today was to prove no different as Rugby Town‚ formerly Rugby United‚ and even more formerly VS Rugby amongst other things left Ladysmead with their tails wagging‚ happy with their showing‚ yet perhaps a little disappointed that they only gathered one point for their efforts.

For every moment in the first half the visitors‚ kitted in Sky Blue were the better side‚ and it was somewhat surprising that they only took a one goal advantage into the half time interval‚ and that their goal took the whole forty-five minutes plus a few seconds of added time to arrive. For Rugby and Matt Gearing in particular were showing that their place in the table‚ knocking on the door of the play-off places was no fluke‚ and after a slow start from both teams they started to extend the Tiverton defence time and time again. Chris Tullin and Adam Stringfellow both saw shots narrowly miss the target‚ while Danny Hall called Tivvy´s debutant goalkeeper Josh Clapham into action with a smart free kick from the edge of the box.

The action seemed confined to the Yellows half of the pitch and Delroy Gordon threw away a fabulous chance to give the visitors the lead by fluffing his effort when not scoring was more difficult than burying the ball in the back of the net. In the meantime the home side struggled to build a rhythm‚ and a hideous 40 mile left footed volley from Steve Flack was about all there was to think about at the other end of the pitch. Flack struck the ball sweetly enough‚ but it was audacious in the extreme‚ and the ball is rumoured to have collided with Chris Waddle´s penalty from the 1990 World Cup semi-final.

Gearing grabbed a deserved lead for Rugby and forced both managers to reassess their team talks when he latched on to a through ball and danced past the Tivvy defence‚ leaving Nathan Rudge and Mike Booth sprawling in his wake. The star of the first half then coolly slotted the ball beyond Clapham‚ sending raptures of joy through the small yet dedicated travelling support‚ and raptures of discontent through the home fans‚ who have seen suchlike once too often. At least if we didn´t get back into the game and at this stage there was little indication we would we could enjoy watching England cruise to victory against Macedonia in an hour or so...

In fairness to Tiverton they raised the tempo in the second period‚ but for all the effort and energy expended by the incomparable Barry McConnell, and the gradual return to form of Jamie Mudge it was still difficult to see where an equalising goal would come from. Step up (or fall down) Steve Flack. Mudge, seeing the frontman heading towards the far post launched a hopeful cross that seemed to be sailing out of play. Flack was beneath it, but not even his frame of 6´4 would be able to get near it. Neither would Tullin the covering defender have cause for concern. Two players, both with their eye on the ball, minimal contact, penalty! If Pedro Mendes felt hard done by last week then Tullin had every right to feel aggrieved too, for the referee gave the spot kick for very close to nothing. Sure there was contact, but....

McConnell avoided the protests, watched as Tullin´s remonstrations earned him a way into the ref´s notebook and nonchalantly side footed his penalty one way as the luckless Fahrad Afandiyev dived in the opposite direction. It was a goal against the run of play, but one which gave the home side some extra belief, and finally, and hour or more into the match the Yellows decided they could get something out of the fixture.

Forward they pushed, but in vain as there was little end product from an out-of-sorts Tivvy front line. Chris Bale headed straight at Afandiyev in the closing stages, and then nodded wide of the upright with virtually the last touch of the game, Mudge clattered a free kick into the legs of the defensive wall, and saw another shot palmed away for a corner. For all their efforts the score remained tied, and Rugby had enough chances themselves to put the game out of reach. Clapham made a great reaction save to deny Jason Taylor, and Booth cleared a spinning and awkward ball at the second attempt with Gearing lurking.

The last thirty minutes were frantic, and much more entertaining than the opening hour; there was more desire from the home side, more creativity, more guile. But that wasn´t enough, and was very nearly far too little. Rugby Town were the better team on the day and Tivvy should breathe a huge sigh of relief that they came out of the day with a point, and with luck firmly on their side. At least we could enjoy watching England cruise to victory against Macedonia in an hour or so... Or not as the case proved.

This report ©2006 Alan Reidy

Tiverton Town 1 - 1 Rugby

   Saturday 07/10/2006   Southern League Premier Division
Sam Lear

Tiverton: Clapham; Booth‚ Davies (Vinnicombe 83)‚ Laird‚ Rudge‚ Gardener‚ McConnell‚ Bale‚ Flack (Ampadu 63)‚ Holloway‚ Mudge. Substitutes: Wyatt‚ Harris‚ Skinner

Rugby: Afandiyev; Harris‚ Tullin‚ Herbert‚ Gordon‚ Hall‚ Gearing‚ Breward‚ Taylor‚ Stone‚ Stringfellow. Substitutes: Manship‚ Commander‚ Kolodynski

Officials: Mr. Brown; Mr. Paul‚ Mr. Stevens.

Attendance: 434

Man of the Match: Mike Booth

Match Rating: ***

It was a game both sides would have been disappointed not to have won‚ the game was a very tight affair and a draw was the right result.

The first real effort came after 19 minutes when Gearing managed to twist and turn his way around Davies and Rudge and played a cross to Taylor‚ whose header was caught by debutant goalkeeper for Tiverton‚ Clapham‚ on loan from Plymouth.

Three minutes later‚ another Plymouth loanee‚ Laird gave away a freekick just outside the area after tangling with Breward‚ the resulting freekick‚ taken by Hall was tipped over by Clapham.

With half an hour played‚ Tiverton were starting to dominate possession and chances‚ veteran Flack spotted Rugby custodian Afandiyev off his line and tried to lob him‚ however his effort sailed over the bar.

Deep into first half injury time‚ Hall completely opened the defence‚ Gearing managed to unbalance Rudge and to leave him one on one‚ the number seven chipped the ball over Clapham and sent to small away following into raptures.

The first real action of the second period occurred after 60 minutes when Mudge beat Harris and delivered a cross‚ which looked a bit deep and beat Flack‚ but Flack was deemed to have been pushed by Tullin‚ with a penalty the consequence‚ McConnell made no mistake.

With twenty minutes to go‚ Gearing delivered an inch perfect cross, which met the head of Taylor, whose header looked destined for the net, but Clapham somehow managed to turn it around the post.

In the 77th minute, good build-up play which started from defence found Mudge trying to cut inside Harris, he did and his curling shot was punched away by Afandiyev to safety.

The end loomed, the game opened, shot after shot, a goal was surely coming, but no! The final whistle blew, with both sides extremely frustrated.

This report ©2006 Sam Lear






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