Match report

Gloucester City 2 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 24/10/2006   FA Trophy
Sam Lear

Gloucester 2aet2 (4-2 on penalties) Tiverton

Gloucester: Bath‚ Miller‚ Wilson‚ Mustoe ‚ Hamblin‚ Robison‚ Fowler‚ Wilkinson (Reid 66)‚ Noakes‚ Welsh‚ Tustain.

Tiverton: Clapham‚ McConnell‚ Davies‚ Booth‚ Gardener‚ Thomas‚ Pepperell‚ Bale‚ Flack (Wyatt 110)‚ Skinner‚ Mudge.

Attendance: 372

Match Rating: *****

Man of the Match: JAMIE SKINNER

Life brings about many twists and turns‚ or so it would seem. Some are greatly unexpected and not even in your wildest dreams could one conjure up the outcome. Some can be brought around by oneself‚ and they could live to regret it for the rest of their lives. Some can be brought around by the poor actions of others‚ which cannot be prevented and eats up inside you‚ with a painful feeling left within. Every emotion felt: by every witness‚ by every warrior‚ by every worker. It was a special night.

Twice Tiverton came back from the rough. Gloucester took the lead after 17 minutes through Jason Welsh´s third goal of the campaign. He added a second with three minutes to go in extra-time. The thirty minutes of pain was a consequence of Chris Bale´s leveller five minutes after the Tigers´ first. However‚ Tiverton rose from the dead‚ when all looked lost‚ with Mudge scoring with virtually the last kick of the game.

The game quite surprisingly‚ was very open in the first half‚ both sides keen to get forward and expressing themselves freely no more so than Nathaniel Pepperell‚ who gave Michael Noakes a torrid time all game by darting past him left‚ right and centre‚ leaving their number eleven dazed. Tiverton might have endured the majority of possession and territory‚ however‚ Gloucester always looked the most likely to score: their counter attacks a dagger in the Tiverton supporter´s hearts‚ with their forward line racing like hares to beat the high back line of the Yellow´s defence.

This eventually caught the Yellow´s off-guard. Wilkinson gliding through the midfield spotted the large hole in the centre of the defence‚ to his right‚ Jason Welsh darting forward‚ he laid the ball to his feet‚ the defence stunned and appealed to the linesman; the flag: never raised. With the goal at Welsh´ mercy‚ Clapham raced out to close the gap but Welsh kept his composure and whacked the ball into the bottom corner.

Tiverton attacking is like driving into the M25, you can get there quickly but you almost stop and can´t get out of it easily. The harder you try, the worse it gets, especially with no support from the outside lanes. The main culprits were Messrs. Mudge and Pepperell, when searching for the equaliser, they ran the full width of the pitch twice without gaining any length, the Gloucester back line was formidable restricting them to damp-squib shot from the edge of the area.

A breakthrough! Gloucester gave away a free-kick on the edge of the area when Robison clumsily challenged with Pepperell. Darren Davies stepped up to the plate, he whipped the ball in; Chris Bale deflected the ball into the bottom corner, leaving Matt Bath, the Gloucester custodian, utterly useless. A quick reply, but surely it was a time to ascend.

Tiverton tried, although not assertively. Minutes after the goal, an excellent cross by Mike Booth from the left troubled the back line and their best efforts meant the ball landing at the feet of Mudge outside the area, looking to open his account for the season, his half-volley whistled wide of the left post.

Nerves were jangling, with the half drawing to a close; both sides wanted to make sure that they did not go in behind. The pressure got to Wilkinson´s head, when he clashed into the impressive Chris Bale a second too late, the referee cautioned him. Tom Gardener also got himself into the book when he supposedly fouled Robison. The number six should perhaps swap careers into a more diver-friendly sport. That concluded the half a very even contest so far.

The tension was getting to the managers as well. The beginning of the second half was far more tight and cautious with both sides a bit frightened to assert themselves.

Twenty minutes in, a perfectly placed Barry McConnell free-kick whirled into the box. Steve Flack, then coolly chested the ball down. Thomas´ dash into the box caught the eye of the veteran work-horse, who laid the ball for him to blast the ball towards the bottom-right corner; Bath was equal to it and parried it away for a corner.

Welsh had a minute of excitement when he had two golden opportunities to hand Gloucester the lead for the second time. In the 72nd minute, Jon Miller, whose free-kicks had been a problem all night for the Yellows, floated the ball towards the right post from the half-way line. The ball was controlled by Welsh who was unchallenged, he turned, but his shot was too weak to trouble the Plymouth loanee, who clutched the ball to his left.

Clapham made another great save, when Welsh outpaced McConnell too easily and blasted the ball towards the far corner, but Clapham pushed out his hand and was able to fist the ball away from danger. The fantastic Gloucester support behind the goal was amazed by the goalkeeper´s spectacle.

With 15 minutes to go, Tiverton had a fantastic chance to take the lead when an in-swinging corner by tireless Darren Davies met the head of Flack on the penalty spot, he leapt into the air and twisted his head and directed the ball onto the crossbar to add to the tension of the supporters in the ground.

It seemed as though both managers were set for extra-time with both sides implementing defensive tactics and available substitutions being savoured. Tiverton did not make one during normal time whereas Gloucester made the solitary change of Jamie Reid, who was sent-off in the first game, replacing Wilkinson.

In the 89th minute, Tiverton supporters, player and management alike, were incensed when a legitimate Jamie Mudge goal was disallowed. With Gloucester on the attack, Tom Gardener dispossessed the ball and launched the ball up towards Mudge and defender Robison. The keeper also charged out of his goal to catch the ball on the edge of the area. Communication between the two men was non-existent; they appeared to clash into one another, leaving them flat-out on the grass. Mudge pounced, and tapped into the open goal. However, the referee felt that Mudge had a big part to play in the clash and thus blew for a foul. That concluded normal time to leave a sour taste in the Yellows´ mouths.

The players resumed with extra-time. The first half was a non-entity. The best chance quite typically was a result of Nathaniel Pepperell magic when he danced around four players of the Gloucester defence and cannoned a shot towards the top right corner but his effort was blocked by skipper Neil Mustoe, a rock in the defence all game, and deflected over.

The hearts were in the mouths of the Tiverton supporters when Tom Gardener was too easily turned by Welsh, whose shot was originally fumbled and the anxious youthful keeper gathered the ball at the second attempt as if the ball was made of gold.

With the first half drawing to a conclusion, Barry McConnell dribbled the ball through the open midfield, with a sharp run by Chris Bale to his right, he played a perfectly timed through ball, but Bale managed to run around the ball and his effort sailed over the bar to the cheers of the Gloucester faithful.

Early in the second period, Steve Flack was replaced by Paul Wyatt who offered extra pace for the final half. However, he wasn´t needed early on as Gloucester put Tiverton to the sword, with a series of corners testing the defenders to their limits.

The constant Gloucester bombardment was too much for the defence, or rather Clapham, when a free-kick on the half-way line by Miller barely reached the edge of the penalty area, but Clapham tried to claim the ball, which he had no right to, dropped the ball and thus ended up grounded. The ball landed with Robison outside the area, whose effort was cleared off the line by Mike Booth; however, the rebound fell to Gloucester man-of-the-match Welsh, who pounced to tap the ball into the net to send the crowd wild, with two minutes to go.

That was it, surely? It required great characters and leaders to pull through this major setback, all was lost until young Jamie Skinner´s vision was perfect, with the penalty area crowded with tired players, he spotted a darting run by Jamie Mudge to his left, he coolly slotted the ball to the prolific striker, who composed himself and pounded the ball past Matt Bath, whose best efforts were not good enough. The ground was silenced, except for a small corner of Tiverton supporters who went absolutely hysterical. It was Tiverton´s destiny to go on and win the game in the penalty shootout, surely?

However, life is full of twists and turns. McConnell and Davies both had their kicks saved by the impressive Bath, and Gloucester made no mistake with their first three. It was all going wrong! Pepperell managed to pull one back, and despite Clapham´s save of Tustain and Mudge´s success, up stepped Jamie Reid, a traitor for the Tigers in the first leg, to confirm the Yellow´s worst fears and sent Tiverton home hugely disappointed with both of the major trophies out of their calendar for another year when perhaps, this should have been their day.

This report ©2006 Sam Lear

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