Match report

Grantham Town 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 03/04/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

There is‚ it is said‚ only one certainty in life and that is death. The more cynical among the population will inevitably add Taxes to the list but in reality there are other things that are just as sure to happen as a meeting with the Grim Reaper. Grantham´s most famous son discovered one . Well‚ he didn´t really discover it‚ more a case of realising it was there and then explaining what it was. Isaac Newton - gravity. A harmless doze under an apple tree brought the revelation that when an object loses it´s support then it rapidly descends unless‚ or until‚ it´s drop is interrupted by meeting some form of resistance. It is a theory that‚ perhaps‚ is not lost on supporters of Grantham Town FC who have watched in dismay as their team has provided the substantive evidence that Sir Isaac got it right. The Gingerbreads have tumbled down the table after a bright start to the season‚ though whether it was due to losing support or the other way round is as debatable as the chicken and egg conundrum. Whatever the cause and/or effect‚ they saw the visit of Tivvy to Lincolnshire as the possible interruption to their free fall - particularly since The Yellows recent form was little better than their own. Some of the travelling Devon contingent had little great faith that the home fans would be proved wrong. After all‚ it was a racing certainty‚ appropriate on Grand National Day‚ that Tivvy would struggle against a struggling side. Maybe not as inevitable as death‚ but the consequences on this occasion might be just as terminal to hopes for the following season´s status for Martyn Rogers and his squad.

From the outset it was clear that the conditions were going to have an impact on the contest. A stiff breeze‚ nothing to the gale that blew at Eastbourne‚ combined with a hard‚ bobbley pitch were not conducive to quality football but The Yellows seemed to be on top of them quicker than the home side. With the wind at their backs Tivvy attempted to use it by sending long balls forward for Edwards and Cliff-Brown to chase and with Paul Milsom following in behind them it was a tactic that might have paid off if the front men had been given the chance to bring the ball down and lay it back. Grantham were well aware of the risks and operated an efficient offside trap that caught the yellow shirts time and time again in the opening ten minutes so although Edwards and Cliff-Brown looked lively they reaped little benefit. It wasn´t until the 12th minute that there was any sign of a serious threat on goal. Edwards beat the line onto a long hoof forward from Rudge to make ground down the left before slipping the ball inside to Cliff-Brown who touched it back to Kevin Nancekivell. Nance´s first time drive certainly did not lack power but before it had travelled a yard it crashed off the boot on the end of an outstretched Gingerbread leg before Keeper Ziccardi even realised it was on its way. Two minutes later and CC-B beat the line but lost the race to the ball with Ziccardi who dashed out of his area to hack the ball away. His contact was none to accurate as his clearance thudded against the Tivvy man but flew wide for a goal kick. Generally‚ the home side seemed to have got the measure of Tiverton and were coming more into what was a scrappy game‚ more so as an increasing amount of the action took place in midfield. The wind made anything above thigh height unpredictable in flight: the pitch made anything at ground level equally erratic. Football can´t be played in that two foot gap just above the surface. Having taken control of their back third of the field and competing evenly in midfield‚ Grantham became adventurous and mounted an odd attack or two. In the 19th minute they had their first attempt at scoring when Jamie Clarke fired in a speculative cross goal effort from wide on the right that flew harmlessly wide of the far post and a couple of minutes later a long ball from the Grantham midfield took advantage of a lull in the air current to put Steve Winter under pressure from a pair of Gingerbread men but Tivvy´s sweeper headed the ball down to the foot of Nathan Rudge who unceremoniously hoofed it upfield to safety. Back at the other end The yellows won a corner when a Winter free kick caused a minor panic in the home defence and the kick caused more of the same as Ziccardi struggled to connect with a punch. But connect he did and Grantham broke quickly and though Winter was again on hand to break up the initial charge the Lincolnshire outfit kept the pressure on and new signing Tony Hemmings - previously a thorn in Tivvy´s side when playing with Ilkeston and Tamworth - should have done better than his moon shot´ when put through clear on goal.
The writing was beginning to appear on the wall. It almost became legible in the 26th minute when Clarke sprinted away down the right flank and fired in a low cross. Winter unwittingly deflected it and the ball headed towards the net but hit Williams (also unwittingly‚ I suspect) and span away towards the far post. Williams recovered his composure enough to scamper across his goal and get his feet to the ball to deflect it just as it was about to be hammered home by Scott Huckerby. A Let off! Tivvy recovered to create a chance themselves as David Steele´s cross from the left was flicked on by Edwards but just touched off the toe of Cliff- Brown as he teed himself up for the shot. Nevertheless it came as no great shock when Grantham took the lead in the 31st minute. A free kick just inside the Tiverton half‚ ten yards in from the touchline. A curling ball into the edge of the penalty area‚ a slight touch on and a first time shot from central defender Adrian Speed that left Williams standing still. A clean‚ well taken strike. It was enough to lift the spirits and confidence of The Gingerbreads who worked their socks off to stop their visitors from battling back quickly. In fact it was ten minutes before Tivvy were able to cause any concern at the other end of the field as they appeared to have lost all semblance of shape´ and with it their forward momentum‚ though their had not been much of that for twenty minutes or so. And even that concern for the hosts defence was minimal‚ resulting as it did in only a quarter chance‚ if that‚ for Tivvy. Jason Rees‚ hardly starring in midfield for The Yellows‚ chested the ball down and launched it forward. The intended target was Cliff-Brown but Rees applied too much Wellie´. Carl‚ willing as ever‚ kept up the chase and managed to force a corner. For all the good it did he might as well have not bothered as the kick was wasted and hoofed away into the midfield football wastelands to be hoofed back and forth‚ round and round‚ aimlessly for another five minutes to use up time until the break. Muttered comments about The Trade Descriptions Act´ could be heard in the tea queues.

Nothing much changed for the better on the resumption of action(?). Williams was the first keeper to see the ball when following a long throw in by Grantham five minutes in‚ was headed clear to be touched forward by Kearns whose use of the wind saw the Tiverton keeper having to stretch to turn the ball away for a corner. That wasn´t the only evidence of the home side using the elements to their advantage and for the first fifteen minutes following the interval the ball hardly left the Tiverton half. Changes had to be made and with the hour mark approaching they were. Rees was replaced with Goff‚ Nancekivell with Mudge. All change! Goff at left back in place of Steele who slotted into Nancekivell´s place. Mudge forward‚ Edwards dropping deeper. Milsom back into the middle of the defence sending Winter wide and forward. It brightened The Yellows up - from pale primrose to deep saffron. Within a minute Edwards had managed to get a header in the right direction but high over the crossbar. Tivvy came forward much‚ much more but still lacked the incision so although Ziccardi had to be alert he still had little to deal with. Hemmings repeated Edwards high header at the other end but with 15 minutes to go Tiverton mounted a comparatively sustained attack. It started with Winter sending Mudge on a run down the right. Jamie turned his man down by the corner flag and fired in a cross. CC-B stretched but was a yard away from a touch and the ball flew on to Edwards beyond the back post. Darren took a first time poke bus woefully mis-hit the ball‚ sending it back out to the right where Mudge still lurked. Jamie´s second cross was deflected out for a corner by a lunging defender. Up for the set piece came Rudge who had been struggling to judge the flight of the ball in the breeze all afternoon. Not this time though as he rose to head firmly goalwards at the far post only to be denied as the ball was hacked clear; only as far as Steele hovering just beyond the penalty area. Looped back in. Rudge again got to the ball but the referee judged it to be only thanks to the indiscriminate use of his elbows and brought Tivvy´s effort to an end.
Ten minutes remaining and another break from Mudge. Another cross‚ this time from the left‚ found Cliff-Brown who couldn´t get enough power on his shot and Ziccardi held comfortably. On it went. Winter was providing a constant flow of forward balls but the Grantham defence was holding steady and preparing to celebrate their first win for an age. If Dean Craven had made better use of his chance in the 90th minute they would have been. Escaping into the gap left by Winter´s latest forward surge‚ Grantham´s second debut man found himself one on one with Williams who, not for the first time, managed to save with his feet to concede a corner. They took their time taking it....who could blame them? Obviously the referee who made a great demonstration of stopping his watch. Over came the ball, scrambled away and upfield. Turned out to Mudge on the left. Time for another run.....just. Mudge right to the goal-line before turning back and cutting in to the edge of the box. Defenders trying to close him down and Ziccardi narrowing the angle of any shot. Unnoticed through the middle came Edwards...unnoticed by all but Jamie who slipped the ball right into his path for Darren to fire home into an unguarded goal from around the penalty spot. In Monopoly terms it was Get out of jail...pass Go´ for Tiverton. As if that was not enough, The Yellows almost collected Two hundred pounds ...well another two points. Deep into the fourth minute of added time, Milsom hoisted a long ball out from the Tivvy penalty area towards Edwards in midfield. One touch and Mudge was through to the right of centre with only Ziccardi to beat. The keeper came to the corner of his area and spread himself on the deck. Jamie shot just as the keepers body dropped and though the ball went under his torso there was enough contact to see it divert across goal and be hacked away to safety. It was the final fling. Nobody was really sorry to hear the final whistle.

And so the edge of the precipice is still too close to comfort. Two away games, which on paper were winnable, have seen two draws and two points. Those four dropped´ points could prove to be vital in a couple of weeks time. Cliff hangers? Who needs them?

Tiverton Town: Gareth Williams, Steve Winter, David Steele, Jason Rees (Shaun Goff, 59), Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell (James Mudge, 59), Chris Holloway, Darren Edwards, Paul Milsom, Carl Cliff-Brown,.
Subs not used: Ian Patchett, David Hallett, Stuart Fraser.
Bookings: Holloway, Winter.

Grantham Town: Mario Ziccardi, Matt McCaul, Jamie March, Jason Minett, Adrian Speed, Simon Dakin, Dean Craven, Jamie Kearns, Scott Huckerby, Jamie Clarke, Tony Hemmings.
Subs not used: Willis Francis, Dominic Hallows, Peter Sutton, Mark Wilson, Sean Reddington.
Booked: Huckerby, Craven.

Referee: Mr. S. Smith (Matlock)

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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