Match report

Tiverton Town 1 - 1 Bath City

   Saturday 10/04/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Whoopee! The first holiday of the year! Fans of extreme political correctness might like to refer to it as Springfest´; me I´ll continue to call it by its traditional name of Easter even though the religious connotations have been dissipated by a plethora of chocolate eggs‚ downy chicks and fluffy bunnies. Traditional‚ though not entirely correct‚ since there was no doubt a pagan feast at this time of the year well before it was hi-jacked by the Christians. Personally I blame the Romans. If they had not been the power that they were and had not had the desire to impose their culture on the rest of the known world‚ then JC would probably have not have met the fate he did. As it was‚ successive Caesar´s sent centurions south‚ north ‚ east and west to imprint their standards throughout civilisation. Nothing much has changed in the intervening 2000 plus years‚ has it? Perhaps George W. Caesar should take note of the demise that eventually brought the Roman Empire to its knees‚ at least we can be grateful for the idea of forums and senates that the Southern European legions left as a legacy..... Eventually they reached the Westcountry and created what was to become the City of Bath....which in turn led to a football club called Bath City....and therefore we can thank‚ or blame‚ those early Italians for what took place at Ladysmead on Saturday.

Blame would be the better choice of word in the case of what went on in the opening 45 minutes. Considering that there were no particular climatic problems‚ nor was the playing surface anything untoward‚ it was one of the least inspirational halves to a game to be witnessed this season at Ladysmead. City were out of the traps fastest and within two minutes there was a harem-scarem´ moment in the Tiverton penalty area with the ball bagatelling around the edge of the six yard line before Chris Holloway eventually applied the big boot to give The Yellows defence a chance to regroup and get themselves organised. Town found their feet and began to look to get forward but it was clear that there was a nervousness about the play of both sides‚ safety first and only tentative moves into opposition territory was the order of the day. Jamie Mudge did get deep into the Bath half with a typical run‚ winning a corner that was comfortably dealt with and a free kick out on the left from Steve Winter has lifted way over the crossbar by Carl Cliff-Brown whilst at the other end a rare forward excursion by the visitors gave Gary Owers a chance to blaze a shot over the terrace roof from 40 yards out after quarter of an hour. Five minutes later Winter had another chance from a free kick in a similar position to the one he had taken earlier and his direct shot curled a couple of feet wide and high of the crossbar / upright angle.
Neither side was able to stamp any degree of authority on the central areas where most of the play was taking place and so although the game was being played at quite a frantic pace there was very little skill on show - plenty of hustle and bustle; plenty of huff and puff and effort; but little flowing football. On the half hour City´s Andy Williams carried the ball to the by-line to get in a cross that Partridge glanced wide and with the visitors having the slight edge Russ Milton fired in a free kick just before the interval that Nathan Rudge got the slightest of touches to‚ to divert for a corner but all in all it was a lack-lustre contest.

Justifiably changes were made at the interval. Recent signing Danny O´Hagan was given his debut to replace Cliff-Brown who had looked out of sorts´ and was joined on the bench by fellow striker Darren Edwards‚ who had also managed to make little impact‚ to be replaced by Kevin Nancekivell. Town at last began to look livelier. A free kick was won just outside the Bath penalty area in the 47th minute. Despite not having the normal´ personnel on the pitch i.e. Paul Chenoweth and Jason Rees‚ Tivvy attempted their now familiar move. The initial touches worked fine but the final shot from Jamie Mudge was weak and wide. Perhaps it was the thought that Town might find themselves with another chance in a similar position but no sooner had the kick been taken than Rees was brought into the action in place of Paul Milsom. With forty minutes remaining all The Yellows´ options had been exercised - something had to happen‚ and with Fraser showing signs of his injury still causing problems there was much crossing of fingers that he would not break down again.. And happen‚ something did - though strangely none of the substitutes was directly involved in the opening goal. Reminiscent of the forward bursts that the departed Scott Rogers used to make in a yellow shirt - though this time it was to the right not the left - Chris Holloway powered deep into the Bath half. From wide out on the flank he sent in a cross that was telling enough for the City defence to be forced into clearing away quickly rather than controlling and playing out. The headed clearance only fell ten yards or so outside the penalty area to the Tiverton left‚ and right to the foot of David Steele who swung another diagonal ball in towards the far post. In nipped Jamie Mudge to poke the ball home from close range to edge the Yellows in front and end his personal goal drought - his celebrations clearly indicating his relief that the dry spell was over. One goal‚ though‚ is never enough and it was a point that The Romans were keen to make. Far from being dejected they rallied well and went in search of an equaliser‚ though it was Town that had the next really decent chance when Holloway headed way over the top from a Shaun Goff corner on the hour. Just a minute later and Tweddle could have restored parity but for a flying one handed save from Stuart Fraser to turn the City mans 30 yard drive away for a corner. The first kick was turned out for a second. The second found defender Steve Jenkins´ head and Fraser was again called to action‚ though collecting the ball on this occasion was considerably easier and noticeably less spectacular.
The game had opened out a little since the goal and although the visitors were doing most of the pushing‚ Town still had their moments‚ Steele hammering a shot wide from long range after 64 minutes. It was time for City to try to spice up their attack and Frankie Bennett‚ who had caused problems for Tivvy at Twerton earlier in the season was brought on in place of Tweddle. Bennett loves to run at defenders‚ particularly out wide‚ and straight away Goff found he had a task on his hands as the City man brightened up his sides attack. Down into the right hand corner‚ he hooked in a cross to the back of the area where Partridge was in space but failed to get his shot on target. Twelve minutes to go and Tiverton were being forced to defend. A scary moment when Rees hooked a ball away with Fraser just about to grab it at the far post following a corner on the Bath right‚ a diving header from Sam Bailey that flew inches past the upright from another corner with eight remaining. More City Substitutions as they turned the screw further. Five to go and a Bennett cross from the right looped towards the far post. Fraser was up but for the first time in the game failed to take the ball cleanly‚ electing instead to punch. Under pressure he mis-connected and the ball merely grazed his glove as it curled out for another City corner on the left. Milton laid the ball back short to Partridge who fired in a shot from 25 yards. It was the kind of speculative effort into a crowded goalmouth that could have taken a deflection and gone anywhere‚ including into the net. This one took no added touch. Defenders stretched and missed. Bennett stretched and missed just in front of Fraser who was unsighted by the City man and static as the ball skimmed past him. It ended up nestling comfortably in the net for e deserved equaliser. Added time saw Steele have another long range effort that took a slight deflection to carry it wide for a Tiverton corner but the final whistle saw Town´s unbeaten run extended to four games.

Not a win in those last four matches for The Yellows but Bath earned their point. For them there was little justice that results elsewhere meant it was not enough to prevent them slipping to the foot of the table - they deserved more‚ as did their travelling fans who remained noisily supportive throughout the game. For Tiverton it´s Next Stop The Seaside´‚Weymouth on Monday...a good British tradition. We won´t be able to blame the Romans for whatever happens there!

Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser‚ Steve Winter‚ Shaun Goff‚ David Steele‚ Nathan Rudge‚ Rob Cousins, Carl Cliff-Brown (Danny O´Hagan, 46), Chris Holloway, Darren Edwards (Kevin Nancekivell, 46), Paul Milsom (Jason Rees, 50),Jamie Mudge.
Subs: David Hallett, Ian Nott.
Booked: None.

Bath City: Justin Shuttlewood, Jim Rollo, Steve Jenkins (Drew Shore, 80), Sam Bailey, Matt Coupe, Russell Milton, Andy Williams, Gary Owers, Steve Tweddle (Frankie Bennett, 64), Scott Partridge, Jamie Cook (Jason Eaton, 84).
Subs: Grant Monelle, Josh Jefferies.
Booked: Coupe.

Referee: Paul Hutton (Plymouth).

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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