Match report

Weymouth 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Monday 12/04/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

I´ve never been much of a gambler. The odd game of bingo was endured as a youngster‚ a flutter on the Grand National‚ occasional raffle tickets in a good cause. If gambling is a sin then‚ yes‚ I have erred. But the more serious side of the business has never entrapped me. Neither the lure of easy money´ nor the adrenaline boost that allegedly accompanies the activity have ever really affected me. I did have one successful run over a period of a couple of years when Oxford United were climbing through the divisions and winning the Milk Cup‚ but that was an exception fuelled only by my support for The Ox. Even at a very early age‚ I realised that football was at best an unpredictable game‚ when my father - no sports fan - had his regular Saturday evening curse that he´d only managed to find two draws even though there were sixteen on the coupon. Determined to chase the jackpot‚ in those days limited to 75‚000‚ and swayed by the Sunday tea-time barrage from wonderful´ Radio Luxembourg on 208m Medium Wave‚ he even sent of a couple of weeks Pools stake money to one Horace Bachelor of Keynsham - spelt K-e-y-n-s--h-a-m-‚ Bristol‚ to purchase his system´ for finding those elusive draws. He needn´t have bothered. Hours of pouring over charts‚ league tables‚ scraps of information from The Daily Mirror‚ produced not even a fourth dividend on the treble chance. Even I could do better I rashly stated‚ and was promptly given the chance. I fared just about as well as either my parent or Mr. B. as bottom of the table‚ without a point in ten games‚ Fulham upset the fourteen game unbeaten home run of First Division champions elect‚ Burnley at Turf Moor. There ended my career as a tipster or at least any attempt to take the bookies to the cleaners by exercising my dubious skills. One thing that did remain‚ though‚ was the mental forecasting. Every time I set off for a game I have some expectation of what I think will‚ or should‚ be the outcome. Heading across to Dorset I was confident that having failed to see a team win in the last six games I had watched (two at Oxford´s Kassamstadt and four of Tivvy´s) the sequence was about to be broken...and by a team playing in yellow.

The Terras recent decline saw them desperate to take three points to help them hang on to the coat tails of Crawley so it was to be expected that they would be looking for an early breakthrough. Player/manager Steve Claridge‚ who whatever the Weymouth fans might think bares very little resemblance to God or even a god´‚ came close to providing a chance of such an opening when he charged down into the right corner‚ but solid resistance from Paul Milsom left him having to be content with a corner kick. It was the first encounter of what was to be an intriguing battle throughout the afternoon as two of the strongest players on the field were pitted against each other. The Yellows cleared the threat and carried the ball away upfield themselves but were soon on the defensive again as Weymouth pushed down their left. The ball was rapidly switched to the right midway into the Tiverton half and Fraser had to save well‚ low down ‚ to protect his net from a swerving shot from Mark Robinson. Away came Tivvy again. Steve Winter found Danny O´Hagan making a run on the left. O´Hagan sent the perfect ball in to the toe of Jamie Mudge bursting towards the right hand side of the penalty area and Jamie picked his spot to drive the ball at an angle under Terras keeper Jason Matthews to confirm his personal goalscoring drought is over and give Town a sixth minute lead. Inevitably the goal inspired the home side to even greater forward momentum - not to mention celebrations just inside the M25 where Crawley were already a goal up against Welling - and within a minute Shaun Wilkinson had Fraser in action again as the Tivvy keeper comfortably gathered a 25 yard effort above his head. There was plenty of attacking effort from the claret shirted players but it was equalled and nullified by the resolution of the defensive work of their visitors who continued to look dangerously incisive on the break. Even Lee Phillips‚ apart from Claridge Weymouth´s greatest perceived goalscoring threat‚ was being subdued by the sometimes ungainly but nevertheless effective attentions of Nathan Rudge‚ though he did manage to set up Steve Tully for a shot on goal that‚ again‚ Fraser was up to dealing with comfortably and cleanly. And Rudge almost provided Mudge wit a second strike as the big boy sent an unusually perceptive through ball forward that the young forward looked to have under control until he stumbled under pressure from a defender as he sped into the penalty area. A pained look of appeal at the referee was wasted‚ rightly‚ as the official shook his head and waved play on.
Having contained what appeared to be the worse of the home side´s retaliatory onslaught‚ Tiverton became more adventurous midway through the half. A free kick in party piece position fared only slightly better than the one against Bath City two days earlier as Winter´s shot was deflected for a corner. A fiercely inswinginging kick from Rees brought a second kick and then away came Weymouth with a long clearance to Phillips taking advantage of Rudge´s forward position for the set pieces. Phillips dashed forward‚ into the Tivvy area‚ round Fraser and had the goal at his mercy were it not for Milsom´s charge back and intervention to shield the ball at the expense of a corner for the home side. Up went the pressure from Weymouth again. The high cross into the box touched away by Fraser for another corner. The second kick partially cleared and driven back‚ but wide of goal‚ by Jamie Impey. The Terras were buzzing. Twenty six minutes gone and another charge down the left with a low ball being fired into the edge of the penalty area. A neat step over the ball by Claridge confused the packed defence. a Yellow socked leg stretched out but only managed to touch the ball back to Wilkinson who let fly with a tremendous shot that evaded all the bodies in front of him to bulge the back of the Tiverton net. It was a cracking shot and one had to admit‚ the equaliser had both been coming and was deserved. Revitalised, Weymouth kept the pressure on, though as with the early surge, Town coped well. Apart, that is, from Chris Holloway who was struggling with his knee injury and was eventually forced to call it a day in the 34th minute and was replaced by David Hallett. The fact that Tiverton were feeling the strain was evident over the remaining ten minutes as the game became far more robust and physical, reflected in the fact that Mr Perlejewski of Sherborne (fine Dorsetshire name, that!) found it necessary to flash his yellow card four times in order to maintain discipline. A well worked Weymouth free kick saw Phillips head a yard over the top, an O´Hagan cross saw Kevin Nancekivell and Matthews involved in a frantic two man scramble at the foot of an upright - won by the keeper as he flapped the ball away - but the half time whistle saw the situation remain as it had been at the outset. All square and still everything to play for.

As if to make the point that the decrease in action at the end of the first period had been down to the exertions of the first half hour, both teams began the second 45 minutes with their foot to the floor. End to end went the play but the first noteworthy opening fell to the hosts as they began to get the upper hand. Following a throw in Phillips fired in a cross goal shot that flew well wide in the 50th minute and two minutes later chased a long forward ball and nearly beat Fraser to it as the Tiverton keeper attempted to see it out for a goal kick and it was the Tiverton keeper´s turn to just get a hand to the ball to flick it away before pouncing to smother it. Having seen The Terras gain the majority of possession and territorial advantage Tivvy were forced to play a holding game, a task they performed with admirable gusto and determination, turning the game into a lively midfield battle. Hallett responded well to what was probably one of the most competitive games he had ever played in and was as strong, though possibly not as sharp as his far more experienced team-mates. Both sides were searching for the opportunity to break out of the central areas and it was noticeable for the first twenty minutes or so that Town´s attempts were inevitably being made down the left. There was a lack of width which gave their play a lop-sided look apart from the few occasions that Mudge ventured to the right hand side. The outcome was that when Weymouth won the ball it was mostly on their left side and so Winter was less busy and as the final twenty minutes approached found that he had the space to correct the imbalance and push forward. First he covered ground to blast over the top in the 69th minute, them hammered a shot a foot wide four minutes later. The extra dimension brought Town right back into contention.
With just under fifteen minutes to go Carl Cliff-Brown replaced O´Hagan and the Tiverton attack was freshened up once more but it was Weymouth who were in most desperate pursuit of the winner. A break down the right by Robbie Pethick saw a cross in to Claridge that was turned behind for a corner; Robinson had a shot held well by Fraser; Claridge collected a ball and cut into the Tiverton box with a diagonal run that threatened a shot at any time but only threatened as Rob cousins remained close and shepherded the League´s top scorer wide before touching the ball away for another corner with five minutes still to run. Then with two minutes left The Terras had their best chance to grab all three points. Robinson forced in a cross from the right wing. Claridge got to it and all but beat Fraser who just got a glove to the ball but only parried it back right to Claridge´s toe. The leg swung, the shot flew from point blank range. Yellow torsos, legs, one or two other body parts, no doubt, were hurled at the gap closing it and deflecting the ball from its goal bound course before finally being intercepted and hooked away by Cousins to Hallet on the edge of the penalty area and then hoofed up field. One final push from the back by Steve Tully who was forced wide by Rudge when he´d had ample time to take a pot and it was all over. Three nil to Crawley at Park View Road meant that the title chase was over for the Dorset side.

It was the best point Tivvy had gained recently, even though it did extend their sequence of drawn games to five. There are three matches remaining. It´s possible that eight draws in a row could bring the jackpot for Tivvy, as with on Littlewoods or Vernons it would depend on other results. Personally, I´d rather see a team in Yellow win than extend my personal tally of consecutive drawn games watched to eight.
Bring on Welling!


Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser, Steve Winter, David Steele, Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway (David Hallett, 34), Danny O´Hagan (Carl Cliff-Brown, 76), Paul Milsom, James Mudge (Darren Edwards, 90).
Subs not used: Shaun Goff, Ian Nott.
Bookings: Milsom, Winter, Rudge.

Weymouth: Jason Matthews, Steve Tully, Simon Browne, Martin Barlow, Jamie Impey, Robbie Pethick, Mark Robinson, Shaun Wilkinson ( Kevin Gill, 84), Steve Claridge, Lee Philpott, Lee Phillips.
Subs not used: Luke Nightingale, Nathan Walker, John Lamb, Ryan Hill.
Booked: Pethick.

Referee: Andy Perlejewski (Sherborne)

This report ©2004 John Reidy






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