Match report

Cambridge City 6 - 4 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 24/04/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Roll up‚ Roll up!
The circus is coming to town!
Marvel at the jugglers
Cringe as the acrobats tumble
Laugh with the clowns
And best of all......‚ the highlight......‚ the finale..... the Star Turn....
Gasp with amazement as the tightrope walkers falter on the high wire with only the flimsiest of safety nets to catch them should they slip

There was the time when it was a favourite story line in children´s fiction‚ and even a high number of youngster´s dreams‚ to run away to join the circus. Now‚ we lucky people can stay safely at home. The circus is coming to us! And even better! If the performance is not up to scratch‚ there will be another chance (or two) to catch it again in the following week. In my childhood I used to enjoy the annual visit of Bertram Mills Travelling show as it came to the 'Oxpens'. Heralded by the parade of animals‚ led by the tramping and trumpeting elephants‚ as they made their way through the City centre‚ it always made me realise that the summer holidays were coming to an end. When the Big Top had served its purpose and been dismantled there was only St. Giles´ Fair and then it was back to school for another term. Entertainment was the sole purpose‚ there was nothing at stake. How I wish the same could be said of the circus that Tiverton Town´s season has turned out to be.

Both sets of players‚ both management teams‚ both groups of supporters were well aware of the importance of Tiverton´s visit to the Fair City of The Bridge Over The River Camb. The only question that remained as kick of approached was; which team would react most significantly to the situation? It was a poser that was rapidly answered as City went straight for the jugular and left Town bleeding their lifeblood away in the sun. The Lilywhites could have taken the lead as early as the third minute as a weak clearance by Jason Rees was thumped back towards goal‚ took a deflection‚ and had Stuart Fraser at full length‚ stretching to turn the ball round his left hand upright. As it turned out it would not have made an iota of difference as the flag was up for offside but City kept the screw turned and were right back at the Tivvy defence with a long ball forward and over the top of the defensive back line that had Fraser dashing out of the side of his penalty area to head out for a throw-in. Scary stuff‚ but dealt with safely it seemed. The subsequent action proved otherwise. The throw taken‚ the cross hoisted in‚ and Luke Hughs‚ making his debut for the home side on the left flank‚ dashing in from the far side of the penalty area to firmly plant his header past Fraser‚ who got a hand to the ball but without enough strength to stop it hitting the net. A dream start for Hughs - and for City. Credit to The Yellows‚ and they were not to gain much as the afternoon wore on‚ the heads did not drop despite the continuing barrage from their rampant hosts. Within four minutes they hauled themselves level. Fraser collected the ball in his area. Defenders pushed up into midfield‚ attackers retreated. Fraser released the ball and dribbled it forward‚ then stopped five yards outside his area. He eased forward another yard‚ then another two before hoisting the ball forward and into the City box‚ Dave Beasant style. Very 1980´s Winbledonesque‚ route one‚ and just as effective as Carl Cliff-Brown´s harassing challenge on Mat Langston forced the defender into a hurried headed clearance that fell just outside the area - and right to the foot of Kevin Nancekivell. Now‚ Kevin is not renowned for his long range shooting‚ more for his two yard tap ins‚ but on this occasion‚ having steadied both himself and the ball‚ he let fly with a shot that curled away from the desperate dive of Martin Davies but whistled inside the upright to send the net bulging towards the Yellow shirted fans behind the goal. A cracking goal and a fine launching pad for Town´s assault on Conference Two qualification. But as in those childhood memories of the circus‚ much was promised that turned to anti climax come the reality.

The game settled to a more pedestrian speed as the searing sun shone down and took its toll on the all out opening pace. Few openings were created‚ neither penalty area being seriously threatened. The nearest Town came to building a decent chance was when Jamie Mudge covered ground down the left‚ lost the ball under pressure‚ regained it and sent it in square to David Steele who spread it wide to the right where Steve Ovens had abandoned any pretence of being a defender. Ovo took on his man and reached the by-line to fire in a low cross that barely made it into the Cambridge 18 yard box before being killed by a defender´s boot and cleared away into the gap left by Steve´s forward foray. City‚ though were having the better of things in the midfield competition. They were finding their men with monotonous regularity and spreading the ball around in prolonged sessions of possession‚ whilst Tivvy were left to break them up as best they could and hammer the ball hopefully upfield for Cliff-Brown‚ Mudge, or if there was no length on the clearance, Nancekivell to chase. Until the half hour mark. Town conceded a free kick about fifteen yards inside their own half and out on the City right flank. Robert Miller slammed the ball forward into the area around the spot where Danny Bloomfield applied the most glancing of headers to direct the ball past Fraser´s waving hand. Goodbye to parity. There was no instant, or even near instant, reply from The Yellows as City reared up to fully rampant status and ran roughshod over them. Another long ball from Fraser fell to CC-B who shot wide but far more dangerous were the City attacks. A cross from left saw Fraser tested by a Miller header, and then another free kick was conceded in a similar position to the one that had led to the second City goal - only ten yards further out. It was taken by Richard Scott this time, but hit into almost the exact same spot . This time though it was the head of Central defender Langston that made the glancing contact. There the dissimilarities cease as once again the ball flew past a flat footed Fraser and City were looking comfortable at 3-1. So comfortable that they completely outplayed The Yellows. Miller tried an speculative effort from all of forty yards that Fraser was so late to that he was indubitably happy to turn it round the post for a corner whilst Town mounted no more threat than a solo run from Mudge after he had been set free down the right by Nancekivell but having twisted and turned to beat either of two defenders monitoring him on at least three occasions Mudge was fouled. Chenoweth´s free kick went close to curling in but only close. As if to draw the curtain on a first half performance that was as near to 'total football' as you are likely to see at this level, City added another goal to their first half tally with a minute to go to the break. A long ball forward towards the wide open spaces that were the Tiverton right hand side defensive area. Bloomfield was onto it like a shot and made ground before turning in towards the penalty area. Nineteen yards out ho unleashed his shot as Fraser advanced before him and Winter prepared to challenge from the side, having come across from the central area. The ball barely travelled a yard before it contacted Winter´s lunging foot and changed direction just enough to fly between Fraser´s legs and into the net. If you were a Tiverton fan it had not been a good 45 minutes.

Changes were made. Rees, Cliff-Brown and Mudge went. Hallett, Goff, and Edwards came. Tiverton had to push forward and they did. Brief hope was kindled when Nathan Rudge Got the final touch in a crowded goalmouth to bring the score to 4-2 within a couple of minutes of the restart. Brief because City had no intention of sitting on their butts protecting a two goal lead. Fifty four minutes gone and a City free kick wide on their left. Normal 'faffing' around in the goalmouth as defenders, attackers and goalkeeper all jockeyed for position. Their jostling was all irrelevant to Richard Scott who took the kick. No fancy dips and curves a la Shaun Goff for this man. A straight forward and straight hit shot that crept just inside Fraser´s near post before it even reached the bustling crowds. 5-2, all over one might have thought. But no. Despite the conditions neither side were prepared to lie back and sunbathe. There was an abundance of calories yet to burn and a few more scoring chances yet to come. And, unlike the first half, Tivvy were to match their hosts in creating those opportunities, even Chenoweth making a rare appearance in the City penalty area as he charged forward to meet a right wing cross with a header that flew yards over the crossbar. Bloomfield hit a shot over Fraser´s bar following a quick City break on the hour and at the other end Davies just beat Ovens, now up front for Town, in the race to a long through ball from Winter. Again City broke quickly and incisively but Lewis Baillie´s 35 yard thunderbolt was deflected away for a corner. Chances, but no CAPITALISATION until Tivvy won a corner on their right with twenty minutes of normal time on the watch. It was obvious what was likely to be the modus operandi as soon as Chenoweth switched wings to take the kick. Rudge moved into the receiving zone leaving Rob Cousins a lonely figure on the half way line keeping an eye on Bloomfield. Everybody else was in the Penalty area as Chenoweth swung the ball into the six yard box. Close in and getting closer. Up went Davies, Up went Rudge. Nathan´s head met the ball and hit it fairly and squarely into the net. Davies landed without the ball as he had expected and hit the deck in a heap amid the appeals of his co-defenders. But the referee was right in there with them and had seen clearly that for once the Rudge elbows had been nicely ticked in and there had been not a sign of a shove, push or any other infringement. The goal stood and 5-3 seemed comparatively respectable.

Not as respectable as 5-4 was to seem six minutes later. With the game still going from end to end Tivvy broke up a Cambridge attack and the ball was hoisted long into the right hand corner. Nancekivell gave chase to what seemed a lost cause but caught the ball and, though being harried by a defender, managed to keep enough control to save the goal kick and bundle the ball back to Winter following up down the flank. 'Wints' swung in a high cross. Darren Edwards rose above two defenders to head the ball perfectly past Davies. Fourteen minutes to go. Time for more. Maybe.... well there was but unfortunately for the travelling fans it was at the wrong end. There is always a risk when a side is chasing a game. Tiverton took it and paid the price as The Lilywhites broke down into their right hand corner. Defenders had retreated and there was a decent presence in the box as the cross was lobbed over. Present but not correct, or certainly not poised, as Bloomfield was allowed to lurk unmarked at the far post. the ball descended right to him and it was the simplest thing he´d had to do all afternoon to tuck it inside the post before Fraser could scamper across the goalmouth to stand any chance of blocking it. Bloomfield celebrated his hat-trick and eight minutes later The Lilywhites and their fans celebrated a victory that all but guarantees them a place in Conference Two next season. Tivvy won the second half 3-2 but for that they get nothing. For their first half ineptitude they deserved nothing.

So now it goes to the wire, and perhaps beyond. Saturday could make or break the realisation of this seasons prime target. Yes,...........

Roll up, Roll up!
The circus is coming to town!


Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser, Steve Winter, Paul Chenoweth, Jason Rees (David Hallett, 46),, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Steve Ovens, Carl Cliff-Brown (Darren Edwards, 46), David Steele, James Mudge (Shaun Goff, 46)
Subs not used: Pete Conning, Ian Nott
Bookings: Steele, Rudge, Chenoweth

Cambridge City: Martin Davies, Craig Pope, Lewis Baillie, Lee Chaffey, Matt Langston, Lee Pluck, Robert Miller, Richard Scott (Robbie Nightingale, 82), Danny Bloomfield, Tony Battersby (Robbie Simpson, 76 ), Luke Hughs (Lewis Riddle, 52)
Subs not used: Lee Summerscales, Stuart Niven
Booked: Langston, Pope

Referee: Oleksander Saliy (London)


This report ©2004 John Reidy






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