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Tiverton Town 1 - 0 Tow Law Town

   Saturday 09/05/1998   FA Vase
Nigel Davis

Supersub Peter Varley made all Tiverton's Wembley dreams come true by snatching the all-important goal within five minutes of making his entrance on to the hallowed turf. But, while Varley grabbed the glory, it was really the experience of the side that had lost by the only goal to Bridlington 1993 that kept Tivvy on course for their belated victory.

Martyn Rogers' men, having increased so much in confidence since their last visit to the famous old stadium, took the game to Tow Law from the start. But Tow Law's tactics were spot on. To say they relied on the their defence to frustrate Tivvy, leaving the dangerous Jarrod Suddick and Trevor Laidler to chase away on the break, would be too simplistic. The simple facts though, were that Tivvy's attacking options far outweighed those for the Northern League opponents.

From the off the action was frantic and inside 90 seconds Stephen Pickering was stopped in his tracks by a great tackle from Neil Saunders. After that Kevin Nancekivell went close on three separate occasions, his third effort after nine minutes following instictive interplay between Kevin Smith and Steve Daly. Tow Law though, briefly silenced the noisy fans from Devon when Michael Robinson saw Paul Edwards off his line and lofted a long range free kick high over the keeper's head. But Edwards stepped back in time to pluck the ball from under the crossbar.

After Nancekivell had another shot saved by Dawson and Kevin Smith was denied five minutes later with Dawson siting on the ball to stop it, Tivvy must have thought it wouldn't be their day. Especially as, in between those two efforts, only a great save by Edwards denied Suddick, whose trickery on the ball was a pleasure to watch.

Both sides were playing a crisp passing game with hardly a free-kick in sight. But Darren Darwent gave a hint of what was to come when he blocked Tivvy's Micky Fallon in full flight after 26 minutes and was promptly booked. Suddick was then denied by another well timed tackle and there was no let-up in the hectic first half as Dave Leonard's rampaging run down the left wing to float a cross for Kevin Smith to chest down the ball into Phil Everett's path for a shot.

Tiverton posed most attacking problems on the restart with Daly and Everett both going close. But the nearest they came to breaking the deadlock was in the 68th minute when Kevin Smith's shot appeared to have beaten Dawson, only for the keeper to dive backwards to stop the ball before it crept in. A minute later Suddick again tested Edwards, only to find the Tivvy keeper in flawless form. This heralded another spell of constant Tivvy pressure, but it needed a new face to change their luck and Varley, replacing Kevin Smith with 15 minutes to go, proved an inspired substitution. With probably his first decent touch of the game, he swung his right leg at Leonard's pass to crash the ball sweetly past Dawson and Tiverton had finally secured the goal all their hard work and endeavours deserved. The goal sent 9,000 Tivvy fans in a crowd of 12,193 wild with delight and antisipation that their team could hang in there to give them a night of celebration.

Tow lost their cool and Trevor Laidler was booked for lashing out at Jason Smith. Laidler was quickly replaced and Scot Rogers also took over from Kevin Nancekivell. Then, with only three minutes left, Graham Waters replaced Dave Leonard and, inside 60 seconds, he tackled Tony Nelson, only for the Tow Law man to over react. His flash of temper cost him an early bath and virtually put paid to Tow Law's slim hopes of a late recovery, while Waters was cautioned. Tow Law substitute Lee Bennett was also booked as the game went into stoppage time. Tiverton supporters endured seven agonising minutes, evoking memories of Taunton Town's Wembley nightmare against Diss. But this time the Western League's proud ambassadors held on, defending a couple of late corners, to ensure the Vase had a safe journey down the M5 to Devon and Ladysmead.


This report ©1998 Nigel Davis

Tiverton Town 1 - 0 Tow Law Town

   Saturday 09/05/1998   FA Vase

Geordieland will hope it is not an omen for Saturday's FA Cup final, but a team wearing black and white stripes went to Wembley from the north-east yesterday and lost. Tow Law Town, from County Durham, found Devon's Tiverton Town too hot to handle in an FA Carlsberg Vase final played in sweltering heat.

The match-winning goal of a close contest came late in the game from the first meaningful touch by a Tiverton substitute, Pete Varley, a 24- year old teacher-training student at Exeter University. It was a happy return to Wembley for the West Countrymen, who had lost to Bridlington Town in their first Vase final five years ago.

For the first half-hour, until the sun and heat sapped energy, the pace of the game was frantic, with chances being made and missed at both ends. The energetic Kevin Nancekivell, a north Devon farmer, was involved in most Tiverton attacks. He played just behind the front two, and was rarely picked up by the Tow Law defence.

After five minutes Nancekivell belted a shot just wide from 20 yards and he went closer three minutes later. Set up by Steve Daly, his fierce drive was pushed away by Stuart Dawson. At the other end the dangerous Jarrod Suddick turned Neil Saunders inside out in the penalty area but Paul Edwards came off his line quickly to block the shot.

The second half began at a more sensible pace than the first. Daly caught the eye, though, with two long-range shots. One was well saved low down by Dawson, the other went just over. At the other end Kevin Smith set up his namesake, Jason Smith, whose shot was blocked by a sprawling Dawson, before making way for Varley after 74 minutes. Six minutes later, the substitute became the hero of the day.

A long ball from Dave Leonard on the left flank caused confusion in the Tow Law defence. Paul Hague lost possession and Varley whipped in a right- foot shot which beat Dawson at his near post.

Tiverton survived a few nervous moments, notably during six minutes of injury time, but the Vase was theirs at last. The only sour note to the afternoon came in the 89th minute, when Tow Law's Tony Nelson was rightly sent off for punching Graham Waters in retaliation to a foul by the Tiverton substitute.

"I couldn't wait to get on the pitch," the fresh-faced Varley said afterwards. "I soon as I hit the shot I knew it was going in. It was a great feeling."

The winner was Varley's 34th goal of the season - not bad for a player who has not been a regular in Tiverton's starting line-up. He will have a few tales to tell his pupils when he resumes his budding teaching career this week.


This report ©1998 Unknown

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