Match report

Moor Green 2 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 07/09/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Football can be a form of escapism. Like hundreds of others I was chuffed‚ over the moon‚ even tickled pink when the final whistle sounded on Wednesday evening at Ladysmead. Tivvy top of the Dr Martens League; it was almost like a fantasy come true‚ not something that´s normal for my fantasies these days! For a while‚ at least‚ I could forget the shadows in my life - some real‚ some imagined. I phoned in a couple of reports‚ had a pint and savoured the moment. Let´s be honest‚ in modern day speak‚ it´s "early doors"‚ whatever that means. So then it was off home‚ write another report for the ´Star´‚ surf the web for a while and... BANG! reality strikes! I haven´t quite worked out how to link my radio to my computer but it would be an energy saver if I could. I´d only have to push one button‚ most economical. So... I pushed two buttons‚ and had just started looking around the Dr Martens Club sites when the midnight news came on....and the euphoria began to evaporate. Talk of war. Nuclear threats. Arab warnings. Blair and Bush‚ a right pair of B´s if ever there was‚ plotting. Perhaps it was having my mind on football and being in a buoyant frame of mind but I had a totally whimsical thought. Wasn´t it fortunate that Tivvy were heading to Moor Green for their next game and not to Bagshot? Bagshot might easily be confused with Bagdad and on recent form the Americans just might get their targets mixed up and leave the Yellows with another midweek journey at the end of the season. Mind you‚ from what I could remember of the Moorlands ground it would probably benefit from a bit of missile re-development. Not the playing surface I have to admit‚ for the pitch has been consistently one of the best I have seen since Town joined the Dr Martens League‚ a fact recognised just this week as their groundsman was given the award for the best pitch below the Conference. So‚ just the setting then for Town to show their skills and claim the points to hold their place at the top of the table.

From the outset there was a sense of unease emanating from the Yellow´s supporters spread around the ground. The Moors went straight on the attack‚ no doubt fired by a pre-match ´pep-talk´ that was most likely a continuation of the rollicking they had received after their previous match‚ Tuesday evening´s 4-0 annihilation at the hands of Worcester City. Whatever the reason‚ they looked hungry - ravishingly so - and pushed Town firmly onto the back foot. The unease‚ and it was just that‚ for most travelling Tiverton fans are used to Town absorbing pressure‚ was slightly lifted when after five minutes the Yellows made their first attempt on the home side´s goal. Paul Chenoweth lofted in a long‚ high‚ through ball and Phil Everett rose to nod it towards the net but without power and Adam Rachel between the sticks had no trouble plucking the ball out of the air and starting another assault on the Tiverton goal. It was an attack that could have brought a goal. Starting down the right‚ the ball was swung into the centre‚ and swiftly spread towards the left hand corner flag. Slid back into the middle‚ right into the path of Marvin Blake‚ only Steve Collis rapidly spreading his body at the feet of the Moor´s man hurried him into poking the ball wide from ten yards out. By the time fifteen minutes had passed‚ in which time the ball had seldom crossed the halfway line into Moor Green territory‚ Blake had firmly established himself as the Birmingham team´s major threat. Scott Rogers‚ trying to carry the ball out of defence and start some forward motion for the Yellows‚ was dispossessed in midfield and the Moors poured forward on the counter to bring another Collis save from the man. Tiverton looked tired after just 20 minutes of action‚ as if they had burnt the entire week´s ration of calories with their efforts on Wednesday evening‚ whilst the home side looked like they had only strolled around in their encounter with Worcester and were therefore overflowing with energy. Not only energy‚ either; they appeared to be brimming with confidence as they controlled the centre of the field‚ fed their wide men who chased into the open spaces and sent in crosses for their big central forwards and following up midfielders to direct towards Tivvy´s goal. And nothing much changed before the half time break. Town made a handful of breaks which resulted in two corners‚ one free kick and a cross that came off Steve Winter´s shoulder and flew out for a goal kick. Not a particularly good haul for 45 minutes action (?) especially when compared to the countless times the home side had worked 95% of the way through the Tivvy defensive wall only to be thwarted by the last desperate tackle. Joining the queue for the compulsory half time liquid the unease was lifting‚ Surely the home team couldn´t keep up the pace, and Tivvy would come back at them as they tired? Ah, Devonshire optimism!

A torrential shower at half time did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the home players at the start of the second half. They were straight back into top gear, winning the ball back from Tivvy who had kicked off, and rampaging down their right wing. Scheppel laid the ball back to Blake who received it with his back to goal, turned to his right, found himself unchallenged and lobbed the ball from the edge of the penalty area over Steve Collis and into the net. People were still drifting out of the clubhouse. It had taken 45 seconds for the Moors to edge in front. It would be misleading to say the goal gave the home side a lift, or caused Tiverton heads to drop, for apart from increasing the level of noise from the home fans it had little effect. The Moors continued to pull most of the strings and control the game. Still Tiverton had little to offer in the field of attacking play. Ten minutes in and there was a moment of hope as Town were awarded a free kick just outside the Moors penalty area but Jamie Mudge´s far post header was easily collected by Adam Rachel who was quickly able to return to entertaining the fans scattered behind his goal with his impression of a slightly dumpy Ronaldo, remarkably lifelike it was too, even down to the dentistry. Such was the level of entertainment for the Yellows fans as they waited for the hoped for tiring of the opposition. Another ten minutes passed. The Tiverton defence continued deflecting, the Moors midfield and attack continued collecting. Then, at last, something happened. Perhaps it was the sight of substitutes warming up but the Yellows actually began to start working as a unit and making inroads into the Birmingham side´s end of the field. Guy Sanders at the centre of the Moors defence had been enjoying an comfortable afternoon sweeping up most of the Tiverton long ball attacks. Now the action was wide of him. The difference was that Winter on the right and Danny Haines on the left began to challenge forward down the flanks. Steve was the first to burst through in the 66th minute, finding Mudge with a low cross which Jamie hit with enough power, but too much ´slice´ saw his shot fly well wide. Haines then found his way through on the other side, and Paul Chenoweth sent Scott Rogers clear through on Rachel forcing the keeper to dash out and deflect the ball away from Scott´s foot with his legs. So for the first time in the match it was looking a less one sided affair. With twelve minutes left the track suits were being peeled off and the number boards readied on the Tiverton bench. Changes were to be made next time there was a break in play. Well, that seemed to be the plan. The idea was shelved though when the next stoppage was caused by Tivvy´s equaliser. It was started by ´Cheno´ chasing down into the left hand corner and forcing the ball to Rogers in the goalmouth between the six yard line and penalty box. Before Scott could force in a shot he was closed down by a pair of defenders and was forced to turn away from goal but despite the pressure was able to keep possession and lay the ball back to Phil Everett who blasted a shot low through the crowded goalmouth. Rachel, at full stretch, managed to get a hand to the ball but not enough to deflect it from the course that saw it cross the goal-line a foot inside his right hand post and a foot off the ground. Hardly deserved, but the Yellows were level. The subs stayed on the bench, waiting for the next break in play. They didn´t have to wait long. And nor did the equality, or the fans celebration of it, last long. As they had started the half, so the Moors restarted after the goal by attacking down the right and catching Town napping. Blake, again, was the man to cause the problem bursting through onto a well weighted pass along the edge of the penalty area and evading a challenge to cut in and blast home from an acute angle to restore the home side´s lead. It was deflating for the Devon contingent, though few were dishonest enough to begrudge the Moors the victory that the goal gave them, confirmed ten minutes later when the final whistle bought to an end an unedifying spectacle.

It is to be hoped that this was an isolated tremor, not a warning of a major quake that might bring the Yellows season, and hoped for title challenge, tumbling down around their ears. Monday evening in Wales will perhaps restore the shaken ´faith´, but only if the fault lines are traced and somehow countered. And it has to be said that any faults were in the Tivvy team for, as expected, the pitch was a perfect medium for their skills to be shown. It´s just that they didn´t seem to have any.

Tiverton Town: 1. Steve Collis, 2. Steve Winter, 3. Danny Haines, 4. Luke Vinnicombe, 5. Nathan Rudge, 6. Rob Cousins, 7. Paul Chenoweth, 8. Jason Rees, 9. Phil Everett , 10. Scott Rogers, 11. Jamie Mudge .
Subs: 12. Kevin Nancekivell (Chenoweth,89), 14. Antony Lynch (Peters,75), 15. Richard Pears, 16. Steve Ovens, 17. David Steele.
Cards: None.

Moor Green: 1. Adam Rachel, 2. Danny Scheppel, 3. Dave Barnett, 4. Chris Gillard, 5. Guy Sanders, 6. Ben Petty, 7. Jai Stanley, 8. Martin Myers, 9. John Gayle, 10. Jae Martin, 11. Marvin Blake.
Subs: 12. Andy Fitzpatrick (Stanley,84), 14. Richard Robinson, 15. Peter Faulds, 16. Josh Walker (Scheppel,89), GK. Andy de Bont.
Cards: None.

Referee: G. Capps (Kettering).

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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