Match report

Newport County 0 - 1 Tiverton Town

   Monday 09/09/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

For some reason I have never been to a home game of Newport County. Last season´s game between the Exiles and Tivvy coincided with an opportunity for me to ´Judge´ my favourite breed of dog at their own club show‚ an honour and recognition that was too great to be denied. Surprisingly to me‚ since access was relatively easy from my Oxford home‚ I also failed to make the trip in the days when the forerunner of the present club were members of the Football League and domiciled at Somerton Park‚ though I did go there on a couple of occasions to watch speedway meetings. Despite having few direct recollections of County‚ I do have reason to be grateful to them for being at least partially responsible for some of my finest football memories. As if to belie the old joke about the best thing to come out of Wales being the M5‚ one of the finest exponents of the goal-scoring knack that I ever saw play in the flesh (well‚ actually he always wore shirt and shorts‚ etc.) moved to The Manor club from Newport. John Aldridge had made something of a name for himself in the Fourth Division when Oxford‚ then in the Third‚ paid 80‚000 for him. Over the next few seasons the value of that investment was to be multiplied ten fold as ´Aldo´ was part of the team that swept to the First Division on the back of his goals. Like Newport‚ Oxford always had to rely on bringing players on and then selling them‚ so when the offer came in from the mighty Liverpool for Aldridge there was no way the striker‚ now a full Irish International thanks to his grandmother owning a Val Doonican record‚ was going to stay at United. Heady days‚ those‚ but perhaps I´d see another star in the making as I watched my first Newport County home match as Tivvy crossed the bridge for their only foreign trip of the season.

By the time the teams took the field the rain that had been washing both the Motherland and the Land of Our Fathers all day had eased. Being a Welshman and no doubt used to such possibilities it was Jason Rees that spotted a potential problem. A large hole had opened up in the middle of the Tiverton end of the field. A bucket and spade was called for‚ not to build sandcastles - it was hardly beach weather - but to raid the long jump pit and fill the hole in the surface. The athletics track around the pitch might have made the game remote but the other sporting facilities certainly were a benefit in this case. A good bucketful did the job so it couldn´t have been‚ as one local wag suggested‚ a disused shaft‚ and after a five minute delay we were underway. It was an interesting start as the ball hardly touched the field of play for the first three minutes‚ either being in touch waiting to be thrown in‚ or pinging from head to head as both sides showed their prowess at head tennis. After three minutes the ball finally hit the deck with a resounding ´splosh´ and the game was on. Paul Chenoweth chased onto a long ball from Jason Rees and was rewarded by a corner from which County counter attacked and forced Steve Collis into action as he stretched to hold a high cross from the left. Back into midfield went the game and dithered around there until the eighth minute when what I noted as slack defending by Nathan Rudge resulted in Newport´s D´Auria firing in a shot that flew wide.

The Tiverton defence was looking a little disorganised as County ran at them‚ forced them back and swiftly changed direction to find space and swing in crosses from the flanks and Collis was again back in action coming to the rescue to deny Shephard in the 10th minute before sixty seconds later he was beaten in a race off his line to a through ball and it was Rob Cousins´ turn to be the saviour as he cleared off the line. Town were by no means being over run‚ though and Scott Rogers burst through from midfield to force Mountain into a desperate save as Tivvy absorbed the worst of the pressure whilst looking dangerous when they broke.. Scott was soon to make amends for failing to capitalise on what had been the best chance to so far fall the Yellow´s way. Collecting the ball midway inside his own half as the back line broke up another Welsh raid‚ Scott moved the ball on quickly out to Antony Lynch on the right wing. Lynchie made the most of the space he had found by wandering out wide and hared down the touch-line before sending in a low cross that Phil Everett beat both a retreating defender and the goalkeeper to and cracked into the back of the net to give the Yellows the lead. The goal might have come against the run of play but not outrageously so‚ and the game continued in much the same way with the Gold shirted home side having the better possession and constructing the better moves whilst the white shirted Yellows looked potentially as lethal as Zycron B on the break. Davis‚ put clean through sent a shot past the post at one end‚ Lynch won a 50/50 ball and recovered to make another scintillating right wing sprint and cross that Danny Haines was unable to keep down at the far post at the other. For all their good approach work the home side managed to get few efforts on target and when they did there was always Collis in the way‚ or when he was beaten‚ a defender behind him to clear as Steve Winter did from just inside the post after 35 minutes. From that clearance the ball was swung across the goalmouth to Davis at the far post who directed as firm a header as a Welshman could wish to see. With the goal gaping the direction was wrong and the ball rocketed back across the goal and wide for the ´let off of the night´. It was a competitive encounter to say the least‚ and with conditions underfoot decidedly slippery it was little wonder that there were some defensive slips being made‚ particularly by Rudge it seemed‚ who either had the wrong studs in or was suffering at the hands of the County forwards‚ especially Shephard. The last chance of the half came for Tivvy as Chenoweth hacked a long ball right down towards the left corner flag. The County defender had a yard start as Danny Haines gave chase from just inside the Newport half. It was like watching a couple of racehorses over the final furlong as Danny caught‚ drew level and then edged in front of his man just in time to catch the ball on the line. He managed to lay the ball back into the middle where Jason Rees took a rare poke that Mountain took two grabs at before holding with Everett ready to pounce on any crumbs that might have fallen his way. Tiverton´s fans were the happier when the half time whistle sounded‚ hardly surprising‚ their men were in front.

It was a lively start to the second half. Collis leapt to touch the ball away from a clutch of Newport heads as the home side went straight on the rampage down the right‚ swinging in a high cross. Rudge was well forward to head wide from a Tivvy free kick and Lynch sent Chenoweth clear but once again Mountain was out to spread himself and deflect the ball away with his legs. It fell to Everett lurking outside the far post but despite executing a tricky turn Phil was unable to force a shot in and his low cross was cleared away as the home side hunted the equalising score and gradually took control of the game. Winter did manage to get in one long range shot that flew away towards Cardiff but apart from that it was Newport on the attack and Tivvy indulging in some scrappy defending and long ball hoofing in the hope that Everett and Lynch could magic up something if they could get and hold the ball. County´s problem seemed to be twofold. They either wanted too much time in front of goal giving Town the chance to stretch another foot between the ball and the net‚ or they rushed too fast in moves and failed to see better options. By half way through the second period it was clear that Shepherd and James had the measure of Rudge‚ passing him almost at will‚ but though their efforts resulted in countless chances for themselves, Thomas and Eckhardt, none of them were taken and the frustration among the home fans and players alike became palpable. To counter the effect of Nathan´s off night, Luke Vinnicombe, playing in the middle of the back line in the role that we are becoming used to Rob Cousins play, was having a storming game sweeping up and looking quite at home and comfortable. But Tivvy were hanging on. The front men were looking tired, Everett poking wide just about the only chance that came Tivvy´s way but not until the 89th minute was there any sign of either being replaced. And even then it didn´t happen as like at Moor Green on Saturday the Yellows got possession of the ball and all plans were cancelled. The man in black began consulting his watch. He looked and looked again. And having looked again he looked again, and again, and.........Five minutes later he blew for time. Town had taken the points but unless you are enthralled by desperate defence of a single goal lead it was not their most inspirational performance. There again the game´s all about winning if you want to be top of the pile at the end of the season - and the Yellows won. Oh, and I don´t think there was a new John Aldridge on view, perhaps next time.

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. Antony Lynch .
Subs: 12. Kevin Nancekivell, 14. Steve Ovens, 15. Richard Pears, 16. David Steele, 17. Paul Edwards.
Cards: Cousins (Yellow,37), Rudge (Yellow,56).

Newport County: 1. Pat Mountain, 2. Darren Robison, 3. Scott Walker, 4. Billy Clark, 5. Jeff Eckhardt, 6. Nathan Davies, 7. Andrew Thomas, 8. Mike Fowler, 9. Neil Davis, 10. Garry Shephard, 11. Dave. D´Auria.
Subs: 12. Steve Cowe (Clarke,46), 14. Stuart James (Walker,20), 15. Mark Dickeson, 16. Allan Stevenson,
17. Richard French.
Cards: James (Yellow,70)

Referee: M. Cassidy (Weston-super-Mare)

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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