Match report

Halesowen Town 0 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Tuesday 17/09/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Like ships that pass in the night´‚ is a phrase that‚ rightly or wrongly‚ I always associate with close encounters of the amorous kind. Close‚ in as much as they nearly happened not that they were close as in adjacent or even ´touching´ (Oo-er‚ JPR‚ watch your blood pressure!). With a little literary licence the phrase might also be considered relevant to the relationship I have with the West Midlands town of Halesowen. The licence would be necessary to alleviate the fact that firstly‚ most times I have passed Halesowen it has been in daylight‚ and though the area is oft referred to as the ´Black Country´‚ it was never so dark that I missed the signposts; and secondly‚ there was no romantic association or ´love´ interest. On the contrary‚ the signs that heralded the passing of the Town were the signal for me to grit my teeth as they were also a warning that Birmingham was just over the horizon‚ something that was never likely to set my heart a- lutter with overpowering byronic emotion. Yes‚ it was a place that was frequently passed as Tivvy sped by on their way to Midlands encounters of the footballing kind during their first three campaigns in the Dr Martens League. And just when it looked as if the two sides might meet‚ we a slipped past each other as promotion for Tivvy and relegation for the inexplicably and mysteriously nicknamed Yeltz saw the two clubs exchange divisions. But now‚ at last‚ the two clubs were to face each other‚ and so for the second time in two games Tivvy were on a blind date‚ and needing to impress after a disappointing similar assignation three days earlier.

The initial moves of football matches are becoming as predictable as the opening gambits of chess games and this one failed to buck the trend. Slight touch sideways‚ turn back to midfielder‚ hoof forward‚ out for throw in. The first novel move came from the Yellows after two minutes. Steve Winter chased down the right flank at full throttle coming under pressure from a defender who had the advantage of not needing to control the ball. Just as it seemed that Wints was about to run out of space both in front of himself and to his right‚ without breaking pace he back heeled the ball into the path of Scott Rogers in his wake. Scott whipped in a first time cross‚ Antony Lynch beat the keeper to the ball but was still rising as he made contact and it flew harmlessly a couple of yards over the crossbar. From the goal kick Halesowen showed that they were not overawed and mounted their own attack down the right. As they pushed forward the ball was fed back to John Newell who cut in towards the middle before unleashing a shot that curled almost as equally high and wide. The Yellows began to get on top‚ without really taking control of the game‚ and Phil Everett had a couple of chances‚ turning one Jason Rees cross past the upright and then being closed down by three defenders before he could find the space to squeeze in a shot. Halesowen were unable to build much from midfield and relied mainly on finding space on the wings as Danny Haines and Winter pushed up in support of their forwards‚ and when the Yeltz did find that space the outcome was inevitably a high cross that Steve Collis was able to pluck out of the air with ease. Rob Elmes matched Lynch´s earlier effort when he too got under the one cross that he did manage to beat Collis to in the 14th minute‚ and three minutes later had a golden opportunity to put the home side in front. Paying the price for making mistakes when throwing everyone forward‚ Tivvy were caught out when Rogers gave the ball away with an underhit pass and Les Hines burst clear‚ ran half the length of the field before sending in a cross to the foot of Elmes that the big striker crashed goalwards‚ but straight at Collis‚ from 25 yards. Either side of the midway point of the first period there were half chances galore as Tivvy embarked on a period of sustained pressure. Everett‚ Lynch‚ Winters‚ Paul Chenoweth; all could have given the visitors the lead if they could have just found that little something that turns a half chance into a goal. As the half hour mark approached even Steve Peters got in on the act as a Rob Cousins through ball was held up‚ back to goal‚ by Everett‚ who finding himself with nowhere to go laid the ball back to Peters. Steve hit it hard enough to break the net if it had gone into it but it was a typical defenders effort‚ curling away from the goal and out of play near the edge of the penalty area. Right on the 30 minute mark the home fans thought they´d taken the lead. Breaking out of defence they launched another foray down the right flank. A low ball in‚ a little flick at the near post‚ and the net shaking as the locals gathered inexplicably to one side of the goal‚ not as is normal behind the goal, raised their hands and voices in delight. Not so. The ball was in the side netting. For ten minutes or so the game degenerated as the Yeltz, having taken the edge of the Tivvy pressure, worked their way back into the game but it was all long ball stuff, and straight up and down parallel to the touch lines at that. One more chance for each side as Robbie Leadbeater twice turned Peters before seeing his low cross fly wide of the post and Everett went close with a header after a jinking Winter run and cross. So close was Phil´s effort that unlike the ´Ships that....´ etc. it WAS touching and flew back into play off the upright. With the scoresheet still blank the half was bought to a close with an unpleasant tackle by Elmes that felled Jason Rees and lead to the second stretchering off of a Tivvy player in as many games. Elmes might consider himself lucky to have only seen the Yellow card.

Halesowen responded to their half time ´cuppa´ better than Tivvy, the cup that cheers invigorating them. They introduced substitute Mark Taylor and he was immediately in action down their left flank, but it began to look as if we were going to be short of entertainment as the early play was scrappy. Elmes managed another shot on target, Collis held it easily. It was not until the hour mark that Tivvy looked dangerous. Peters came forward as Tivvy won a corner and climbed well to get his head on the ball. Lacking direction, if it were intended to go goalwards, it flew on to the head of Lynch who did send it in the right direction, almost beating Tim Clarke who had to stretch to get one hand to the ball before grabbing it with both at the second attempt. The game had come back to life. Everett was on target without troubling Clarke and at the other end Haines had to touch out for a corner as a low cross from the left flew across the Tiverton goalmouth begging for the slightest touch to break the deadlock. It was time for the Yellows to turn the screw again and they did just that. With fifteen minutes left Steve Winter sent in another more than half decent cross. With the massed ranks of Halesowen defenders blocking any chance of a turn and shot, Everett laid the ball back to Kevin Nancekivell, the half-time replacement for Rees, who thundered in a shot that had the keeper struggling. Two minutes later it was Phil´s turn to hit one and again force a good save from Clarke. As in the first half, the home side were reduced to occasional breaks but they weren´t going anywhere as the Yellows defence leisurely swept up everything that came their way. Ten minutes left and Richard Pears replaced Lynch and within a couple of minutes was involved in the incident that had the increasingly vocal contingent of about 40 Tiverton fans thinking their side had found a way through at last. Good work by Pears, another well hit Nancekivell shot and a diversion off the posterior cushion of Everett that saw the ball change direction faster than Clarke could and fly past him into the net. Like the Halesowen celebrations in the first half the Tiverton fans jubilation was stillborn. The flag was up. Phil had been offside. Although the Yellows continued to make most of the running it was the last real goal-scoring opportunity of the contest.

For a 0-0 draw it was more entertaining than most. There were mixed feelings about whether it was a point gained or two points lost. Town certainly created enough openings and dominated for long periods but goals win games and there seemed to be that something missing. Perhaps that something is called Mudge?

Tiverton Town: 1. Steve Collis, 2. Steve Winter, 3. Danny Haines, 4. Steve Peters, 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 (Rees,46), 14. Richard Pears (Lynch,81), 15. David Steele, GK. Paul Edwards.
Cards: Haines (Yellow,71).

Halesowen Town: 1. Tim Clarke, 2. Richard Cowell, 3. Jason Burnham, 4. Neil Smith, 5. Lee Collins, 6. John Newall, 7. Jimmy Quiggin, 8. Richard Leadbeater, 9. Rob Elmes, 10. Andy Spencer, 11. Les Hines.
Subs: 12. Kirk Master (Elmes,70), 14. Mark Taylor (Quiggin,46), 15. Gareth Holmes, 16. Dominic Reece, 17. Aaron Shanahan.
Cards: Elmes (Yellow,45).

Referee: M. E. Weaver (Bearwood).

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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