Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 1 Hednesford Town

   Saturday 21/09/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Inspiration! The kind of thing that has illuminated light bulbs appearing above the heads of comic strip characters. This week - sadly lacking. Usually as I settle down mentally after one game I can start to anticipate the next‚ but not so since Tuesday´s trip to the Midlands. Perhaps it was the prospect of the FA Cup tie next week but despite their League position I couldn´t seem to ´get into´ the game against Hednesford. Normally upcoming opponents linger in the back of my mind and will connect in some way to a train of thought. And therein lies the problem. The trains‚ rather like those of the fragmented railway system of this country‚ have only been running spasmodically. Mind you‚ it could have been worse as it was for one acquaintance who was so ´out of sync´‚ they even forgot their own name. Even as I set out for Ladysmead I´d given little thought to facing Hednesford. Every time I managed to get my mind into gear the clutch would slip and next Saturday´s encounter would appear from out of the ether. I did manage to tune into the right wavelength long enough to hope that the team would not share my distraction‚ but it was not until the players ran out onto the pitch that the reality and importance of a victory against The Pitmen truly sank in; not to mention the importance of an all round decent performance that would settle the inconsistencies of recent games. League points were what mattered for now‚ Cup progress‚ and cash‚ would be dealt with in seven days.

From the start what little anticipation I might have had vanished. The visitors were without Kevin Francis‚ their 6´ 7´´ front man. It would have been interesting to see how Nathan Rudge coped against the mobile skyscraper. And there were changes for Tivvy too. Eddy‚ though not fully fit‚ was forced back into action by Steve Collis´s suspension and Kevin Nancekivell was in the starting line up replacing Jason Rees who was still suffering from the pre half time kicking he took at Halesowen. The sun shone as the preliminary exchanges were carried out. It continued to shine as the secondary stages of the game took place. In fact it was the only real bright thing in evidence for the first twenty minutes or so. Former Stafford Rangers manager Ian Painter‚ who moved to Hednesford in the close season‚ has built a far better side than that which struggled to hold on to their Premier Division place last term. They were versatile up front‚ trying to attack down both wings and through the middle‚ and tight at the back‚ allowing the Yellows little space or time on the ball. We waited 13 minutes before there was a goal attempt and unsurprisingly since they had edged themselves on top‚ it came from the visitors. Good work from Mark Jones set up Paul Ware for a long range shot that looped and curled outside Edwards´s right upright. Danny Haines latched onto a long through ball down the Tivvy left after 16 minutes but over ran the ball and left it for a defender to sweep back upfield. The physical closeness of the game was resulting in a string of free kicks‚ mostly in Tiverton´s favour‚ but the first nasty foul was committed by Nathan Rudge who launched himself at Hednesford´s Stuart Lake in the 21st minute and was rewarded with a deserved Yellow card. The Yellows defence was coping with the Pitmen´s attack though seldom looking comfortable‚ but the strike partnership of Antony Lynch and Phil Everett were also beginning to escape the close attention of the defence‚ and with Kevin Nancekivell forcing forward behind them‚ starting to look more threatening. It was probably against the run off overall play when Tivvy got the breakthrough. A swift counter attack was started as Rob Cousins broke up a Hednesford attack and fed the ball forward to Paul Chenoweth. ´Cheno´ picked up the ball midway inside his own half‚ advanced a couple of yards and swung a long‚ high pass out towards the right flank. The ball just cleared the head of a defender and Lynch was in behind him‚ leaving the Hednesford man in his wake as he closed diagonally on goal. With Everett and Nancekivell thundering through the middle there were options which made Mark Gayle´s job in the visitors goal more difficult. Antony saw a gap and chose to hit the shot himself. Gayle was helpless as the ball flew past him and into the net. Not only did the goal liven up the game as far as the Tivvy faithful were concerned‚ it seemed to brighten up the team. There was an air of confidence about their play as they pushed the Pitmen back for the first sustained length of time. Three minutes after the goal‚ Scott Rogers who had been having a quieter time than of late as he slotted into a deeper midfield role with the return of ´Nance´‚ found himself well forward and chested down a high cross into the penalty area‚ hit a first time volley but could only watch as the ball flew away off an unwitting defender. A minute later Phil Everett lobbed over Gayle but the ball dropped onto the roof of the goal. Thirty four minutes in and Tivvy had a corner on the right. Rudge was bent double‚ as if in pain‚ back towards the halfway line. It was a ploy. As the kick was about to be taken‚ Nathan uncurled himself and charged forward with a late run‚ rose above the defence and was denied his first goal in a Tivvy shirt by a last gasp clearance off the line. Though not in the centre of all this action‚ Nancekivell was continuing to look lively and over the effects of his illness‚ as were Shaun Wray and Jones for Hednesford. There was more incident before the interval‚ a long range Steve Winter shot‚ an Everett header over the top‚ a final burst of pressure from the visitors that had Eddy cleaning up crosses three times‚ and one of the most bizarre protestations of innocence ever seen from a yellow carded player‚ after Stuart Lake had grabbed Danny Haines´ shirt by both shoulders as Danny had left him chasing his shadow. All in all‚ the Yellows had to be happy with the half time lead, particularly as they seemed to have gained control of the game.

It was an illusion. Hednesford were first out of the changing rooms, both physically and metaphorically, after the break. From the kick off Nancekivell was nearly onto a backpass to the keeper but from then on it was the Pitmen that made almost all the running. They had brought on another defender and moved Chris Brindley up front. The big man proved to be an instant handful for Peters and Rudge, heading wide in the 47th minute and getting to almost everything in the air for the remainder of the game. Maybe not as tall as the absent Francis but certainly with more bulk and physical presence. Shaun Wray sent a shot curling wide and the pressure continued. Haines collected Tivvy´s second yellow card after tackling through substitute Stuart Ryder as the defender pushed up in support. Tivvy were hanging on, though Rudge did force Gayle into a save from a low shot after rare Tiverton forward move in the 54th minute. David Steele was bought into the fray as ´Cheno´ limped out of it a minute later, and in the 57th minute Hednesford deservedly pulled level. Steve Piearce and Steve Peters challenged for a through ball. It looked as if the Tivvy man had done enough to allow the ball through to Edwards. Piearce had other thoughts and continued to harass, and as all three players bundled into each other recovered quickest to poke the ball into the net. The score was even and so became the game, as both sides went for the winner. Lynch optimistically tried to turn and volley a waist high cross from Rogers, Rudge glanced a Winter free kick wide. Piearce tapped Rogers ankles to give the yellow card another airing and hardly had it been pocketed than it was out again for Peters for a scathing tackle through Carl Adams. The visitors again began to have the initiative with Tivvy defending uncomfortably, though the best chance fell to Nancekivell after a Rogers dummy had allowed the ball to split the defensive line and run into his path. Gayle stuck out a foot and the chance went begging. With 13 minutes of ´normal´ time there was a break for a quadruple substitution - two a-side. It took a few minutes to show any effect, during which time Paul Ware joined the ever growing roll of names in the referee´s book. Then the effect. Steve Ovens, having been unloaded with difficulty on two previous occasions that he had had the ball, cut in from the left across the face of the area. Looking, as Steve often does, to not have full control of the ball he twisted between two defenders as he entered the area. The pair of them went down, the ball went with Steve until an arm shot out to deflect it away. The shout went up, the referee ignored it and the ball was cleared away for a throw. The linesman though, was not signalling for the throw, he´d clearly seen the arm/ball contact. The referee saw the flag, consulted his assistant, and the ball was on the spot. Meanwhile the culprit, Lake, was rolling around in agony as if to signify he´d been fouled, or at least to try and distract the attention of the referee from the handball. Neat tactic even if ineffective on this occasion. Kevin´s tactic for the kick was far more effective. Hit it hard and low a foot or two inside the post. Very effective, particularly since Gayle went full length to his left while the ball went to his right. Hednesford had no option but to throw everything forward if they wanted to save anything from the game. Rudge blocked, Peters headed away, Edwards narrowed the angle and beat away a shot and Lake blasted wide. The stopwatch showed over 49 minutes. Hednesford won a corner. Even Gayle was in the Tiverton penalty area, retreating at full tilt as the ball was cleared. 51 minutes on the watch and a free kick down in the corner on the visitors right. Nance completed Mr. Grenfell´s collection of names by kicking the ball away. It was The Pitmen´s final flurry. As the ball was cleared the final whistle sounded.

It had been a hard won, nail biting three points from a game that took its time to come to life. The visitors probably felt they were worth at least a share of the spoils. On this showing they´ll certainly not be looking for survival points come April, as they were last season.

Tiverton Town: 1. Paul Edwards, 2. Steve Winter, 3. Danny Haines, 4. Steve Peters, 5. Nathan Rudge, 6. Rob Cousins, 7. Paul Chenoweth, 8. Kevin Nancekivell, 9. Phil Everett, 10. Scott Rogers, 11. Antony Lynch.
Subs: 12. Jamie Mudge (Everett,72), 14. Richard Pears, 15. David Steele (Chenoweth,55), 16. Jason Rees, 17. Steve Ovens (Lynch,72)..
Cards: Yellow: Rudge (21), Haines (50), Peters (65), Nancekivell (90).

Hednesford Town: 1. Mark Gayle, 2. Ashley Williams, 3. Richard Lucas, 4. Les Robinson, 5. Chris Brindley, 6. Stuart Lake, 7. Shaun Wray, 8. Paul Ware, 9.Steve Piearce, 10. Mark Jones, 11. Carl Adams.
Subs: 12. Stewart Airdrie (Elmes,70), 14. Derek Rae (Quiggin,46), 15. Stuart Ryder, 16. Wayne Simpson, GK. Adam Jenkins.
Cards: Yellow: Lake (41), Piearce (63), Ware (78).

Referee: P. Grenfell (Penzance).

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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