Match report

Taunton Town 0 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Wednesday 02/10/2002   FA Cup
John Reidy

I suppose the nearest any modern author comes to describing the degree of popular emotion generated by‚ and even the importance within society‚ of the game of football is the work of Nick Hornby. I can´t help wondering how the classic writers of past generations would have coped had they been faced with the problem. Certainly one or two of them wrote tales whose titles might have been suitable for use for stories about the Tiverton / Taunton conflicts of the last decade. Jane Austen´s Pride and Prejudice would be most apt in describing the attitude to each other of the respective‚ if not respectful or respected‚ sets of supporters. An epic about the rivalry between the two clubs might well have inspired Dickens to come up with A Tale of Two Towns (if not Two Cities)‚ whilst he could well have written a sequel about the latest encounters under the heading Great Expectations. Dangerous territory‚ expectations; particularly amongst football fans. Remember the expectations of Kettering fans last season - that they would stroll to the championship of this ´poxy´ league? Remember the expectation of Liverpool fans in 1988 as their side took on the little Wombles in the FA Cup final? Yes‚ dangerous territory as Tivvy fans found out on Saturday as a Taunton side that had been humiliated 1-5 at home three days earlier held the Yellows to a draw and forced this replay at Wordsworth Drive. Still‚ perhaps that poet´s line about ´ A Host of Golden Daffodils´ indicated a partiality towards things yellow‚ and his spectre would look kindly on the players wearing that colour as they attempted to live up to the expectations built by their fans prior to the original game‚ leaving the Peacocks to ´Wander Lonely As A Cloud´ as they wait for another season´s chance of cup glory.

After a 10 minute delay to ease the queue of fans waiting to get into the ground‚ the game started in the same fashion that Saturday´s first attempt to settle the tie had. That´s to say that Taunton went forward. First strike at goal went to the Peacocks veteran skipper Tom Kelly who blasted a free kick conceded by Steve Ovens‚ high over the bar from 25 yards. Ovens was preferred to Antony Lynch in the starting line up with Kevin Nancekivell replacing calf injury victim Paul Chenoweth in midfield‚ a pair of changes that was to transform a lacklustre weekend performance by the team into a midweek display of almost unprecedented vigour. Within five minutes of the start Tivvy had grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and were tearing into the Peacocks like demented terriers. Phil Everett usurped Kelly´s claim to deliverer of the highest shot and a minute later after Jason Rees had sent Ovens away down the right only to see Steve´s cross deflected out for a corner‚ Steve Peters blasted the corner wide. Danny Haines on the left and Steve Winter on the right were both finding acres of space and swinging in crosses that kept the Taunton back line under pressure but desperate defending and failure to find the target kept the scoresheet blank. After 21 minutes Ryan Draper had a let off‚ grabbing the ball at the third attempt in a mad scramble at the near post following a Tivvy corner‚ conceded by the keeper as he had been forced to beat away a fierce Danny Haines shot. Two minutes later Ellis Laight‚ far out on the left‚ managed to get the better of Steve Collis with a long lobbed shot that had the Tivvy custodian back peddling like crazy but unable to reach the ball and grateful to see it bounce off the top of the crossbar/ upright angle and out for a goal kick. It was one of only a handful of attacks from the home side as Tivvy controlled midfield and continuously prodded and probed at the Taunton defence. Ovens was more than a thorn in the side of the home backline‚ he was a bloomin´ great splinter the size of a tree trunk. Roaming from left to right he was dragging defenders with him‚ bamboozling them‚ and generally creating up-tempo mayhem every time he was near the ball. Little surprise then that he was involved in the break through when it eventually came. It was in the 33rd minute. After another two or three minute spell of sustained Tiverton pressure‚ Haines flighted in a cross from far out on the left. Everett just out beyond the left hand upright rose clear above the other defenders‚ headed the ball downwards right to Steve´s foot. Ovo swung and the ball hit the back of the net like a rocket. Tivvy were in the lead for the first time in the tie. There were three more chances before the break. Peters went close but wide‚ Laight latched onto some poor defending to burst through but had to settle for a corner thanks to a great late saving tackle by Rob Cousins‚ and back at the other end Ovens sent in a hard cross come shot from the left that had Everett stretching but an inch away from the touch that would have increased the lead.

Two interval changes for Taunton did little to change the shape of the game at the resumption after the break. Tivvy tore forward from the off. Ovens away down the right sent in a low cross. Everett threw himself headlong at the ball‚ connected‚ but so did Drapers legs. Fifty three minutes gone. Winter tried from 30 yards drawing a spectacular Hollywood quality save from Draper as he pushed the ball round the post and out for a corner. Taunton were forced into packing their defence. The back four became a back eight with just Laight in midfield and Knox a lonely figure up front. It all made for a crowded last third of the field as the Yellows pushed forward in numbers‚ so many at times that they even got in each others way as happened on one occasion between Everett and Rudge. And that was not from a set piece‚ though one can hardly blame Nathan for going in search of a bit of action‚ it was pretty scarce in the Tiverton half. Then‚ about quarter of an hour in‚ Tivvy seemed to lose it. The Peacocks seemed to find it. The game inexplicably evened out. Suddenly there was an air of purpose about the home team‚ a bit of the enthusiasm that we´d witnessed at Ladysmead. Tiverton´s play lacked shape‚ lacked form. No longer were they building passing moves out of midfield‚ though they might have been trying‚ things stopped happening for them. Luckily it didn´t appear to affect the defence who held everything steady for ten minutes or so until they once more started to fall into place for the rest of the team. There was a little frustration creeping into the fans (and team?) that the lead was still so narrow. When‚ in the 70th minute Everett burst down the left and sent in a daisy cutting pass to the feet of Ovens‚ unmarked charging through the middle‚ it should have lifted the nervous doubts. Steve swung his right leg and the net should have bulged. It didn´t. Boot and ball failed to connect as the later bobbled and left the ground for the first time in twenty yards with the goal yawning like I am now at 3.50am! Que sera‚ sera. Tivvy were back on the move. Steve Winter had a go from 25 yards out that flicked off a defender and dropped right into Drapers hands‚ and a minute later Phil Everett just failed to connect with a Winter cross. Danny Haines had been quite for most of the second half but suddenly came to life in the 80th minute‚ twice beating Steve Jenkins as he twisted and turned looking for space to allow him to get in a cross. He found the room, delivered the ball diagonally to the head of man of the evening Steve Ovens to nod home his second of the tie. The goal relaxed Tiverton, players and fans alike. Antony Lynch replaced Everett, Scott Rogers had a header cleared off the line with five minutes left on the watch, David Steele took over from Jason Rees. Jamie Mudge took over from Nance. Two minutes past the 90 mark and Winter´s cross was just deflected off Mudge´s head by Danny Bance and a minute later Mudge crashed a free kick off the wall after Steele had been fouled as he forced his way towards the penalty area. It didn´t matter, Weymouth would have to travel that extra twenty miles into Devon for their third round tie.

Forty five minutes after the final whistle it started to rain over Wordsworth Drive. The lonely clouds had wandered over Taunton. It was bright enough in Tiverton.

Taunton Town: Ryan Draper, Danny Bance, Robbie Herrera, Danny Harris, Tom Stocco, Tom Kelly, Derek Fields (Gary Fisher 77), Ellis Laight, Peter Knox, Chris Myers (Mark Gammon 46), Ian Bastow (Steve Jenkins 46)
Booked: None

Tiverton Town: Steve Collis, Steve Winter, Danny Haines, Steve Peters, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell (Jamie Mudge 89), Jason Rees (David Steele 87), Phil Everett (Anthony Lynch 82), Scott Rogers, Steve Ovens
Booked: None

Referee: C. Spence (Newquay)

Attendance: 1365

This report ©2002 John Reidy

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