Match report

Cambridge City 3 - 0 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 05/10/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Different people have different views on what constitutes sport‚ a fact most eloquently displayed a couple of weeks ago in the centre of London. To some it´s chasing a bladder of air around a field or running/driving round in circles. To others it is the pursuit or of other beings‚ the ´field´ or ´blood´ sports. Chose your name depending on your opinion‚ but one thing that is common knowledge about hunted animals‚ whether it be the English fox or stag being pursued across rolling hills and fields or the elephant and tiger of Africa and India‚ is that there are two circumstances when they are at their most dangerous. The first is when guarding their young. The second is when they are wounded. Now‚ I wouldn´t want to suggest that Cambridge City in any way resembled wild animals‚ or even ´Big Game´. Far from it. They are just another football team not having the best of starts to a season and that´s possibly an understatement. But the crucial factor as they faced Tivvy‚ could be that they had been ´wounded´. Whilst the Yellows were struggling to overcome local rivals Taunton in the FA Cup last Saturday a similar encounter was taking place 270 miles away in East Anglia. Unlike Tivvy‚ City didn´t survive‚ succumbing to a 90th minute strike from their hosts King´s Lynne. Not a mortal wound‚ perhaps‚ but enough damage done to make them a dangerous beast that warranted a non-complacent approach from the Devon side as they went on Safari in search of league points that would consolidate‚ and possibly depending on other results‚ improve their third place standing in the table.

The sunshine that had dazzled us as we negotiated the multitude of roundabouts that is Milton Keynes (aka Wimbledon?) as we took the ´scenic´ route to Cambridge‚ had faded to an overcast greyness by kick off time. Nothing notable happened to brighten proceedings as the two sides ´sussed´ each other out. No indication of who was hunter‚ who was hunted. In fact the first recordable incident‚ if anything‚ darkened the gloom even further for the handful of Yellows supporters that had made the trip. In the fourth minute City´s Jack Wignall launched himself feet first at Danny Haines. There were the normal ´cat calls´ as Danny received treatment‚ soon silenced when he was helped off the pitch. Like General Paton‚ he did return but was obviously trying to ´run off´ the injury and was not up to speed. So with Town matching City we waited. Not long. Seven minutes in and a free kick to the visitors ten yards inside the Cambridge half wide on the right. Steve Winter swung in the cross. Why do the Yellows do that from these deep positions? The ball comes to the facing defenders - so easy for them. And so it was on this occasion. Headed clear‚ it fell to Matt Clements in acres of space in the middle of his own half. Clements turned‚ advanced a couple of yards and sent the ball through the middle for Darren Collins to dash onto‚ close on the penalty area and hammer past the isolated Steve Collis. The speed and directness of the clearance and break had left the Yellows back line flat footed. But Town had been caught like that before and recovered‚ hadn´t they? City though had other ideas. Wounded prey they may have been but now they had inflicted hurt of their own and became the hunters. Following through‚ they maintained their assault and within three minutes had added a second. Again Collins was involved. Again he was onto a long through ball‚ this time out to the left. Round the back of the defence he sprinted‚ and this from a man that was frequently criticised last season at Kettering for lacking pace‚ cut in along the line and drawing Collis and the rest of the defenders out of position rolled the ball across the goal into the path of Clements to touch home the second. Last season´s trip to Bath came to mind. Thank goodness it did not happen quite that way. For twenty minutes or so the back line held‚ ragged though they may have looked. Steve Winter came close to finding the net with a header after 14 minutes but the ball was just tipped clear as it dropped between the angle of upright and crossbar by a spectacular backwards stretch and wrist flick by....Collis! It was clear that Haines was not going to recover from his earlier knock and with 16 minutes gone he was replaced by ´want away´ Richard Pears joining Steve Ovens up front with Phil Everett dropping back. It might almost have been nice to be able to claim that the move unsettled Tivvy but it has happened so frequently that it would be a lie‚ and anyway the worst had already happened. Town had no shape before the change‚ they had no shape after it. The back looked shaky‚ the middle wafted around like mountain mist and Pears and Steve Ovens might as well have been playing for Elmore for all the service they were getting. The only Tivvy player gaining any Brownie points was Collis as he touched a Collins drive from the angle of the penalty area around his post for a corner. Martin Davies in the City goal could have had a wooden leg and still performed as well as he was called on to do during that first half hour; the most energy he expended was in celebrating the Cambridge goals. And the third‚ inevitable‚ one came on the half hour. The umpteenth corner for City. Taken on their left. Short kick‚ back along the ground then driven equally as low into the goalmouth‚ by....Collins. Nathan Rudge reached for it with outstretched leg‚ made contact‚ but only succeeded in stopping the ball almost dead at the foot of Robbie Nightingale. Nightingale delightedly crashed the ball into the net and pealed away‚ no doubt singing as all happy nightingales do. Again Bath‚ and possibly Stafford‚ came to mind. But at least at those places the open play had been reasonably even apart from the three goal bursts. Adam Wilde‚ who had been the only player to impress on the last Yellows visit to Milton Road, fired inches wide in the 33rd minute and five minutes later Collis made a brilliant double save to keep the tally down before Collins again got round the back of the Tivvy defence to send in a low cross that just failed to sneak inside the far upright. But it wasn´t all doom and gloom as Town managed to bring Davies into action. Kevin Nancekivell forced his way down to the by-line on the right and crossed for Ovens who was unfortunate to see his header cleared of the line by Shane Wardley and then a neat passing move between Nance and Ovens in the last minute of the half saw Steve send in a drive that bought the first save of the game from the semi retired Davies. From the corner Everett, too, had a crack but the City defence again managed to deflect the shot away. It was off for half time refreshments, optimistically whistling ´Things Can Only Get Better´.

The other song lyric that came to mind was ´The Only Way Is Up´, and that proved to be the case as the second half got underway. Tiverton looked decidedly brighter. Three minutes in and Ovens escaped down the left, forced in a cross which Nance met with a diving header. Over the top. Collis added to his rating by smothering the ball at the foot of both his post and Collins when it looked as though the former Poppy was about to add the fourth, and Nance burst through into the middle of the City penalty area, almost leaving his shirt in the hands of City´s Vowden, but suffered from the close attention and Davies was able to turn his effort for a corner. At the other end Collis bought off another tremendous save, throwing himself across his goal to parry away two handed a thunderous shot from the edge of the area by Wilde. Yes, it was a far more open game. Came the hour mark and Martyn Rogers started the round of substitutions (tactical). David Steele replaced soon to be suspended Rudge. The game changed again. No longer was it an end to end affair as it had been for the first fifteen minutes of the half. It developed into a dour midfield battle with occasional flurries of attack; rather like a typical first half as teams battle for control. Thus there was little that happened worth commenting on. City were three goals in front and were content for things to stay that way. They closed the game down, had nine men behind the ball and kept possession as long as they could when they had it. They showed little enterprise, took no risks, but then who could blame them? Town worked hard enough but like the wolf faced with the three little pigs, they huffed and they puffed....and that was about it, though Nance did force a late save from Davies in the 86th minute when the keeper palmed his shot on the turn over the crossbar for a corner. Unlike in the two previously mentioned games at Bath and Stafford, there was no revival. No fight back. No goals to lift the hopes and hearts of the fans that had made the ´safari´ into the east. If there had been it would have helped ease the pain of seeing what must have been the poorest overall display by the Yellows since they joined the Dr Martens League, and that includes that first season rout at the hands of Redditch at Ladysmead.

As my school reports used to say: "Can do better but must show willing to use abilities and make more effort in their application." I usually responded to such remarks. I hope the Yellows do likewise against both Newport County on Tuesday evening and even more importantly, in view of the financial rewards, against Weymouth next weekend. Perhaps then they will show the killer instinct and ´A Hunting We Will Go´

Tiverton Town: 1. Steve Collis, 2. Steve Winter, 3. Danny Haines, 4. Steve Peters, 5. Nathan Rudge, 6. Rob Cousins, 7. Kevin Nancekivell, 8. Jason Rees, 9. Phil Everett, 10. Scott Rogers, 11. Steve Ovens.
Subs: 12. Antony Lynch, 14. Jamie Mudge (Ovens,79), 15. Richard Pears (Haines,16), 16. David Steele (Rudge,61), GK. Paul Edwards.
Cards: Yellow: Cousins (78).

Cambridge City: 1. Martin Davies, 2. Jack Wignall, 3. Shane Wardley, 4. Tim Wooding, 5. Colin Vowden, 6. Che Wilson, 7. Matt Clements, 8. Adie Hayes, 9. Darren Collins, 10. Rob Nightingale, 11. Adam Wilde.
Subs: 12. Rich Shelly, 14. Scot Houghton (Wilde,64), 15. Leon Gutzmore, 16. Kevin Wilkin (Collins,82), GK. Alan Calton .
Cards: Yellow: Wilson(74)

Referee: Carl Henry (Northants)

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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