Match report

Barnet 0 - 2 Tiverton Town

   Saturday 26/10/2002   FA Cup
John Reidy

Through the later decades of the last century the students of the world were revolting. Now‚ to anyone who has lived‚ or was brought up as I was‚ in a University City that fact would have come as no surprise - students had always been revolting. But this usage of the word was different. The budding intellegencia were showing their disapproval of all things political and taking to the streets and open spaces of campuses (campii ?) throughout the world to protest about every thing from Vietnam to the price of Yak butter in Outer Mongolia. American thriller writer Elliot West used such an incident in one of his tales and put some remarkable words of wisdom into the mouth of one of his characters involved on the fringe a demonstration who was attempting to explain the phenomenon. "....down to Mother Natures mistakes. She makes them all the time. And we are left with the inherent inability to think properly. Emotion rules us all‚ not our pretensions to logic. We cannot act logically. We recognise logic‚ yes‚ but we cannot obey it. It´s too boring to abide by." What more perfect words could be used to describe the hopes of the Tiverton Town fans as they travelled to North London to see their team face Barnet in the FA Cup. Their hosts were recently a Football League club‚ albeit recently having slipped to the Conference; they were still a level higher up the pyramid than Tivvy. Barnet had home advantage‚ frequently considered to be worth a goal start. Last time the sides had met Barnet were comfortable winners by a five goal margin. Logic was on the side of the hosts. But as West´s character Count Von Bleutzen expounded‚ "Emotion rules us all." Hardly surprising then that the Devon fans recognised the logic and promptly chose to ignore it‚ chose the less boring option and journeyed in the belief that their team could‚ nay would‚ make a serious bid to reach the next round. As the game got underway logic looked to be in the ascendancy.

Tivvy were kicking down the slope and mounted a couple of quick attacks but (full time) Barnet soon demonstrated the advantage of that concept‚ springing out of the trap like clays from a launcher. Straight into their stride they shot‚ and for the first ten minutes the Yellows in White (henceforth referred to solely as the Yellows) were chasing shadows. There were a few scary moments but Town rode the storm and soon began to match their supposedly more illustrious opponents. Barnet saw most of the ball‚ swung it around‚ made pacy runs as far as the Tiverton penalty area where they met with a wall. Tivvy showed their threat by looking far more dangerous on the break than their hosts and that was the pattern that was to endure for the entire contest. Both keepers were given a chance to get a feel of the ball‚ if only by collecting it comfortably as neither set of front runners had serious opportunity of breaking the deadlock. And when the Yellows did eventually get forward in sufficient numbers to cause a degree of consternation in the home back line‚ they were nearly caught as the ball was eventually hoofed forward to Barnet´s Junior Agogo - named for some under 18´s disco? - who was dispossessed by Steve Peters just when he looked as if he might force his way through to test Steve Collis about the 13th minute mark. The incident served to lift Tiverton hopes that if they could follow up the long range breaks from midfield then they could possibly pressure the home side. The visiting fans were in no doubt about it. Emotion began to get the upper hand over logic as the Devon voices emulated their team and started to match the home contingent for volume‚ despite their numerical disadvantage. The team responded with a period of five minutes of occupation of the lower slopes of Underhill‚ aka the Barnet half.

David Steele provided an extra dimension with his looooooong throws without reward before the pendulum swung back Barnet´s way. Town regrouped and slipped easily back into defensive mode. Even Pears staked his claim for the Polka Dot jersey of the ´King of the Mountains´ as he trekked back up the hill to add his weight(?) to the defensive duties. It is probably some mark of how effective the Bees pressure really was that the only name that found it´s way into my notes was Agogo. For ten minutes it was a replay of the opening exchanges. Mudge escaped down the right to send in a cross that Danny Naisbitt nearly beat Pears to‚ but only got close enough to unsettle Richard enough to cause him to flick the ball way over the top‚ and Winter ventured forward to head another cross wide. Then‚ with the Yellows supporters preparing to be happy with a goal-less first half‚ out from the back Tiverton broke once more. Down the left flank went Mudge leaving the defence standing. In cut Jamie and cracked in a low shot. Down went the keeper‚ failed to hold the ball which fell to Pears. Pearsy connected with an equally fierce drive that travelled mere inches before colliding with a spare leg of a hurriedly retreated defender. The ball flew out wide to Jamie who given the second chance hit it low and true under the still off balance Naisbitt and into the net. Jamie didn´t have to run far to celebrate with the fans. They were right there at the side he´d just cut in from. The Bees went right back into forward gear‚ testing Collis at last when a deflected shot tried to creep inside the post before Steve grabbed it. It was all Barnet ´til the break but they appeared to be suffering from Town´s recent malaise of wanting to walk the ball into the net and Tivvy weren´t going to allow that. And they didn´t. Half time and the underdogs left the field in front. Second half. Well‚ almost the football equivalent of ´Casablanca´: Play it again Sam. Same game plan from both sides.

Barnet - keep pushing forward - keep the pressure on. Tiverton - don´t let them have any space - look for the break. First goalkeeper to see any action was Collis as he held a 20 yarder from Agogo two minutes after the restart. Six minutes later and Winter split the Bees‚ sent Pears away and followed through the middle only to scuff the cross and send it wide to Mudge who was dispossessed on the opposite wing. Then Barnet came as close as they were going to all afternoon. From a throw in‚ Agogo swivelled and hit a cross goal shot that Steve Peters deflected away for a corner. The kick came across and the shot was fired in. Collis was beaten for the first time - but by no means for the first time this season‚ when Steve has failed to reach the ball‚ the back up from the Tiverton defence has saved the day. This time it was Winter covering the post to duck his head and clear the ball off the line. Tivvy broke‚ Danny Haines bursting through the middle pulling the home back line all askew as he sent the ball into the area where a minor scramble ensued before the ball came back out to Steve Peters who cracked in a fierce shot that made certain that Naisbitt was awake. Barnet´s problem was that in chasing the equaliser they inevitably left themselves exposed to the Yellows counter attack tactics and with ten minutes of the second half gone they too had to be grateful to a defender for a goal-line clearance. All familiar from Tivvy as Winter released Mudge who jinked left then right to make space for a cross goal shot that beat the keeper before Heald saved Barnet´s blushes with a last second clearance. The colour was only to remain stable for another couple of minutes though. Fifty seven minutes gone and it was the same combination that muted the home fans. Winter broke up a Bees attack‚ carried the ball forward‚ dummied his way past a midfielder and sent young Jamie galloping away down the right. It was a mirror of the run that had led to his first strike. Cut in towards the edge of the penalty area and hit the ball low under the keeper. No need for the second bite of the cherry this time as the ball flew cleanly under Naisbitt and just inside the far post. Bees 0 Tivvy 2. Oh joy! Oh rapture! High on emotion‚ low on logic. But true none the less. We´d seen a similar scoreline at Weymouth earlier in the season and had defended it. Logically we should be able to do it again‚ especially if there were no ´sillies´ like the ones that had seen the Yellows reduced to nine men as they had been down in Dorset. There were none - and nor was the pressure as great. Town defended in numbers. Not an inch‚ not a single blade of grass was conceded willingly as the Bees swarmed (ugh!) round the Tiverton penalty area. Substitute Frazer Toms went close with a long range curling shot from wide that cleared the angle of crossbar and upright by mere millimetres‚ and Collis made the best save of the day from the same players crashing drive‚ failing to hold it but as always a defender was on hand to blast the ball away from the danger area whilst Steve nursed his stinging (double ugh!) hand. Sure there were a few scary moments but nothing to make the hair stand on end and there was always the relief of threatening breaks from the Yellows. As the final minutes ticked away there was a moment when all 22 players were in the Tiverton half - even Naisbitt moving up to aid the attempted salvage operation. All to no avail. Pears made a couple of breaks‚ the Yellow wall strengthened as the cement dried and after six minutes of additional suspense the officials decided enough was enough.

Town had shown the fight‚ the commitment the tenacity that had been asked of them after Tuesday evening´s debacle at Exmouth. They deserved the ovation they were given. And the fans deserved the reciprocative applause the players awarded them. It was a nice day - understatement.

Tiverton Town: 1. Steve Collis‚ 2. Steve Winter, 3. Danny Haines, 4. Steve Peters, 5. Nathan Rudge, 6. Rob Cousins, 7. David Steele, 8. Jason Rees, 9. Richard Pears, 10. Scot Rogers, 11. Jamie Mudge.
Subs: 12. Phil Everett, 14. Kevin Nancekivell, 15. Paul Chenoweth, 16. Antony Lynch (Pears,90), 17. Steve Ovens (Mudge,75).
Cards: Yellow: Pears (13), Steele (15), Haines (90).

Barnet: 13. Danny Naisbitt, 20. Craig Pope, 17. Ismail Yakubu, 18. Lee Pluck, 5. Greg Heald, 10. Wayne Purser, 7. John Doolan, 12. Stuart Niven, 4. Mark Gower, 8. Ben Strevens, 9. Junior Agogo.
Subs: 1. Lee Harrison, 25. Jason Solomon (Yakubu,46), 14. Neil Midgely (Pope,70) , 15. Frazer Toms (Niven,58), 22.Toby Oshitola.
Cards: None.

Referee: K. Stroud.

I hope you will forgive me the indulgence of a few general comments - in line with my assertions that what I write is not only a report but more importantly a ´view´. There were many Barnet fans that drifted towards the exits well before the final whistle. Not unusual, I suppose, but I´m sure that one of them would not have been the one that calls himself ´beeliever´ on their forum. The Bee leavers were far outnumbered by the believers that stayed, not only to cheer on their own players but to applaud the Yellows off. True sportsmen each and every one of them. It would be sad to see a club with such as they go to the wall at the hands of political intrigue. May the Save our Barnet campaign meet with success and Barnet FC still be there to face Tivvy when we reach the Conference. Finally a personal memo to that same Barnet forum poster, ´beeliever´: I hope you found my report adequately jucosely laconic and similarly sinisterly angular to the necessary chronological representation! Damn tasty these dictionaries! J.R.

This report ©2002 John Reidy

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