Match report

Tiverton Town 2 - 1 Moor Green

   Saturday 16/08/2003   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

My mother was one of those meticulously organised women. Christmas shopping was planned and started in January. When school broke up for the summer the family would speed off to Bognor next day‚ hauling the suitcases that had been packed for a fortnight‚ to return two weeks later bronzed and refreshed with a full month to get organised for the back to school´ first week in September. Every imaginable hiccup´ was anticipated‚ and some of the un-imaginable ones too - nothing was left to chance; nothing was left to the last minute. What bought these memories back to my mind was the preparation that had been made for the start of the new season at Ladysmead. The level of opposition in the pre-season games. The mix of home and away matches. The sequence in which they were played‚ running down to the low key affair at Team Bath. Even the gap between the last match and the first competitive fixture of the new campaign - it all had the stamp of my dam´s logical planning....until it went pear shaped in that ten days of recovery´ time. Steve Peters wouldn´t be ready for the start of the new season. Nathan Rudge´s suspension was expected but could be longer than anticipated thanks to an additional red card against Exeter City. Loan replacement Matt Aubrey who had acquitted himself well as a replacement was also ruled out through injury. Luke Vinnicombe was playing again but was short of matches and was sent up to North Devon to get himself into shape. Even Ben Harris was unable to be named as he too was carrying a suspension forward from last season. So the best laid plans of mice‚ men and Martyn Rogers were thrown into disarray just days before the opening day of the season. Though the sun continued to shine‚ things were not looking as bright as they might at Ladysmead for the visit of Moor Green.

The mini-crisis was resolved by the appearance of Tom White‚ on loan from Yeovil Town‚ to plug the gap in the centre of the Yellows defence and as the season commenced there was little sign that Town were going to be anything but as lively as they had during the run of eight warm up games. That lively in fact that they could well have gone down in the record books as the scorers of the first goal of the season in the Dr Martens Premier Division. Richard Pears was the man that came close‚ curling a shot round Moors keeper Adam Rachael but being denied by Dean Peer heading off the line in the second minute. Jason Rees was partnering new boy´ White at the centre of the defence and showed every prospect of continuing the fine vein of form that he´d displayed pre-season. Five minutes gone and he split the visitors wide with a long ball that sent Danny Haines rampaging down the left flank. Danny was squeezed and had to settle for a corner but Tivvy were taking the initiative. Nine minutes in and potential disaster struck. Rees and a Moors player clashed in a tackle. It was one of those challenges where boot‚ ball and ball all seek the same piece of space. Something has to give and as the ball squished from between the two boots Jason went down. Prolonged treatment had him on his feet but limping badly. He continued. Moor Green settled and began to look more competitive‚ in fact they looked far from being the chopping blocks of the Division as predicted by the Bookies´. Their first corner in the 14th minute was taken to the near post where Peer met it with a glancing header that only just cleared the crossbar at the far post. Tivvy responded with an attack of their own through Haines who this time managed to force in his cross. Pears‚ despite his lack of inches compared to the Moors defenders‚ made contact with his head but directed the ball wide of Rachael´s upright. The game had evened out and opened out. All it needed was a goal. Right on the halfway point of the first half we got one. Unfortunately‚ but not unsurprisingly‚ it was the Moors that scored it. A move down the right‚ a cross from wide out of reach of the blue shirted forwards. Towards the back of the penalty area the ball fell to Steve Winter‚ facing his own goal. Winter pushed the ball back to Stuart Fraser for the keeper to hoof clear. Well‚ that was the plan but as Fraser swung his boot he was challenged. The ball squirted out from between two boots and a scramble developed. First to get a clear swing at the ball was Daine Doyle who took his chance to plant it in the Tivvy net. The Moors took the lead.

Now‚ though I´m a great one for tradition‚ this let the visitors score first at Ladysmead´ one is one I wouldn´t mind seeing fall into oblivion! As it turned out there was little time to consider the point. Tivvy went straight back into dominant mode. Haines down the left again. A cross that had Rachael stretching to clutch it cleanly. Upfield clearance but away again by The Yellows down the left. Pears gave chase and caught what had looked like a lost cause‚ cutting in and back from the goal-line. A cross would not have been out of place but Richard laid a short ball back into the path of Jamie Mudge breaking into the area. Jamie passed one defender‚ seeming to stumble past a second and looking off balance as he chipped towards goal. Off balance or not‚ it was a perfectly placed effort. Just out of reach of the keeper and through the gap into the net. The visitors lead had lasted just over a minute. From that point on to the half time whistle the chances fell to the home side. Kevin Nancekivell‚ back to his best and nominally playing behind the two Tivvy frontmen but frequently with or even in front of them swivelled in the area to send in a ground shot that evaded Rachael´s outstretched arm but came back off the base of the upright to hit it on the rebound and trickle past the post for a corner. Mudge nearly beat the keeper with a dipping lob from 15 yards out and the same player caused the Moors defence problems down the left to send in a cross that flew wide with Pears just failing to make contact. The interval scoreline said things were equal at 1-1‚ but the feeling was that Town were shading it. Second half fitness could be the key!

The second half was slow to get underway. Sure‚ there was movement but most of it was in midfield and not going anywhere. As at the start of the match the first threat of a goal came from the Yellows and it was from Richard Pears at that. Rees‚ moving more comfortably now‚ sent a long ball forward for Pears who performed a neat flick on as he received the ball just inside the area‚ which saw him past two defenders but there were just too many blue shirts around and the ball was flicked away for a corner on the Tivvy left. Winter to take it. In a repeat of the Moors move from their first corner of the game‚ it was sent in low to the near post. Holloway met it with a clever flick of the head and unlike the visitors earlier effort it was under the bar and heading inside the far upright. For the second time of the afternoon Moors were rescued by a header off the line‚ this time performed by John Frain. Gradually the game increased in pace‚ due perhaps that the Moors upped their tempo and started looking to pressure the Yellows more. Doyle hit a shot that had Fraser struggling at the foot of his right hand post on the hour and a Frain corner was met by a glancing header from Rob Elmes that was wide but too close for comfort. The stress on the Tiverton back line dragged the midfield deep and Pears and Mudge became more remote up front. Not only that; Holloway and Rees each saw yellow as desperate measures were used to hold the Moors at bay. Having said that‚ Tivvy still looked dangerous on the break. Mudge was still full of running and Frain again became the hero for the visitors with another headed goal-line clearance. This time it was from a White header from a right wing corner by Chenoweth.

With fifteen minutes to go Martyn Rogers decided to use one of his limited options in an attempt to freshen up play. Steve Ovens replaced Nancekivell. Two minutes later it was Town that were nearly caught at a corner as Elmes had an effort cleared of the line. It would not have counted‚ though‚ as the big man was penalised for use of his elbows in the jump - at least‚ I think that was what the referee meant... it seemed an inappropriate time to be practising the birdie dance´.

The contest had again become an open affair‚ and once again was only lacking one element‚ a goal. Come the moment‚ come the man; and as the Tivvy manager has been predicting‚ the man this season is going to be Jamie Mudge. It came from a corner‚ so maybe Wednesday evening´s training session practice had paid a dividend. Paul Chenoweth swung in the cross. White is not particularly tall but never-the-less added height by pushing forward. He made the contact that sent the ball goalwards but it was sliced clear to Rob Cousins who fired in a shot towards the crowded six yard box. It wasn´t heading into the net when it reached Mudge but by the time Jamie had put his touch on the ball there was nowhere else it was going. In the best tradition of Ladysmead Tiverton had come from behind to take the lead. There was only one way for the visitors to react. They threw everything they had at the Tiverton defence. Unfortunately for them they had very little left and Town were able to quite comfortably ride out the last ten minutes. Obviously there were threatening moments but that was all they were. Threats without substance. Tom White showed his mettle and was rewarded with a re-occurrence of the injury that had sidelined him at Yeovil and from which he was hoping to complete his recovery and get match fit at Tiverton. It remains to be seen whether he will pull on a Yellow shirt again. Jamie Mudge came close to completing his hat-trick in the 89th minute but as he allowed the ball to run he was caught off balance as he turned and the clearance was made. Tivvy wouldn´t have got any more points for another goal but it would have lifted them to the top spot in the first league table - on goal difference- instead of being second on alphabetical order.

So once again‚ for the fifth time in five seasons since joining the Dr Martens League, Town have avoided defeat on the opening day of the season. It was not an easy victory but then few are in this league. Moor green belied the tag of relegation favourites bestowed on them by the bookmakers with a battling and as usual, well organised display that they probably felt made them worthy of a draw. Had that been the outcome it would have made the days results even more notably strange. Only three games being resolved and each of those by a single goal. Eight draws. Now, doesn´t that say something about just how close things are going to be this season?

Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser, Steve Winter, Danny Haines, Jason Rees, Tom White (David Steele, 87), Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell (Steve Ovens, 75), Chris Holloway, Richard Pears, Jamie Mudge, Paul Chenoweth.
Subs not used: Shaun Goff, Steve Peters.
Yellow cards: Holloway, Rees.

Moor Green: Adam Rachel, Richard Robinson, John Frain, Lee Collins, Guy Saunders, Ben Petty, Daine Doyle (Andy Turner, 89), Jimmy Haarhoff, Rob Elmes (Nathan Lamey, 86), Jae Martin, Dean Peer.
Subs not used: Chris Gillard, Peter Foulds, Mathew Harris.

Referee: Kevin Milford (Yate).

This report ©2003 John Reidy






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