Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 1 Welling United

   Saturday 09/11/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

This week marks a ´great´ anniversary. Half a century ago the New Musical Express published the first ever British Pop chart. It might be regarded as the thin end of the wedge‚ for as technology has increased making the collection of data and its subsequent collation and analysis quicker and easier‚ so we have entered the Age of the ´List´. Prior to that fateful November day in 1952‚ the only chart you were likely to see in the press were the football league tables. Now the tabloids and Sunday supplements are full of ´Top Tens´ of just about everything from chat up lines to ice cream flavours. Even government has got in on the act‚ judging performance of everything from schools‚ to hospitals‚ to efficiency in emptying wheelie bins by statistics gathered together into League Tables. I think it was Victorian (or in view of another ´news´ story this week - should that be Poshian?) Prime Minister Benjamin Disrelli who‚ when faced with opposition from masses of figures‚ retorted "There are three kinds of lie. Lies‚ damn lies and statistics". Whilst most tables are reliant on opinion or selective information‚ the football league standings reflect only fact‚ and therefore should‚ in theory‚ be reliable in helping fans form judgements of the ability of one team compared to another. If only life were as simple - we´d all win the pools every week. Ninth placed Tiverton Town would cruise past 16th place Welling United‚ wouldn´t they? What the tables don´t reveal are all those little unaccountable and sometimes unexpected things that can upset the statistical analysis. Things like resilience‚ determination and the fighting spirit that for well over an hour nearly carried ´underdogs´ Welling to a second Ladysmead victory.

For the first quarter of an hour or so it looked as if‚ like the camera‚ the statistics would not lie. Town‚ fielding two new faces in the shape of defender Jamie Impey and midfielder Chris Holloway‚ were smartly out of the traps and hunting an early goal. On six minutes Steve Winter split Welling wide with a pass that sent Jamie Mudge away down the right to whip in a cross that Richard Pears met side foot in the six yard box. Glen Knight in the visitors goal held the shot well but it wouldn´t have mattered as the flag was up for offside against Pears. Waving his acknowledgement to his assistant‚ Cornish referee Mr West allowed play to flow and kept his whistle away from his mouth. Sadly‚ for the game as a spectacle it was one of the few correct decisions the official was to make all afternoon as he persistently held up the game for the most trivial of offences whilst ignoring some blatant high tackles‚ elbows‚ and general pushing and shoving from both sets of players as they realised he was susceptible to being hoodwinked. A minute after Pearsy´s effort it was his turn to send in a cross which caused panic in the Welling area‚ particularly when an attempted clearance found its way back to him for a second attempt before finally being bundled away to safety.

Town appeared to be well in control as they pressured The Wings back into their own half. When Welling did push forward in the 10th minute they were almost caught as Jason Rees opened them up to send Danny Haines sprinting down the left wing. Despite having to concentrate on controlling the ball Danny outpaced one defender but was foiled as his attempted cross from the corned of the penalty area was deflected out by a second charging across from the middle. It was to be the first of three consecutive corners that Tivvy won as they turned the screw. The pressure failed to reap any reward‚ though‚ as from the last of the series Jamie Impey´s looping header beat Knight but not Billy Burgess who was stationed just perfectly to clear off the line with more than one yellow sleeved arm raised in celebration.

Having survived thus far‚ Welling started to show some self belief and began to battle their way into the contest. Their defence had held firm and the midfield found they didn´t have to play deep to aid in defensive duties. There was a gradual but inexorable shift of the action away from the visitors penalty area
and into midfield. And there the activity stayed for the greatest remaining part of the first half as the game descended into a dire battle for control of the centre of the park. There were moments of incident. A cross from the Welling left was headed wide by Paul Lorraine; Jason Rees took the feet away from under Kevin Seabury and collected a yellow card‚ probably contributed to by a stream of criticism from the Yellows skipper aimed at the officials; but the entertainment value of the game sank to only just above zero as half time approached.

In the 41st minute Welling had the clearest chance of the game so far. Mark Hone broke through the middle‚ turned Impey and slid the ball sideways to Anthony Hogg unmarked and central in front of goal. Thank goodness for Steve Collis who was quickly out to smother and hold the shot when so dangerously exposed. Tiverton had time to mount their first threatening attack for 25 minutes as Haines broke out of defence‚ sent Mudge on a diagonal run that left two defenders in his wake but his angled through ball found Pears in an offside position and was therefore wasted. As Welling came forward again Nathan Rudge clattered into Hogg and though coming away with the ball Rudge left the Welling man in agony on the turf and after a four minute delay he was stretchered off. Rees split the Welling defence again to put Scott Rogers free around the penalty spot but the contact Rogers made was slight and Knight gathered up the ball with no problem. A fair analysis of the 45 minutes would be that we´d seen fifteen minutes football and half an hour of ..............

Hope springs eternal‚ particularly when the half time break livens up the opening moves of the second period. Within a minute Welling broke through theTivvy back line as if the Yellows were still enjoying their interval oranges. Paul Jones‚ who had been as impressive as any of the visitors in the first 45 minutes‚ found the top of the net - above the roof at the Devco end! At the other end Pears got away from his marker and fired in a low cross from the right that was just poked off Rogers toe. All quite bright again‚ until the gloom descended in the 51st minute. Away broke Welling through James Virgo down their left. Over came the cross and there was David Powell at the far post to head home and give the visitors the lead. They had patiently worked at defence and taken their chance when it came.

The goal inspired the Kent side. They played with a confidence that had only been hinted at in the first half. Spreading the ball around they appeared to have no difficulty in holding onto possession‚ finding their colleagues in space and leaving Town chasing round in circles waiting for a chance to dispossess them. After 55 minutes Rob Cousins had to come to the rescue to head clear after a short cross from the goal-line on the Welling right beat Collis and flew close across the goal. Yellows hopes rose briefly when Mudge sent in a long curling cross from the Tiverton right flank that was headed down and back as it looked to be floating wide of the far upright. Rogers was following up but over-ran and the ball came off Richard´s head and fell behind him to be thumped away by The Wings defence. It was difficult to see where an equaliser might come from. One voice close by was heard to say it wouldn´t come from either of the two Tiverton front men. Ironical then that when it did come‚ apparently like a conjurers card from out of thin air‚ it involved both those players. A tentative move down the left. An equally speculative ball into a crowded penalty area. Not a good cross but the ball fell to Pears who blasted it goalwards in the faint hope that it might find its way through the mass of legs and arms. It almost did make it but made the slightest connection with a boot. The foot that made the touch belonged to Mudge and it was just enough of a tickle to deflect the ball past Knight and into the net. I´ll let the two of them fight it out in claiming the goal - all that really mattered was that Tivvy were level after 63 minutes.

It was Town´s turn to show a little confidence and four minutes later the ball was again in the Welling net‚ this time following a Rees free kick‚ this time disallowed for an infringement in the area. Phil Everett replaced Mudge‚ who had not looked as lively as in recent games‚ and again the Yellows went forward. Another long looping free kick from Rees‚ from the centre circle, was headed wide by Impey. More fresh legs as Kevin Nancekivell replaced Holloway who had taken a knock, was limping, and was plainly flagging as he lacked match play. Welling were back to their tactics of the first half. Hold their hosts and wait for the chance to break. When it came via a Burgess break and cross, Lorraine should really have done better than shoot straight at Collis. Nancekivell made his presence felt in the 77th minute as he charged in and poked the ball home after a neat turn and cross by Pears. The referee, however, thought that Knight had been in possession and ruled the goal out.

Into the last 10 minutes and Jones sped clear for the visitors, cut in towards goal only to have the ball prodded off his toe by Rudge. It to fell to substitute Curtis Johnson who, possibly surprised to receive the ball, sent his shot high and wide. By now Town were back where they´d been in the opening ten minutes - well on top. Eighty two minutes gone and two corners to the Yellows. The second was cleared up field where Steve Winter picked up the ball just inside the Tivvy half, 15 yards in from the right touchline. Steve carried the ball forward 20 yards before laying it out to Rogers who had peeled off wide to the wing. Scott travelled with the ball down the line before sending in a low hard cross that flew across the goalmouth to Nancekivell who slid the ball in at the far post. Debatable whether Nancekivell was offside, debatable as to whether they deserved it, but Tivvy were in the lead.

Welling had little left to offer. Everett rode out a couple of suspiciously rough tackles in midfield to sent Rogers through the middle but Scott´s thunderbolt shot curled a foot wide of Knight´s left hand post and then in the extended 90th minute (the referee had been stopping the watch frequently when Welling were in front) it was Winter again that spread The Wings by sending Pears away down the right to deliver another low cross that beat Knight and once more ´Nance´ was on the line to finish the move, the Welling resistance, and effectively the game. Steve Ovens came on for a brief cameo but hardly had time to catch his breath before the final whistle.

The final scoreline of 3-1 flattered Tiverton. Not that Welling were a good side. They had little to offer other than effort, of which they showed an abundance, and Town made hard work of what should have been a far easier task. The referee contributed little to the spectacle and his predilection with an odd foot or so at set pieces, whilst ignoring potentially dangerous challenges from both sides, detracted from the quality of a game that saw neither set of players at their full potential. The table will show that Tiverton took all three points, their first victory over the Kent club. The figures make it look like a comfortable win. Lies, damn lies and statistics.

Tiverton Town: 1. Steve Collis, 2. Steve Winter, 3. Danny Haines, 4. Jamie Impey, 5. Nathan Rudge, 6. Rob Cousins, 7. Chris Holloway, 8. Jason Rees, 9. Richard Pears, 10. Scot Rogers, 11. Jamie Mudge.
Subs: 12. Kevin Nancekivell (Holloway,75), 14. Phil Everett (Mudge,68), 15. Antony Lynch, 16. David Steele, 17. Steve Ovens (Pears,90).
Cards: Yellow: Rees (34).

Welling United: 1. Glen Knight, 2. Billy Burgess, 3. James Virgo, 4. Mark Hone, 5. Tim O´Shea, 6. Luke Morrish, 7. Paul Lorraine, 8. Kevin Seabury, 9. Paul Jones, 10. Dave Powell, 11. Anthony Hogg.
Subs: 12. Dean Standen (Hogg,42), 14. Curtis Johnson (Lorraine,79), 15. Neil Donn, GK, James Simpson.
Cards: None

Referee: M. G. West (St Austell).

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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