Match report

Tiverton Town 3 - 3 Chelmsford City

   Saturday 23/11/2002   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

For the second time in less than 24 hours I found that phrase about imitation and flattery running through my mind as I faced a blank screen after another confusing afternoon at Ladysmead. I can remember all my playmates wanting to ´be´ Stan Matthews or Tom Finney when we picked up sides for a game of street football. Ever the one to avoid arguments I was happy‚ as a ´wanabe´ goalkeeper‚ to adopt the mantle of Sam Bartram. ´Who´s ´e´‚ I hear some of the younger readers mutter. Sam was possibly the best ´keeper never to win an England cap. Highly respected - never given the accolade - perhaps because he was ever loyal to unfashionable Charlton Athletic. Never mind‚ he was still the man I tried to imitate. Not that I ever saw him play. My total information was gained from the back pages of the Daily Mirror and the book in the local library on goalkeeping techniques‚ on which I almost wore my ticket out. And so to the visit of Chelmsford City. Who were the Yellows going to attempt to imitate as they searched for their first win over a team that I could remember from those days almost half a century ago? Would I be groaning at another performance that mirrored Weston St John of the Somerset Senior League a couple of seasons ago as they completed an entire campaign without a win‚ or would I be singing ´ Its just like watching Brazil´ as Tivvy turned on the style as we know they can and paid homage to Pele & Co? In an attempt to sway matters‚ I chose to wear my yellow and green shirt as a vest........ superstitious‚ optimist!

For the opening minutes I was sure my choice of underwear was working. Tivvy looked classy as they ploughed forward on a heavy pitch. David Steele‚ called into the squad to replace injured Steve Winter‚ was the first to show the intent of the Yellows. He cruised past Ian Cousins down the right touchline to send in a cross that was full of promise but lead to nought. Town were making all the running‚ spreading the ball around‚ looking confident and maintaining a constant‚ steady‚ if not telling‚ pressure on the City defence. With ten minutes gone it was Steele again down the right and what could have been a flukey goal as his cross from just inside the touchline was too far forward for the strikers‚ behind the defenders‚ and flashed past both Paul Nicholls in the Chelmsford goal and the upright by mere inches. Not that City were without their moments. They had created their first chance three minutes earlier. Austin Berkley had made ground down the left‚ as he was to do frequently through the afternoon‚ and forced the ball into the goalmouth right to the toe of former Kettering Town striker Dale Watkins. Watkins with all the space in the world‚ and all the time in the calendar to go with it‚ somehow managed to scoop the ball way over the crossbar towards the swimming pool. Had the visitors taken the lead at that point it would hardly have been surprising‚ given the Yellows record of coming from behind.

Before the quarter of an hour mark was passed‚ Town should have made certain that this was one game that they would not have to show their powers of recovery in. Steve Ovens who was popping up all over the place‚ suddenly appeared wide on the left to collect a long clearance. Down the wing he sped‚ passing Brian Statham‚ who was no where near as fast as his cricketing namesake of the 60´s‚ and cutting in towards Nicholls. The problem is that we´ve seen Ovo in these one on one situations so often that we almost expect the keeper to insert some part of his anatomy between the ball and goal. Sure enough‚ Steve hit is shot and Nicholls slid his legs out to deflect away. Minutes later Steve Peters lost out at the second time of asking in a challenge on the experienced Phil Gray and was left standing as the former Oxford United stalwart made a beeline for the goal-line before laying the ball back deep to Watkins on the edge of the area. With an unobstructed view of the goal Watkins should have done better than send his effort where his earlier one had gone - heading towards the deep end. So the Poppies reject had had two chances and missed them both.

Tivvy were more than able to match that. Ovens and Phil Everett contrived to upend each other after Ovo had jinked his way in from the right. Phil then teed up Scott Rogers who made his bid for the highest miss of the afternoon‚ Danny Haines had Nicholls stretching forward and low to scoop up a cross from the left wing that was just screaming for a Yellows foot to give it the final touch. Town had enjoyed thirty minutes of almost total domination and creativity but to no avail. The ball had not hit the net. City had defended reasonably well‚ had absorbed the pressure and kept themselves in the hunt. They began to assert themselves. Firstly they stopped the Town attacks a little further from their penalty area. Then they edged themselves on top in midfield. And finally they started to apply a degree of squeeze themselves. With 33 minutes gone they found the net and left me wondering what colour goal shy Weston St. J. had played in. A clumsy tackle from Nathan Rudge left Watkins writhing on the deck. Free kick 10 yards outside the area and the Tiverton wall slow to retreat. Whilst the referee was edging them back Gray curled the ball over them and wide of Eddy‚ into the net. There as much joy and celebration from the Essex contingent behind the goal but it was short lived as the official ordered the kick to be retaken - when he signalled that he was ready. Gray tried again but this time hit the wall and the Tivvy fans breathed again.

City had fought their way into the game but it was still the Yellows that were looking more like breaking the deadlock. But only looking like it. Ian Cousins gave Tivvy a corner with an errant back pass when under no pressure in the 36th minute. After what seemed an age of ´faffing´ about as if to take it short‚ Rudge powered forward and the ball was sent in long and high. Nathan met it‚ heading down into the ground and off target‚ but it fell to the foot of Everett who span and turned as he shot. Pretty‚ but high. Tivvy were getting frustrated by their own failure in front of goal and that frustration showed as they collected a pair of totally unnecessary yellow cards‚ firstly by Kevin Nancekivell for a silly challenge on the keeper and two minutes later by Jason Rees for ´speaking´ to the referee´s assistant. With the fans drifting towards the tea hut there was one more chance for the Yellows. Rees split the Chelmsford midfield to send Everett away down the left. Phil´s low‚ hard cross flew across the goalmouth where Ovens‚ sliding in‚ failed to make contact with the goal gaping. Typically for the way things were going it would have made no difference as the flag was up for offside. One final burst by City. Down their left. Berkley‚ not for the first time‚ had the beating of Steele. He fired in a cross to the foot of the near post. Eddy fell on it‚ smothered it, lost it. Tony Samuels was on the spot to scramble the ball away from the Tiverton keeper and past him into the net. This time it counted. Town were behind again. The half time refreshments had a familiar unpalatable taste.

The Yellows started the second half determined to redeem themselves. Within three minutes Everett forced the ball home in a goalmouth scramble but was judged to be offside. After 54 minutes Ovo burst through on a run, slipped the ball sideways to Phil who rushed his shot and sent it wide. Chelmsford countered. Berkley escaped again down the left to send in a long high cross that Gray met firmly, forcing Edwards to spring up and backwards to flick just over the crossbar. A minute later Berkley again underlined his position as the visitors chief threat as he swung in another left wing cross that had Gray making a spectacular forward leap but failing to make contact. Chelmsford were beginning to look the better side as their confidence grew. They were defending solidly, breaking quickly and leaving the home fans wondering from whence an equaliser might come. They didn´t have to wonder long. Came the 61st minute, Town pushing forward, another speculative cross into the area, headed down and back to Everett central on the edge of the area. Phil hit it, and for once made decent contact to see the ball fly through the defenders in front of him and leave Nicholls unable to do anything other than turn to retrieve the ball from the net. Phil´s delight was unmeasurable. His first goal since he struck the winner against Newport County back in early September warranted the level of celebration. It was the start of an 18 minute goal fest. The feeling that if the Yellows had been able to break through once, more goals would follow was soon justified. Steve Peters was moving forward in support of many Tiverton attacks. After 67 minutes Rudge flicked the ball forward to him . Steve looped up a cross to the far post where Everett was unmarked and faced with the simplest of headers to put Tivvy in the lead. The recovery process was complete - we thought. Two minutes later Phil could have had his hat-trick as his lobbed shot crept inches past the crossbar/upright angle with Nicholls beaten.

Town were rampant, City were on the back foot. Chelmsford mounted what was now a rare attack. Long cross headed out. It fell to Gary Cross, some 40 yards out. It fell perfectly. Cross hit it on the volley. Straight as a die, a foot above the ground, inside Eddy´s right hand post with the Tiverton keeper not having time to see it, let alone move. A tremendous goal - a candidate for strike of the season at Ladysmead. And Chelmsford level again. Seventy-one minutes on the watch. Not for long were the visitors level. No sign of dropping heads from the Yellows. Back in the hunt for another goal. Scott Rogers floated in a cross. Everett was up to head downwards and goalwards. Nicholl was down to get a hand to it but couldn´t hold it and Nance was on the spot, following up, to hoof the ball home, restoring the lead just a minute after it had slipped (been blasted?) away. There followed a quieter period. Town continued to have the better of things but both sets of players were tiring on a heavy pitch. Chris Holloway replaced Jason Rees giving the Tiverton midfield a definite attacking look, particularly with central defender Peters continuing to move forward frequently. It was this forward movement that led to the last goal. Peters was there on the end of a high ball to nod down to the foot of ´Nance´. Kevin struck, again Nicholls legs were in the right place. the ball was hoofed away upfield to the lone figure of substitute Barry Lakin who, with little other option, ran at the defence. Fresh legs carried him through three challenges and he somehow managed to force the ball past Edwards for a second equaliser.

There were eleven minutes remaining but the pace dropped dramatically. Chelmsford were happy with what they had, Tiverton had little left to offer that was lively enough to secure the additional points. Even when the sprightly Austin Berkley motored downthe left wing one more time he ran out of steam and fired weakly into the side netting.

It might not have been the result that the Town fans wanted but there were no complaints about the entertainment value offered by both sides. If both teams had converted 50% of their chances the final score would have been about 10-3 to the Yellows. But that was if..........And Tivvy failed to imitate anybody other than their own, frustrating selves.

Tiverton Town: 1. Paul Edwards, 2. David Steele, 3. Danny Haines, 4. Steve Peters, 5. Nathan Rudge, 6. Rob Cousins, 7. Kevin Nancekivell, 8. Jason Rees, 9. Phil Everett, 10. Scot Rogers, 11. Steve Ovens.
Subs: 12. Richard Pears, 14. Mudge, 15. Anton Lynch (Everett,86), 16. Steve Winter, 17. Chris Holloway (Rees,77).
Cards: Yellow: Nancekivell (38), Rees (40).

Chelmsford City: 1. Paul Nicholls, 2. Brian Statham, 3. Ian Cousins, 4. Lee Kersey, 5. Ian Wiles, 6. Danny Slatter, 7. Gary Cross, 8. Mike Rutherford, 9. Dale Watkins, 10. Phil Gray, 11. Austin Berkley.
Subs: 12. Tony Samuels (Slatter,14), 14. Keith Sharman (Watkins,79), 15. Barry Lakin (Cousins,50), 16, Steve Butterworth.
Cards: Berkley (57).

Referee: P. A. Hurron (Plymouth).

This report ©2002 John Reidy






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