The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club


Tiverton Town 1 - 1 King's Lynn

Saturday 11/09/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

From a geographical viewpoint‚ East Anglia has never been one of my favourite parts of these sceptre isles. Like a can of Coca Cola that has been opened and then abandoned for a week‚ I find landscape loses its appeal when it goes flat‚ and that is clearly the case when one gets to the areas abutting Kings Lynn. True I have some fond memories of visits to the home of The Linnets‚ this occasion´s guests at Ladysmead but they are more than off-set by the blandness of my surroundings whenever I have ventured into Norfolk. Not a slope in sight to conjure up images of training runs on my skis in the winter (I have occasional fantasies of being something of a piste artist)‚ nor the vision of a cascading waterfall swollen by a sudden storm. No‚ if water falls on Norfolk´s plains it inevitably avoids the drains and lies in puddles that can easily become lakes. Such was the precipitation that descended on The Walks‚ home of Kings Lynn FC a couple of seasons ago. No doubt King John‚ having lost his Jewels in The Wash‚ had similar bitter feelings about the locality‚ though in his circumstances a flying visit to salvage the situation on a Tuesday evening a couple of months later was hardly a viable proposition. But hey‚ there is a consolation. Competing in the same division does bring The Linnets to Ladysmead as well as sending Tivvy on the 540 mile round trip to horizon stretching flatlands. And when in the past they have come to the lush‚ rolling hills of Devon they have managed to provide stiff and testing opposition. On this occasion‚ though‚ both sides were struggling to recover from indifferent and inconsistent starts to the season so there was a question mark over the likely entertainment value of the encounter even if the form book said it should be another close contest. Would either or both teams overcome the nervousness that accompanied their predicament? Both sets of fans‚ and no doubt the players‚ management (new and temporary in the case of the visitors)‚ and officials of both clubs (sounds like a quote from Chairman Dave´s programme notes!) hoped - even prayed - that would be the case.

It is becoming a habit‚ since Halesowen at least‚ for Tivvy to start quickly and push forward from the off. This game proved no exception to that new found rule and The Yellows looked decidedly lively. Five minutes in they could have nosed in front. Paul Milsom headed the ball forward to Tom Stocco who brought the ball down well and shielded it as he pushed it wide to Steve Winter. Winter swung in a telling curling cross to the far post where David Steele met it with a firm header that flew inches wide of the target. Kings Lynn‚ though‚ were not being over-run and when going forward were stringing together passes between some lively looking runners. That was the case in the 9th minute and Tivvy were lucky to escape going behind when the final shot from Mark Angel swung just high and wide of the angle of crossbar and upright. As has been the case frequently of late‚ Tiverton´s best chances of success came as a direct result of set pieces. The unlucky for some 13th minute saw Winter lift a free kick forward from the half way line. Nathan Rudge had moved forward and managed to get his head to the ball and turn it down into the path of Chris Vinnicombe who let fly. A defender deflected the shot to Jamie Mudge who also saw his shot blocked but not controlled. This time it was David Steele that was the lucky recipient but once again a crashing shot was blocked and deflected out to Mudge for a second attempt. The Tiverton striker drove a rising shot across the face of the goal and just as it seemed the side netting was going to bulge at last‚ a full length leap by Lynn keeper Aaron Osborne saw a gloved hand palm the ball off trajectory and past the top right hand corner of the woodwork for a corner. It was the first time a visitor had actually played the ball in the entire sequence. All other touches had been unintentional blocks‚ Unlucky 13 did I say? Not for the Norfolk gang‚ obviously!

Maintaining the habit of recent games‚ having failed to capitalise on possession and Opportunities early on‚ Tivvy failed to maintain the momentum and the game settled into a more even pattern. For all the energy they were expending the visitors attackers were showing as little penetration going forward as had their hosts. Milsom was effective as a stopper‚ though what happened when he actually gained possession of the ball was as chancy as the National Lottery. It might be played calmly to a colleague - sideways of course - or hoofed desperately clear if under pressure. Rob Cousins was faring little better on the other side and he has not got the advantage of Milsom´s height. Rudge‚ for all his apparent awkwardness was as sound as a rock. Which left us with a midfield tussle that refused to be resolved in favour of either side and thus resulted in a dearth of goal-scoring opportunities. One break from the Yellows did look promising. With 26 minutes on the clock‚ Mark Ovendale rolled the ball out to Rudge who found Cousins wide on the left. Cousins moved the ball quickly forward and Town broke through the middle in the shape of Mudge who got the direction of his shot right but the power was insufficient to beat Osborne. The Linnets continued to look mobile both on and off the ball but the incision was still lacking and by upping their game in the last five minutes before the interval it was Town that looked most likely to break the first period deadlock. First a nice break from a long Ovendale clearance brought a fine full length save from Osborne as he fell on Vinnicombe´s low drive. Then a minute later Mudge beat the offside trap to chase a long ball down the right‚ cut in and beat the keeper with a ground level effort that just skimmed the upright on its way out for a goal kick. and in added time Rudge saw his header turned out by a defender after Steele had lifted a free kick from just inside the visitor half into their six yard box. When the whistle brought proceedings to a temporary halt‚ there was little doubt from a glance at the shots on/off target and corner counts that Town had had the better of the opening 45 minutes. But what had they to show for it? Zilch!

The habit that has developed‚ since Halesowen at least‚ also dictates that The Yellows should start the second half fully awake‚ bright eyed and bushy tailed. Again there was no exception on this occasion. The difference being that the second period of sustained pressure tends to last for a shorter period....like about half as long. The 46th minute saw Steele send a long swerving pass diagonally forward and across field to Mudge on the opposite corner of the visitors penalty area. Just such a defence splitting ball from Vinnicombe had see Mudge nip round the back of his marker and hit the net against Stamford but there was to be no repeat this time as his attempt was weak and wide. Two minutes later and Tivvy were almost in front as a defender nearly did what the home front men had so far failed to do - beat Osborne. It was a Mudge cross from the left that caused the problem but the keeper´s reactions stood the test as the ball was suddenly launched in a loop up off his colleagues boot and threatened to go over him and drop in the net. But the scoresheet remained blank. The expected lull failed to materialise as the match eased towards the hour mark. Then the pattern was broken. Tivvy‚ despite still having the better of things made a double substitution. Steve Winter‚ suffering with a back problem‚ was replaced by Matt Lock; Jamie Densham coming on for the largely ineffective Stocco. Though neither were directly involved‚ the changes brought a tangible result in the 65th minute as Kevin Wills accepted the present of a bad headed clearance and snaffled up the ball to advance on and then round Osborne to thump the ball under the dropping keeper and into the net to give Tivvy the lead. On chances created and shots on goal there could be little doubt that it was a case of and about time too. Two minutes later Lock‚ who was already putting himself about and getting well forward‚ tried a long range shot from out on the right but was way adrift with his direction.

It was time for the visitors to make some changes of their own and two substitutions in four minutes brought them back to life. The pressure was applied on the Tiverton defence but the mid field appeared to have gone AWOL and resorting to big boot clearances saw The home side unable to clear their lines as the ball came straight back at them. When they tried to pass the ball out of defence they suffered from a surfeit of generosity and the ball inevitably ended up at the feet of an opponent. It was not backs to the wall´ defending but the territorial advantage was certainly with the guests. With five minutes to go there was the biggest scare. Ovendale came to collect a long ball forward. Rudge was chasing too‚ closely accompanied by a Lynn forward. All three were clearly going to meet at the edge of the penalty area. Ovendale hesitated, hoping no doubt for the headed back pass. Confusion.... and Ovendale took things into his own hands as Rudge peeled away. Out of the area came the keeper, clattering the KL man as he did. No hesitation from the man in black, free kick and yellow for Ovendale. Happily for Tivvy the kick was lofted way, way, over the top. Still, though, The Yellows were on the back foot and unable to move play away from their penalty area. The 90th minute. A corner. Tivvy on the back foot. Thoughts of Merthyr. No, it can´t happen again......Yes it can! An inswinging kick, close in. Up go the heads...one, that of Carl Holmes, an inch or two higher than the rest. A looping header and the ball in the net. 1-1. It could have been worse. In added time a cross from substitute Chris Bacon (Can´t help wondering if his middle name is Phil, or Pat, or Percival) flew right across the Tivvy goalmouth to narrowly miss the far post. An inch or more bend´ or the slightest touch and a win would have been turned into a draw and a draw turned into a defeat.

It is frustrating as well as heartbreaking to have what should have been six points from the last two games only yield a single goal and a single point. Even though Tivvy have not been playing exceptionally well they have deserved more. The result, coupled with others from teams around them leaves them in 18th place in the table.....they are. we know. better than that. Let´s not worry about the performances. What we need are some points in the bag; the performances will follow with the confidence that will come from having something to show for their efforts. In our first season after promotion we actually slipped to 19th in the table even later than this into the season. We finished 6th. Keep the faith yet awhile.

Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter (Matt Lock, 62), Chris Vinnicombe, Paul Milsom, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Wills Iain Harvey, Tom Stocco (Jamie Densham, 62), David Steele, James Mudge.

Subs not used: Shaun Goff, Mike Booth, David Hallett

Yellow card: Ovendale, Densham.

Kings Lynn: Aaron Osborne, Daryl Sutch, Nicky Blake, Mark Camm, Adam Jones, Gary Setchell (Mark Heath-Preston, 68) Carl Holmes, Craig Fishlock, Tony Battersby (Chris Bacon, 80), Banny Bloomfield, Mark Angel (Robbie Harris, 72).

Subs not used: Wayne Anderson, John Higgs.

Yellow Cards: Fishlock, Holmes, Setchell.

Referee: S Robbins (Bristol).

Att: 433

This report ©2004 John Reidy