The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club


Gloucester City 1 - 1 Tiverton Town

Tuesday 02/11/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Gloucester City are one of those clubs that seem‚ to me at least‚ to be a permanent fixture in the Southern League. Right back in the early days of my interest in football they were one of the teams that I can remember seeing at The Manor when they made their visits to face Headington United. For some reason‚ perhaps because the fixtures were played midweek and I had to be up for school next morning‚ I failed to return the compliment and visit the City myself. Indeed it was not until I was into my late twenties that I ever set foot in the place. Strangely‚ it was to be a similar space of time before my second visit and just as odd is the fact that I have yet to see much of the scenery since both those previous visits were in the dark. That first venture into the administrative heart of Gloucestershire came on the evening of my wedding day. Not particularly wanting to spend the night in a Motorway Holiday Inn or the like‚ my bride and I slipped of the route North in search of more atmospheric´ accommodation. There was none to be found. No room at the Inn. Had the young lady been with child´ we might have settled for a place in a stable - and the consequences - but we pressed on. Three years ago the second visit also had loose biblical connections. The game was one of many that were postponed‚ and then postponed again due to The Great Flood´. No thanks to Noah‚ the football club survived what could have been a fatal catastrophe and when the waters that had submerged their pitch to a depth of seven feet or more had subsided‚ Tivvy travelled up the M5 to face the Tigers......night time again‚ of course! And here we were‚ my third visit. Meadow Park after sunset - and for once I could see no connection to The Good Book. What I was well aware of‚ as were all Tiverton fans‚ was the need to continue the form that had been shown in the previous Saturday´s FA Cup tie into the League. It´s damn uncomfortable having twenty one other clubs on top of you.

The Yellows starting line up was unchanged and rightly so. Also unchanged was the way they set about the game. As early as the third minute they might have taken the lead from the first corner of the game when Kezie Ibe headed wide from Mike Booth´s inswinging kick from the left. Both sides seemed prepared to throw the normal tentative exploration of the opposition to the wind and City tried to run at the Tiverton defence but‚ like Newport found it akin to running at a solid brick wall. What was going to be crucial was not the abilities of forwards or defenders but who controlled the play in the central areas. It didn´t take Town long to establish themselves in that role. Booth and Shaun Goff had the energy to both harass and win the ball and to drive forward‚ Kevin Wills showed the perceptive distribution that had been so much in evidence pre-season but had seemed to evaporate until Saturday. Tivvy were soon on top and should have been in front after nine minutes when a Jamie Mudge shot was deflected for a corner on the left. From the kick the ball was headed clear to Chris Vinnicombe who pushed it forward for Booth but the youngster lost control and appeared to have lost his chance until the ball was passed back to him by a Gloucester boot. Booth crashed his shot into the net but was deflated as the referee disallowed the strike for offside. The only possible explanation is that Booth had been offside as the first ball was played to him. Err....I wonder if the officials involved are aware that eye tests are still free on the NHS even if the glasses are not? Tivvy‚ though‚ did not have to wait long for their efforts- superior if not dominant - were to be rewarded. After Mudge gad been caught offside‚ City caused havoc in the Tiverton goalmouth with a right wing break that saw Lee Davis send Lee Smith free and the wingback´s cross was touched goalwards by Marvin Thompson with only Mark Ovendale´s legs saving the day. As so often seems to happen these days the escape saw The Yellows (in all white! all right?) bounce back with a goal. Moving forward on the left‚ Wills glanced up into the centre and spotted Mudge drifting wide to the right of his marker. Over went the ball right to Mudge´s boot. A touch to bring it down‚ a touch or two to leave the defender further adrift and a touch - considerably more powerful - to drive the ball under City keeper Matt Bath and into the net.
The 17th minute lead took the tension out of the visitors play and for the next fifteen they looked as if they might well increase it. After good work on the left by Vinnicombe and a final cross to the far post‚ Mudge´s header back across the goalmouth was wasted in a gaping space and on the 25th minute a repeat of the scoring build up failed when Wills´ ball into Mudge bounced a little high and though the striker lifted his boot thigh high to fire in a shot it flew straight at Bath´s midriff. Bath was having a magnificent time as he safely held a shot from Goff just two minutes later though when the same Tiverton man tried again on the half hour the City keeper was relieved to see the ball curl inches wide. No such easy escape was available three minutes later when Rob Cousins found it was his turn to give Mudge an opening. Long through the middle Mudge showed perfect control to bring the ball down and nip between two defenders to drive in another low shot. It brought another fine save from Bath as he held the ball cleanly at full stretch down to his right. It was not only the keeper that was keeping the score down and that was never more evident than in those four minutes or so following the half hour mark. As Tivvy kept the pressure on there were blocks and boots from the home defenders to help him. And as those blocks and boots came out of the penalty area more Tivvy shirts were sucked forward to put the ball back into the danger zone - dangerous for the home side‚ that is. Conversely that caused The expansion of Tiverton´s vulnerability to the break and as sure as eggs is eggs they were caught. Or at least Nathan Rudge was caught with two City men coming at him. Trying to narrow the passing options and win the ball as well‚ Rudge was further outnumbered when Dave Wilkinson joined in with a charge on the left. With Rudge´s feet in a tangle the ball was laid into Wilkinson´s path with a clear run on goal and only Ovendale to beat........he was beaten. There could be little complaint from Town‚ they paid the price for concentrating so much on attack that they forgot to cover themselves at the back. Even so‚ they should still have taken the break in front. Another fine save by Bath from Mudge on 39 and then on 42 Mudge firing in a low cross that was headed for the net thanks to a deflection off Marvin Thompson´s boot until Bath managed to palm the ball across the goalmouth. All David Steele needed to do at the far post was touch the ball over the line. No! he missed it so it was all square at the break.

Tivvy again came out of the dressing rooms firing on all cylinders. Within a few minutes‚ though‚ it was clear that that were not the only ones and City were looking far livelier than they had in the opening period. The result was a free flowing contest that moved from one penalty area to the other. Neither team seemed to have control of the centre of the field - both playing through it at speed - but defences were sound and for all the action in the opening fifteen minutes there were few direct attempts on goal. For Tivvy Ibe continued to tussle with his marker‚ now Lyndon Tomkins after Neil Griffiths had seen yellow for his restraining tactics of the first half‚ and the supply of shots from Mudge appeared to have dried up until Midway through the half Booth carried the ball through the middle to tee Mudge up. Once more Bath dealt with the effort competently. The start of the substitutions round did not disrupt the game as much as normally happens and City were showing signs of being the prime movers when it came to attacking play as they forced Tiverton back leaving the visitors to rely on quick breaks. One such break should have brought a goal for Town. Vinnicombe turned an effort from Marvin Thompson over the crossbar for a corner and the kick was cleared upfield Mudge who sprinted down the right before laying the ball into the path of David Steele who had also shot out of the defensive position. Steele was on his own as he took the pass in his stride and closed on the penalty area‚ and Bath. Steele is no striker though and once again Bath was the City star as he managed to block with his feet and keep the game finely balanced.
With fifteen minutes remaining there was no doubt that the home side were on top. It was Ovendale´s turn to be the goalkeeping hero as he got down well to an attempt from Smith that threatened to creep just inside his right hand post as the City wide defender pushed well forward and five minutes later it was the same combination in action as Ovendale flipped a low shot round for a corner after Lee had made a powerful wing run. Through the final ten minutes the play was almost entirely in midfield and the Tiverton half. City always looked as if they might complete their recovery from a torrid first half by sneaking a second goal but though conceding a number of corners Tiverton hung on. The biggest scare for Tivvy came in the 89th minute when Tom Webb unleashed a shot that was certainly goal bound until Rob Cousins deflected the ball out and Town´s final chance‚ deep into added time‚ was wasted when Mudge hoisted a free kick laughingly high and out of the ground from five yards outside the City penalty area.

The points were shared - as was the game. Tiverton could have been out of sight by the half time break but they weren´t and City roared´ back well to have the better of the second period. On that basis a draw was probably a fair outcome. The goalkeepers can take the credit for that - both of them and we´ll do it all again in a couple of weeks time........

Tiverton Town: Mark Ovendale‚ David Steele‚ Chris Vinnicombe‚ Mike Booth‚ Nathan Rudge‚ Rob Cousins‚ Kevin Wills Iain Harvey‚ Shaun Goff (Tom Stocco‚ 69)‚ Kezie Ibe‚ James Mudge.

Subs not used: Dave Hallett, Paul Milsom, Jamie Densham.

Booked: None.

Gloucester City: Matt Bath, Lee Smith, Marvin Thompson, Neil Griffiths, Lyndon Tomkins, Chris Thompson, Neil Mustoe, Tom Webb, Daryl Addis, Lee Davis (Jimmy Cox, 67), Dave Wilkinson.

Subs not used: James Reid, Eddie Rimmer, Keith Knight, Adie Harris.

Booked: Griffiths, Wilkinson, Mustoe.

Att: 347

Referee: Mr Barry Gee (Dursley) .

This report ©2004 John Reidy