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Tiverton Town 1 - 0 Chelmsford City

Monday 03/05/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

I´m no psychiatrist so it´s not surprising that I make no claim to understand some traits of the human psyche. One that has baffled me for more years than I care to think of is that displayed by your average masochist‚ though the last few weeks have given me reason to wonder if I myself might be showing tendencies in that dubious direction. No‚ I haven´t been roaming around openly asking acquaintances to Beat Me With Your Rhythm Stick´ (whatever one of them might be) but on the assumption that the pleasure from pain syndrome applies equally to both physical and mental torture‚ and its pursuit‚ then all of us that have persevered in turning up week in‚ week out‚ to watch Tiverton Town have to question our mental state. I have heard it jokingly suggested that the good thing about pain is that it is so pleasant when it stops but the May Day home defeat at the hands of Hednesford did nothing to curtail the suffering of the Ladysmead faithful - indeed it prolonged it‚ possibly by as much as a week and two further games. And still we came back for more........or some of us did.

There was nowhere to hide. No chance of a draw. The end if defeated. Carl Cliff Brown was the first to show the spirit that was required after just 10 seconds‚ charging through the middle to fire in the first shot of the game - wide‚ but promising and morale boosting. City recovered from the near shock and showed that they too were up for it´‚ though it was not until the eighth minute that they seriously threatened in an opening session that was being undertaken at a frantic pace. City won a corner on their right and when the kick was hoisted into the six yard box there was a bout of head tennis that saw the ball fly off the crossbar from Garry Cross´s header before being cleared away off the upright by Jason Rees from Gary Ansell´s follow up. Out on the City left‚ George Lay forced in another shot and established himself as the Essex side´s main threat - by far their liveliest forward. Though the speed of the game was maintained‚ the early chances that they had conceded seemed to make both sides a little cautious and the affair developed into a midfield contest with the visitors probably shading things by winning a higher percentage of the 50/50 balls. Town‚ though‚ did look more likely to find a break through since they had a greater degree of variety at the front but even that brought little in the way of clear cut scoring opportunities and both keepers were able to enjoy a period of virtual semi-retirement. Perhaps that was not a good thing in the case of Tiverton´s Stuart Fraser who after a prolonged period of inactivity was suddenly called into action in the 27th minute to deal with a long floating shot from way out wide on the City left by‚ predictably‚ Lay. Fraser took two attempts to field the ball but with the Claret´s remaining attackers ineffective was able to do so unchallenged. City were beginning to offer more threat around the half hour mark but it was short lived as The Yellows turned the screw a little more and got themselves well on top.
A 35th minute corner was wasted as it was taken short by Steve Winter‚ who by this time had all but subdued Lay‚ but then over-hit the second cross; the ball flying into open space at the back of the penalty area with so sign of a yellow shirt following in down the right - the area that Winter had vacated to take the set piece. A minute later Steve Ovens came as close to scoring as anyone had (excluding the intervention of the woodwork and Rees at the other end) when he almost managed to bodily bundle the ball past Paul Nicholls in the visitors goal as he made dubious contact with a long throw-in from David Steele. Nicholls showed that he too was awake despite the quiet period‚ grabbing the ball close to the near post. It was just as well the City custodian was keeping his wits about him as three minutes on he had to get down low to hold a Kevin Nancekivell shot after Nance´ had pounced onto Winter´s touched on header from Rob Cousins´ clearance from the edge of the Tiverton penalty area. The burst of activity fizzled out and there was noticeable movement from beyond the touchline as the customers began to anticipate the break and move towards the refreshments in an attempt to beat the queues - most resigned to a scoreless first half. The fourth official - such luxury! - had other ideas and signalled a further three minutes were to be played. Once again it was cousins that played the perceptive and defence destroying ball out from the back. Nancekivell darted through‚ beating the upraised hands of the City backliners‚ and was free towards the Tivvy left. Chased by the defenders he was forced wide but kept going to the by-line where he managed to twist himself and turn the ball low across the goalmouth. It was laid back too far for Nicholls who had come to the near post and behind the retreating backs. Across the six-yard box. Carl Cliff-brown had thundered through in anticipation but couldn´t´ get a touch. Two yards beyond CC-B was Ovens‚ facing the ball as it came on to him but with a claret shirt in close proximity on his right shoulder. Struggling to hold the ball‚ Ovens turned through a complete 270 degrees to stab it over the line. The deadlock was broken‚ and if we are to believe the common adage‚ the goal came at a perfect time. It certainly made the half time tea sweeter - even though I don´t take sugar in mine.

We have been at this stage so often before‚ only to go to pieces after the break as our visitors were fired up in the dressing rooms. It would not have surprised anyone if City had returned to the fray with all guns blazing. Strangely they didn´t. It was quite likely that the reason was The Yellows were just as equally fired up and were determined that there should be no re-occurrence of the familiar scenario. Indeed it was Town that looked likely to increase their margin for a while five minutes or so into the half. It started with a Paul Chenoweth corner on the right‚ curled in to create enough pressure to be promptly dispatched for another corner on the left. A similar fate for the ball - another corner to the pressing Yellows. Then it went wrong as the ball made it into the six yard box but there was some illegal shoving and City were able to clear their lines with a free kick. But within a minute Tivvy were challenging again as Winter pumped the ball in from the right‚ CC-B flicked a headed goalwards but Nicholls collected. Five minutes later and it was Rees that supplied the ball for Ovens to chase but the rampant Tivvy front man was challenged as he shot. Ovens recovered but Nicholls scrambled the ball away with his feet as he dashed in and Nancekivell was beaten by a City man to the rebound. Another lengthy stoppage whilst Rees received attention following a boot in the eye - no‚ the foot wasn´t high but neither was Jason´s head - and after Goff had replaced the Tiverton skipper sand the resulting shuffle of positions had taken place‚ Holloway was feeding Steele on the right. David turned inside to launch a shot straight at Nicholls bit if this was defending a single goal lead then let´s hope we see more of it!
Midway through the period and both sides made changes. Chelmsford in an effort to strengthen their attacking‚ Tivvy to maintain the momentum. City´s increased exertions brought them little success other than to get them off the back foot and into midfield where they began to stretch the Tiverton defence a little - but with Winter and Cousins playing at their unpressumtious best there was ample elasticity‚ though it did become far more physical. Gradually the visitors edged on top‚ driven by desperation one suspects. But the cost was inevitable. Gaps began to show at the back and Jamie Mudge was brought on to replace Cliff-Brown and attempt to exploit the weakness. The changes‚ though moving the area of play‚ were not enough for either side to take advantage off. Chenoweth fired in a cross that Nathan Rudge launched himself at but was turned away for a corner and then breaking from a similar set piece at the other end Mudge sent Chenoweth sprinting through the middle onto a ground level through pass‚ only for the ball to kick up off his heel as he over ran it. City came wit a final push but it didn´t amount to much. A lobbed shot from Gareth Street that fell comfortably for Fraser and an almost comical swing from inside his own half by City captain Ian Wiles which again failed to bother Fraser. Matching his first half performance‚ the fourth official held up the board announcing there would be three minutes added time. It made no difference.

At last Tiverton Town could enter a victory on their tally sheet. Now another one at St James Park on Saturday and the even playing field can be resumed next season.


Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser‚ Steve Winter‚ David Steele Jason Rees (Shaun Goff‚ 62)‚ Nathan Rudge‚ Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Carl Cliff-Brown (Jamie Mudge, 82), Paul Chenoweth, Steve Ovens (Darren Edwards, 72).
Subs not used: David Hallett, Ian Nott.
Booked: Cliff-Brown, Chenoweth, Holloway, Mudge.

Chelmsford City: Paul Nicholls, Wes Faulkner (Rob Whitnell, 68), Iain O´Connell (Steve Bennett, 84), Gareth Street, Liam Hopkins, Ian Wiles, Garry Cross, Steve Norman, Fabian Forde, Gary Ansell (Steve Butterworth, 55), George Lay.
Subs not used: Matt Jones, Dan Trenker.
Booked: Wiles.

Referee: John Farries (Fewcott, Oxfordshire)

This report ©2004 John Reidy