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Tiverton Town 1 - 3 Dorchester Town

Saturday 08/05/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

Well it's time to say goodbye my friends
I'm glad you stayed until the end... (White Lion)

It was not the end that Tivvy and their fans‚ including myself - or a high percentage of pundits and bookmakers - had expected from The Yellows. From the moment the fixtures were published‚ the final fixture on May Day was viewed as nothing more likely than a date filler‚ an unimportant‚ insignificant end of season run-around; the day for a party. It was not to be‚ as we soon came to realise; and like that song that 'Metal Rockers' White Lion always used to end their gigs‚ it was not to be goodbye‚ only farewell as the season was extended into the play-offs. 'Ends' have a finality about them and whatever the outcome of this play-off final it was not going to be the end. Whether the parting was to be bitter‚ sweet‚ or bitter sweet depended entirely on the last 90 minutes of football‚ though the options hardly included 'sweet' if the entire season was viewed

And the bitter-sweet option didn't hang around for very long either. Tivvy kicked off and attacked on the right with Steve Ovens on a typically bumbling run that was ended with the ball crossing the line for a throw in to the Yellows‚ from which it rapidly crossed another line for a goal kick to the Magpies. Dorchester's turn to try their right flank and they did it with considerably more panache as Paul Wood forced his way to the by-line to lift the ball across the Tiverton six yard area. Up went Stuart Fraser with both palms outwards to catch the ball - but missed it by a foot. Not impeded‚ just deceived by the curl‚ albeit wind magnified. Over the keeper's head it went and dropped to Matty Holmes who calmly hooked it into the net with the Tivvy back line in a complete muddle. Less than two minutes gone and the writing on the wall‚ or was it? There was a time when it was almost traditional for The Yellows to go a goal down and then come back to win comfortably. The fans used to joke about it. Not now. Although it was not an unusual occurrence the recovery in recent days was seldom either swift or convincing. So yes‚ the writing was there to be seen‚ and yes‚ Tiverton struggled to make any impression as they sought to haul themselves level. Their immediate situation was well illustrated by the next incident worthy of expenditure of ink. In the 5th minute Carl Poore took on Jason Rees just around the left hand edge of the Tiverton penalty area. The Dorchester man shot round Tivvy's skipper as if he was static - Rees that is‚ and static as in 'still' not 'electric'. But having just about cleared the challenge Poore lost his footing‚ stumbled‚ and decided to imitate a Premier League goal celebration by throwing himself spread-eagled on the turf in the box. It was a comical attempt at deception (cheating) which even left the man in black chuckling as he brandished the yellow card. Pathetic though it might have been it posed a couple of questions. With Tiverton looking for the equaliser‚ what was the Dorchester full back doing bursting into the Tivvy area‚ and who on earth was supposed to be playing left back for The Yellows? Those queries encapsulate the problems. Tiverton did not appear to have a 'game' plan‚ or if they did it was too rigid to be varied to the situation; and they had no shape. At the front Ovens was roaming wild and losing out to a well organised defence‚ Carl Cliff-Brown was battering away but also getting short shrift‚ though he did come close in the 9th minute with a long range effort that trickled inches past the upright after Rob Cousins had set him free‚ lady luck sneering again. There was a moment of class football from Tivvy as Rees started a move from midway inside his own half that was followed by an exquisitely executed double 'one-two' between Ovens and David Steele down the left which went un-rewarded as Steele's last ball was comfortably turned out for a corner which was subsequently wasted by being overhit and flying into the wide open‚ un-populated prairie beyond the Dorchester goal. The 16th minute brought another close call for the Magpies as a Paul Chenoweth free kick found its way through the crowded six yard box before being bundled off the line inside the far upright‚ but despite having the majority of possession Tiverton did not really look like great threats.

Midway through the first half it could have been 'curtains' for the 'home' side. Following another bout of activity round the left of the Dorchester penalty area that had brought a free kick‚ a corner‚ a throw in‚ and then another corner‚ the Magpies broke. Sweeping (or should that be swooping) downfield‚ Justin Keeler outpaced Steve Winter (left back?) and was clear but for Rees. Jason's tackle was magnificent. Boot to ball and solid as a rock. Keeler was the unstoppable force - Rees' boot the immovable object. Something had to give and it wasn't Jason's boot. The incident was a sign of the times as it signalled Dorchester coming out from the shadows of having to weather the storm‚ and they became more adventurous‚ gaining more of the ball. After another speculative shot from Cliff-Brown from out wide on the right after he'd received the ball from a throw in‚ forced himself between two defenders but struck wide‚ it was the travelling fans that were celebrating again. It would be unfair to call Rees the culprit but one of his familiar hoofed clearances went awry‚ travelling mere feet before clattering off the striped shirt of Alex Browne and falling‚ almost dead‚ to the wearers foot. No hesitation from the Dorchester man who whipped in his cross to the far post (Dorchester Left). The cross was coming from too deep an angle to be Fraser's ball. Nathan Rudge stretched but could not reach it. Keeler was in behind Rudge and did reach it turning it against the upright. Fraser had scrambled across his goal but was only able to scramble the ball away. The first man to recover was Wood who followed up to add the second nail in the coffin containing Tiverton's conference dreams. Dorchester were now the team of belief and confidence. No longer hanging on to a single goal lead they might easily have increased it on the stroke of half time after Groves crossed from the by-line and Keeler's flick shot had gone wide off the upright. Schoolboy defending had cost Tiverton dearly. I tried to remember when The Yellows last came from two down to win...

The Tiverton management tried. Two half time substitutes. James Mudge‚ returning to his former stamping ground‚ replaced Ovens: Danny O'Hagan, facing the club that had recently ditched him in acrimonious circumstances, came on for Steele. It was a more attacking listing of names. It had to be. Within five minutes The Yellows were back in it but not before each side had created an opening. Firstly O'Hagan attempted to send Mudge through the middle but overhit the ball and Jamie was never going to catch it. Then a Dorchester free kick, some 35 yards out, was driven against the wall and the rebound lobbed back to curl wide of the top right-hand corner of Fraser's goal. Then came Tivvy's second chance of the half. After a couple of minutes buzzing around the Magpies penalty area a corner was won on the right. With the wind behaving as it was there was no need for the entire Tiverton back line to be pulled out of shape by switching Chenoweth over to take it, it would curl in and hold whoever took it. Winter did and up rose Nathan Rudge to Head cleanly home. A glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel! The glimmer became a spark two minutes later when Cliff-Brown snapped in a first time shot as he met a long clearance on the edge of the Dorchester penalty area but directed it wide. But the spark failed to catch and thirteen minutes past the break even the glimmer was extinguished. The Magpies were pressuring the Tiverton Defence which seemed to be containing them reasonably well. Until that is the experience of Holmes showed. He lay back behind the main assault and waited. Eventually the ball was fed back to him and he let fly from about 25 yards out and hit it. The ball swerved. Applied 'side', wind, a deflection, or any permutation. It left Fraser twisting in mid air as he attempted to change direction, beaten all ends up. Tivvy went through the motions but the dejection was evident. They could not break through that efficient defence. Dorchester though could pierce the Tivvy back line and did, if not at will then frequently enough for The Yellows to again give thanks to the woodwork in the 61st minute, and Fraser's fine save from Groves two minutes later.

There was no reason for Dorchester to sit on their lead, they had the cushion and were comfortable on it. End to end the game flowed for a while but only half chances were created. With a dozen minutes to go Darren Edwards was brought on for Cliff-Brown. It made little significant difference. Frustration bought a yellow card for Holloway as he thumped the ball away after conceding a free kick. Silly, nor only because of the card but it was The Yellow's time he was wasting. A couple of chances - Edwards getting in a header from a Rees cross and Dorchester substitute Matt Hann bursting down the left to flip a cross shot over Fraser that Groves scooped over the bar from two yards out brought the action and a sorry season for Tiverton to an end. With Kevin Nancekivell bowing out from the game, the last playing connections to the Tiverton side that swept all before them to win the FA Vase twice in succession have gone. We didn't need an announcement to realise that. We have seen it for ourselves.


Tiverton Town: Stuart Fraser, Steve Winter, David Steele (Danny O'Hagan, 46), Jason Rees, Nathan Rudge, Rob Cousins, Kevin Nancekivell, Chris Holloway, Carl Cliff-Brown (Darren Edwards, 78), Paul Chenoweth, Steve Ovens (Jamie Mudge, 46)
Goal: Rudge 50
Booked: Holloway

Dorchester Town: Craig Bradshaw, Carl Poore, Michael Walker, Mark Jermyn, Alex Browne, Andy Harris, Paul Wood, Matty Holmes (Mark Rawlinson, 88), Justin Keeler (Matt Hann, 80), Matt Groves, Jamie Brown
Goals: Holmes 2, 58, Wood 36
Booked: Wood

Referee: A Raggett (Weston-super-Mare)


Perhaps the re-organisation of the pyramid and the decision to have the last places in the new Conference 2 set up decided by play-offs has kept the season alive for you. Or perhaps the nailbiting build up to this last day of the season has made it difficult for you to �hang on in there'. Which ever effect you have felt, the fact that you are here, reading these words does mean that you have stayed to the end - but it is only the end of another single chapter. For ploughing my words, I thank you. My thoughts for both the club, and you the supporters and readers of my ramblings are, in the continuing words of the song lyric I opened with......

Yes it's time to say auf wiedersehn
Sayonara and ciao my friends.......

The scene may change and the time will show.........

A disappointing season is over.
Tivvy fell at the last post after struggling for an age.
Another season is just round the corner.
There will be changes, but there will still be Tiverton Town FC and they will still need and be worthy of our support.

It was easier to say hello then to say goodbye
Now it's time for leaving once again
I bid farewell to you.


This report ©2004 John Reidy