The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Grantham Town 0 - 1 Tiverton Town

Saturday 25/09/2004   Southern League Premier Division
John Reidy

One facet of our current society in this country that I find irksome is the predilection for surveys‚ research and polls. No‚ in truth‚ it´s not so much the actual operations as the spin that accompanies them and the way the results are manipulated to suit either a particular point of view or even‚ if published without conclusions‚ are done so in such a way that opinions are led in a particular direction. About the only time I take any notice of so called surveys are when they are clearly taken tongue in cheek‚ as those that are used in the game ‘Family Fortunes´. At least they were presented in true fashion.........”Our survey said......more people liked bananas than liked apricots”. No attempt to show that the apricot market was about to collapse‚ thus bringing poverty and destitution to the apricot growing areas of the world that could only be dealt with by international aid or the intervention of a US led Task force. Just to illustrate the point - to myself as much as you‚ dear reader of my irrelevant ramblings‚ I conducted my own survey about the destination town of The Yellows latest travels. The question was simple and asked of a varied cross section of the community. Different ages‚ different sexes (Two‚ I couldn´t find anyone from Middle-sex)‚ different locations. “What is Grantham famous for?”. The replies‚ when analysed‚ threw up some crucial points for debate. 20% said Gingerbread‚ a local product. 20% also plumped for Sir Isaac Newton‚ the unveiler of ‘gravity´ who was a native of the Borough. A massive‚ comparatively‚ 40% had never heard of the place other than it´s role in the upbringing of Britain´s first ‘lady´ Prime Minister. And in best survey tradition‚ 20% were registered as ‘Don´t Knows´ subsequent to giving the answer “Where?”. All of which could be used to prove‚ or at least indicate‚ that Margaret Thatcher´s contribution to society was twice as important as Newton´s...which is clearly tosh! One thing‚ though‚ that was not mentioned was Grantham being famous for it´s football team. Hardly surprising since they have never really set the world alight‚ or even Lincolnshire for that matter. This was to be Tiverton´s third visit to the place. The Yellows won the first‚ drew the second and‚ if current form were to be the guide‚ might well complete the downward sequence. Never-the-less there was a decent Devon contingent to wish them well as they took the field in the wide open spaces of the modern‚ characterless athletics stadium that is home to ‘The Gingerbreads´.

We had been warned what to expect and that is just what we got when the game got underway. Grantham kicked of and tentatively moved forward. They met with resistance‚ solid resistance‚ and the pattern of the first half was established. Tiverton defended with strength and in numbers. There was a white wall in front of their penalty area and it was impenetrable. For all their efforts in the opening assault all the home side had to show was a couple of corners - the first of many that were to be awarded at that end of the field‚ frequently it seemed in pairs as the Tivvy back line operated an ‘if in doubt‚ put it out´ policy. As we had been told to expect‚ it wasn´t pretty - but it was effective as despite the pressure there were no silly errors and it remained tight. It wasn´t just back to the walls‚ hoof it away defending either. The ball was being cleared or carried into midfield and within quarter of an hour the visitors were beginning to get the better of things in that area. The problem was‚ they were unable to make much use of the ball since Jamie Mudge was largely the only man forward and despite his willingness to run at the Grantham defence he invariably left not only the home back line behind but also any Tivvy colleagues that may have been chasing him forward in support. By the 21st minute‚ with the pressure on the Tiverton defence being maintained‚ the home side´s corner count had risen to eight and they had discovered what they felt might be their guests Achilles´ heel.
The majority of the threat was coming from the Grantham right. Chris Vinnicombe was being caught time after time as home duets left him as ‘piggy in the middle´ of their one-two passing sequences. And once they were past Vinni they were faced with the none to agile or sprightly form of Paul Milsom who relied solely on his strength to stop them. Needless to say‚ it was not enough and there was a constant flow of balls flying in at all levels from the right flank. Not that many of them seemed to trouble Nathan Rudge who was seldom‚ if ever‚ in any danger of failing to cut out the threat in the middle. And what he didn´t clear up was fielded by Mark Ovendale´s Velcro gloves or if it flew long was comfortably dealt with by Tom Stocco‚ back where most of the supporters believe he belongs. And always there to lend a hand were the midfield trio of Iain Harvey‚ David Steele, and Matt Lock frequently augmented by Kevin Wills who never really looked like Tivvy´s second front man. The closest Grantham came to finding the net in the opening half was a 33rd minute free kick that was headed wide by central defender Stuart Reddington but even that was matched by Steve Winter´s powerful but off target drive from 35 yards when Tivvy made a rare excursion into the Gingerbread land. Statistics, statistics.....etc. but they could define the first 45 minutes quite accurately. Grantham corners 12, Tiverton corners 0; Grantham shots on target 0, Tiverton shots on target 0. Not pretty but for the Devon men objective number one (0-0 at half time) achieved. Could target two be attained after the break?

Time is a marvellous concept, albeit an abstract one. Time - so versatile. Depending on your choice of philosopher it can heal all wounds, though personally I´d rather trust the surgeon, or it can change everything. In the latter case it must be a quantitative thing for ten minutes in the changing rooms changed nothing, not one iota. Ten minutes in and the pen came out of retirement to note that Matt Lock was shown the yellow card for a tackle that hardly warranted it. Excitement reached fever pitch two minutes later as a Grantham forward hooked a shot so wide that it went out for a goal kick as it crossed the line between the edge of the penalty area and the corner flag sparking a display of competitiveness hitherto unseen since the interval - between three ball boys who squabbled for the right to retrieve it. The game was dormant. It wasn´t that it needed a goal....even an attempt on goal would have been inspirational as the home side´s frustration hampered their ability to keep up their momentum towards the Tivvy net. And it was that factor that saw the contest creep out of hibernation, and the re-awakening was thanks to Tivvy becoming more adventurous. The first real chance of the afternoon came after 58 minutes. The Yellows - OK, whites for the pedantic - were generally in control of midfield. Mudge was constantly hovering, waiting for the chance to run at the defence. Steele poked the ball forward and away went Jamie. Alone. Through the middle. Ziccardi the Grantham keeper. came to meet him but was nowhere near the ball, which in turn was nowhere near the goal as Mudge´s shot rose high above the crossbar. Tivvy were certainly beginning to get forward more. Lock was next to head through the middle but was only rewarded by cat-calls and jeers from the home fans as he swung a boot to shoot and completely missed the ball as it bobbled away from his foot. Then it was Mudge again, cutting in from the right but over running the ball and leaving it static. Not for long, though, as Steele following in behind lifted in a shot that again flew where the balloons go - up, up and away. Steve Winter then added his pennyworth with a drive that was blocked by a defender´s foot.
The 69th minute brought cause for celebration as we savoured the site of a shot on target and the first ‘save´ of the game when Mudge found a gap but not the power to beat Ziccardi who collected cleanly with a forward dive. Within a minute Mudge the marksman became Mudge the provider as he fed the ball on to Wills who turned and shot but reverted to previous accuracy and lifted the ball over the woodwork. With quarter of an hour remaining the thought struck that the pre-match predictions of 0-0 at half time and then perhaps sneak a goal were going out of the window. Almost all the attacking play was coming from the visitors, or at least all the significant attacking play. As throughout the first half Grantham might have been going forward at times but they weren´t looking like scoring. Even Tom Stocco was finding time to abandon defensive duties and get forward as he did to hit in a 30 yard effort after a Vinnicombe cross had been turned away by a defender but came right out to Stocco´s foot. Ah, a defenders shot! A variation. It was wide not high. Vinnicombe was not the only ‘wing back´ getting forward, Steve Winter too, as he did to launch himself head first at a Vinni cross from the left as the two combined. A glancing header was not enough to change the direction of the ball and another chance bit the dust, as did Wints. Seven minutes to go. Steele rampaging down the right crosses to Mudge who is well marshalled (i.e. surrounded) by defenders so laid the ball down and back to Lock. Matt hit a screamer that was destined for the top right corner of the net until Ziccardi spectacularly leapt to palm it away. Even then the ball was rescued before it crossed the line and the Tiverton corner count column remained blank. One of the criticisms that has been levelled at Tivvy in recent months gas been their tendency to give away free kicks in dangerous places when they are defending late pushes. It´s nice to be able to report that they are not alone in that failing. Grantham did it on the 86 minute mark. If Tivvy had been on the training ground it was just where they would have placed the ball for a rehearsal. It was yet to work this season, since the cast had been changed. Practice makes perfect and this time it was and did. One touch - the wall winces and turns expecting the second touch to be a blast. Second touch and the wall shuffles sideways expecting the shot to come from the man hovering behind the taker of the first touch. It doesn´t and the wall is out of position as the ball runs to where the taker has now moved to and whack...the ball´s bulging the net and Tivvy have pinched it if they don´t do anything silly. They don´t. Grantham throw everything forward and actually manage to get their first shot on target in the 87th minute. Ovendale saves. Kevin Wills takes a knock and Jamie Densham comes on. Before he has a chance to score (!!!) the whistle blows and Tivvy players and fans alike are celebrating an away win for the first time since Merthyr were beaten back in February.

Yes, it wasn´t pretty, but there seems to be a growing tide of opinion that believes it is preferable to endure the ugly to get the results and bring the confidence that will in turn bring the beautiful game back to Tiverton. So be it.

Tiverton Town: .Mark Ovendale, Steve Winter, Chris Vinnicombe, Paul Milsom, Nathan Rudge, Matt Lock, Kevin Wills (Jamie Densham, 90), Iain Harvey, Tom Stocco, David Steele, James Mudge.

Subs not used: Rob Cousins, Mike Booth, Shaun Goff, Dave Hallett.

Booked: Lock.

Grantham Town: Mario Ziccardi, Tim Wooding, Dominic Hallows, Jamie McGowan, Stuart Roddington, Adrian Speed, Peter Sutton, Spencer Commons (Jim Neil, 81), Jamie Clarke, Scott Huckerby, Brett Derby.

Subs not used: Neil Spafford, Fabien Smith, Andy Teare, Darren Standage,.

Booked: None.

Att: 298

Referee: Mr P T McCaul (St Ives)

This report ©2004 John Reidy