Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Tiverton Town

Everett (64), Mudge (67)

Hednesford Town

(0) 2

(0) 0



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Mark Gayle



Gateshead (H) 10.12.01

The Pitmen's inconsistent form continues to frustrate Kenny Hibbitt and the Hednesford supporters this evening as their first-ever visit to Tiverton's Ladysmead ends in a second-half defeat to their high-flying hosts

It had been two weeks since Kenny Hibbitt's men had been in action with an assertive 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Merthyr Tydfil at Keys Park, having seen last weekend's F.A. Trophy game against Gateshead postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Hibbitt had once again dipped into the transfer market during the intervening period to sign former Notts County and Torquay United centre-back Lee Barrow from Welsh Premier League side Aberystwyth Town, with the player coming straight into the side for today's game in place of Andy Brownrigg as one of two changes to the side that had started against Merthyr with James Dyson also handed a full debut ahead of Phil Trainer in midfielder

Tiverton had been in fine recent form, having only suffered one defeat in their past seven games against League Two side Cardiff City in the F.A. Cup. The Yellows had comprehensively beaten Croydon 6-0 last weekend in the F.A. Trophy to move into the third round of this season's competition. Manager Martyn Rogers made two changes to his side for today's first-ever clash between the two sides as Marcus Gross and Dave Leonard made way for Steve Peters and Paul Chenoweth respectively

On a cool afternoon in Devon with the sun setting just before kick-off, Tiverton made the better start of the game as they enjoyed plenty of the ball in the early stages. The Pitmen were to have the first chance of the game however in the eleventh minute as Damien Charie pulled the ball back into the path of Graham Lancashire, whose lay-off to skipper Richard Lucas saw him curl a shot with his weaker right foot just wide of the post

A minute later, Tiverton had their first effort on target as Paul Edwards' long punt forwards was flicked on by Jamie Mudge to Steve Winter, whose rising shot cleared Mark Gayle's crossbar and ended up over the stand behind the goal

Tiverton ramped up the pressure with another good spell of play on sixteen minutes that saw Phil Everett slice his shot wide of Gayle's post after Winter's run and cross had found the forward in space on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area

An enterprising run from Kevin Nancekivell three minute later saw him drift inside from the wing as he evaded Lucas's challenge before drilling a shot across the face of goal, only to be denied by a timely clearance from the covering Stuart Lake

The hosts were very much on top but couldn't find a way through a stubborn Hednesford defence that was utilising three central defenders for the first time this season and looking much stronger and organised with the likes of Matt Gardiner and Barrow as part of it. A free-kick from Chenoweth found the head of Nicky Marker on twenty-four minutes, but his glancing effort was held by Gayle on his goal line

The game remained in deadlock for much of the rest of a pretty uneventful first half with both defences on top. Damien Charie dragged a good chance wide of goal for the Pitmen on thirty-one minutes, whilst Everett got goal side of Gardiner three minutes later to nod a cross from Winter over the crossbar

With half-time only three minutes away, Nancekivell got away from the retreating Hednesford defence to latch onto a long ball forwards from Edwards once more, only to be denied by an offside flag against him before he could get his shot away

The Pitmen could be reasonably pleased with their efforts against one of the form teams in the league at half-time, going toe-to-toe with their hosts and standing firm against what was clearly a talented attacking foursome of Everett, Chenoweth, Mudge and Nancekivell

Tiverton - buoyed by their half time pep talk from Rogers - pushed the Pitmen back at the start of the second half and continued to create openings without turning them into goals; just a minute after the restart, a fine defence-splitting ball from Marker played Mudge in on goal, only for Gayle to deny him with a fine smothering save after spotting the danger early

Good play down the Tiverton left saw Neil Saunders make a run and cross for Everett a minute later, who in turn squared the ball to Nancekivell; his shot was brilliantly saved by Gayle as Nancekivell had the whole goal to aim at from twelve yards out

The pressure continued with a Tiverton corner kick on fifty-four minutes that was met firmly by the head of Peters. only for a relived Gayle to claim the ball at the second attempt on his goal line before Mudge could pounce


Mudge did well to escape the attentions of Wayne Simpson three minutes later and drive in a shot across the face of goal that dribbled just wide of Gayle's far post

Hibbitt had seen enough from his side, who were camped inside their own half and struggling to put any sort of move together going forwards. Lancashire - devoid of any service - was taken off on sixty-one minutes and replaced by Stewart Airdrie, leaving 17-year-old Charie as the lone striker for a short spell in the game

The Pitmen's first change of the game failed to have the desired effect, however, as Tiverton took a deserved lead on sixty-four minutes; Winter picked the ball up wide on the right and sent over a fairly tame-looking cross towards the far post that the Hednesford defence got caught ball-watching. Everett nipped in and got the slightest of touches with a diving header to steer the ball beyond Gayle and into the far corner of the net. There was some confusion as to whether the striker had even got a touch to Winter's cross and perhaps the full-back should be handed the goal, but the opener was given to Everett after a short conversation in the Tiverton press box

The Pitmen's defensive resolve and confidence had been rocked following the Tiverton goal and more confusion followed three minutes later as the previously-stout Hednesford back line contrived to hand Tiverton a quickfire second goal. Another long punt forwards from Edwards caught Gardiner and Simpson out as the pair both challenged for the ball but got in each other's way - the ball broke for Nancekivell, who unselfishly squared the ball to Mudge to allow the striker to calmly slide the ball past an exposed Gayle from fifteen yards out and kill the game off

The Pitmen made a double change on seventy-two minutes in search of a way back into the game with Kevin Francis and Leon Brown both coming on up front in place of the ineffective midfield pair of Dyson and Dean Craven

The one chance presented to the giant Francis came four minutes after he had come on, leaping to meet a cross from Airdrie but getting underneath the ball and heading well over the crossbar

Tiverton countered two minutes later with a quick break down the right through Chenoweth, whose deep cross was headed back across the face of the Hednesford goal by Mudge but was cleared by Lake before Nancekivell could react

On eighty-two minutes, Lucas and Charie linked up wide on the Hednesford left to slip the ball into the feet of Brown, whose turn and shot was deflected narrowly past the post by Peters for a Hednesford corner kick

With five minutes remaining, a frustrated Lake lashed a long-range effort high over the crossbar from fully thirty yards out, rather than looking to play Brown in behind the Tiverton defence. It is precisely this type of poor decision-making from the more senior players at Hednesford that is a major reason why the Pitmen are currently in a relegation scrap for the second successive season

Steele nearly wrapped up a comprehensive win for the Yellows with two minutes remaining as he did well to turn past Gardiner and fire a low shot in at goal that ultimately lacked pace and was claimed by Gayle at his near post

Another sobering reminder to Hibbitt that he still has much to do to make this underperforming, inconsistent squad fulfil it's potential. This defeat leaves the Pitmen once again nervously looking behind them in the table, only a point clear of the relegation spots and in what can only be described as 'mixed' form. They take a welcome break from league duty on Monday night as Gateshead make that long journey down from Tyneside to Keys Park as the two sides try again in the second round of the F.A. Trophy

Tiverton Town: Edwards, Winter, Saunders (Gross 85), Peters, Marker, Rogers, Nancekivell, Mudge (Pears 79), Everett (Lynch 84), Steele, Chenoweth      Subs Unused: None

Hednesford Town: Gayle, Dodd, Lucas ©, Simpson , Gardiner, Barrow, Lake, Dyson (Francis 72), Lancashire (Airdrie 61), Charie, Craven (Brown 72)     Subs Unused: None