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14th October 2000: Ladysmead
City got through a real nerve jangler of a cup tie at Ladysmead with a display that owed more to adrenaline and fortune than tactics, but none the less they kept their heads to earn victory and a place in the fourth qualifying round draw. City went into the match still limited by injury. Gannaway continued in goal and with Hunt, Chennas and Griffiths all still missing Abbott came in at centre-back and Will Steadman got an unfamiliar job in central midfield.
Tiverton's reputation for goals had led many fans to expect City to get a battering, and it looked as if their fears would be fulfilled in the early stages. Tivvy were powerful on both flanks, and saw a header flash wide and then a looping cross come shot bounce off the City bar. Most of the play was taking place across the City back line, but by and large hard work was limiting their chances. By twenty minutes Tivvy had chalked up a number of corners, and had also seen a long shot skim the bar and a second drive well stopped by Ryan Gannaway.
City were forced to play on the break, which they did to good effect. Tivvy were obviously worried by the presence of Matt Rawlins, and both Marshall and Johnstone were able to find space when able to push up. Both Rawlins and Steadman had attempts from distance, with Will's goal bound until a deflection off a defender. City's best early chance fell to Tucker after Bayliss had used his strength to turn the shakey looking home defence and send over a cross which Tucks headed high.
The match then caught light when a Tivvy free-kick crashed down off the underside of the bar and was booted clear off the line by Dicks. With midfield tackles flying in City were able to force a corner, from which they got a free kick after Wayne Thorne was fouled just outside the corner of the penalty box. Karl Bayliss smashed his shot above the wall and it arrowed into the top right corner to give City a fantastic lead.
Tivvy responded by trying to push forward, but the match was starting to get niggly with a few of the Tivvy players seeming particularly ill-disciplined. the home team picked up several bookings, with Johnstone getting a yellow for City and being fortunate not to get a second after lashing out just minutes after in retaliation to another wild Rees challenge. Tivvy almost pulled level when Everett saw his header tipped over with a reaction stop by Gannas. The home team were pouring forward, but paid the price for losing concentration when Ganna's long clearance bounced over Bayliss and a static Tivvy defence leaving Rawlins to run clear. The Tivvy keeper then bottled the challenge and Matt was able to get the slightest of studs on the ball and watch it trickle slowly over the line for a two goal half-time lead.
It was obvious that Tivvy would throw every one of their three kitchen sinks at City in the second half, and they didn't disappoint. They replaced the petulant and ineffectual Tatterton with a more attacking player, and long angled balls were soon peppering the City box. Everett and Ovens missed chances, and a header went into the side netting. For all the Tivvy pressure City should have sealed the game when Rawlins wriggled down the left flank and sent in a low cross which Marshall almost met at the near post.
While City were adapting promisingly to counter-attacking football the bulk of the play was still at the other end. Desperate tackles kept most of the Devon hordes at bay, and Gannas was scrambling all over the goal getting in the way of as much as he could. However, the inevitable happened on 67 minutes when a cross from the right was headed in by Everett to set up a genuinely tense finale.
This really was the
definition of a defence under siege, with every player pulled back to
keep out Tivvy. City were belting clear attack after attack, but with
no-one able to put their foot on the ball and calm things down the
ball was coming straight back at them and the pressure was relentless.
For all the defending was piecemeal, it was gutsy and it was
committed. Gannaway redeemed many of his
past lapses with another fine save, this time at the feet of a Tivvy
forward as for once they found themselves clear. The pressure was
getting to players on both sides, and a tackle from Thorne saw a ruck
develop, with players on both teams fortunate not to walk for punches
thrown, and in Marker's case for a gratuitous stamp at Wayne
Thorne. Bungle ended up with a fifth booking of the season that
will see him miss the next round on a one game ban.
Tivvy continued to have the travelling T-End eating through their fingernails as they pushed for an equaliser, their frustration mounting as poor finishing and over eager passing helped City hang on. Bodies continued to fly into tackles, in a fine display of guts if not technical precision. The final body blow for Tivvy came in the last gasp of the game when substitute Jimmy Cox raced through to another long clearance and cut in to the box. Tivvy's Stuart Smith made a clumsy challenge which looked a clear foul, but play was initially waved on. However the linesman had his flag up for the penalty, and the female ref made a brave decision to give the kick, with Rees getting a second yellow and his marching orders for his protests. Baylo belted the spot kick in to seal the tie and set up celebrations made all the more special by the relief of it all!
City scored against the run of play three times, but Tivvy can only blame themselves for failing to make more of their pressure and put away their chances. The Tivvy fans had a good moan at the ref, but it has to be said that her decisions looked fair and it took courage to award the penalty having initially not seen it. Besides which the Tivvy fans hardly did their bit to raise their team and their vocal performance was hugely disappointing given their reputation. For yet another Cup tie City got through on spirit and effort, and while Tommy might worry about their composure he must still be very proud of them. They got the friendly bit, but perhaps they only do loud away from home. As for City, on to the next round and one step from the 1st Round proper - and supporters torn between wanting a club we might cruise past or a money raising clash against the likes of Hereford, Yeovil or Rushden.
|Tucker|| Bayliss (32, 90pen),
|16. Cox (for 9, 80)|