Football: Vase goes west with Varley

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The Independent Online
Tiverton Town 1

Varley 80

Tow Law Town 0

Attendance: 19,954

GEORDIELAND will hope it is not an omen for Saturday's FA Cup final, but a team wearing black and white stripes went to Wembley from the north-east yesterday and lost. Tow Law Town, from County Durham, found Devon's Tiverton Town too hot to handle in an FA Carlsberg Vase final played in sweltering heat.

The match-winning goal of a close contest came late in the game from the first meaningful touch by a Tiverton substitute, Pete Varley, a 24- year old teacher-training student at Exeter University. It was a happy return to Wembley for the West Countrymen, who had lost to Bridlington Town in their first Vase final five years ago.

For the first half-hour, until the sun and heat sapped energy, the pace of the game was frantic, with chances being made and missed at both ends. The energetic Kevin Nancekivell, a north Devon farmer, was involved in most Tiverton attacks. He played just behind the front two, and was rarely picked up by the Tow Law defence.

After five minutes Nancekivell belted a shot just wide from 20 yards and he went closer three minutes later. Set up by Steve Daly, his fierce drive was pushed away by Stuart Dawson. At the other end the dangerous Jarrod Suddick turned Neil Saunders inside out in the penalty area but Paul Edwards came off his line quickly to block the shot.

The second half began at a more sensible pace than the first. Daly caught the eye, though, with two long-range shots. One was well saved low down by Dawson, the other went just over. At the other end Kevin Smith set up his namesake, Jason Smith, whose shot was blocked by a sprawling Dawson, before making way for Varley after 74 minutes. Six minutes later, the substitute became the hero of the day.

A long ball from Dave Leonard on the left flank caused confusion in the Tow Law defence. Paul Hague lost possession and Varley whipped in a right- foot shot which beat Dawson at his near post.

Tiverton survived a few nervous moments, notably during six minutes of injury time, but the Vase was theirs at last. The only sour note to the afternoon came in the 89th minute, when Tow Law's Tony Nelson was rightly sent off for punching Graham Waters in retaliation to a foul by the Tiverton substitute.

"I couldn't wait to get on the pitch," the fresh-faced Varley said afterwards. "I soon as I hit the shot I knew it was going in. It was a great feeling."

The winner was Varley's 34th goal of the season - not bad for a player who has not been a regular in Tiverton's starting line-up. He will have a few tales to tell his pupils when he resumes his budding teaching career this week.

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