Boxing Day Result: Royston Town 2 St Ives Town 0

Saturday 26th December 2015 –  Southern League Division One Central

Royston Town 2 St Ives Town 0

What should have been an entertaining festive encounter between two sides in the top six was rather ruined by a referee who appeared to decide from early in the game that he did not like the Ives. Whilst a small number of the cards he issued against Ives players could be justified he showed his inconsistency by allowing similar illegal challenges from opposition players go unpunished without even the award of a free kick let alone an admonishment to the offender.

The card count of six yellow cards, including two the Charlie De’ath, for St Ives and one to Royston (in the 93rd minute), suggests this was a dirty game which was never the case. It also suggests that Ives were up against it for most of the game and desperately lunging into challenges, or committing fouls to break up the play, which again was not the case.

Anyway that is as near as I get to a rant so back to the game. Things looked good for the visitors prior to the start with new signing Andrew Phillips making his debut and Jack Higgs and Phil Draycott both returning from injury to be included on the bench.

The game started a slowly with players still recovering a little from Christmas Day and coming to terms with the early start. The only action in the first twenty minutes was a probing run from Rhys Hoenes cutting in from the left and getting past Dan Moyes in only the fourth minute. His progress was halted by De’ath bringing him down on the edge of the box, but fortunately Jack Bradshaw’s well struck free kick was straight at Tim Trebes who held on well.

The next action of note came in the 21st minute as Jack Warwick slid into an ill judged tackle on ex Ives man Ryan Ingrey 25 yards out from goal. Warwick picked up the visitors first yellow of the day and Joe De La Salle went close with a header that just crept over the top as he met Danny May’s free kick 15 yards out.

However from this point Ives enjoyed their best period of the game as Jared Cunniff, Warwick and Peter Clark began to enjoy some good possession in the middle of the park. On 25 minutes Cunniff robbed a dallying Crow’s skipper Scott Bridges deep inside his own half. He laid the ball inside to Phillips who thought about chipping keeper Ron Yates, but instead tried a drive from 20 yards which only succeeded in rattling the boards well outside Yates right hand post.

Two minutes later Cunniff was again involved in winning a ball in midfield and spraying it out to Danny Watson on the right. Watson played in a good ball to the feet of Phillips on the edge of the box. The debut making striker got in front of his marker and tried a first time effort that bounced just wide. But unbeknown to him his marker Dan Brathwaite had lost his footing as he tried to follow Phillips and he had time and space to turn and pick his spot.

Phillips’s mobility was proving a problem for the Crows defence and he had a good shout for a penalty turned down on the half hour as he chased down a clip into the box by Watson and got between Brathwaite and keeper Yates to get a touch on the ball which was then blocked by the keeper. As Phillips went for the loose ball he received a push from the centre back and went down, but the well positioned referee decided it was a fair challenge and waved play on.

The visitors went close again three minutes later as the first corner of the game was delivered from the right by Jordan Jarrold. It cleared everyone at the near post and looked to be arriving at the feet of Watson, but Yates bravely plunged in to tip the ball off his toe and amazingly win himself a free kick even though the strikers contact on him was minimal.

With half time approaching the game evened out a little and the Crows created a chance on 36 minutes as visitor’s keeper Trebes came for a long ball into the box, but was deceived as the ball held up on the breeze and failed to hang onto it. Fortunately for him Ingrey hit the loose ball straight at him from close range and he managed to cling on well.

The home side managed to win their first corner three minutes from the break and again it provided an opportunity for the man in the middle to show his inconsistency. Having awarded Yates a free kick with very little contact ten minutes earlier this time he somehow missed De La Salle bundling Trebes into the back of his own net as the corner was swung in from the right. Trebes did excellently to get enough of a touch to keep the ball out of the net just ahead of his clattering and Moyes hacked the loose ball away at the far post.

So honours even at the break, but the home side had the slope and the breeze at their backs for the second period. They started positively with Ingrey forcing a save at his near post from Trebes on 49 minutes.

But the Ives showed they were very capable of snatching this game and three minutes later Clark danced past three defenders into the box only to be denied by a perfectly timed tackle from May to take the ball off his toe as he shaped to shoot.

However from this point it was the Crows who enjoyed a purple patch and created some opportunities without really testing Trebes. On 57 minutes Ingrey received a ball into his feet on the edge of the box, but was well policed by De’ath and although he managed to turn he could only fire his shot well wide.

The home side were beginning to clock up their corner count and their next opportunity came on the hour from another in-swinger delivered from the left that Trebes could only punch away under heavy pressure. The ball fell to Bradshaw on the edge of the box, but fortunately he only succeeded in firing his first time effort straight back into the grateful arms of the keeper.

Steve Gentle saved the Ives in 68th minute as Moyes got caught out of position pushing forward on the right and Bridges fed the perfect ball through the left channel to put Hoenes away. The speedy winger looked to be away and cut in for goal only to be denied by a perfectly timed challenge from the giant centre back who had somehow made up the yards much to Hoenes’s surprise.

The moment which decided the game came with eleven minutes to go as Chris Watters delivered a long free kick into the box which was not cleared, the ball bounced around and eventually ended up in the hands of Trebes. However the eagle eyed official was probably the only man in the ground who had spotted a tug on the shirt of Crows substitute Erkan Okay by De’ath inside the box. The man in black blew his whistle and pointed to the spot and then to add insult to injury decided that the offence was sufficient to warrant a second yellow card for the Ives skipper and gave him his marching orders.

Bradshaw hit a fairly poor spot kick straight down the middle, but fortunately for him Trebes had gone to his right a little early and although he got a hand to the ball he could not keep it out.

The Ives reshuffled and pushed Gentle forward for the last few minutes to try and get the goal back. He was involved in their best opportunity right on the 90 minute mark as Trebes delivered a free kick into the box from the half way line which was flicked on and Gentle picked the ball up inside the box on the left, but he failed to pick out an Ives striker with his clip into the centre.

The second Crows goal came in comical fashion two minutes into added time as Trebes came a long way out of his goal to get on the end of a ball over the top, but he miss kicked his clearance straight to Okay on the half way line. The Crows striker floated his return effort over the stranded keeper, but the ball looked to be heading yards wide until it hit a divot on landing which redirected it just inside the post.

The final action of the afternoon saw Ives assistant manager Jack Cassidy add his name to the referee’s report as he was dismissed to the stands for comments to the official as he showed the first yellow card of the afternoon to a Crows player after May had clattered Ives substitute Ben Seymour-Shove right in front of the visitor’s dug out.

This result saw the Crows leapfrog the Ives in the table and knock them out of the play off places. This was also the Ives fourth game without a win, but with a number of players now returning to full fitness and new signings coming in to strengthen the squad it should not be long before the Ives can get back on target for a play-off place and perhaps another opportunity to get a shot at the Crows.

Steve Gentle picked up the man of the match award for yet another commanding performance at the back on a day when another clean sheet looked on the cards until the man in black intervened.

St Ives team : Trebes, Moyes, Jarrold, De’ath (capt), Gentle, Warwick (Higgs 77), Clark, Cunniff (Simons 86), Phillips, Watson (Seymour-Shove 71), Sinclair

Unused subs : Dusi, Draycott

Goals : none

Supporters Man of the Match : Steve Gentle

Final Score : Royston Town 2 St Ives Town 0

Attendance : 244