St Ives Town 0 Leamington 1
Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 26-08-2023
Nigel Howlett Reports
A game with nil, nil written all over it from early on was decided in favour of the visitors in a fashion worthy of the match as a whole, scrappily!. The scorer Callum Stewart somehow found himself unmarked a couple of yards out in a goalmouth scramble following a corner and as the ball bounced up to him he duly obliged by nodding it home.
Prior to that 53rd minute goal the two defences had run the show. The Brakes long ball game feeding the ball straight down the throats of Jordan Williams and Charlie Johnson who barely missed a header all afternoon. But equal to the Ives pairing were the visitors centre backs Theo Streete and Jack Lane they similarly to dealt with everything directed their way as Ives also looked to get the ball down the park as early as possible at every opportunity.
The only real save that either keeper had to make in the opening 45 minutes was a smart save low to his right by Eddie Brearey to deny Henry Landers in fourth minute. That chance had also arisen from a Ben Usher-Shipway corner. Another early opportunity also went the way of the visitors when skipper for the day Fernando Bell-Toxtle saw the ball strike his arm just outside the box in seventh minute. But Stewart hit the resulting free kick straight into Ives five man wall.
There were very few other noteworthy incidents in either goalmouth during the rest of the first half and I list the few that I noted below as much to fill column space as to mention them as efforts that really looked like producing a goal.
A 29th minute in-swinging free kick from the right by Johnny Herd was just to high for everyone and flashed harmlessly across the face of goal. The free kick had been won by Enoch Andoh as he tried to wriggle his way past Josh Quaynor with the full back taking him down.
Brearey came through the crowd to try and claim a 38th minute corner but was hampered on the way and spilled the ball on landing. Fortunately for the keeper his defenders were on hand to scramble the loose ball away.
Bell-Toxtle fouled Jiah Medrano to concede a free kick by the left corner flag in added time. The initial delivery was well defended with the ball being knocked out to the right where Usher-Shipway delivered a dangerous return cross that was brilliantly defended away from the lurking Landers by Williams.
Ives started the second half well by keeping the ball down and passing it around probing for ways through the very solid looking Brakes defence. A patient move straight from the kick off ended with Kellan Hickinson teeing up Brandon Njoku for a shot from 20 yards that the young striker fired well over the top. Andoh won another free kick in a dangerous position in 50th minute. Hickinson bent his shot around the wall well but it lacked power and was a comfortable save for Callum Smith in the visitors goal.
That bright start was brought to an abrupt halt three minutes later when the Brakes got their noses in front. The initial move to win the corner saw Stewart feed in Landers through the right channel. The Brakes centre forward unleashed a powerful drive from just inside the box that a well positioned Brearey push around his near post. The resulting corner delivered into the mix by Usher-Shipway then lead to the scramble which saw Stewart grab the only goal of the game.
Williams was still doing his best to keep Ives in the game and it took a brilliant recovery block from the centre back to prevent Medrano doubling the visitors lead three minutes later. The Brakes winger looked like he had been put clear by Stewart but Williams timed his sliding challenge to perfection to block the shot the instant that it left Medrano’s foot.
Now recovered from a pre-season injury Cambridge United loanee winger Dan Barton was introduced in place of the unusually subdued Tyrone Baker on the hour and he brought a new impetus to the Ives attack but the route past Streete and his colleagues was still providing a very hard nut to crack. The closest that the Ives came to an equaliser was in 67th minute when Njoku was taken down by Quaynor just outside the box. Herd carefully lined up the free kick and his sweetly struck effort dipped perfectly over the Brakes four man wall but flash just millimetres the wrong side of keeper Smith’s left hand post with the custodian comprehensively beaten.
Tiago Nassunculo came on in place of the tiring Andoh with fifteen minutes to go but even his trickery could not unlock the door into the Brakes very well defended penalty area. The heavens also opened at this point to give Ives some little hope of a slip by a defender as the excellent 3G surface slickened up but it was not to be.
A semi fit skipper Michael Richens was introduced and Williams thrown forward as an extra striker for the last ten minutes but still the Brakes rock solid defence held firm. The indomitable Streete put his only foot wrong in the game deep in added time when he picked up a yellow card for needlessly kicking the ball away after picking up a free kick for a foul on him by Richens but I am sure that he will not mind.
The result sees Ives slip into the early season bottom four whilst the Brakes move up to mid table but at this stage of the season it is very much an embryonic table and a couple of positive results can catapult a team from the bottom end to the top end in double quick time.
Final Score: St Ives Town 0 Leamington 1
LEAMINGTON: Stewart 53
Team Line Ups:
ST IVES: Brearey, Casey, Herd, Bell-Toxtle (capt), Williams, Johnson, Baker (Barton 61), Hottor, Njoku, Hickinson (Richens 85), Andoh (Nassunculo 75), Unused subs: Culkin, Harris
LEAMINGTON: Smith, English, Quaynor, Kelly-Evans (Baldwin 90+1), Streete, Lane, Usher-Shipway, Walker (capt), Landers, Stewart, Medrano (Taylor 81), Unused subs: Clarke, Nicoll
Cards: Yellow: ST IVES: Hickinson (17), Hottor (60) LEAMINGTON: Stewart (74), Streete (90+4)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jordan Williams