St Ives Town 0 Bishop’s Stortford 1
Evo-Stik League South Premier Division – 17/10/17
Changes were expected after the Ives poor performance at Redditch, but the scale of changes made by manager Ricky Marheineke surprised even the most ardent of home fans. Whilst seven of Saturdays starting eleven retained their places only four of those were playing in similar positions as Marheineke boldly went for a new 5-3-2 formation. The starting eleven also included Ives fourth new goalkeeper of the season in former Ipswich Town and Leiston stopper Jacob Marsden, Under U18 captain Jamie Short making his first start for the Ives and midfielder Eugene Libertucci also making a first start having thankfully recovered from a pre-season injury were also new additions to the team.
Both Peter Clark and Lewis Hilliard found themselves dropped to the bench with Andrew Iwediuno and Matt Hill left out completely. Joining Clark and Hilliard in the dugout were a welcome trio all returning from injury in Matt Wright, Jimmy Hartley and James Hall.
Manager Marheineke had asked his players for a reaction from Saturdays poor performance and whilst there was a sense of nervousness amongst the fans the players reacted well and set off at the much higher tempo demanded by their manager. Danny Kelly was leading the line well and harried George Casey into an error in a dangerous position on the left after only seven minutes. Casey was forced to bring the big striker down as he threatened to get a run into the box. Ben Seymour-Shove lined up the free kick from a narrow angle. He managed to beat the wall and the stretching arms of Blues keeper Tyler McCarthy, but Joe Robinson was on hand to head the goal bound effort away from inside the six-yard box.
Had that gone in it would have gone a long way to settling the nerves in the stadium. But it did not and the visitors came much more into the game. The powerful Afolabi Akinyemi broke down the left in 11th minute. His low cross was met at the far post by Tyrique Hyde but his well struck shot was bravely blocked by Charlie De’ath. The rebound fell to Ryan Richefond inside the box and he should probably have done better firing over from a good position.
Akinyemi was again in action four minutes later robbing De’ath inside his own half and breaking clear down the middle looking certain to score, but a rejuvenated Jordan Jarrold came sprinting in to deliver an excellent recovery tackle and take the ball off his toe just as he shaped to shoot.
Ives were dealing with most Blues ventures into their territory in a no-nonsense way and this uncompromising style almost got them a goal in 17th minute. Brett Longden played a long ball out of defence that the visitor’s defenders allowed to bounce deep in their half. As Marvel Ekpiteta and keeper McCarthy dallied Kelly muscled his way between them to get a contact on the ball just outside the box but his prodded effort drifted wide with the keeper in no man’s land.
A very similar situation again gave Ives a chance to grab a goal in 28th minute. This time De’ath delivered the long ball out of defence and Dubi Ogbonna battled his way between Robinson and McCarthy, but he to failed to hit the target with his toe poke past the keeper.
Ives new formation was looking a lot more solid than in recent weeks and they headed towards half time with a clean sheet still intact for the first time in five games. They even managed to carve out one more half chance to go in at the break in front as Seymour-Shove delivered a late free kick into the box that Short won in the air and knocked down to Miles Smith on the edge of the box, but he snatched his effort wide of the post.
The hosts also created another shooting opportunity only thirty seconds after the break as a long punt from keeper Marsden was flicked on by Kelly and fell to Tom McGowan 25 yards out. He hit is first time effort well, but the ball was always rising and flew just over the angle of crossbar and post.
A good passing move saw Ives create another half chance three minutes later as the move ended with McGowan feeding it into the feet of Kelly on the edge of the box. He cleverly turned his man and delivered a shot that lacked power, but bounced just in front of McCarthy forcing the keeper to spill it, but no one was on hand to punish the error.
The goal that settled the game arrived in 53rd minute and it is the sort of goal that goes in against you when your luck is down. For the first time in the evening Hyde managed to find some space on the right and he delivered a low cross to the near post where Akinyemi’s initial effort was blocked. The ball could have rebounded anywhere, but it fell to Darren Foxley only eight yards out and he prodded the ball home between desperately covering defenders and keeper Marsden to put the Blues in front.
Having battled so hard to this point it was going to be interesting to see Ives reaction to falling behind and although they kept up the pace and effort the composure was not quite there. Hyde combined with Casey two minutes later and the former’s clever through ball put Jordan Westcott into the box. But Marsden did well to smother his well struck shot from fifteen yards.
Ives battle to get back into the game was made doubly difficult on the hour as full back Longden ranged forward into visitor’s territory, but lost control of the ball and rashly lunged in with a dangerously high foot on Richefond. The Blues man made a meal of it helped by his team mates who swiftly crowded around demanding the referee take appropriate action. Referee David Hutton allowed the resulting melee to subside before summoning the unfortunate Longden to receive his marching orders.
With eleven men Ives were in with a good shout of getting back into this game, but with only ten it was going to be very tough. Even with their diminished numbers the hosts continued to look solid, but as they tried to push forward and find an equaliser openings were always likely to appear. The first of these arrived in 70th minute as Foxley got on the end of a long ball out of defence and fired in a short from 20 yards the Marsden held onto well at his near post.
Ives were perhaps lucky not to concede a penalty in 78th minute as Casey and Hyde again combined on the right with the latter bursting into the box along the bye line and going down under challenge from Jarrold. But fortunately the referee decided that the Ives defender had made sufficient contact with the ball for him to only award a corner. Skipper De’ath made an even better recovery tackle five minutes from time as he came sliding in to take the ball off the toe of Akinyemi just as the big man was about to fire home from fifteen yards.
Then with the clock ticking down keeper Marsden produced a fantastic double save to keep Ives in the game. Foxley got away down the left and delivered a low cross along the six-yard line. Substitute Jason Williams looked like he must score at the near post, but Marsden bravely spread himself to block the effort. He did even better miraculously springing across his goal to also block Hyde’s follow up effort at point blank range at the back post. With two Blues players holding their heads in disbelief at Marsden’s heroics Ives broke down the other end where the ball was fed into the feet of substitute James Hall inside the box. He fired in a left footed effort that unfortunately deflected off Robinson to bounce up and make a comfortable save for McCarthy.
With their one late chance gone there was only time left for Marsden to again show his abilities as he once more denied Williams at close range after the Blues sub had robbed De’ath deep inside his own half.
Manager Marheineke had demanded a reaction from his players after Saturday’s horror show and there is absolutely no doubt that he got it. The effort and energy level were unquestionable. Miles Smith got his second man of the match award in two games and his never say die attitude is exactly what is now required to battle our way out of the position that we find ourselves in. With some of the seven injured players returning for this game, and hopefully getting no reaction from their pitch time, and others now within days of a potential reappearance we must continue to keep the faith and get behind the team. The results will come!.
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Bishop’s Stortford 1
Goals : none
Sponsors man of the match : Miles Smith
St Ives team : Marsden, Longden, Jarrold, De’ath (capt), Short (Hartley 81), Smith, Seymour-Shove, McGowan, Kelly, Ogbonna (Hall 77), Libertucci (Clark 69)
Unused substitutes : Hilliard, Wright
Attendance : 162
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson
Many thanks to match sponsor Premier Travel