After conceding more than two goals for only the second time this season in their previous game it was probably to be expected that manager Ricky Marheineke would revert to his favoured five in midfield and only one man up front for this Easter Monday fixture against the stuttering Eagles.
The perhaps slightly more unexpected changes were Luis Vieira coming in on the left for Phil Draycott and very promising young keeper Brendan Brown being replaced between the sticks by the more experienced Tim Trebes.
The Ives looked more solid from the off and apart from one early effort from Kenny Orenuga from 20 yards that required Trebes to dive to his left to push away it was the visitors strength in midfield that showed through. Luke Knight as ever was winning tackles and preventing the home side creating any real opportunities.
As the half wore on Ives slowly started to create a few chances of their own. A dangerous in-swinging free kick from the left by Ben Seymour-Shove was excellently flicked away from the edge of the six yard box by Ollie Peters under severe pressure from Steve Gentle and Andrew Phillips.
Phillips showed excellent anticipation ten minutes before the break as he darted between Matt Clifford and keeper Ashley Harris to steal an attempted header back to the keeper. Unfortunately the hard working striker was heading away from goal and although he succeeded in flicking the ball past the stranded keeper the effort lacked power and skipper Peters got around behind his stopper to hack the ball away.
Phillips was involved in everything positive that Ives were doing at this stage of the game and five minutes later he went close again as he peeled off at the back post to get a free header on Seymour-Shove’s in-swinging corner. Unfortunately the breeze took the ball a little further than he anticipated and he was always stretching and failed to hit the target with his free header.
The final effort of the half was Ives best chance of the game and it came in the last few seconds. Trebes claimed Eagles first corner into the box and instantly spotted Luis Vieira in space on the half way line. A quick throw picked him out and the young winger fed an inside pass into the feet of Declan Rogers who had timed his run to perfection. Rogers was clear of the Bedford defence and through one on one with the keeper, he looked to be doing everything right as he drew Harris to him and clipped the ball past the big keeper. However he failed to get it quite right and the ball bounced agonisingly inches past the upright.
For the second game in a row the Ives lost a defender at the break. On this occasion it was Scott Sinclair who had succumbed to ankle injury after being the victim of a couple of very heavy first half tackles. He was replaced, by the ever reliable Dan Moyes.
However it was the opposite flank where Bedford were enjoying a little bit of joy as Orenuga had swapped sides. On 51 minutes he wriggled his way past Jordan Jarrold and slid the ball into the feet of Ben Farrell on the edge of the box. Farrell initially got the ball stuck in his feet, but then sorted himself out and got in a powerful toe poke that Trebes had to tip over the top.
Farrell went close again three minutes later as he got on the end of another low cross pulled back to him by over lapping full back Matt Clifford. This time he fired in a first time side footed effort that just cleared the crossbar.
The visitor’s first opportunity of the second half was created by Moyes. Jared Cunniff held the ball up well on the right hand side and laid the ball back to the supporting full back. His first time ball into the box picked out Phillips at the far post. Unfortunately Phillips side footed effort from eight yards was just wide.
The game descended into a midfield battle again with both defences well on top and neither keeper looking at all troubled. But with 20 minutes to go manager Marheineke decided to go for the three points necessary to reinforce the visitors promotion prospects as he replaced midfielder Rogers with striker Danny Watson.
Watson’s first half chance came six minutes later as fellow substitute Phil Draycott battled his way down the left hand side and delivered a dangerous cross into the box that both Watson and Phillips attacked. But neither got a clean contact and the ball bounced off Peters safely to his keeper.
The tireless Phillips created the Ives best second half opportunity as he battled Clifford for the ball on the right and came clear with it leaving the full back on the seat of his pants. Phillips laid the ball into the feet of Watson on the edge of the D and with an unmarked Luke Knight looping round behind him and screaming for the ball a shot on target looked inevitable. But Watson chose the strikers option and tried to turn inside on his own only to be robbed by a desperate challenge from the covering Peters and the chance was gone.
With the extra space in midfield the game was opening up and with the visitors wasting their chance to get in front it was the home side who came closest to grabbing all three points going close twice in the last few minutes. With two minutes to go the tricky Dominic Morgan-Griffiths found space on the right and delivered a cross into the box that evaded everyone at the near post. Farrell arriving late at the far post looked certain to score, but he somehow managed to hit the crossbar with his side footed effort from eight yards and a relieved Trebes was even more pleased as the ball rebounded safely into his hands.
The visitor’s keeper preserved his clean sheet and ensured the Ives went home with a point as he pulled off an excellent reaction save deep in added time. Full back Devante Stanley broke from the back and fed the ball out to Morgan-Griffiths who laid the perfect ball into the path of Farrell who fired in a crisp drive from 15 yards that Trebes somehow blocked high to his left. He also reacted quickest to the loose ball and just pounced on it ahead of the speedy Morgan-Griffiths.
Supporter’s man of the match was a tough one today and there were a number of names in the frame including Luke Knight and Steve Gentle (and one vote for Scott Sinclair based on his 45 minutes before being forced off by injury). However the winner was Charlie De’ath for yet another very solid performance at the heart of this very solid Ives defence.
Manager Marheineke described it as a point gained in his post match interview and we are still very much in the play off mix, but only one point out of a possible six from the Bank Holiday weekend was probably not the return we were all hoping for. The top spot for automatic promotion is now looking a very big ask with Royston hitting form at the right time, but the play offs are still very much on and the squad and fans must all believe together and push us on to a few vital victories in the remaining five games to make sure we get there.
St Ives team : Trebes, Sinclair (Moyes 45), Jarrold, De’ath, Gentle, Knight (capt), Seymour-Shove (Draycott 62), Cunniff, Phillips, Rogers (Watson 70), Vieira
Unused subs : Warwick, Brown
Goals : none
Man of the Match : Charlie De’ath
Final Score : Bedford Town 0 St Ives Town 0
Attendance : 317