Mickleover 0 v St Ives Town 5
Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 20-01-2024
Nigel Howlett reports from the Don Armott Arena
The perfect away performance saw free scoring Ives not just beat but completely demolish the previously table topping Sports. One in front from an excellent Michael Richens free kick at the break the second half became the Jonny Edwards show as the striker helped himself to four very well taken goals to knock the hosts off top spot and take sweet revenge for last seasons unbelievable defeat again nine men at the Don Amott Arena.
Ives manager Ricky Marheineke made two changes to the starting eleven from the side which had comfortably defeated the now defunct Nuneaton Borough with James Dadge returning from his short spell back with parent club Northampton Town between the sticks in place of Arber Grosha and Stevenage loanee Theo Alexandrou making his first start up front in place of Greg Kaziboni who dropped to the bench.
The game started slowly with neither goalkeeper called upon to make a save until 38th minute. But that could have been different had Ed Hottor’s eighth minute pile driver from 20 yards not struck Alexandrou on its way towards Lewis Ridd’s goal.
The other noteworthy efforts in the early stages were a fourth minute shot from the corner of the box for the hosts by Marcus Barnes which deflected wide off the covering Paddy Casey. Dan Barton also went very close to opening the scoring in 19th minute when he cleverly took down a ball from Casey that had looped over a defender in the gusty conditions. The young winger then stepped inside before curling an effort from the edge of the box that beat Ridd but clipped the crossbar on its way over.
Excellent build up play down the right saw Barton, Richens and Benji Mensah interchange passes before the latter put Edwards clear in a wide position. His teasing cross picked out Alexandrou in space at the back post but the youngster was stretching and could only steer his header inches wide of the post as Ridd scrambled across to try and cover the effort.
The Ives defence were looking very solid and Jordan Williams showed a glimpse of that resilience in 36th minute as he threw himself in to block a close range effort from Stuart Beavon at the near post after the striker had got on the end of a low driven cross from the right by overlapping full back Jake Bennett. The first save of the game from either keeper was made by Dadge two minutes later as he did well to cling onto a 25 yard screamer from Ollie Greaves.
The opening goal arrived in 44th minute when Hottor again got onto a ball that was half cleared to him on the edge of the box. As he tried to take it down he was clumsily up ended by Blaine Rowe. Richens carefully lined up the resulting free kick and curled it perfectly over the five man wall and into the top corner giving Ridd no chance.
Throughout the game the hosts had always tried to make best use of their excellent 3G surface by playing out from the back but this was inviting Ives to press them high and they had almost been caught out a few times in the first half. The second goal three minutes after the re-start came in just that fashion. Hottor won the ball high up the park and fed it into the feet of Barton on the edge of the box. He chose not to shoot but instead slid the ball sideways into the run of Edwards who emphatically beat Ridd from just inside the box.
A reaction was perhaps expected from the hosts but it did not come. Manager John McGrath made a couple of changes to try and alter the flow of the game with Dan Bradley and Will Trueman replacing Matt Bowman and Barnes respectively but Ives continued to be first to every ball preventing Sports from building any real threat on the visitors goal.
Ives third which effectively killed the game arrived in simple fashion with twenty minutes to go. Aaron Smith’s long throw evaded everyone at the near post and bounced across the six yard box straight to Richens lurking at the back post. His powerful header was brilliantly saved one handed low to his left by Ridd. But the ball rebounded onto the shins of Edwards and bounced into the net. But give the striker his due as he was doing what all good strikers do getting in the right spot at the right time.
Three minutes later Edwards cooly completed his hat trick sending Ridd the wrong way from the penalty spot. The spot kick had come about in bizarre fashion as Sports hit the self destruct button. A long punt down the park by Dadge skidded off the head of Ethan Mann and was going out for a corner when Ridd flung himself full length at the ball to try and keep it in play. He succeeded but let the ball slip from his grasp and Alexandrou was on it in a flash to nick the ball off him. The struggling keeper then stuck out an arm to take down the striker. This all happened right in front of the assistant referee who instantly flagged for the foul. A quick consultation between the officials meant a yellow card for keeper Ridd and a hat trick for Edwards.
The game was now in the bag but Edwards was not finished yet. His fourth arrived with nine minutes left on the watch as Ives once more tore a gaping hole through Sports back line. Two substitutes combined to set up this goal with Luke Harris feeding in the perfectly timed run of Myles Cowling through the right channel. Cowling picked out Alexandrou with his pull back but the striker got the ball stuck between his legs and failed to get his shot away as defenders closed him down. However he had the peace of mind to roll the ball sideways to the unmarked Edwards who calmly side footed the ball into the bottom corner of the net from 15 yards.
There was still time for Alexandrou to come very close to opening his Ives account with what would have been a deserved goal in added time. He robbed a dallying Mann and strode forward before unleashing a powerful drive from 20 yards that beat the diving Ridd but thudded the upright and rebounded clear.
Overall a fantastic performance from Ives who got their deserved reward and will happily see this as three points back into the kitty, half way to replacing the six that will be lost following the sad demise of Nuneaton. Next week they welcome another title contender to quattro-tech Westwood Road in Needham Market for a game that promises to be a cracker.
Final Score: Mickleover 0 St Ives Town 5
ST IVES: Richens 44, Edwards 48, 70, 73 (pen), 81
Team Line Ups:
MICKLEOVER: Ridd, Bennett, Bowman (Bradley 57), Atkinson, Rowe, Mann (capt), Dales (Ryder 78), Sault, Beavon, Barnes (Trueman 57), Greaves, Unused Subs: Clarke, Ferron
ST IVES: Dadge, Mensah (Harris 79), Smith, Richens (capt) (Joyce 83), Williams, Casey, Barton (Cowling 54) Hottor, Edwards, Alexandrou, Tomlinson, Unused subs: Kaziboni, Oti
Cards: Yellow: MICKLEOVER: Atkinson (29), Beavon (35), Ridd (73), Sault (73)
ST IVES: Tomlinson (45+3), Hottor (61)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jonny Edwards