Edwards nets twice as Ives winning league run continues

Berkhamsted 0 v St Ives Town  2

Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central  25-11-2023

Nigel Howlett Reports from the Glencar Community Stadium

Goals in the first and last minutes of the second half from Jonny Edwards ensured that Ives kept their successful run going as they made it five wins from their last six games in all competitions. The goals simply capped off another thoroughly professional performance on the road, a game during which Ives were rarely troubled with keeper Eddie Brearey only needing to make one meaningful save to preserve his clean sheet.

The only change to Ives side which was so unfortunate not to progress in the FA Trophy at Aveley was a swap at right wing back where the excellent Luke Harris returned in place of the injured Benji Mensah. The visitors started their first ever trip to the compact Glencar Community Stadium a little gingerly as they tried to come to terms with the small and bumpy pitch and it was the Comrades who made all of the early pace with their very direct style getting the ball forward quickly at every opportunity. But the only save that Brearey had to make in those opening exchanges was a comfortable catch to a sixth minute Connor Toomey free kick from 35 yards.

There were also advantages for the visitors from the small pitch and once they came to terms with the surface and started to probe forward they found that Aaron Smith’s long throw could be a very potent weapon delivering the ball to the centre of the area. The first of his arcing missiles in 18th minute almost caught out the hosts as Jordan Williams got on the end of it to flick the ball across the six yard box with no one able to force it home.

The Comrades carved out, and wasted, their best opportunity of the first half in 29th minute as Lewis Johnson managed to get away down the right and looked to pick out Sami Bessadi with his pull back but the hosts number ten was beaten by the pitch as the ball bobbled to prevent him even getting a shot away.

Three minutes later at the other end of the pitch Edwards also spurned a golden opportunity to open the scoring from the best move of the match to that point as Michael Richens won the ball deep inside Comrades territory and fed it out to Harris who delivered the perfect inviting ball along the six yard box where it looked like Edwards merely had to direct his free header one side, or other, of keeper Jamie Head. But the big centre forward was stretching and did not make a good enough contact to hit the target.

Brandon Njoku was as hard working as ever and his constant niggling at the host’s defence almost brought him reward in 36th minute as he capitalised on an error from Sam McClelland and burst into the box but a perfectly timed covering tackle from Luke Massingham just as he went to shoot ensured that the shot flew harmlessly wide.

Each side carved out a half chance in the last couple of minutes of the first period. Initially Jordon Frederick and Bessadi combined well on the right with the latter cutting inside and getting in a low drive from the corner of the box that bobbled in front of Brearey who spilled it but was astute enough to recover the ball just ahead of Johnson. At the other end of the pitch the last attack of the half saw a Dan Barton cross from the right just evade Njoku sliding in at the near post.

There was a real nip in air as the sun went down at the start of the second half but it was the hosts that really got caught cold as Ives went in front only 58 seconds after the re-start. Barton got down the right and fed in Njoku who picked out Harris in space on the edge of the box. The young wing back picked his spot low to Head’s right forcing the keeper into a diving save. But the ball rebounded from his hands straight to the feet of Edwards six yards out and the striker made no mistake side footing home into the empty net.

There then followed a good spell for the Ives with Edwards again going close in 51st minute. Not for the first time in the game the hosts struggled to deal with a Smith long throw. The ball ricocheting around the box before eventually falling to Edwards beyond the far post. He took a touch before drilling in a goal bound shot that deflected wide off the leg of Massingham.

Realising that things were not going his way Comrades manager Steve Heath decided to make a double change just after the hour bringing on Max Bustamente and Olu Lawal in place of Frederick and Toomey respectively and the two replacements had an instant impact as the hosts enjoyed their best spell of the game. They created their best chance of the afternoon in 65th minute as Bessadi slipped a pass through Ives back line to put ex Royston striker Matt Bateman clean through. But Brearey was quickly off his line to close him down and spread himself well to block the shot at close range.

The hosts continued to press without creating another clear cut opportunity as Ives back line stood firm. Johnson almost got away on a break in 77th minute but some clever defending by Paddy Casey ensured that the chance came to nothing. As he steered the player wide allowing Brearey to slide in and claim the ball. The Comrades created two more half chances in the following five minutes. Bateman rose highest to get on the end of Anthony Ball’s cross from the right but could only direct his header from twelve yards straight at Brearey and there were half hearted shouts for a penalty when the same player went down under combined challenge from Casey and Brearey with ten minutes to go.

Referee Jorden Gibson waved those appeals away and the hosts hopes of getting anything from the game disappeared into the cold air with those vain shouts as Ives picked up again and took control for the remaining time. Substitutes Greg Kaziboni and Ed Hottor combined to come within millimetres of doubling the lead in 89th minute as Kaziboni’s hanging cross from the right was only half cleared to Hottor 25 yards out. The powerful midfielder took a touch before unleashing a fierce rising drive the flashed past Head before the keeper could move but just went the wrong side of the crossbar.

But the Ives supporters behind the railway station end goal only had to wait another sixty seconds before Edwards made the game safe. Skipper Richens rampaged forward through the centre and laid the ball off to Edwards on the edge of the box. The big striker took a touch before letting go a low right footer that went through the legs of Massingham before beating the diving Head and finding the bottom corner to confirm another excellent win on the road for the visitors and once again move them back out of the bottom four.

Final Score:  Berkhamsted    0   St Ives Town   2



ST IVES: Edwards 46 & 90

Team Line Ups:

BERKHAMSTED: Head (capt), Ball, Towell (Williams 86), Massingham, McClelland, Riddick, Johnson, Frederick (Bustamente 61), Bateman. Bassadi, Toomey (Lawal 61), Unused subs: Austin, Newton

ST IVES: Brearey, Harris, Smith, Richens (capt), Williams, Casey, Barton (Kaziboni 85), Cowling (Hottor 81), Edwards, Njoku, Tomlinson, Unused subs: Tessler

Cards:   Yellow:  BERKHAMSTED:   Ball (26)              ST IVES:  none


Attendance:  268