Banbury United v St Ives Town
BetVictor League Southern Premier Division Central 09-11-19
A much improved performance unfortunately brought no reward for Ives as they travelled to the third placed Puritans. Equally pleasing to the improved performance was the return to fitness of two more of the long term absentees as Ty Ward returned to the starting eleven for the first time since early October and George Bailey since picking up an injury at Rushall in mid-September.
The match was played throughout in a steady rain and this was on top of the considerable quantities of precipitation which had hit the Midlands in the week leading up to the fixture. It was thanks to the hard work of the Banbury ground staff and a very good draining pitch that the game was on at all.
The high flying hosts had a virtually fully fit squad and were keen to get their teeth into the apparently struggling Ives and they were almost gifted a goal in only the sixth minute as John Mills robbed Charlie Johnson deep in Ives half and exchanged passes with Claudio Dias on the edge of the box before being robbed himself just as he was about to shoot by an excellent recovery tackle by Johnson.
Dias was involved again two minutes later as he was played into space on the right by Eddie Odhiambo. The tricky number ten’s driven cross was palmed back into the danger zone by a full stretch Finley Iron who was perhaps a little fortunate that Jannai Gordon snatched at the chance and screwed his effort wide from a good position.
Ives picked up a free kick in a dangerous position in 11th minute and although it created their first effort at goal it also saw the injury hoodoo strike again. Robbie Parker hung up the free kick into the centre of the box where Jarvis Wilson came powering in and made good contact but steered his header wide of the post. Unfortunately Wilson’s head also made good contact with the head of Puritans skipper Jack Westbrook and whilst the hosts skipper was able to continue after treatment the Ives centre back had to be helped groggily from the field by physio Jess Guthrie. Wilson was replaced by Ben Seymour-Shove leading to a wholesale reshuffle that saw the substitute come on in his usual wide position, Bailey move into the centre of the park and Tom Wood slot in at centre back.
Both sides continued to play good possession football despite the conditions and although the hosts enjoyed the majority of possession and were always looking to use their out balls with Odhiambo and Kynan Isaac both sticking to the touch line right and left respectively Ives restricted their attacking threat well limiting them to a small number of incursions into their box. Good build up play down the right in 28th minute eventually saw the ball fed across the box to Pablo Haysham in a little bit of space but he was quickly closed down and his shot blocked away by Johnson.
A dangerous move down the left in 36th minute saw Giorgio Rasulo come within millimetres of putting the hosts in front. He received a pass inside from Isaac just outside the box and breezed past Cameron McWilliams and Wood before letting fly with a low drive that skimmed off the wet turf beating Iron low to his right before cannoning off the inside of the post then hitting the back of the diving keeper a ricocheting out for a corner.
Having survived that fortunate escape it looked like Ives might make it to the break on level terms but that was not to be as just two and half minutes before the interval another probing run down the left by Isaac saw him slot a ball into the well timed run of Mills who got to the bye line before drilling a low cross into the centre that picked out Gordon who side footed home from close range.
The visitors had one half chance to get back on terms in the remaining few minutes as the exuberant Bailey tried to get past Connor Roberts on the outside before letting fly with a rising drive from just inside the box that went about a metre wide of keeper Jack Harding’s right hand post.
Ives were very much still in the game at the start of the second half and with the bar shut for a function the whole of their travelling contingent of supporters were wedged in the small covered stand behind the goal they were attacking and trying to will them to an equaliser. They almost got their reward only three minutes after the re-start as patient build up down the right culminated in Bailey getting to the bye line before feeding the ball back to Joe Curtis who teed up Seymour-Shove for a effort that he curled just wide from the edge of the box.
Bailey continued to cause problems for the Puritans defence and he was the protagonist that created the next opportunity in 56th minute as he took on Isaac on the right forcing the hosts wide man to bring him down in a dangerous position. Parker decided to try something different with the free kick drilling it low into the box where it sliced off the boot of Isaac straight into the hands of his grateful keeper who made a comfortable catch.
Both sides continued to use their possession well and each had opportunities around the hour mark. Firstly Dias combined well with Odhiambro down the right the latter delivering a cross to the back post where Haysham arriving late won the header above McWilliams but failed to hit the target from eight yards out.
Straight down the other end Bailey again took an opportunity to run at the hosts back line and worked his way to the edge of the box before side stepping his man and firing a right footed effort just wide.
Mills was perhaps unlucky not to increase the Puritans lead two minutes later as good build up play down the left involving Rasulo and Isaac ended with the latter feeding the ball inside to Mills who stepped inside before curling an effort over Iron from 20 yards that rebounded to safety off the crossbar much to the relief of Ives custodian.
But to in 71st minute it was Harding’s turn to thank his crossbar for saving his blushes as Seymour-Shove unleashed a rising snap shot from 20 yards that looked like it was going to be a comfortable save for the hosts keeper but the wet ball forced its way through his fingers and he was hugely relieved to see the ball land on the top of the crossbar and bounce over. The resulting corner came to nothing but going so close seemed to be a signal for Ives to step up the pace a little more and they began to pile the pressure on the creaking hosts back line.
McWilliams was sacrificed to bring on an extra midfielder in another of the injury returnees Dan Clifton and the tiring Bailey was replaced by Matt Foy but the Puritans have not got the best defensive record in the division for no reason and although there were moments of panic no more clear cut chances were carved out in the final fifteen minutes despite Ives spending most of it camped out in the hosts half.
The game concluded with the hosts moving up into second place only one point behind lead leaders Tamworth and Ives still sitting just one point above the bottom three. But the chilly visiting supporters exited the small stand into the rain much more buoyed by the level of effort and performance from their heroes and more optimistic of the challenges to come.
Final Score : Banbury United 1 St Ives Town 0
Goals : none
Team : Iron, McWilliams (Clifton 74), Ward, Wood, Jackson, Jarvis Wilson (Seymour-Shove 14), Johnson, Parker (capt), Dylan Wilson, Bailey (Foy 74), Curtis,
Unused subs : none
Supporters man of the match : George Bailey
Attendance : 318
Report by Nigel Howlett
|November 9, 2019
|Southern Premier Central
|St Ives Town