Banbury United v St Ives Town
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 23-02-19
A thoroughly professional all round performance saw the Ives inflict a carefully planned first home defeat since October on the Puritans to completely extinguish any lingering hopes the hosts may have had of making a late run towards the play-offs.
Another shuffle of the pack by manager Ricky Marheineke meant a change back to a flat back four with debutant Gavin Hoyte joining Jarvis Wilson in a formidable centre back pairing. This released Tom Wood forward into a defensive midfield role just in front of the back line where he put in a man of the match performance not only breaking up a lot of Banbury’s forward moves but also picking passes to create positive breaks for the Ives. Andrew Osei-Bonsu pushed Wood close for the accolade with a hard working performance at centre forward topped off by another contender for goal of the season which put Ives in front after 15 minutes.
The Puritans mini version of Lionel Messi Ravi Shamsi has been a thorn in Ives side on a number of occasions in the past and he showed that he was very much up for the challenge in this game twice going close in the early stages. In fourth minute he robbed Wilson as the young defender struggled to deal with a bouncing ball on the edge of the box. Keeper Martin Conway closed him down quickly forcing the striker to hurry his attempted chip which just sailed over the crossbar.
Shamsi went close again in tenth minute as Giogio Rasulo picked him out with a pass threaded through the right hand channel. The tricky winger jinked to go inside Hoyte before changing feet and darting past him on the outside and hammering a right foot effort over the angle of post and crossbar from just inside the box.
Having weathered this early storm Ives stunned the hosts by going in front in their first meaningful attack of the game after fifteen minutes and it all came from a Puritans attack that broke down on the edge of Ives box. Edmund Hottor and Amer Awadh combined well down the left only for the latter to be halted by a well timed tackle from Wood. The clearance down the park was completely misjudged by Charlie Wise who allowed the ball to bounce over his head. Osei-Bonsu was onto the loose ball in a flash but 30 yards from goal he still had an awful lot to do. He roamed forward a little further before drawing a covering defender to him and cleverly using that man as a shield curling the ball around him and into the far corner of the net well beyond the reach of the grasping fingers of the diving Jack Harding in the home goal.
Stung into action the hosts soon had Ives back under a degree of pressure as they passed the ball around well in front of the Ives solid formation. But in spite of their quantity of possession the Puritans struggled to make any clear cut chances. They managed to register an effort at goal in 19th minute as Lee Henderson rose highest to get on the end of a deep Shamsi corner from the right. But under pressure from Wilson the hosts centre back could only direct his header wide of the target.
Conway was called into meaningful action five minutes later as Shamsi continued to cause problems on the right. This time Ricky Johnson managed to get across in front of Conway to get the feintest of flicks onto Shamsi’s in-swinging cross to the near post. But Conway reacted instantly to make an excellent save to his right and completed the save by bravely pouncing onto the loose ball before anyone else could react.
Ives second goal arrived six minutes before the break and again Wood was the catalyst as he broke up a Puritans attack deep inside visitor’s territory and fed the ball down the park. Osei-Bonsu challenged Wise for the ball just outside the hosts box and it fell to Ben Seymour-Shove on the right hand corner of the box. He instantly pivoted and fired off a left foot effort that looked like it lacked the power to beat Harding but the keeper had been caught on his heels and struggled to move his feet eventually being beaten low to his right as the ball crept just inside the post.
Two in front at the break we all expected the Ives to take a battering in the early stages of the second half but how wrong we were as it was the visitors who came out and once more took the game to their hosts and were hugely unlucky not to grab a third goal in the opening ten minutes. The half was only three minutes old when Seymour-Shove chased a lost cause to keep the ball in by the corner flag. He picked out Munashe Sundire on the corner of the box with his pull back. The Ives midfield man had time to take a touch before curling a right foot effort that beat the despairing dive of Harding but went agonisingly inches the wrong side of the post.
Only five minutes later Osei-Bonsu and Seymour-Shove combined well down the right to get to the bye line again. Seymour-Shove’s teasing little chip into the centre was met powerfully by the late arriving Robbie Parker but he was unable to keep his free header down and the effort flashed a couple of feet over the crossbar.
Having failed to kill the game off Ives found themselves pegged back as the hosts pulled a goal back only two minutes later and no surprise it was Shamsi that provided the finish. The little maestro arrived in the box at pace to ram home Sean Whaler’s cross from the right giving Conway no chance from close range. To add to his pain the Ives keeper also picked himself up a yellow card as he tried to prevent the Puritans striker grabbing the ball out of the net to take it back to the half way line.
Only ninety seconds later it was almost 2-2 as Harry Whitehead and Whaler combine well down the right. The latter’s cross bouncing off Hoyte and falling to the lightning quick Shamsi who flashed his powerful effort from close range across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
After this second scare Ives stepped up their levels of effort yet another notch to ensure that the Puritans were unable to get up a head of steam and put any real pressure onto Ives goal. With Hoyte struggling with a groin injury picked up in the first half but essential to remain on the park for his aerial prowess his colleagues were rallying around to ensure that no gaps appeared in the ever rigid visitors back line even though the big man was struggling for pace.
With the clocking ticking down it was not until 82nd minute that either side created another decent chance and then both sides did it within 40 seconds of each other. Firstly Wilson rose highest at the back post to get on the end of a Jordan Patrick corner from the right but the under pressure youngster failed to keep his effort down. From the resulting quickly taken goal kick Johnson managed to beat the struggling Hoyte to a bouncing ball inside Ives box and screw his effort across goal into the danger zone only for Wood to once more pop up in the right place at the right time to head the ball to safety at the expense of a corner.
The Puritans were not giving up and continued to push forward in the hunt for an equaliser Henderson again got on the end of a deep Hottor corner in 87th minute but could only direct his header straight at Conway who held on well.
The final opportunity for the hosts to glean something from the game came in the 90th minute as Awadh drove in a low cross from the left that the diving Conway struggled to hold onto at full stretch but young Wilson came to his keeper’s rescue showing excellent composure to get his body between the marauding Johnson and his keeper thus allowing the Ives custodian to bravely reclaim the loose ball.
An added six minutes was not what Ives wanted to hear but they had been quite effective in cleverly using every opportunity to slow up the game once they were in front and they were equally clinical in ensuring that no further scares occurred in the added time to allow them to claim their first ever victory over the Puritans at the sixth attempt. The result means the Ives remain twelfth in the table three places above their best finish to date in Southern League Premier Division.
Final Score : Banbury United 1 St Ives Town 2
Goals : Osei-Bonsu 15, Seymour-Shove 39
Team : Conway, Jackson, Coulson, Sundire, Hoyte, Jarvis Wilson, Seymour-Shove (Patrick 82), Parker (capt), Wood, Osei-Bonsu (Newman 88), Snaith (Bailey 61)
Unused subs : Ward, Baker
Supporters man of the match : Tom Wood
Attendance : 439
Report by Nigel Howlett
|February 23, 2019
|Southern League Premier Division Central
|St Ives Town