Grantham Town v St Ives Town
Buildbase FA Trophy 1st Round 10-12-20
Ives love leaving it late, in the last round they drew level with a last minute penalty before holding their nerve to win the shoot-out. This time they went one better grabbing two goals in added time to turn the game on its head and claim an unlikely victory to continue their journey into the unknown as they march on into the second round proper of this competition for the first time in the clubs history.
It was a strange night all round and probably the first ever competitive game that either side have played behind closed doors with only a handful of safety stewards and directors allowed in to witness proceeding due to Covid-19 restrictions. The weather did not treat the handful to kindly either with a bitterly cold gale force wind carrying drizzly rain on its wings to ensure that we were all shivering even before the off.
Manager Ricky Marheineke threw us all a curve ball going for a very attacking 4-3-3 formation with Michael Harding making his first start up front alongside Marc Richards and Michael Gyasi. Neither side had played for over a month due to the lockdown and with the wind blowing and a bobbly pitch this game was not likely to provide a spectacle of flowing football. Ives won the toss and made what looked like a wise decision to go with the wind first. However they looked the more rusty of the two outfits and could easily have fallen behind in the Gingerbreads first meaningful attack in seventh minute as James Berrett slid a ball through to put Liam Hardy clear but Martin Conway in the visitors goal was alert to the danger and was swiftly off his line to close the angle and deflect Hardy’s shot wide off his body. The resulting corner was only half cleared and Michael Hollingsworth rose above the crowd in the goalmouth to steer the return ball inches wide of the post.
In these early stages Ives were looking very disjointed overhitting attempted through balls to the front trio with the wind and leaving a lot of space for the hosts to break into in front of their struggling back four. Hardy was proving a real threat and it was no surprise when he put the Gingerbreads in front in tenth minute. He chased a long ball down the park that held up against the wind cut inside Ben Toseland and Brett Solkhon before firing a low left footer into the bottom corner from just outside the box.
Home keeper Jan Budtz had enjoyed a relatively quiet period in the early stages but he showed that he was on his toes as he denied Harding in 18th minute. He initially came off his line to punch away an in-swinging cross from the left by Dylan Williams. But the ball fell to Nathan Hicks who cleverly clipped it back into the mix. Harding rose highest and tried to steer a looping header over the keeper who quickly back peddled before leaping to tip the ball over at full stretch. Two minutes later it looked like Ives had managed to get the first long ball right as Richards looked to have got completely clear onto a Conway punt that hung on the breeze but he was hauled back by a late assistant’s flag.
Another quick break saw the hosts double their lead on the half hour. This time Conway started to come for a ball through the centre that looked like it might carry through to him but the wind had played a cruel trick on the Ives custodian who found himself stranded in no mans land as Jack Stobbs sprinted onto it and lashed it home past the out of position keeper from 25 yards.
Ives urgently needed a response and they got it four minutes later. A ball clipped into the box by Luke Howell was flicked on by Richards and Harding latched onto it by the penalty spot but as he went to shoot his legs were taken from under him by home skipper Tom Ward. Referee Martyn Fryer immediately pointed to the spot and Richards did the rest sending Budtz the wrong way to halve the arrears.
Rather than Ives pushing on it was the hosts who again showed clinical finishing on the break to restore their two goal advantage two minutes later. Nathan Dyer fed a ball into the feet of Hardy just outside the box and the striker once more showed his prowess as he worked himself just enough space to slam in a low shot that beat the diving Conway on its way into that bottom left hand corner again.
To their credit the visitors once again fought back and in 38th minute it took a spectacular diving save from Budtz to keep out a curling effort from the left by the busy Williams. But the home keeper was beaten in the last few seconds of the half as Ives showed they to could also be dangerous on the break Gyasi picked up the ball wide left and had only one intention in his mind as he cut inside past two defenders before rattling an unstoppable drive past the rooted Budtz to reduce the deficit to one at the interval.
It was going to be hard for Ives to build up a real head of steam against the elements and they struggled to create anything in the early stages of the second half. In fact the Gingerbreads came within inches of restoring their two goal cushion two minutes after the restart as a corner fell to Ward on the edge of the six yard box and he somehow managed to miss everyone inside the box with his shot that flashed past the far post.
As Ives struggled to create any real opportunities the hosts continued to go close to putting the game to bed. It took a spectacular intervention from Solkhon to prevent Ashley Worsfold doing just that on the hour as the Ives centre back had to hurl himself at a teasing cross from Hollingsworth and direct it over his own crossbar to stop the hosts number nine from heading it home.
The hosts had two more good opportunities to make the closing stages a lot easier for themselves in quick succession. In 73rd minute a bizarre attempted clearance from Williams got caught on the breeze and arced back into his own penalty area where it fell to hosts substitute Adam Watson who should probably have done better but old succeeded in mishitting his shot straight into the grateful arms of Conway. Liam Bateman was Ives hero two minutes later as he got around behind his keeper to clear a Hollingsworth cross from the right off the goal line after Worsfold had challenged Conway for the ball and both had missed it.
You had a feeling that having failed to kill the game off the hosts may live to regret it. Manager Marheineke was playing all of his cards to try and grab something from the game. Ed Hottor replaced a tiring Richards, winger Ben Seymour-Shove came on for full back Toseland and recent signing Tommy Boxer made his Ives debut replacing Hicks. Boxer went into the middle of a back three with Solkhon thrown forward and Hottor joining him to make a four man attack.
Ives did manage to build up a bit of pressure as the hosts made the fatal mistake of sitting back but it looked like to little to late as the game ticked on into an added four minutes. But you cannot ever write this side off and in the first minute of that added time Gyasi tempted a Gingerbreads defender into a rash lunge on the edge of the box. Referee Fryer deemed the foul inside and this time it was Williams who did the job from the spot. We all thought that was it another penalty shoot out. But the wounded hosts went for broke straight from the kick off and paid the price as their attempt to channel the ball to a group of players down the left was broken up by Bateman who fed it down the line where Seymour-Shove slid it into the feet of Harding just inside the box he found space to turn and fire it along the six yard line. It evaded friend and foe alike before arriving at the feet of Hottor ghosting in at the back post and he did the rest giving Budtz no chance as he fired into the roof of the net to spark wild celebrations amongst Ives players and their very small contingent of supporters. Most of the added four minutes had been spent with Ives players celebrating and the ball not in play so referee Fryer was quite right to add another nerve racking three minutes but the whistle did eventually go to allow Ives FA Trophy adventure continue with another behind closed doors trip to National League North Leamington in Round 2 in five days time.
Final Score : Grantham Town 3 St Ives Town 4
Goals : Richards 34 (pen), Gyasi 45, Williams 90+2 (pen), Hottor 90+4
Team : Conway, Bateman, Toseland (Seymour-Shove 80), Gyasi, Jackson, Solkhon, Harding, Howell, Richards (Hottor 78), Williams, Hicks (Boxer 85)
Unused subs : J. Patrick, Mitkov
Supporters man of the match : Michael Harding
Attendance : 0
Report by Nigel Howlett
|December 10, 2020||19:45||The FA Trophy||2020-21||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||2||4|