Hitchin Town v St Ives Town
Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 26-09-2022
Normally a point on the road at Hitchin would feel like an achievement, but somehow this hard fought draw felt like it was two points lost against a nervy Canaries side who looked like a team low on confidence and struggling to score goals. In fact the home side’s somewhat fortunate equaliser was their first goal in almost 400 minutes of football.
Manager Ricky Marheineke had shuffled the Ives pack after Saturday’s home defeat to high flying Redditch making four changes with Julien Saka returning at right back to replace the injured Kane Lewis and tactical changes seeing returns to the starting eleven for skipper Michael Richens, Greg Kaziboni and Tyrone Baker, the latter’s return after suspension for his dismissal against Leiston. Myles Cowling, Dylan Williams and Enoch Andoh dropped to the bench to make way for the trio.
It was clear to see that the hosts were not taking any chances at the back with the ball being pumped long at every opportunity right from the off and the first chance of the game came from one of those deliveries in ninth minute as Josh Coldicott-Stevens got past Johnny Herd down the right before trying his luck from a narrow angle. The well positioned James Goff blocked the wingers first effort but had to repeat the feat as the initial save rebounded back to the same player.
Ives first chance of the night arrived in twelfth minute courtesy of a trade mark Herd long throw which caused panic in the Canaries defence. The ball initially fell to Kaziboni at the back of the box, his initial shot was blocked but like Caldicott-Stevens a few minutes earlier he too got a second bite of the cherry but again his follow up effort was also bravely blocked at point blank range by the body of a flying Canary defender.
The pace of Baker was causing problems for the home defence and two minutes later the winger outpaced Kye Tearle to get to the bye line before picking out Nabil Shariff ten yards out with his pull back. Usually so deadly from close range but not on this occasion as Ives joint leading scorer somehow got the ball stuck between his legs allowing a covering defender to get the ball off him before he could get a shot away.
The opening goal in 17th minute was brilliantly taken and showed exactly what Ives are all about this season as they cleared a Canaries delivery into their box and broke out of their own half at pace with Baker making a central run being the one picked out by Kaziboni’s perfectly weighted through ball. The Ives wide man outpaced the home defence and kept his composure to round the exposed home keeper Charlie Horlock before rolling the ball home into the empty net.
The visitors continued to look the more likely as they continued to harry their opponents at every opportunity but the hosts regrouped and their resolute defence kept them in the contest and ensured that although Ives were enjoying a lot of possession their opportunities to add to their lead were very limited. The closest they came was in 33rd minute in very simple route one style as Jonny Edwards flicked on a long ball out of defence and Shariff timed his run to perfection to get onto it looking like he was going to go clear but much as he is an excellent finisher Shariff is not the quickest man in Ives side and covering defender Toby Syme made up the yards and managed to deflect the shot away when it came. The resulting Kaziboni corner almost found an unmarked Richens at the back post but Jack Green did just enough to touch the ball away from him.
Having not really threatened Ives goal since the early attempt from Coldicott-Stevens it was perhaps a little out of the blue when the hosts grabbed an equaliser in 38th minute. Malaki Black was given time and space to roam forward down the left and he cut inside before feeding the ball square to Finley Wilkinson who decided to try his luck from fully 30 yards. He hit his low drive well enough and it got a deflection off a defender on its way towards goal but keeper Goff will be disappointed that he did not keep it out as he got down well and got both hands to the ball but was unable to prevent it creeping into the corner of the net.
A rising drive from 20 yards that flashed about a metre over the top from the otherwise well marshalled Edwards was the only other noteworthy event prior to the break.
But now with parity restored the hosts began to find a little more confidence and it was they who looked the more likely to find a winner in the early stages of the second period. Black was finding a lot of space on the left and giving them a constant out ball but thanks to solid cover in the centre his deliveries were not coming to anything. The hosts did come close though in 64th minute when Wilkinson supporting Black on the left got past Saka and was taken down by the struggling defender inches outside the box. The Canaries number eleven picked himself up and took the free kick firing it under the jumping Ives four man wall. But Goff was well positioned, got a good sight of the effort, and held on well with home attackers bearing down on him hoping for an error.
As the half wore on things evened up again and Ives main threat was Kaziboni who was certainly quicker than Black and got to the bye line on a few occasions but the Canaries central defence was looking as solid as Ives and chances were very much at a premium. The visitor’s best opportunity to get back in front came with fifteen minutes to go and was served up by Kaziboni who exchanged passes with Richens before hanging up a cross to the centre where substitute Cowling arriving at pace met the ball powerfully but could not keep his header down.
Even as the game entered the last ten minutes it was defences that remained on top and any opportunities that appeared were in reality what might be called half chances. An 80th minute 35 yard lob from Coldicott-Stevens was hopeful of catching Goff off his line but the effort floated harmlessly over the top on the strengthening breeze. Five minutes later the hosts thought that they had an excellent claim for a penalty but substitute Leon Chambers-Parillon had wandered offside before Herd clattered into him as he tried to get on the end of Ashley Hay’s cross. Hay himself blasted well wide from just outside the box as he went for the spectacular taking on a dropping ball first time two minutes from the end of the ninety.
The final Ives chance to nick it came in the last of three added minutes as a late Herd long throw almost dropped to Shariff inside the box but as previously the defenders came to the fore and the chance was snuffed out.
With everyone seemingly coming through the game unscathed Ives can now look forward to what must be one of the biggest games in the club’s history as they entertain Northern Premier Division Chasetown on Saturday in the 3rd Qualifying Round of the FA Cup, only two games away from joining the likes of Cambridge United and Peterborough United in the 1st Round proper.
Final Score: Hitchin Town 1 St Ives Town 1
HITCHIN: Wilkinson 38,
ST IVES: Baker 17,
Team Line Ups:
HITCHIN: Horlock (capt), Tearle, Black, Smye, Georgiou, Green, Coldicott-Stevens, Gleeson (Chambers-Parillon 83), Hay, Freitas-Gouveia (Snelus 74), Wilkinson, Unused subs: Bell, Kane, Allotey
ST IVES: Goff, Saka, Herd, Richens (capt), J. Williams, Milne, Kaziboni, Hottor (Cowling 66), Edwards (D. Williams 70), Baker (Johnston 85), Shariff, Unused subs: Sandiford, Andoh
Cards: Yellow: HITCHIN: none ST IVES: Richens (55), Saka (64)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Jordan Williams
Report by Nigel Howlett
|September 26, 2022
|Southern League Premier Division Central
|St Ives Town