Hitchin Town v St Ives Town
Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central 15-01-2022
This league is hugely unforgiving if you have one, or two, players who are not quite on their game so it should be no real surprise that Ives were well beaten in a game where no one in their side could walk away and say that they played well. The previously struggling Canaries were grateful to accept their gifts particularly Callum Stead and Jake Hutchinson who claimed a brace each on every occasion capitalising on an error by the visitors.
Both teams had a decent break ahead of this fixture with the Ives having not played for ten days since their vital win at Nuneaton and the Canaries playing their first game since Boxing Day thanks to two Covid cancellations. On paper both looked to be improving after shaky starts to the season going into this game the hosts were unbeaten in three and the Ives had won three of their last four.
Given the enforced breaks it was no real surprise that the game started cautiously with both sides testing each other out without either really looking likely to make a break through. Both keepers had only a single comfortable save to make in the first ten minutes. The fit again James Goff back in the Ives goal easily fielding a 20 yarder from Hutchinson and his opposite number Charlie Horlock being no more tested by an effort from Tyrone Baker from a little further out.
The first real threat did not appear until 26th minute when Hutchinson snuck around the back and almost got on the end of a delicate clip to the back post by Josh Coldicott-Stevens. Callum Westwood did just enough to direct his covering header about a foot wide of his own post.
Ives were struggling to create any real threat at all and at times were getting caught in possession by the hungrier looking Canaries. Dylan Williams was the guilty man in 38th minute as Stead nicked the ball off him and fed it into Stephen Cawley on the edge of the box. He in turn laid it into the path of Alex Brown who wasted the opportunity by firing well over the top from 25 yards.
The hosts were enjoying a good spell as the clock ticked down towards half time and came much closer to opening the scoring in 41st minute as a Coldicott-Stevens corner from the right was knocked out to Malaki Black whose first time screamer looked destined for the corner of the net until it took a small deflection off an Ives defender.
There was no such reprieve for the visitors two minutes later as Stead showed his quality by taking down a dropping ball inside the box, turning Josh Flanagan all too easily and firing left footed into the bottom corner of the net past a startled Goff.
Ives should have equalised almost immediately as Michael Richens charged down an attempted clearance from Ciaren Jones and gallop forward nicking an attempted header back from Matt Moloney off keeper Horlock leaving him with the simple task of rolling the ball into the empty net but he tried to break the back of the net from eight yard, slipped and somehow managed to fire past the post much to the delight of every Hitchin fan in the ground.
So instead of going in level at the break Ives found themselves “enjoying” what was probably a dressing down from the management crew one goal in arrears and it could have been even worse as in the first minute of added time Stead robbed Ben Toseland just outside the box and tumbled to the floor as the struggling defender made a valiant attempt to reclaim possession fortunately the claims for a spot kick from the Canaries supporters behind the goal were waved away.
The hoped for revival from Ives at the start of the second half did not materialise and the game continued in the same vein as the latter stages of the first half with the hosts well on top. They almost doubled their lead in 52nd minute with Stead again the architect as he took in a pass from Cawley inside the box and burst past Flanagan but this time rather than go for goal he unselfishly tried to pick out Hutchinson at the back post but the ball across goal was just behind the centre forward giving Toseland chance to recover and get the ball away.
It took a brilliant save from Goff to prevent Cawley increasing the advantage on the hour after a throw into the box was allowed to bounce and the Canaries number ten tried to lift it over the Ives keeper who moved his feet well before hurling himself backwards to just tip the effort over the top.
The second goal was beginning to look inevitable and it arrived in 67th minute courtesy of yet another defensive error. The dangerous Stead was again the man terrorising Ives back line as he robbed Flanagan deep in his own half and slid the ball into the run of Colchester United loanee Hutchinson who gave Goff no chance from just inside the box.
Two became three only ninety seconds later as Ives got caught out on the counter attack from their own attacking corner. Coldicott-Stevens was the man who broke away from his own penalty area with the ball and his ball over the top gave the lurking Hutchinson chance to outpace the last defender before comprehensively beating keeper Goff from the edge of the box.
Ives best chance of getting an unlikely route back into the game came in 71st minute. Richens clipped a free kick into the box where Ethan Johnston managed to lose his marker to get a free header twelve yards out. He directed it on target but the athletic Horlock was equal to the effort plunging to his right to push the ball away. The battling Nabil Shariff also came close to grabbing a goal back three minutes later as he bravely went in with keeper Horlock to get on the end of a teasing cross from the right by Richens. The Ives centre forward got there first but just failed to hit the target with his close range effort.
Having safely negotiated those two scares to preserve their clean sheet the hosts finished off their visitors with twelve minutes to go. Richens was the unfortunate man to get caught out this time as he lost possession to Cawley just inside his own half. The Canaries number ten fed the ball through the left channel for the ebullient Stead to take in his stride before rounding Goff and rolling it home to claim his second and the hosts fourth to finish off an afternoon to forget for Ives.
The only real question left in the game was could either Stead or Hutchinson claim the match ball in the remaining time. It was the latter who came closest with four minutes to go as he rose highest at the back post to get on the end of cross from the left by substitute Ky Tearle but he could not quite keep his header down.
Thanks to Ives recent endeavours this result was not as disastrous as it would have been a few weeks ago but there is still a lot of work for both sides to do yet to ensure themselves of another season at this level in what is probably the tightest bottom half of the table ever at this level with twelve teams still separated by only eight points and approximately one third of the season to go.
Final Score : Hitchin Town 4 St Ives Town 0
HITCHIN: Stead 43 & 78, Hutchinson 67 & 69
HITCHIN: Horlock (capt), Green (Ackom 76), Brown (Tearle 83), Coldicott-Stevens, Moloney, Jones, Stead, Georgiou, Hutchinson, Cawley (Da Silva 84), Black, Unused subs : Kinoshi
ST IVES: Goff, Westwood, Flanagan, Richens (capt), Davison-Gordon (Dwumfou 54), Toseland, Baker, Hottor (Hicks 75), Shariff (Aiyelabola 83), Johnston, Williams, Unused subs : Rhaman, Manangu
Ives Supporters man of the match : Nabil Shariff
Attendance : 546
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|January 15, 2022||15:00||Southern Premier Central||2021-22||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||0||0|