Hitchin Town 1 St Ives Town 0
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 19-12-18
Not for the first time this season a sluggish start cost the Ives dear as the resurgent Canaries grabbed an early goal to claim all three points extending their unbeaten League run to five and moving them yet further away from the relegation zone.
The only goal of the game came after just six minutes as Ben Baker was robbed inside his own half by Michael Cain he fed the ball inside to Matt Lench who found space where he should not have done and strode forward to the edge of the D before cracking in a low drive that skipped off the wet turf forcing keeper Martin Conway into a diving save low to his right. Inexplicably none of his team mates reacted as Conway parried the ball away and the first person to pounce on it was Cain who had continued his run into the box and he gleefully hammered the loose ball home from close range.
After that the game settled down into an even affair with both sides probing for openings, but the now switched on Ives back line were as effective in snuffing out any Canaries sorties into their territory as were the switched on from the start hosts back line in dealing with anything that Ives could create. The two sides exchanged long range shots Conway making a comfortable save to keep out a Lench effort with home keeper Michael Johnson untroubled as Danny Kelly’s effort flew well wide.
The Canaries had a shout for a penalty turned down on the half hour as a low Cain cross from the right appeared to deflect off Sam Cartwright and hit the arm of Jarvis Wilson. Referees Joel Mannix looked across to his assistant who probably had the best view of the incident, fortunately the two between them decided that any contact was unintentional.
Ives came close to levelling things up from their first corner of the evening in 34th minute. Ben Seymour-Shoves in-swinger from the right deceived everyone at the near post but was hacked clear by the foot of keeper Johnson in unorthodox style. The ball went out for a throw deep in Canaries territory and Charlie De’ath hurled it back into the mix at the near post. Kelly climbed highest and his knock down fell to Cartwright by the penalty spot but his goal bound effort struck a defender and Seymour-Shove’s follow up effort suffered the same fate before the under pressure hosts finally managed to hack the ball clear.
Ives spent most of the remaining period to the break on top but were still unable to test keeper Johnson. In fact the closest either side came to another goal was in 41st minute when a quick break by the hosts saw Ezra Forde get away down the left Lench looked favourite to get on the end of his low cross to the near post only to be denied by an excellent saving tackle from Cartwright. The visitors struggled to clear the resulting corner giving ex Ives man Lewis Ferrell chance to curl an effort just wide from the edge of the box.
The visitors started the second period a lot better than they started the first and enjoyed a lot of possession inside the hosts half but they were still struggling to find a way through and the Canaries were still looking dangerous on the break. Ferrell again went close to scoring against his former team mates in 51st minute as he got in front of his marker to get on the end of a Lench free kick from the left but he directed his near post header a couple of feet wide.
Ives went very close to levelling things up twice in less than sixty seconds in the 55th minute. Another De’ath long throw was cleared to Munashe Sundire 30 yards out but rather than go for goal he played a perfect ball to the right to get Baker to the bye line the speedy winger picked out Wilson by the penalty spot with his cross and the big centre back powered in a header that beat Johnson but deflected over off the top of the crossbar. Less than sixty seconds later Baker was away again down the right outpacing his marker to deliver a low cross along the six yard line. Kelly sliding in at the back post looked like he must score only to be denied by a miraculous reaction save by Johnson at point blank range.
Ives continued to press forward in search of the equaliser but looked likely to go two behind ten minutes later as Wilson suffered an unfortunate sixty seconds. Initially screwing an effort well wide at one end of the pitch when another De’ath long throw had been knocked down to him. Then getting caught the wrong side of Canaries substitute Alfie Cue and being forced to bring him down inside the box at the opposite end. Isaac Galliford struck the resulting penalty well to keeper Conway’s left but the Ives custodian had done his homework and went the right way palming away the effort at full stretch.
The save lifted the visitors to renewed efforts and having escaped going two down they found themselves with a golden opportunity to get level only six minutes later. Hesitation in the hosts defence allowed Seymour-Shove to nip in and nick the ball off Canaries skipper Daniel Webb on the edge of the box. Like Wilson earlier the hosts centre back was forced to bring down the Ives winger inside the box, again referee Mannix had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Up stepped the usually reliable Robbie Parker he struck his spot kick well but Johnson matched the heroics of his opposite number a few minutes earlier as he plunged low to his left to push the ball away.
This set back only slightly took the wind out of Ives sails as they continued to push forward in search of what most people in the ground would probably agree would have been a deserved equaliser. The two central strikers combined to set up a shooting opportunity for Seymour-Shove 15 minutes from time. Newman got the initial flick onto Conway’s long punt down the park and Kelly held off Webb to play the ball into the path of the Ives winger cutting in from the left but his rising drive from 15 yards was straight at Johnson who held on well.
In spite of going three at the back and throwing De’ath forward to join the attack no further clear cut opportunities came the way of Ives in the remaining time and it looked like Forde was going to finish off the visitors deep in added time after he was put clear through the centre but as Conway came to meet him the striker dallied just long enough to allow Ben Jackson to get back and make an excellent recovery tackle.
A frustrating evening for the visitors in which they will definitely feel that they deserved something from this performance against a side who had put five past Halesowen on the previous Saturday and will continue to climb the table now that their thrilling FA Cup adventure is over. A good reflection on the Ives efforts is that the Hitchin match announcer who was also the sponsor for the evening awarded their man of the match accolade to their hero for the evening keeper Johnson. His save to deny Kelly was even more impressive than his penalty save the unfortunate thing is that had Ives start been up to scratch his heroics should have been preventing Ives taking all three points not just claiming one point.
The Christmas and New Year fixtures now come thick and fast five games in fifteen days over the festive season means it is a busy and crucial period in the League. Come along and support the boys in their big local derby at Westwood Road against the Crows and remember it is a 1.00 pm kick off, see you there.
Final Score : Hitchin Town 1 St Ives Town 0
Goals : none
Team : Conway, Jackson, De’ath, Sundire, Cartwright, Jarvis Wilson, Baker (Bailey 72), Parker (capt), Newman, Kelly, Seymour-Shove (Ward 87)
Unused subs : Hood, Coulson, Wallis
Supporters man of the match : Ben Seymour-Shove
Attendance : 241
Report by Nigel Howlett
|December 19, 2018||19:45||Evo-Stik League South - Premier Division Central||2018-19|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||0||0|