Nuneaton Borough v St Ives Town
Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central 20-10-20
Rampant Ravi Shamsi put the struggling Ives to the sword as he helped himself to a nap hand grabbing five of the Boro’s six goals in a game where in the closing stages they looked like scoring every time he or his two fellow protagonists Greg Kazibondi and Ollie Bassett picked up the ball and ran at the visitor’s back line. But from the point of view of the embattled Ives this game looked like a Covid hangover coming just to quickly after Saturday’s excellent performance against Redditch. The after effects from Covid plus no training for two weeks due to the enforced lay off really showed and they lost the entire backbone of the side with what looked like muscle injuries during the game. Influential skipper Robbie Parker was first to succumb just before half time quickly followed after the break by centre back Oran Jackson and finally fifteen minutes from time leader of the line Marc Richards.
It had all started so brightly for Ives going close to getting in front in eleventh minute when a flowing move was finished by Nathan Hicks feeding the ball into the edge of the box from the right, a clever stepover by Marc Richards allowed Luke Howell to roll the ball back in towards Hicks who had continued his run and was only just beaten to the ball by the alert Tony Breeden in the Boro goal.
The very next attack only seconds later saw the visitors get in front Jacob Ballinger, perhaps a surprise choice in a wide position, cut in from the left before feeding the ball into the feet of Michael Gyasi on the edge of the box. He took a touch before hammering in a left foot effort that struck Jamie Hood as the big centre back bravely threw himself across the line of the ball. Referee Daniel Robinson was in the perfect position to see that the part of Hood that the ball hit was his arm away from his body. The fact that he was only a couple of yards from Gyasi is irrelevant with today’s interpretation of handball it was a penalty. As on Saturday Richards did the business from the spot sending Breeden the wrong way.
It could so easily have been two only two minutes later as Gyasi was put away down the left by Ballinger he outpaced the defence cutting in towards goal. But he went for goal from a narrow angle and only succeeded in hitting the side netting when Richards was waiting in the centre begging for the pull back.
Up to this point in the game Shamsi had been fairly quiet but he popped up on the right in 20th minute to create the host’s first real chance of the evening as he got past Ben Toseland before clipping a low cross to the near post where Bassett arriving at pace saw his close range effort excellently blocked by a well-positioned Martin Conway. But Conway could do nothing to keep out the next effort that came courtesy of Shamsi only seconds later. The darting little striker picked up a ball deep in Ives half fed it out to Alex Tomkinson on the left and then continued his run into the box opening his body perfectly to side foot home Tomkinson’s low cross at the near post.
Ives responded well and went close again in 25th minute. Richards was brought down by Hood 25 yards from goal both he and Toseland stood over the resulting free kick but it was the full back who curled his effort around the four man Boro wall only to be denied by Breeden plunging low to his right to push the ball away.
Kazibondi showed his threat for the first time just after the half hour as he picked up a loose ball in the centre circle before driving at the retreating Ives back line and unleashing a dipping effort from 25 yards that forced Conway into a diving save low to his left. By this point in the game both Parker and Jackson were beginning to struggle and Jackson was off receiving treatment when Ives went close again in 34th minute. Toseland roaming forward on the left was brought down just outside the corner of the box by Devon Kelly-Evans. This time it was Richards who fired in the free kick over the three man wall and Breeden went for an unorthodox save punching the well struck shot away rather than catching it.
The hosts got their noses in front for the first time in 38th minute as Tomkinson and Shamsi combined on the left side again. This time Tomkinson rolled the ball into the feet of the little maestro on the left corner of the box and he struck a first time fiercely dipping drive that flew past the diving Conway and just inside the far post.
Despite losing skipper Parker just after this Ives came back again and got back on level terms just before the break. Gyasi was again the provider as he once more got away from the defence down the left before delivering a low cross to the near post where Ballinger sliding in prodded the ball home.
Jackson had been struggling for the latter stages of the first half and was clearly patched up and sent out to try and get through as long as possible, sadly he only lasted about three minutes after the re-start leading to a major re-shuffle of the side with Liam Bateman slotting in alongside Brett Solkhon at centre back, Howell dropping back to right back and Dan Clifton coming into the centre of the park.
Despite all of their woes Ives came within millimetres of going back in front in 52nd minute. Bateman played a ball down the right that seemed to catch out the Boro defence allowing Richards to get away. He delivered a low cross along the six yards line to the back post where Ballinger was lurking ready to poke home his second. In a desperate bid to prevent him doing just that Ethan Stewart threw himself at the ball and fired it against the inside of his own post. It took an amazing reaction from Breeden to keep it out as it rebounded along the goal line.
As so often happens a game can hinge on fine margins and sure enough the Boro went straight up the other end and went in front. Shamsi was again involved as he exchanged passes with Leroy Lita to get into Ives box where he was taken down by Howell. Shamsi claimed his hat trick from the spot beating Conway low to his right.
Shamsi was a continual thorn in Ives side and he almost teed up Bassett for the Boro’s fourth goal in 55th minute as he combined with Tomkinson before sliding a pass inside into the run of Bassett who was only denied by the speed and bravery of Conway who slid in to take the ball off his toe.
Gyasi had what proved to be the tiring Ives final chance to draw level on the night just before the hour as he picked up a loose ball just outside the host’s box before unleashing a powerful left foot effort that screamed inches wide of the upright with Breeden looking on.
The after effects of the last few weeks really began to show in Ives as the game entered the final half an hour and the hosts really started to run the show with Shamsi the puppet master pulling all of the strings. In 67th minute he almost got clear to claim his fourth only to take one touch to many allowing Clifton to slide in and block. But the loose ball was fed on into the run of Kazibondi who really should have scored screwing his effort wide from close range.
By this point it was all one way traffic and the inevitable fourth arrived in 71st minute and unusually Shamsi was not involved as Bassett and Kelly-Evans combined to set up Kazibondi who did much better from 25 yards than he had from six a few minutes earlier. This time he found the back of the net with a powerful drive that beat Conway low to his left.
There was no mercy for the suffering Ives as Shamsi and his fellow protagonists rubbed salt into the already sore wounds with two more goals in the remaining time. In 82nd minute Kazibondi fed a ball into the run of Bassett who in turn delivered a low cross into the centre where the unmarked Shamsi gleefully slammed home his fourth of the night and rampant Boro’s fifth.
The final nail in the coffin came in the first minute of added time as Kazibondi again ran through a gaping hole in beleaguered Ives back line before rolling the ball inside to substitute Andre Brown who in turn fed it on to Shamsi to complete his night in style from just inside the box.
The only saving grace for Ives is that their scheduled opponents for Saturday Peterborough Sports now also have a Covid outbreak in their camp so the game is off giving them time to regroup and the injured a bit more time to recover ahead of hosting Leiston on Tuesday evening.
Final Score : Nuneaton Borough 6 St Ives Town 2
Goals : Richards 13 pen, Ballinger 44
Team : Conway, Bateman, Toseland, Gyasi, Oran Jackson (Clifton 49), Solkhon, Ballinger, Parker (capt) (Williams 41), Richards (Seymour-Shove 75), Howell, Hicks
Unused subs : Jordan Patrick, Seth Patrick
Supporters man of the match : Mark Richards
Attendance : 305
Report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Dave Hook. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|October 20, 2020||19:30||Southern Premier Central||2020-21||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||2||2|