St Ives Town v Alvechurch
Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central 14-08-2021
Ives opened a new era at Westwood Road and christened their new 3G surface with an opening day win and first ever success over The Church. The all important goal was a true poachers effort from Nabil Shariff four minutes before the break as he capitalised on a mistake by visitor’s keeper Dan Jezeph who failed to hold onto man of the match Luke Fairlamb’s deflected cross from the left.
The hosts started in very positive fashion with Fairlamb causing real problems for the Church defence with his direct running style and willingness to take on and beat defenders. It was one of those probing runs which set up the games first opportunity in the seventh minute as speedy winger pulled in the defence before feeding Shariff cutting in from the left but he took the shot on early and fired straight at Jezeph who held on at the second attempt.
The visitors were restricted to long range efforts in these early stages but neither Charlie Dowd, or Tom Turton troubled home keeper Paul White with their pot shots either side of the twenty minute mark as both efforts flew high and wide. A slightly better opportunity came the way of the men in green in 23rd minute when Luke Yates managed to get on the end of a near post corner from the right just ahead of his marker but he could only direct his header over the top.
The first real test of either keeper came only one minute later as Dylan Williams picked out Fairlamb on the left corner of the box. The tricky winger fired a first time effort low to keeper Jezeph’s left but the agile stopper plunged full length to push the ball away.
After working so hard to stay on parity the Church defence almost gifted Ives the lead in 37th minute. Ethan Patterson played a casual pass across his own back line that was cut out at pace by Liam Cross. It looked like the Northampton loanee was clear as he bore down on goal. As Jezeph came to meet him the youngster appeared to do everything right as he slid the ball past the keeper only to be denied by a brilliant sliding block from the fast recovering Ash Carter.
An equally brave block was seen at the other end of the pitch only ninety seconds later as Danny Waldron managed to wriggle his way through on the left. He got to the bye line before picking out Zak Brown with his pull back. Brown looked like he must score only to be denied as Ed Hottor flung himself across the line of the shot to block it at point blank range.
The only goal of the game arrived just four minutes from the interval and it was inevitable that Fairlamb was involved. He kept a half cleared ball, that most people thought was going out for a throw, in play and took on the defence before delivering a cross that took a big deflection off a defender on its way into the box. The spinning ball seemed to deceive Jezeph who appeared to be caught in two minds whether to catch it or turn it over the crossbar. He did neither spilling the ball onto the ground, Shariff was there in an instant to prove that almost a year off with injury has not blunted his goal scoring instinct as he toe poked it home from just inches out.
In an effort to get back into the game Church manager Ian Long decided to change his tactics at half time making two substitutions and a number of positional changes that saw the visitors now trying to make better use of the width of the Ives new 3G surface with Carter and Yates each sticking to the respective touchline in an effort to stretch the home defence.
However it was the hosts that came close to increasing their lead with the second half only three minutes old as Hottor picked up a loose ball in midfield before striding forward and unleashing a stinging low drive that Jezeph was forced to palm away at full stretch to his left.
Home keeper White was called upon to make his first real save of the afternoon four minutes later and he got a few bruises for his pains as he was forced to spread himself to keep out a close range effort from substitute Tristan Dunkley. The keeper was angered as Dunkley slid in on him as both went to try and get to the loose ball first. It was keeper White who claimed the ball but both players earned themselves a booking from the afters that followed as each squared up to the other.
White was called into much more spectacular action to preserve Ives lead in 67th minute. Josh Flanagan was adjudged to have brought down Josh Ezewele on the edge of the box. The hosts four man wall failed to block Carter’s powerful free kick which flashed between them but White, who must have seen the ball very late, did brilliantly to fling himself high to his right and tip the effort around the post.
The Church continued to enjoy a lot of possession but the resolute Ives back line was in no mood to give them another chink of light and the pace and direct running style of the hosts front men meant that they were always going to create breakaway opportunities to kill off the game. Cross was twice denied by keeper Jezeph. In the 72nd minute the keeper tipped over a dipping cross shot from the youngster and then four minutes later the stopper showed his pace off the line as he raced out of his box the just hack away a ball down the right from Eniola Agemoh-Davies that looked like it was going to put the wide man clear.
There was one golden opportunity for Ives to make the final few minutes much less nerve racking for all and it was created by that man Fairlamb as he blocked an attempted clearance from Patterson and got to the bye line before picking out substitute Michael Harding in space twelve yards out. The American striker took a touch and beat the keeper with his powerful drive only to be denied by a brilliant covering block right on the goal line by a recovering Patterson who saved his own blushes having made the initial error,
The clock ticked down with the visitors huffing and puffing to try and knock the Ives house down but this is an experienced squad who knows how to play out time and there was only one real scare three minutes into added time when late substitute Dylan Barkers rose highest to a Carter corner from the right but under pressure he directed his header well wide. Even a visit into Ives box by keeper Jezeph for the visitor’s final corner in the last minute of the added five caused no real issue to allow the hosts and their supporters, quite a few who were paying their first visit to Westwood Road, to go home happy.
The only real dampeners on the day were injuries picked up in the first half by Luke Howell and Ben Toseland which lead to both being substituted. Hopefully these will not be long term to add to the handful of absent players that Ives already have from injuries that were picked up in pre-season. A trip to Needham Market on Tuesday evening is up next for the Ives with the next home game scheduled for Saturday 28th August when Stratford Town will be the visitors.
Final Score : St Ives Town 1 Alvechurch 0
Goals : Shariff 41
ST IVES: White, Flanagan, Toseland (Agemoh-Davies 46), Howell, (Harding 34), Solkhon (capt), Milne, Cross (Nabi 78), Hottor, Shariff, Williams, Fairlamb Unused subs : Evans, Robbins
ALVECHURCH: Jezeph, Yates, Carter, Turton (Dunkley 46), Patterson, Willets (capt), Bellis (Barkers 89), Brown, Waldron, McLintock, Dowd (Ezewele 46) Unused subs: Hull, Sephton
Match sponsors man of the match : Luke Fairlamb
Attendance : 200
Match report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Dave Hook. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|August 14, 2021||15:00||Southern Premier Central||2021-22||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||1||1|