St Ives Town v Barwell
Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central 28-09-2021
Under pressure Ives manager Ricky Marheineke will be very pleased to see the end of September a month which has seen his charges pick up only one point from a possible twelve as well as sliding out of the FA Cup and League Cup at the first hurdles. But the thing that must have hurt the most about this latest defeat was not the rain that lashed down throughout but the fact that this defeat came against fellow strugglers Barwell who had not won a game since the opening day of the season prior to their visit to Westwood Road.
With both sides low on confidence going into this fixture and equally both aware of the importance of it a good start for either was always going to be vital and Ives almost got it in the third minute as Nabil Shariff fed in Nathan Hicks cutting from the left. His low shot from twelve yards deflected off the legs of keeper Max Bramley and ricocheted to safety off the top of the post.
Not for the first time this season, having come so close to getting the confidence booster that they needed Ives then found themselves behind to the Canaries first meaningful attack. Ben Stephens outmuscled Josh Flanagan on the left and cut inside unchallenged before slotting the ball low into the net past the left hand of the exposed Paul White with only six minutes on the clock.
With their confidence already knocked Ives had to thank White for preventing them going two down only three minutes later as he produced a brilliant reaction stop low to his right to keep out a clever close range back heeled effort from Leandro Brown after the visitor’s number seven had got on the end of a low cross from the left by Osebi Abadaki.
That save may have been just what Ives needed to lift themselves as four minutes later they were level Michael Richens showed a little glimpse of his undoubted quality as he threaded the perfect through ball between the visitor’s centre backs to pick out the run of Liam Cross. Once more keeper Bramley closed him down quickly again the shot deflected off his legs but unlike earlier the deflection it was not enough to prevent the ball finding the back of the net.
Now it was the Canaries turn to start looking shaky and Ives should have taken advantage at this point and got in front. Had they done so this might be a completely different report and they were handed a golden opportunity in 19th minute. Shariff was wrestled to the floor deep inside the box by Will Edjenguele. This Ives centre forward picked himself up and took on the responsibility from the spot, sadly he scuffed his effort well wide of Bramley’s right hand post.
With that blow to their fragile confidence could Ives still sustain the pressure and find a way of getting in front whilst they were on top. Recalled left back Ben Toseland brought a save out of Bramley with a 30 yarder that skimmed off the wet surface and forced the keeper into a hurried diving save low to his left in 27th minute. But only seconds later the visitors got their noses back in front as Ives back line struggled to clear a low cross from the right by Leandro Brown and Stephen pounced on the loose ball firing home into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Falling behind for a second time clearly deflated Ives and they were perhaps a little fortunate not to have further injury inflicted on them before the break as Brown twice went close to increasing the Canaries lead before the interval. In the 38th minute his snap shot from the right hand corner of the box beat the diving White but flashed past the far post. The move of the night came in the last minute of the half as Brown cut in from the right, burst through three players and played a one two with Stephens before beating White with a rising shot that again flashed inches the wrong side of the upright.
Still in the game at the break manager Marheineke had to lift his charges for the second period and they were out early for the restart, no doubt with his words still ringing in their ears. An early goal was what was required and Richens came oh so close to providing it. There were only 43 seconds gone when he unleashed a skimming low drive from 25 yards that took an excellent one handed diving save low to right from Bramley to keep it out.
With that not finding the net though it was the visitors who once again started to get on top. White was almost caught out in 55th minute as he failed to hang onto a rising 25 yarder from Brady Hickey but the big keeper reacted quickly enough to bravely dive in and reclaim the loose ball off the toe of the lurking Stephens.
The Canaries wasted an even better opportunity to kill off their hosts only seconds later as the usually reliable Brett Solkhon was caught in possession deep in his own territory and robbed by Herve Pepe. He then combined with the overlapping Kyron Stabana who got to the bye line before teeing up the big Frenchman who looked like he was going to side foot home from twelve yards only to somehow scoop the ball over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Ives were still looking to go forward at every opportunity, but their attacks generally lacked conviction. The closest they came to pulling level was on the hour when Shariff fed in Cameron McWilliams wide on the right. His first time teasing cross beat everyone in the centre and arrived at the feet of fellow full back Toseland beyond the far post. He had time to take a touch but that touch allowed Bramley to close him down and bravely block the effort with his body at close range.
Once again having spurned an opportunity Ives found the opposition going almost straight up the other end and showing them how to finish. A long Elliot Percival free kick from the half way line was not dealt with inside the host’s box and again the ball fell to the deadly Stephens who completed his hat trick by beating White with a rising drive into the top corner that gave the keeper no chance.
Now very much up against it Ives did continue to try and find a route back into the game but the frustrations and lack of confidence were clearly evident as passes went astray and no real pressure was built on the visitor’s back line. The Canaries new centre back pairing that had looked so shaky early on was now looking resolute and dealing comfortably with the long balls down the centre that the hosts had generally reverted to.
There were a couple of long range efforts that both beat the diving Bramley but failed to find the back of the net. In 76th minute Hicks unleashed a screamer from fully 25 yards that just clipped the top of the crossbar on its way over the top. Six minutes from time full back McWilliams strode forward to try and show his strikers how it should be done but his low drive from just outside the box although it beat the diving Bramley only found the side netting. Had one of those gone in we might have enjoyed a storming finish but as it was the game petered out with the visitors happy to celebrate their first maximum points return since 14th August.
A bedraggled Ives went away with their heads bowed and now the task falls on manager Marheineke and his back room staff to find a way to lift the boys ahead of a vital trip to Alvechurch on Saturday. Clutching at straws maybe but one result in the right direction could be all that it takes to get them back on track and maybe a new month will bring that. It is certainly time for the senior players in the squad to come up to the plate and lift their more junior colleagues.
Final Score : St Ives Town 1 Barwell 3
ST IVES : Cross 13
BARWELL: Stephens 6, 28 & 62
ST IVES: White, McWilliams, Toseland, Richens, Solkhon (capt), Flanagan, Cross, Nabi (Parker 78), Shariff, Williams (Snelus 69), Hicks (Milne 82) Unused subs : Heath, Faris Rhaman
BARWELL: Bramley, Stabana, Percival, Pepe, T. Brown, Edjenguele, L. Brown, Brown-Hill (Powell 79), Stephens (Edwards 72), Hickey (capt), Abadaki (Dunkley 61) Unused subs: Castle, Nisevic
Ives Supporters man of the match : Michael Richens
Attendance : 142
Report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Dave Hook. Photos by Gemma Thompson.
|September 28, 2021||19:45||Southern Premier Central||2021-22||90'|
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