St Ives Town v Eynesbury Rovers
Huntingdonshire FA Senior Cup Quarter Final 18-01-2022
Seven years ago both these teams were playing at a similar level and the last time the two sides met in the same competition in 2017 Rovers came away with the spoils. This fixture showed just how far the Ives have advanced in that time as they completely dominated their visitors moving the ball around very comfortably indeed on the quattro-tech Westwood Road carpet with Rovers simply chasing shadows most of the time.
Two goals in each half were sufficient to claim the victory on the day with a large part of the remaining time being spent with Ives simply playing keep ball whilst the hard working Rovers fought to keep them at bay and get a foot on the ball.
Possibly feeling a need to get the previous Saturday’s performance out of the mind as quickly as possible and may be with one eye on some potential silverware management duo of Mike Ford and Ricky Marheineke picked what was their strongest available side but with Ethan Johnston picking up a pre-game injury Victor Aiyelabola came in for his home debut and first start for the Ives. There was also another new, if familiar, face in the Ives starting eleven as recent signing from Barton Rovers Ty Ward made a welcome return in the centre of the park. There was also a very familiar face in the centre of the visitor’s midfield as former fans favourite and skipper of the play-off winning side against Rushden Luke Knight brought his tough tackling style back to Westwood Road.
It was very quick to see that Ives were looking very comfortable indeed stringing passes together at pace, but the battling Rovers were working like Trojans to limit their opportunities of a strike on goal and although the game was very easy on the eye it just needed a spark to bring the first goal. Tyrone Baker had been having quite a bit of joy down the right and looked the most likely to provide something. Although he was involved in the move that came close to giving Ives the lead in 23rd minute it was merely his slide rule pass down the line that put overlapping full back Josh Flanagan in position to hang up a teasing cross to the back post that Josh Brown just managed to smuggle out for a corner before Aiyelabola could force it home.
But the Rovers relief was short lived as the opener arrived in simple fashion from the resulting Dylan Williams corner. The visitor’s defence failed to deal with the ball in from the right fatally allowing it to bounce inside the six yard box. Ben Toseland was arriving at the back post and was probably as surprised as everyone else in the ground when those in front of him missed it. I would love to say that he turned it home in style but in truth the ball bounced off his shins over the line, as the saying goes “they all count”.
Now with their noses in front the Ives raised their game a little further in pursuit of finishing off their struggling opponents. Baker continued to terrorise Ben Walsh on the left side of Rovers defence. Knight came across to help his struggling full back in 27th minute but mistimed his lunging tackle on the flying winger to concede a free kick in a very dangerous area. Williams delivered a tantalising ball into the centre in the no man’s land between keeper and defenders but it somehow evaded everyone and flashed across the face of goal to safety.
A second goal did arrive seven minutes before the break with Baker again at the heart of the move accelerating past the flagging Walsh before getting his head up and picking out Williams inside the box. The Ives number ten unselfishly fed the ball on into the feet of Aiyelabola who opened his account for the hosts with a smart spin and left footed shot that flew past the startled Jonah Gill in the Rovers goal and went in off the far post.
Rovers sole effort at goal in the first period came in 43rd minute as a Knight free kick from the left was headed clear only as far as Rob Ducket who blazed his shot from 25 yards well over the top.
Any hope that the visitors had of finding a route back into the game was extinguished very quickly at the start of the second half as within ninety seconds of the re-start Ives had been awarded a controversial penalty. The struggling Walsh was the culprit as he attempted to clear a ball delivered into the box from the right by Baker. Nabil Shariff cleverly got in front of the defender to get a touch on the ball and went down when Walsh caught him in attempting to get the ball away. The controversy was added to as with referee Joshua Crofts unsighted the decision to award the spot kick was made by his assistant on the clubhouse side Stefan Lewis. Williams calmly waited for the protests to subside before beating Gill with a fierce strike that the keeper did well to get a hand on but could not keep out.
From this point Ives returned to their very comfortable style of moving the ball around the back and through midfield with Rovers players continuing to try their best to nick it off them, mostly without success. Substitutions arrived with young Faris Rhaman getting some good minutes under his belt as he replaced Nathan Hicks in the centre of midfield in 55th minute.
Chances at either end were few and far between as Ives continued to simply keep the ball. One noteworthy effort came from Flanagan in 75th minute as he again overlapped down the right before going for goal with a fierce cross shot that the stretching Gill just managed to fingertip away. The final goal arrived with ten minutes to go courtesy of an excellent high press from Ives with the strikers hunting as a pack Jack Uttridge was pressured into a mistake that ended up with Williams with the ball at his feet fifteen yards from goal and only Gill to beat. The keeper was a little unlucky not to keep the shot out as he anticipated the correct way but the ball just managed to squirm under his body and over the line as he dived to his right.
There was still just time for James Goff in Ives goal to make the nearest thing to a save that he had to make all evening as he comfortably fielded a 25 yarder from Romain Walker. Overall a satisfactory evenings work as Ives progressed to the semi finals in this five team competition where we await the draw to find out who we will face.
Final Score : St Ives Town 4 Eynesbury Rovers 0
ST IVES: Toseland 25, Aiyelabola 38, Williams 47 (pen) & 80
ST IVES: Goff, Ward (Manangu 83), Flanagan, Richens (capt), Toseland, Milne, Baker, Hicks (Rhaman 55), Shariff, Aiyelabola (Davison-Gordon 76), Williams, Unused subs : Hottor, Johnstone
EYNESBURY: Gill, Brown, Walsh, R. Ducket, Uttridge, J. Ducket (capt), Rigby (Bond-Baker 76), Knight, Lala, Walker, Murray (Vaughan 74), Unused subs: Hitchcock
Ives Supporters man of the match : Dylan Williams
Attendance : 99
Report by Nigel Howlett. Video clips by Dave Hook. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|January 18, 2022||19:45||Hunts Senior Cup||2021-22||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||2||4|