St Ives Town v Hednesford Town
BetVictor League Southern Premier Division Central 10-03-20
Despite being the better side for the first hour and going in front Ives were ultimately thankful to goalkeeper Martin Conway for a series of vital saves in the last half an hour which ultimately earned them a point from a game which on paper probably had to be a win to put real pressure on the teams around them in the relegation dog fight.
The most galling aspect of the result was that Ives had only themselves to blame as having fought so hard to get in front they then seemed to switch off and were unable to preserve their advantage for more than sixty seconds.
With Aaron Phillips picking up an injury in Saturdays battering at Royston and Edmund Hottor suspended following his red card against Leiston there were opportunities in the starting line up for Alfie Powell and Dan Clifton. Ollie Snaith also returned to the side in place of John Dean who dropped to the bench.
The Pitmen were in a poor run of form and had tumbled from the play off places into a mid table position on the back of only one win in their last eight games, but it was they who started the sharper and the lively Jed Davies got past Ben Toseland before tested Conway at his near post in seventh minute. The keeper made a good initial parry and quickly smothered the loose ball.
It took Ives a while to get into their stride and their first half chance did not arrive until 20th minute when a Toseland long throw was knocked down to Joe Curtis on the edge of the box but an unfortunate bobble ensured that his attempted curler sailed well wide of Andy Wycherley’s left hand upright.
The best opportunity of the first half then came the way of the hosts two minutes later as a long Conway free kick was knocked down into the run of Snaith by Tom Hamblin. Snaith was struggling to get the ball out from his feet and when his shot did eventually come from by the penalty spot it lacked power allowing keeper Wycherley to get down to his left and push the ball away one handed. Curtis was first to the loose ball, but the angle was narrow, and he only succeeded in firing into the side netting.
Toseland was having a good game going forward on the left and his most threatening surge forward came in 27th minute as he robbed Davies on the half way line before bursting past Izak Reid and charging on to the edge of the box where he unleashed a powerful drive that beat the diving Wycherley but flashed across the face of goal to safety.
Snaith was also getting forward a lot through the centre and he showed immaculate touch to bring down a long ball just outside the D two minutes later but the Pitmen’s skipper Ben Bailey was alert to the danger and nicked the ball off his toe before he could get his shot away.
Having carved out chances but failed to take them Ives then found themselves pressed back briefly in the closing stages of the first half. The hosts defence had generally dealt well with the spiralling long throws into their box by Bailey but in 41st minute one of them from the left was allowed to bounce. Rhys Thompson reacted well to get on the end of it to direct his header on target, but the well positioned Conway made a comfortable save. The Ives keeper was called into much more dramatic action just seconds before the break as Dan Sweeney and Elliot Hodge combined well down the right before the latter delivered a deep cross to the back post where Davies met it powerful forcing Conway into an excellent diving save low to his left.
Ives were almost the architects of their own downfall in 51st minute as a Toseland long throw was fired straight back to him and his attempt to pump the ball straight back into the box went horribly wrong the ball arcing back towards his own goal allowing Davies to feed in Hodge who unleashed a screamer from the edge of the box that comprehensively beat Conway but rattled the crossbar and bounced away.
The hard-working Dylan Wilson was continuing to probe for Ives but with little success he did however manage to pressurise Reid into conceding a corner on the hour. The initial Seymour-Shove in-swinger was put straight behind by a defender but his follow up delivery caused panic in the visitors box as it was somehow allowed to bounce inside the six yard box without anyone being able to get the decisive touch to force it home.
The end to end nature of the game at this point was further emphasised as only moments later the dangerous Davies managed to get clear for the visitors forcing Conway into another acrobatic save as he tipped over the wingers rising drive from just outside the box.
Seymour-Shove’s in-swinging corners from the left had been causing the visitors a few problems throughout the evening and it was no real surprise when another of them lead to the opening goal in 66th minute. This one delivered into the six yard box was simply not dealt with the ball falling to Curtis eight yards out and although Wycherley did well to get a hand to the midfielders strike the sheer power of the effort saw it fly on into the net.
Now with their noses in front Ives had to keep their concentration to ensure that what could prove a hugely valuable three points was coming their way. Unfortunately having fought so hard to get in front they were only able to hang onto their lead for less than sixty seconds as straight from the restart Davies probed down the right before delivering a low cross to the near post where Hamblin completely miss kicked his attempted clearance and only succeeded in delivering the ball into the feet of the Pitmen’s leading scorer Danny Glover who levelled things up from close range.
Losing their hard-won lead so quickly seemed to deflate the Ives and in kind it equally lifted the visitors who seemed to realise that there were three points for the taking against their struggling hosts. The whole demeanour of the visitors changed suddenly they were hurrying to take throw ins and goal kicks but to their credit Ives dug deep and defended well to preserve what they had. All the chances in the remaining twenty minutes went the way of the Pitmen starting in 70th minute when Davies dipped a 25 yard free kick over Ives wall but straight into the hands of Conway.
Davies and Hodge were the main protagonists for the visitors and the pair combined well to set up another half chance ten minutes from time. Davies feeding Hodge on the left before continuing his run into the box and only being prevented from turning the well delivered cross home at the back post by the grasping fingers of a stretching Conway.
Heavily under pressure Ives were by now defending their box in a somewhat desperate manner and that desperation showed in 82nd minute as Curtis tugged down the tricky Hodge just inches outside the box. Hodge did well to get the resulting free kick up and down over the three man Ives wall but again he was unable to beat the well positioned Conway.
The ebullient Conway had one final opportunity to showcase his abilities as he ensured that Ives held onto a vital point with another brilliant diving save to deny Sweeney in the first minute of added time. The chance had arrived as the hosts back line struggled to deal with another of Bailey’s long throws into their six yard box. The ball falling to Sweeney ten yards out, but Conway plunged to his left to keep out the number ten’s well struck effort. The resulting corner from the right by Davies flashed across the Ives six yard box and just inches past the far post with no one able to get a touch to leave honours even at the conclusion of the evening.
With Hednesford’s poor run of form coming into this game Ives supporters must see this as two points dropped and a chance to heap the pressure on the teams around them missed but every point is vital in their quest to avoid the drop and this one moves them within three points of safety but the games are fast running out. There were positives to take from the game as after the battering at Royston it was good to see Conway back to his best and the aerial threat from the Pitmen dealt with much better than had been the case against the mighty Crows. The worry is still at the other end of the pitch where despite a lot of possession in the first hour Ives carved out very few clear cut chances and only tested Wycherley in the visitor’s goal once.
Final Score : St Ives Town 1 Hednesford Town 1
Goals : Curtis 66
Team : Conway, Jackson, Toseland, Clifton (Dean 54), Hamblin, Powell, Wilson (Bailey 81), Parker (capt), Seymour-Shove, Curtis, Snaith (Patrick 90)
Unused subs : Kelly
Supporters man of the match : Martin Conway
Attendance : 116
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson. Video by Dave Hook.
|March 10, 2020||19:45||BetVictor Southern Premier Central||2019-20||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||0||1|