St Ives Town v Hitchin Town
BetVictor League Southern Premier Division Central 02-11-19
This game was billed as an early season relegation six pointer and on the evidence of the result the Canaries are going to be okay but another poor Ives performance makes it look like they are the ones who are beginning to find themselves very much in the battle to beat the drop.
The hosts came into this game low on confidence having exited the FA Trophy at the hands of lower level Soham and having also lost their previous three league fixtures. The last thing that they wanted was to fall behind to an early goal but that was exactly what happened after only nine minutes. The tricky Jhai Dhillon cleverly bought a foul out of debutant right back Cameron McWilliams who had only joined the Ives the day before on a youth loan from Northampton Town. Bradley Bell curled in the resulting free kick and it took an excellent defensive header from Charlie Johnson to prevent Stephen Cawley flicking it home. But Ives did not learn from their escape as no one picked up the tallest player on the park Joseph Gauge who was allowed a free run at the back post to ram home Ben Walster’s follow up corner.
Even prior to the goal the slow starting Ives had needed another timely intervention from Johnson as he put his body on the line to just divert a low Dhillon cross from the left away from the lurking Cawley.
The early goal lifted the visitors and they continued to rule the roost and clock up good chances which it seemed at the time they might regret wasting. In 18th minute Walster and Dhillon combined well down the left the move ending with the former teeing up an excellent shooting chance for Lewis Barker but with the goal at his mercy the Canaries number seven side footed his effort against the body of Jarvis Wilson and the ball was scrambled clear.
Ten minutes later full back Walster was presented with an even better opportunity to increase the visitors lead. Jack Green pinged an excellent crossfield ball that caught out McWilliams on the wrong side of his man. Dhillon skilfully took the ball down causing the young full back to take him down just inside the box. It was cast iron penalty and referee Oliver Morris-Sanders was right on the spot to award it. Up stepped Walster but the left back slammed his effort well wide of Finley Iron’s left hand post to clock up the Canaries ninth penalty miss of the season.
We were all hopeful that the missed spot kick would have the affect of lifting the Ives from their malaise but any impact there may have been only lasted momentarily as the visitors were presented with a second goal less than three minutes later. A low ball into the box from the right by Barker causes panic in the Ives box and a poor attempt to clear simply teed up the ball on a plate for Alex Marsh who said thank you very much and slammed the ball in the bottom corner from fifteen yards.
Now two in front and looking very comfortable the visitors continued to create opportunities and could even have added to their lead before the break. In 39th minute Iron was almost caught out on a long ball down the park as he called Johnson to leave it only to find that Bell had darted between them. The speedy winger managed to get a touch but fortunately for Iron he managed to stick out a big right hand to just take the ball away from the striker as he tried to go past him.
The final opportunity before the break in 41st minute was almost a repeat of the opening goal as Walster delivered another deep corner from the right that Gauge got on the end of but fortunately for Ives the big centre back was prevented from nodding it home by one of his own players as Marsh went for the same ball. The end result was a tame effort that landed in the grateful hands of Iron.
Surely a half time blast from manager Ricky Marheineke would lift the Ives from their slumbers and sure enough an early burst at the start of the second period saw them go close twice in the first two minutes. Danny Kelly showed a good touch to knock a ball to the edge of the box into the run of Robbie Parker but the Ives skipper wanted one touch to many and Walster manager to knock the ball off his toe at the expense of a corner. Kelly won the resulting Ben Seymour-Shove corner at the near post but only succeeded into knocking his flick into the side netting.
The Ives enjoyed more possession in the Canaries half and early changes replacing the ineffective Seymour-Shove and Kelly with Dylan Wilson and Matt Foy seemed to inject a bit more urgency into Ives endeavours but just when it started to look like they might find a route back into the game Barker effectively took that away from them in 66th minute. Bell fed the ball into him on the right corner of the box and with Ben Jackson slipping the midfielder showed his prowess as he used the space to turn and cleverly loft the ball over the exposed Iron and into the top corner giving the keeper no chance.
To their credit Ives continued to battle to try to get something from the game. Only two minutes after the goal Johnson rose highest to a Joe Curtis corner from the right and should probably have done better with his header from eight yards which failed to test keeper Charlie Horlock as it flew over the crossbar.
Foy even managed to get the ball in the net with twenty minutes to go but the effort was perhaps unluckily ruled out of hand ball as the striker chased down a short back pass from Dan Webb and managed to block Horlock’s attempted clearance and roll the ball into the empty net but referee Morris-Sanders deemed that he had blocked the ball with his outstretched arm all be it at point blank range.
Foy went close again five minutes later as he got on the end of a Parker cross from the right in a good position in the centre of the box but he failed to keep his header down. Ives were even denied a late consolation goal deep in added time as Foy flicked on a Curtis free kick and Parker bundled it home at the back post only to find that the assistant’s flag was raised as the hosts skipper had wandered into an offside position to get on the end of the flick.
There were a lot of negatives in this game for Ives sufficient to say they are very much in the relegation dogfight in the division at the moment and having now gone 462 minutes without a goal in all competitions and on a run of seven games without a win they desperately need a confidence boost. There were however also a few positives and something that does provide hope for a turn around in fortunes. Debutants Joe Curtis in the centre of the park and Cameron McWilliams at full back both showed flashes of real promise and once they bed in will be real assets. George Bailey made a long awaited return from injury for the last twenty minutes and looked sharp and other long term injuries are getting closer to a come back. Dylan Wilson and Matt Foy also looked hungry when they came into the game. With a fully fit squad and a couple of positive results we can turn around what has been a very tough season to date.
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Hitchin Town 3
Goals : none
Team : Iron, McWilliams, Johnson, Wood, Kelly (Foy 54), Jarvis Wilson, Jackson, Parker (capt), Peters (Bailey 70), Curtis, Seymour-Shove (Dylan Wilson 61),
Unused subs : Coulson
Supporters man of the match : Joe Curtis
Attendance : 169
Report by Nigel Howlett
|November 2, 2019
|Southern Premier Central
|St Ives Town