St Ives Town v Leiston
BetVictor League Southern Premier Division Central 03-03-20
Ten man Ives dug deep in a massive performance to keep their season alive and haul their opponents back into the relegation dogfight to avoid the drop from the Bet Victor Southern League Premier Central Division.
A Robbie Parker penalty gave them a deserved early advantage and for the first 45 minutes Ives were the better side with Dylan Wilson and John Dean both going close to increasing the advantage before the break. But some inspired substitutions from Blues manager Glen Driver and a fully committed second half display from the visitors meant a nerve jangling second 45 minutes for the home faithful. Thankfully a fantastic rear-guard action and a brilliant goalkeeping display from Martin Conway ensured that despite the late dismissal of Edmund Hottor for his second yellow card the hosts hung on to claim the vital three points.
Both sides had enjoyed a break prior to this midweek fixture courtesy of storm Jorge which had wiped out virtually the entire programme of matches on the preceding Saturday. This had given a few of the injured on both sides chance to recover and manager Ricky Marheineke was pleased to welcome back Aaron Phillips and Ben Jackson into his back four with Driver equally pleased to recall leading scorer John Sands for the Blues.
The importance of the game was clear as both sides set off at break neck pace with tackles flying in all over the park. It was probably no surprise that the first opportunity came from a free kick and it went the way of the visitors in the eighth minute as Rob Harvey was taken down inches outside the box by Ben Jackson. Blues skipper Byron Lawrence took on the responsibility of the free kick and came within millimetres of opening the scoring as his effort curled around the five man Ives wall, but just crept over the crossbar with Conway rooted.
The opener did arrive four minutes later as centre forward for the night Ben Seymour-Shove was needlessly taken down by the outstretched leg of Jake Hutchings inches inside the Blues box when he looked to be struggling to keep the ball in play. Referee Tom Hancock was in no doubt that the clumsy challenge was inside the box and immediately pointed to the spot. Keeper Sam Donkin got a hand to Parker’s well struck spot kick but just failed to keep it out.
Referee Hancock did not endear himself to the Leiston supporters four minutes later as he turned down their claims for a spot kick after Kyle Hammond’s attempted cross from the right appeared to strike the raised arm of Seymour-Shove inside the box. Both Mr Hancock and his assistant, who was probably best positioned to see, were of the opinion that either the ball did not strike his arm, or it was in a natural position much to the relief of the home support.
The break neck pace of the game continued but with Hottor keeping a very close watch on Blues play maker Tyler Christian-Law it was Ives who were in the ascendency and Wilson spurned a good opportunity to double their advantage in 25th minute. Joe Curtis made a surging run from midfield that took him to the edge of the visitor’s box. Unselfishly he fed the ball into the run of Wilson cutting in from the left but it took a bobble just as he went to shoot meaning that he sliced the effort horribly wide.
It was difficult to keep Hottor out of the limelight as he continued to stand tall in the midfield battleground. He almost turned provider in 34th minute as he again won a crunching tackle to take the ball off Christian-Law in the centre circle before marauding forward and rolling the ball into the feet of John Dean who turned and fired a left footed effort inches wide from the edge of the box. Wilson almost caught out keeper Donkin for a unlikely second goal two minutes later as he curled in a teasing cross come shot from the left that forced the fast back peddling Donkin into a full length dive to just tip it over the top.
The rousing first half ended with the visitors recording their first effort on target in the last minute as Conway made a comfortable catch to keep out Christian-Law’s snap shot from 25 yards.
The visitors came out fully charged up for the start of the second half and eager to get a leveller to maintain the seven point gap that existed between the sides prior to kick off. But it was Ives who came close to doubling their advantage only ninety seconds after the restart as Curtis saw his flicked header to Seymour-Shove’s cross from the left beat Donkin but bounce over off the top of the crossbar.
From that point though it became a real battle for Ives to preserve their slender advantage. Play swung straight up the other end where Hammond and Rob Eagle combined well on the right with the latter sending a dangerous cross to the back post where Phillips turned it behind for a corner. The resulting flag kick lead to a scramble in Ives penalty area before the ball was finally hacked clear.
Blues manager Driver was forced into a bold double substitution in 64th minute replacing the ineffective, thanks to Hottor, Christian-Law and Eagle with Rhys Henry and Isaac Skubich. Ives should have given themselves some breathing space only seconds before the change as Curtis had robbed Hutchings in the centre circle leading to a two on one break away as he was accompanied by Seymour-Shove but the centre forwards final ball back into Curtis was just behind the midfielder giving Noel Aitkens chance to get back and make a recovery tackle.
Driver’s change almost had instant impact as Oliver Saunders managed to get past Phillips on the left before delivering a low cross that got right across the face of goal where Henry arriving at pace should have netted the equaliser with his first touch but instead he blazed his effort wide of Conway’s right hand post as the keeper looked on.
But the keeper was in much more spectacular action two minutes later as another Saunders cross from the left was met with a powerful diving header by Sands only eight yards out. Conway somehow pulled off a remarkable reaction save to push the ball away much to the disbelief of the Blues striker. Conway was again in action in 71st minute as he got his angles all right to block a low drive from twelve yards by Hammond with his legs.
The keeper almost turned provider three minutes later as his long punt down the middle was missed by centre back George Keys allowing substitute striker Jordan Patrick a clear shot on goal, but he got it all wrong and pulled his effort well wide of the post. Hottor was still winning tackles in the centre of the park despite having already picked up a yellow card for mistiming one. He clipped an almost inch perfect ball over the top in 76th minute that looked like it was going to put Patrick clear but keeper Donkin sprinted from his box to just beat the substitute to the ball fully 30 yards from his goal.
Ives final two opportunities to make the last few minutes a little more comfortable for themselves came within 30 seconds of each other in 78th minute. Initially Patrick and Dean combined on the break to get away down the right. Dean’s ball into the near post was perfectly placed into Patrick’s run but a bobble deceived him and lead to a complete fresh air with the goal at his mercy. The Blues messed up playing the ball out from the back allowing the alert Ben Toseland to nip in and take it off them deep in their own half. He raced forward into the box before slamming his shot into the boards from 15 yards.
Having failed to relieve the pressure Ives then had to thank their keeper for keeping them in front only sixty seconds later as Conway pulled off a magnificent double save initially keeping out a 25 yard screamer from Josh Hitter low to his left and then recovering instantly to block the rebound effort from Harvey at point blank range.
The last few minutes got even tougher as Hottor picked up his second yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Saunders deep in Blues territory. The Blues thought they had earned their reward as the clock ticked into added time as Harvey thought he had forced the ball over the line in a goalmouth scramble but to the relief of all of the home faithful Conway came out of the melee with the ball in his hands with officials certain that it had not crossed the line. There was one final opportunity for the visitors to save themselves in the fourth of six added minutes as the two substitutes combined Hitter playing in Henry but the young striker fired his effort wide to allow Ives to celebrate what may prove to be a massive win in their quest for safety.
There were a host of contenders for man of the match, the first clean sheet since October ensured that the brilliant Conway and all of his defenders were very much in the running but the chairman’s casting vote ensured that Edmund Hottor won it for his eye catching display in the centre of the park.
Final Score : St Ives Town 1 Leiston 0
Goals : Parker 12 (pen)
Team : Conway, Phillips, Toseland, Hottor, Hamblin, Jackson, Wilson (Snaith 80), Parker (capt), Seymour-Shove (Patrick 65), Curtis, Dean (Clifton 90)
Unused subs : Kelly, Powell
Supporters man of the match : Edmund Hottor
Attendance : 105
Report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Dave Hook. Photos by Louise & Gemma Thompson.
|March 3, 2020||19:45||Southern Premier Central||2019-20||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||1||1|