St Ives Town v Nuneaton Borough


Match Report

St Ives Town v Nuneaton Borough

Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central 19-03-2022

A pulsating game in which the lead changed hands three times was eventually won by a coolly taken brace from substitute Victor Aiyelabola but the hosts can thank their seventeen year old Oxford United loanee goalkeeper Eddie Brearey for being in a position to win the game as the youngster made at least four world class saves including an unbelievable double save to deny both Luke Benbow and Ahmed Obeng just after the hour.

There was a massive boost for the hosts before the off as talismanic striker Luke Fairlamb who has been absent with injury since September was declared fit enough to take a place on the bench. He was joined there by former Ives favourite Andrew Osei-Bonsu, making his return from professional football in Scotland with East Fife. The Boro’ were missing another former quattro-tech Westwood Road favourite Camron McWilliams who was serving a suspension but were otherwise at just about full strength.

Anyone expecting a cagy affair between these two sides sitting just above the relegation precipice was soon proved wrong as Ives grabbed a lead inside the first ten minutes courtesy of a very well taken goal from a narrow angle by Ethan Johnston who beat the visitor’s offside trap to get on the end of Josh Flanagan’s slide rule pass through the right channel and then deftly slip the ball under the body of the advancing Boro’ keeper Tony Breeden.

The game swung end to end for the next twenty minutes with both sides looking to soak up a little pressure and then hit their opponents on the break. The game then suddenly sprang to life again from the half hour mark. Benbow showed his undoubted class to find a little bit of space in Ives box before beating Brearey with an immaculately curled right foot effort that cannoned off the crossbar with the keeper reacting quickest to claim the loose ball ahead of Obeng.

Johnston then came within millimetres of increasing Ives’s lead in the very next attack as Toseland hung up a cross from the left into the six yard box which keeper Breeden struggled to deal with under heavy pressure from Nabil Shariff. The ball dropped to Johnston who pivoted on it by the penalty spot but failed to hit the target. Two minutes later it was the visitors turn to curse their luck again as Chris Clements beat the Ives five man wall and keeper Brearey with his 25 yard free kick only to hold his head in his hands as the ball rebounded off the foot of the post and was scrambled away.

A lightening break from a Boro free kick saw Johnston spurn another excellent opportunity to double Ives lead in 35th minute. A flowing move saw Ed Hottor pick out Johnston clear through the middle one on one with keeper Breeden. The big stopper came to meet him and Johnston looked like he had done everything right as he slotted the ball past the exposed keeper only to see it roll agonisingly the wrong side of the upright.

Having gone so close to increasing their lead Ives were then caught napping two minutes from half time as the visitor’s skipper Scott McManus delivered a deep cross from the left. Obeng won the ball and knocked it back into the mix where Charlie Dowd arrived to sweep it home from close range.

Ives were forced into their second change of the game at half time as Johnston limped out of the fray to be replaced by Aiyelabola. The initial change had come just after the half hour when centre back Oran Jackson was forced out of the game with a thigh injury to be replaced by club captain Brett Solkhon. The second half was only 53 seconds old when Liam Cross burst into the box from the right past two players and unleashed a left footer that flew just wide of Breeden’s right hand post.

Six minutes later it was Benbow’s turn to go close again as he managed to get in front of Flanagan to get on the end of Obeng’s cross from the right but he failed to hit the target from a good position.

Ben Toseland and Tyrone Baker were getting some joy out of the right hand side of the Boro defence and each went close to putting Ives back in front in a brief spell around the hour. Initially Toseland fed the ball into the run of Baker who cut in from the left before firing in a low drive that brought a good save out of Breeden low to his right. A few minutes later it was Toseland’s turn to fizz an effort from 25 yards just wide of Breeden’s left hand post..

The visitor’s then enjoyed a ten minute purple patch starting in 62nd minute when it took a remarkable double save from Brearey to keep Ives on level terms. Initially Dowd cut in from the left before slipping in a low cross to the centre where Benbow looked like he must score only for Brearey to spread himself and block the effort at point blank range. The loose ball ran to Obeng by the right hand post and it took a combined effort from the diving Brearey and Toseland to somehow keep out his close range effort.

Brearey was up to his heroics again seven minutes later as he flung himself to his left to keep out a fierce drive from ten yards by Benbow after he had been set up by a pull back from the classy Obeng. Unfortunately Brearey’s fine efforts were wasted as Ives failed to pick up McManus at the resulting corner as he arrived at pace to power home a header at the near post.

But Ives were not knocked by this setback and only three minutes later they were back on level terms as Josh Flanagan did brilliantly to get onto the end of Callum Milne’s ball down the right. Shariff challenged McManus for the ball at the near post where it dropped to Aiyelabola who spun on it in a flash and fired home into the roof of the net past the despairing dive of Breeden.

Both management teams showed that they were still going for the win with both sides making substitutions in the next few minutes with Ives introducing Fairlamb to replace the tiring Baker and the Boro making a double change with Anthony Dwyer and Shaquille Master replacing Benbow and McCrory respectively.

Master was quickly into the action and drew a foul in a very dangerous position out of Dylan Williams. But Clements free kick cannoned off Ives five man wall allowing the hosts to break at pace in a flowing move that saw Solkhon come within inches of putting Ives back in front. Cross got away down the right at pace and got to the bye line before hanging up a cross into the centre where Solkhon arrived at pace. He did everything right hanging in the air before looping his header over Breeden and he was hugely unlucky as the ball floated over the exposed Breeden before hitting the underside of the crossbar and bouncing down onto the goal line before being scrambled clear.

Shariff also had a effort from a narrow angle turned over by the keeper in 84th minute and it took another wonderful save from Brearey to retain the parity in the score line three minutes later as he bravely closed down Master and blocked his shot after the substitute had been fed through the right channel by Isaiah Osbourne.

The winner two minutes into added time was set up by Cross who weaved his way into the visitor’s box from the right only to be clattered by a clumsy challenge from Jaden Charles. Referee Daniel Todd put the whistle to his mouth but did not blow instead waving advantage as Aiyelabola pounced on the loose ball and fired it into the bottom corner to bring the roof off. Even then Ives supporters had to wait a further five minutes before they could really celebrate a vital three points in their quest for survival. But when the final whistle eventually came it brought a massive sigh of relief. Ives first double of the season moves them four points above today’s rivals but with the bottom three all winning it is still very tight for the two relegation places. 

Final Score : St Ives Town   3   Nuneaton Borough  2  

Goals : 

ST IVES: Johnston 9, Aiyelabola 72 & 90+2

NUNEATON: Dowd 43, McManus 69


ST IVES: Brearey, Flanagan, Jackson ( Solkhon 31), Hottor, Milne, Toseland, Baker (Fairlamb 73), Johnston (Aiyelabola 46), Shariff, Cross, Williams, Unused subs: Goff, Osei-Bonsu

NUNEATON: Breeden, Charles, Clements, Magunda, McManus (capt), Obeng, Dowd, McCrory (Master 76), Benbow (Dwyer 76), Osbourne, Forde, Unused subs: Kaziboni, Noble, Beejer

Sponsors man of the match : Eddie Brearey

Attendance : 339

Report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Dave Hook. Photos by Louise & Gemma Thompson.

St Ives Town

8Edmund Hottor Midfielder
6Callum Milne Defender
7Tyrone Baker 2 Winger
16Ethan Johnston 15 Striker 9'
9Nabil Shariff Striker
10Dylan Williams Midfielder


Date Time League Season Full Time
March 19, 2022 15:00 Southern Premier Central 2021-22 90'


Club1st HalfFinal Score
St Ives Town13
Nuneaton Borough12