St Ives Town v Rushall Olympic
Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central 02–04-2022
A massive three points in the Ives quest to keep their heads above the drop zone was earnt with a battling comeback performance in a game that was not always pretty but was certainly won by the side that wanted it most. But make no mistake the fourth placed Pics were equally keen to grab the full reward from this game in their quest to claim at top three spot and hence a home game in the play–off semi-finals.
The game was turned on its head in the dying minutes of the first half. Initially in 44th minutewith the visitors already one goal to the good courtesy of a header from their skipper Sam Whittall, the same player had a spot kick saved by Ives keeper Eddie Brearey. Then in added time the hosts grabbed an unlikely equaliser with only their second effort of the game on target as Nabil Sharrif prodding home from close range. Instead of going in two goals to the good the visitors suddenly found themselves on level terms and facing a nervy second half.
After two poor performances on the road Ives management team made two changes to the starting line up going for experience ahead of youth with Michael Richens returning from suspension to anchor the midfield and Oran Jackson fit again to return in the centre of the back four with Callum Milne going across to right back it was the two Northampton loanees Josh Flanagan and Liam Cross who dropped to the bench.
The high flying visitors started on the front foot and home keeper Brearey was called into early action to keep out a Tyler Lyttle free kick. The kick had been awarded against Jackson who had clattered Rackeem Reid just outside the left hand corner of Ives box. Brearey’s opposite number Jonathan Flatt had to be even more alert in ninth minute as the lively Dylan Williams robbed a dallying Whittall deep inside Pics territory. Clean through on goal Williams should probably have done better but keeper Flatt closed him quickly and spread himself well to keep the ball out with a solid right hand.
Having missed the chance to get their noses in front Ives found themselves going behind in the very next attack as Lyttle was given to much time and space on the right. He delivered a teasing cross to the back post where skipper Whittall rose above the crowd to power a header past Brearey from ten yards. Reid was proving a real handful for Ives back line and the visitors could easily have doubled their advantage five minutes later. A quick break from an Ives free kick saw Ed Hottor put under heavy pressure by Reid eventually being forced to foul his man but the Pics striker managed to stay on his feet and an excellent advantage from referee Jorden Gibson allowed Reid to tee up Alex Moore on the edge of the box but he did not hit his shot cleanly allowing Brearey to make the save low to his right.
Reid did get the ball in the net in 37th minute after he managed to beat Brearey to a lob over the top of Ives back line by Thorley to roll the ball home only to be denied by the assistant’s raised flag. The same player spurned a golden opportunity to double the visitors advantage three minutes later. Lyttle sprinted onto Reid’s flick and fed in Reece Mitchell on the overlap, his low driven cross was pushed away by Brearey but Reid who was following up only succeeded in knocking the loose ball over the crossbar from close range.
As the first half came to a close the turning points in the game arrived both in favour of the hosts, although that was not how it initially looked like it was going to go. The penalty late in the first half came about when Ives failed to clear a Lyttle corner from the right. The ball bounced around the box before it fell to Ben Usher-Shipway, his fierce drive hit the arm of Hottor inside the box. Referee Gibson was in a good position to see and immediately awarded the spot kick. Skipper Whittall did not strike his kick cleanly giving Brearey chance to make a relatively comfortable save low to his right.
Thanks to a number of long injury delays there were five added minutes at the end of the first half and in the fourth of those five Ives grabbed an unlikely equaliser to take the steam out of the visitors. A Williams free kick from the left was only half cleared to the edge of the box where it fell to Richens, he took a touch but miss–hit his shot across the face of goal. First to react to the bobbling ball was the ever alert Shariff who got in front of his marker to prod it home just inside Flatt’s right hand post.
Having already been forced into two injury substitutions in the first half the visitors were forced to make their third and final change at the interval with Callum Coyle limping off to be replaced by Owen Parry. As in the first period it was the Pics who carved out the first chance of the second half as Thorley, Mitchell and Usher-Shipway combined down the left. The latter’s cross picked out Reid at the back post but his effort lacked pace allowing Brearey to make a comfortable save. It took the quick thinking and pace of Luke Fairlamb to prevent Ives falling behind again in 55th minute as a quick thinking Thorley seized the opportunity to take a quick free kick and put Usher-Shipway completely clear, Fairlamb was the only Ives player alert to the danger and the speedy winger ate up yards to put in an amazing block on the shot when it came.
The visitor’s felt they should have had a second penalty on the hour when Reid went down under challenge from Richens. From our angle referee Gibson got the call spot on as the initial contact looked inches outside the box but that did not stop him getting berated by Pics players and bench alike all baying in unison for the spot kick. Lyttle’s resulting free kick was rifled just over the top.
Referee Gibson further endeared himself to the visitors when he did award Ives a penalty ten minutes later. Ben Toseland jinked his way into the visitor’s box and went past two players before he was taken down by stand in right back Richard Bachelor. Williams made no mistake from the spot sending keeper Flatt the wrong way.
The third penalty of the game arrived in somewhat less obvious circumstances in 76thminute as a scrambled ensued in Ives box as they struggled to clear a long throw from Usher-Shipway. It looked like the spot kick was awarded for handball but it was almost impossible to say with the ball bouncing around and bodies from both sides flying in to either try to keep the ball out or force it home. Suffice to say after a brief consultation with his assistant referee Gibson stuck by his initial decision. With Whittall relieved of the task the responsibility was handed to Thorley who not entirely convincingly beat Brearey low to his right to level things up.
Would Ives try to hang on for a hard earned point or go for the win. Whilst Ives management team was pondering that decision it was made for them thanks to the hard work of Tyrone Baker. He won a crunching tackle to gain possession inside his own half and then flighted a perfectly weighted ball down the line to pick out the well timed run of Williams who cut inside before unleashing a shot from the edge of the box that took a wicked deflection off a defender before flying past keeper Flatt into the roof of the net.
The change was instantly made to reinforce the back line with Flanagan replacing Baker to put in a five man back line. But four minutes later two of those back five almost combined inside the opposition box to put the game to bed. Another long throw into the box was repelled with Hottor putting Toseland away down the left and his low cross looked like it was going to be knocked home at the back post by Flanagan only for the struggling Mitchell to get just enough of a touch on the ball to take it away from the Ives substitute. The remaining two minutes and then the added five seemed like an age as the visitor’s bombarded Ives box with from all angles. Brearey was forced to deny them twice in the last minute of normal time his brilliant reaction save to keep out a diving header from Batchelor left the Pics man thumping the ground in frustration. Ninety seconds later with the ball bouncing around Ives box and defenders putting their bodies on the line to block it out Brearey brought off another moment of brilliance as he was quickly out to close down Usher-Shipway and block the strikers effort at point blank range.
When the final whistle eventually blew players from both sides collapsed to the pitch exhausted from the effort that they had put into this game. The result sees Ives claim their first victory in six attempts against the Pics and into the bargain take another huge steptowards safety. The visitors although virtually assured of a play-off place are very much going through a bad patch at the wrong time of the season with only one win in their last seven games.
Final Score : St Ives Town 3 Rushall Olympic 2
ST IVES: Shariff 45+4, Williams 70 (pen) & 84
RUSHALL: Whittall 11, Thorley 77 (pen)
ST IVES: Brearey, Milne, Jackson, Solkhon (capt), Toseland, Richens, Baker (Flanagan 85), Hottor, Shariff (Cross 64), Williams, Fairlamb, Unused subs: Goff, Osei-Bonsu,Johnston
RUSHALL: Flatt, Brown (Batchelor 16), Mitchell, Thorley, Clarke, Whittall (capt), Usher-Shipway, Moore (Masidi 25), Coyle (Parry 46), Lyttle, Reid, Unused subs: Glover, Batchelor, Calder
Supporters man of the match : Dylan Williams
Attendance : 275
Report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Dave Hook. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|April 2, 2022
|Southern Premier Central
|St Ives Town