St Ives Town v Stratford Town
Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 13-08-2022
The extreme heat kept a few spectators away and they will regret missing this red hot show from Ives who kept their excellent start to the season going and moved up to joint top of the embryonic Southern League Premier Central table with a five goal thrashing of the ten man Bards.
With manager Ricky Marheineke on his way back from his summer holiday it was careful planning from joint assistant managers Jim Freeman and Adam Fisher that plotted the downfall of the visitors. Targeting an area of the Bards defence which seriously lacked pace paid early dividends with two penalties picked up and despatched in the first twenty minutes as Julien Saka and Greg Kaziboni both targeted the struggling Josh Endall.
Jack Storer did not help the Bards cause as he committed the cardinal sin on such a hot day of getting himself needlessly dismissed after only eleven minutes as he smashed an elbow into the face of Dylan Williams right in front of referee Alistair Wilson who had got his red card out of his back pocket almost before the two players had landed.
Two up at the break the second half became the Nabil Shariff show as the prolific hit man showed that he is back to his best with a perfect hat trick of a header, right foot and left foot finishes. All trade mark Shariff from inside the six yard box.
The Ives targeted approach brought them very early reward in only fourth minute as Saka cut out a poor ball out of defence and tore at the exposed Endall who made a desperate lunge to get back at the speedy wing back but only succeeded in taking him down just inside the box to give referee Wilson the opportunity to award the first of four spot kicks on the day. Williams emphatically beat Liam O’Brien from the spot.
The Bards went close to a leveller with their first venture into Ives territory four minutes later as Josh Hawker found a little space on the right before skimming in a low cross shot from just outside the box that forced home keeper James Goff into a save plunging low to his right to push the ball away.
Then came the moment of madness from Storer which took his side down to ten men with 80 minutes still on the clock on the hottest footballing day of the year. Don’t think his colleagues will thank him for that one!
Ives continued to get at the struggling Endall on the Bards left side, Kaziboni getting past him again in 14th minute before delivering a cross to the back post that Jack Turner made a hash of clearing. Much to Turner’s relief Williams did no better failing to get a shot away from close range.
The tricky Dexter Walters was next to try his luck for the Bards in 19th minute but his curling effort was comfortably saved by Goff and quick distribution by the keeper saw the ball fed out to Kaziboni on the right once more the winger outpaced the struggling Endall who, as he had done with Saka in the opening minutes, scythed down the Ives man deep inside the box. This time Jonny Edwards took on duties from the spot and coolly sent O’Brien the wrong way.
Bards assistant manager Gavin Hurren who was in charge for the day had seen enough of Endall by this point hauling him off to go three at the back replacing him with giant centre forward Curvin Ellis.
Now comfortably in front and with their opponents down to ten men Ives took their foot off the gas and allowed the Bards a little more time on the ball. Walters curled an effort inches wide from the left corner of the box in 26th minute and the last chance of the first period fell to Jamie Molyneux who robbed Johnny Herd just outside the box before getting equally close to the opposite post two minutes before the break.
In between those two efforts from the visitors Shariff missed a golden opportunity to open his account for the season in 40th minute. Edwards stole the ball off James O’Neill deep in Bards territory before leaving the struggling number six in his wake as he cut in from the right. His pull back picked out the unmarked Shariff by the penalty spot but the usually deadly striker blazed his effort well over the top.
It was a completely different story for Shariff in the second half as he helped himself to the perfect hat trick. His first three minutes after the re-start came courtesy of the pacy Kaziboni who got away from O’Neill again down the right before delivering an inviting clip to the near post where Shariff accepted the invitation and powered his header into the top corner.
Shariff’s second and Ives fourth in the 57th minute came down the same route as the previous three goals. This time it was Saka who was put away down the right by a perfectly weighted ball from Kaziboni. His clip into the centre was met perfectly by Edwards eight yards out and it took a brilliant diving stop low to his right by O’Brien to deny him a second of the day. But the keeper was not helped out by his defenders who reacted much more slowly to the loose ball than Shariff. His right foot toe poke made it 4-0.
The game’s third penalty arrived in 68th minute and again it came from the right channel for the Ives. Saka jinked past two defenders into the box before being taken out by O’Neill. Williams was back on spot kick duty but keeper O’Brien out thought the Ives midfielder and leapt high to his right to tip the ball over the top.
To give them their due the visitors kept on battling and Ellis should have claimed a consolation for them twenty minutes from time. The hard working Bards skipper Will Grocott got to the bye line before teeing up a clean header for the substitute on the six yard line. He got plenty of power in the effort but somehow failed to hit the target.
But there was little respite for the struggling right hand side of the Bards defence as Kaziboni was replaced by the enigmatic Andrew Osei-Bonsu a few moments later. On his day Osei-Bonsu can be almost impossible to stop and he quickly made an impact as only three minutes after coming on he almost added a fifth. A thrilling interchange of passes in combination with Shariff saw the move end with the latter teeing up the substitute with an excellent reverse pass. But Osei-Bonsu got the ball stuck in his feet and was robbed by the covering Paul McCone before he could get his shot away.
That was only a very brief let off for the visitors as Shariff completed his hat trick in 78th minute. Osei-Bonsu was the provider galloping away down the right before picking out Shariff on the edge of the box with his pull back. The striker’s initial shot was blocked by the legs of keeper O’Brien but again Shariff was quickest to react to the loose ball forcing it home with his left foot despite a desperate attempt by Turner to get the ball off the line.
There was still time in the remaining twelve minutes for referee Wilson to award his fourth spot kick off the afternoon. This time the first to the visitors. Goff was a little late off his line to claim a through ball allowing Ellis to just beat him to it then clattering into the Bards substitute for another nailed on penalty. Grocott’s spot kick was a poor one allowing Goff to redeem himself with a save low to his left.
Goff had one more save to make in the closing moments, low to his right to keep out a curled effort from 20 yards by Hawker. Shortly after the referee’s whilst blew to conclude a more than satisfactory day at the office for Ives. As they say in Yorkshire “that will do”.
Final Score: St Ives Town 5 Stratford Town 0
ST IVES: Williams 5 (pen), Edwards 20 (pen), Shariff 48, 57 & 78
Team Line Ups:
ST IVES: Goff, Saka, Herd, Richens (capt) (Cowling 65), J. Williams, Milne, Kaziboni (Osei-Bonsu 72), Hottor, Edwards (Johnston 62), D. Williams, Shariff, Unused subs: Andoh, Lewis
STRATFORD: O’Brien, Turner, Endall (Ellis 24), Sammons (Miles 63), McCone, O’Neill, Walters, Hawker, Storer, Grocott (capt), Molyneux (Dawes 56), Unused subs: Beresford, Fisher
Cards: Yellow: ST IVES: Edwards (45), STRATFORD: Endall (19), O’Neill (30)
Red: STRATFORD: Storer (11)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Nabil Shariff
Report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Dave Hook. Interview by Andrew Dunn. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|August 13, 2022
|Southern League Premier Division Central
|St Ives Town