St Ives Town v AFC Rushden & Diamonds
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 06-04-19
Six points off the play-off places with games fast running out this was a must win game for Diamonds but they were out fought and at times outplayed by an Ives side missing a few regulars. With regular right back Ben Jackson injured and his first choice replacement Owen Wallis pressed into action in the centre of defence regular midfielder Munashe Sundire found himself recalled into the side in the number two slot. He looked at home in the role from early on winning a number of important tackles and headers and as the game wore on he found opportunities to roam forward and show his normal creative style. The stand in full back was the only man who forced a real save out of either goal keeper as he tested Ben Heath in the Diamonds goal with a low left footed drive in 64th minute.
The visitors showed early promise and their leading scorer Tom Lorraine got on the end of a third minute corner delivered from the left by ex Ives man Declan Rogers. The big striker got in front of his marker and made good contact from eight yards but only succeeded in steering his header over the top.
Ives supporters eagerly welcomed back Morgan Penfold. The Peterborough United youngster had won himself a professional contract following his successful loan spell with the Club in 2016 and it was quite clear that the 20 year old had filled out and strengthen up in those intervening years. He showed that he had also lost none of his pace as he powered through the left channel to get on the end of a deft clip over the top by Andrew Osei-Bonsu in 14th minute, unfortunately the youngster took one touch to many and his shot when it did come flashed harmlessly across the face of goal.
Penfold went close again five minutes later as he got on the end of a move which saw the Diamonds defence stretched but not broken. Tom Wood delivered a dangerous ball into the box that was half cleared to Mark Coulson 30 yards from goal on the opposite side of the box. Rather than just pump the ball back into the box he cleverly slid it through to pick out the run of Ty Ward. Ward got to the bye line and picked out the fast arriving Penfold with his pull back but the ball just would not fall right for the youngster to hit it and his mishit shot was scrambled away.
The host’s centre back pairing of Owen Wallis and Jarvis Wilson were doing an excellent job of keeping the Diamonds strikers quiet. Wilson showed that he has learnt a lot as the season as gone on when in 28th minute he found himself up against the tricky Rogers one v one on the edge of the box. Where earlier in the season the youngster may have dived in on this occasion he stood his ground well and cleanly took the ball off Rogers toes when the midfielder tried to go around him.
Another good opportunity went begging for Ives six minutes before the break with Penfold again heavily involved as he picked up a ball by the corner flag before wriggling his way past Alex Collard in his run along the bye line. He showed good composure in getting his head up and picking out Ward on the edge of the box but the ball took a wicked bobble just in front of the Ives man and he screwed his shot wide of the target.
There was one scary moment for Ives supporters just before the break as Conway was almost caught out by the firmness of the pitch. He came to take a long Sam Brown punt into the box only for the ball to bounce twice as high as expected forcing the keeper to stretch up one handed to just get enough on the ball to stop it bouncing over him. His team mates came to his aid to scramble the loose ball clear.
As we know Osei-Bonsu is capable of spectacular individual goals and he went close to adding to his tally of those in 53rd minute as he picked up a ball on the half way line and drifted right with it before standing up Brown and then cutting inside him before unleashing a rising drive from the corner of the box that flew past the outstretched hands of Heath but went agonisingly inches over the crossbar.
Play swung to the other end and two minutes the two Diamonds full backs combined to carve out a half chance. Zack Reynolds went down the right and delivered a deep cross that found Brown in a little bit of space beyond the far post. Wilson was again in the right place to block Brown’s shot but at the expense of a corner. Rogers delivered the resulting flag kick into the centre where Lorraine rose highest and directed a downward header on target but Conway was down smartly to block and the ball was scrambled clear.
Ives continued to look more likely to break the deadlock and went close twice in a five minute spell around the hour mark. In 59th minute Wood picked out Osei-Bonsu with a crisp pass from just over the half way line. The skilful striker clipped a perfectly weighted pass into the run of Ward but again the Ives number eleven failed to hit the target from just inside the box. Heath’s only real save of the match came five minutes later when in a well worked corner routine Ward picked out Sundire in space with his lay back. The speedy stand in full back went past a man before striking a low left footed effort from 25 yards that was creeping in the corner before the outstretched fingers of the diving Heath turned it around the post.
The firm surface was again involved when the hosts suffered a scare in 72nd minute as both Lorraine and Wilson were deceived by the bounce 35 yards from Ives goal allowing Jack Bowen to get away down the centre. But skipper Robbie Parker came to the rescue doing what he does so well as he read the situation and got back to cleanly take the ball off the Diamonds striker before he could get a shot away.
Ben Seymour-Shove was introduced to the fray in place of Ward with fifteen minutes to go and his first touch almost brought him a goal. Osei-Bonsu played a consummate cross field ball to pick out the substitute in space beyond the far post. The usually clinical winger’s touch let him down on this occasion as his heavy contact forced him wide giving Diamonds skipper Liam Dolman chance to get across and block his effort.
Seymour-Shove went close again three minutes later as a mishit Conway clearance fortunately found Coulson in space on the left touchline. His ball to the edge of the box picked out the Ives substitute whose fierce left footed effort from the corner of the box did not trouble Heath as it hit the side netting.
With time running out on their play-off hopes Diamonds through Dolman forward to add extra height to their attack, but Wallis and Wilson continued to deal admirably with everything throw into their box including the long throws of Brown. Ives were still looking for every opportunity to break forward but were just unable to pick the killer pass to break down the equally resolute Diamonds back line.
Once more Ives have matched and at times bettered one of the play-off chasing sides and they continue to show that they are a match for all teams in this Division. The result means Ives stay thirteenth with four games to go and a best ever finish in the Club’s history remains a distinct possibility. His all action display earned Sundire an almost unanimous man of the match award from sponsors and supporters alike.
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
Goals : none
Team : Conway, Sundire, Coulson, Wood, Wallis, Jarvis Wilson, Snaith, Parker (capt), Penfold, Osei-Bonsu, Ward (Seymour-Shove 77)
Unused subs : Bailey, Baker
Supporters man of the match : Munashe Sundire
Attendance : 372
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|April 6, 2019
|Southern League Premier Division Central
|St Ives Town
|AFC Rushden & Diamonds