St Ives Town v Alvechurch
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 23-03-19
An early goal in each half from the play-off chasing Church was sufficient to complete a hard earned double over the battling Ives and into the bargain the visitors lifted themselves into the all important fifth spot.
In an effort to improve Ives poor home form manager Ricky Marheineke chose to stick with the starting eleven that performed so well to claim an excellent win at Leiston on the previous Saturday. Unfortunately all of the careful planning was undone very early on when the visitors went in front in the simplest fashion after only six minutes. Tom Turton won a ball in midfield and fed it wide to Josh Ezewele and the Church full back delivered a teasing cross to the back post where Kyle Morrison came between dithering Ives defenders to rise majestically and power home a header from eight yards giving Martin Conway in the Ives goal no chance.
The Church had started very positively and even prior to the goal they had forced Conway into action. In only the third minute a free kick from the left edge of the box was half cleared to Turton who curled it back into the box from 25 yards forcing Conway to make an excellent claim under heavy pressure from Aaron Lloyd.
Having got in front the visitors showed their quality by generally bossing the centre of the park although their threat was limited to a variety of long throws into the box by Tom Tonks. These were delivered in true Rory Delap style from anywhere within thirty yards of the hosts goal and came in either as low flat missiles aimed at the near post or more looping howitzers which could reach as far as the far post. Ives showed their mettle in defending these and although at times stretched the combined defensive line up were very successful in winning the first header wherever the shells dropped.
As the half wore on the hosts began to show a degree of threat and Church keeper Dan Crane was called into action to make two smart saves to keep his side in front in the ten minutes before half time. The first of these in 37th minute came from a trade mark break at pace from their own half. Ty Ward won the ball thirty five yards from his own goal and fed it forward into the feet of Jake Newman inside opposition territory. Newman held the ball up well and fed it into the pacey run of Ben Baker cutting in from the right. The Ives winger was quickly closed down but managed to unleash a well struck drive from 20 yards that looked like it was straight at keeper Crane but the ball must have taken a slight deflection on the way through as the keeper almost misjudged it and was forced into a scrambling save low to his right. A defender came to his aid scrambling the loose ball away at the expense of a corner.
The resulting flag kick from the right was cleverly taken short by Ward to Baker who curled in a cross to the back post that just beat everyone. Tom Wood was first to react and hooked the bouncing ball back into the near post where Ben Jackson came within millimetres of beating Crane to the ball the keeper bravely claiming it off his toe.
Crane’s second vital save came just seconds before the half time whistle as a Ben Seymour-Shove corner from the left was half cleared to Ward on the corner of the box. The young midfielder showed excellent technique as he took on the dropping ball on the volley. He struck his shot almost to well and unfortunately straight at Crane. The keeper just had time to close his fists to punch the vicious effort away from goal.
These two efforts were dissected by a good shout for a penalty from the visitors in 38th minute as Kieran Cook’s run into the box was halted by a well timed challenge from covering defender Robbie Parker. There was some contact with the Church wide man but the excellent referee Jordan Cushen was in the right place to get a clear view of the incident and he concurred with most Ives fans that Parker had won the ball fairly much to the chagrin of the visitors management team who needed a word from the referee before they calmed down.
Coming back out looking for a route back into the game it was critical that Ives started the second period much better than they had started the first. Unfortunately they were undone by the best pass of the game only three minutes after the restart. Centre back Morrison belied the number five on his back as he threaded an exquisite pass between centre back and full back to pick out the perfectly timed run of full back Ezewele. The overlapping full back claimed his second assist of the game as he got to the bye line before laying the ball back to give Tonks the simple task of side footing the ball home from close range past the exposed Conway.
In a valiant effort to change the course of the game Marheineke made a double change on the hour replacing his two somewhat ineffective wide men Seymour-Shove and Baker with Andrew Osei-Bonsu and Munashe Sundire but it took an excellent save from Conway prevent the score line worsening four minutes later as he bravely spread himself at the feet of Cook to make a point blank save to deny the tricky winger after he had got clear onto a through ball from Turton.
The Ives keeper was almost caught out in 68th minute as Lloyd closed him down on a clearance and the stoppers usually reliable distribution let him down his attempted clearance arrowing straight to Josh March inside the centre circle. The Church leading scorer took careful aim and launched his return over the stranded Conway who was very pleased to see the effort sail a couple of feet wide of his right hand post.
To their great credit Ives continued to battle to try and find a route back into the game and Gavin Hoyte went close to reducing the arrears in 73rd minute. A long Parker free kick into the box was headed onto the back of Newman’s head by Ash Carter. Hoyte was first onto the loose ball and lifted it over keeper Crane as he came racing off his line. But the athletic keeper had done just enough to put off the big centre back as Hoyte’s rushed effort drifted inches over the top.
A well worked free kick almost brought the visitors a third goal three minutes later as the kick was fed into the feet of Lloyd just outside the box. He held the ball up well before feeding it on to Zack Foster who had feinted to take the kick then run over the ball before continuing his run into the box. His low driven cross was very well held by Conway just ahead of two onrushing forwards.
The last ten minutes could have been a very different story but for an excellent one handed save by Crane. Jackson’s long throw was flicked on by Wood and Ward managed to force himself between two defenders to get his toe onto the dropping ball and steer it towards the near post from close range. Crane reacted instantly plunging low to his left to stop the effort rolling just inside the post. His defenders then came to his aid just scrambling the loose ball away before an Ives striker could react to force it home.
Ives continued to press forward in search of a route back into the game and they were almost handed one in 83rd minute as Morrison under pressure from Newman flicked a long ball into the box past his own keeper but the ball floated agonisingly the wrong side of the post as all looked on.
The final action of the entertaining game in front of a good crowd enjoying the sunshine again went the way of the visitors as a long ball down the park by Carter fell to substitute Andre Landell who tried his luck first time from 25 yards and was disappointed to see his well struck effort strike the stanchion just to the right of Conway’s goal.
Overall verdict was an entertaining game where Ives matched one of the favourites for a play-off place for long periods but were ultimately undone by some poor marking and one piece of brilliance. However if the push to the hoped for best ever finish in the Clubs history is to be achieved a pick up in home results is essential in the remaining three games at Westwood Road.
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Alvechurch 2
Goals : none
Team : Conway, Jackson, Coulson, Wood, Hoyte, Jarvis Wilson, Seymour-Shove (Sundire 60), Parker (capt), Newman, Ward (Bailey 86), Baker (Osei-Bonsu 60)
Unused subs : Wallis, Snaith
Supporters man of the match : Tom Wood
Attendance : 270
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|March 23, 2019||15:00||Southern League Premier Division Central||2018-19||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||0||0|