St Ives Town 2 Banbury United 2
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 24-11-18
The final whistle on this rather odd but entertaining game left both sides wondering if the result was really one point gained, or two dropped. Ives had the perfect start going two up inside the first five minutes, but to compensate the Puritans pulled back an excellent goal in 18th minute and then played against ten men for the last half an hour after Jake Newman’s dismissal for two yellow cards. Although the visitors then enjoyed in excess of 80 percent possession for the remaining time it looked like Ives were going to hold out until a defensive mix up gifted Puritans skipper Ricky Johnson an equaliser with six minutes to go.
The game started in explosive and controversial style as Ives went in front immediately from the kick off. The ball was channelled back to keeper Martin Conway and his long ball down the right was taken down just inside the touchline by Ben Baker. The assistant on that side waved his flag indicating that he felt Danny Kelly had unfairly nudged his marker Johnson as they both went for and missed the ball in the air. Referee Stephen Bates immediately overruled his assistant and waved play on. The Puritans defenders made the schoolboy error of not playing to the whistle and stopped. Baker instantly seized the opportunity and cut in on goal. His shot from a narrow angle was blocked by the legs of keeper Emmanuel Agboola but Jake Newman was following up and rammed home the loose ball to put Ives in front with only eighteen seconds on the watch. The reaction of the Banbury players and bench was perhaps understandable as they surrounded Mr Bates but after a short discussion with his assistant the goal was allowed to stand.
To give them their due the visitors instant reaction was to go straight down the other end and come within millimetres of an equaliser as Eddie Odhiambo and Harry Whitehead combined on the right with the latter playing a ball into the feet of Steve Diggin who turned on it in a flash and crashed a drive against Conway’s right hand post with the keeper beaten.
The break neck pace of the start did not slacken and there were only five minutes on the clock when Danny Kelly capitalised on an error from keeper Agboola to double the hosts advantage. Munashe Sundire clipped a ball over the top for Newman to chase. Agboola was very quickly off his line to hack the ball away from outside his box but his clearance was a poor one and the ball fell to the feet of Kelly fully forty yards from goal. The striker showed admiral composure to take a touch and curl an exquisite repost over the head of the stranded custodian one bounce and into the net.
The game continued in end to end fashion with both sides still looking for more goals. The Puritans found a route back into the game with a very well taken goal in 18th minute. Greg Kazibondi ran at the Ives defence committing defenders before laying the ball off to Giorgio Rasulo just outside the box. The silky midfielder took the shot on first time and hit a crisp low right footed drive that beat the diving Conway low to his right and nestled in the bottom corner of the net.
There was still an undertone of antagonism in the game and referee Bates found it necessary to brandish a small bunch of cards in the ten minutes before the break. Ravi Shamsi was the first to get one for going down in acrobatic style, although untouched by a defender, as he burst into the box from the right. This card was quickly followed by one to Rasulo for pulling back Sundire in the centre circle. Newman and Charlie Wise had been having a running battle up to this point and each picked up a card for fouling the other in the 42nd and 43rd minutes to take the card count up to four in nine minutes.
Back to the action and it took two brilliant saves from Agboola to keep his side in the game in the last few seconds before the break. Three minutes into added time Robbie Parker swung in a free kick from the left Newman managed to lose his marker in the centre and rose unmarked to power in a header from ten yards that saw Agboola leap high to his right to fingertip the ball over the top. The resulting corner was taken short to Owen Wallis who delivered a dangerous cross to the near post where Newman again managed to get ahead of his man and power in another header which was this time straight at Agboola who reacted well to push the ball up into the air with his defenders coming to his aid to scramble the ball away.
The second half started more quietly than the first with both sides quickly closing each other down and neither able to build any momentum. The first opportunity after the restart came in 58th minute. Keeper Agboola came for a high hanging free kick from just inside his own half by Conway. But with friend and foe alike in his way the keeper was struggling to get there and spilled the ball at the feet of Jarvis Wilson his snap shot looked to be on target but hit the body of Kelly and bounced out for a goal kick.
The game changing moment arrived on the hour as Newman was fouled in the centre circle by Johnson but rather than going down ploughed on into his main antagonist of the afternoon Wise seeming to kick out at the Puritans big centre back. Referee Bates waited whilst all three protagonists received treatment before administering a first yellow of the afternoon to Johnson but much more importantly a second to the unwise Newman.
Down to ten men Ives quickly reorganised to try and preserve their advantage for the remaining half an hour. Kelly quickly found himself a lone striker with the rest of the Ives side fairly well dug in around their own box. Initially the Puritans did not change their tactics and continued their bombardment of high balls into Ives box. These were generally dealt with very effectively by the hosts eighteen year old centre back pairing of Jarvis Wilson and Sam Cartwright.
However having seen this tactic was not working Banbury manager Mike Ford decided to go three at the back sacrificing full back Whitehead for an extra midfielder in Jack Finch. He could also be heard imploring his charges to keep the ball and pass it around to try and draw Ives out of their defensive shell and move them around. The hard working hosts still continued to frustrate their visitors by keeping them at bay and as the game entered the last ten minutes the struggling visitors had still been unable to use their numerical advantage to force a real save out of keeper Conway.
As a last resort Ford decided to throw centre back and skipper Johnson forward as another big target man and to go back to throwing balls into the box. Sadly for Ives it was one of these which proved their undoing and allowed the visitors to get back on terms with six minutes to go. Substitute John Mills delivered a ball from the right that for once the hosts back line struggled to deal with it got out to Kazibondi beyond the back post. He headed it back into the mix where two Ives defenders seemed to get in each other’s way allowing the ball to drop to Johnson who could not believe his luck as he prodded it home from close range.
Having lost their lead it looked likely that the tiring Ives might struggle to hang on for a point but they lifted themselves to one final effort to ensure that they ended up with something from the game. They managed to restrict the Puritans to just a couple of half chances in the remaining time. As the game entered added time substitute Mark Bell exchanged passes with Kazibondi to work their way into the box. When the shot finally came in there were two Ives players willing to put their bodies on the line as the hurled themselves into the line of the ball. Wise rose highest to the resulting corner but pressure from Wilson ensure that he could not direct his header goalwards.
The Ives lifted themselves another level for the remaining four minutes managing to spend most of it in the visitor’s half without offering any real threat to their goal. So the game ended with honours even and both sides feeling that they had let a real opportunity for three points slip by. Jake Newman brings a real threat to the Ives front line, he also brings the best out of those around him as is shown by the match sponsors awarding the man of the match accolade to his striker partner Danny Kelly for the second week in a row. However he must learn to keep his head as he clearly had the beating of Wise on the day and with the big centre back also on a yellow card it was quite likely if Newman had continued to pressurise him it would have been the Puritans centre back who would have picked up a second yellow card. But on such fine margins games are decided. Newman will miss our trip to League leaders Kettering next week but will be back for the vital home game with struggling Bedworth in two week’s time.
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 Banbury United 2
Goals : Newman 1, Kelly 5
Team : Conway, Hood, Wallis, Sundire, Cartwright, Jarvis Wilson, Baker, Parker (capt), Newman, Kelly (Bailey 81), Snaith (Seymour-Shove 89)
Unused subs : Jackson, Dylan Wilson
Sponsors man of the match : Danny Kelly
Attendance : 179
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson
|November 24, 2018
|Southern League Premier Division Central
|St Ives Town