St Ives Town v Hitchin Town
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 12-01-19
Ives finally laid the hoodoo as they beat the struggling Canaries for the first time at their sixth attempt. In doing so they heaped pressure on their opponents who remain in the relegation places and extended their losing run to six games. Perhaps not unsurprisingly their previous victory had come in the reverse fixture at Top Field in mid-December.
With Danny Kelly and Owen Wallis joining long time absentee Dylan Wilson on the treatment table Ives resources looked like they could be a little stretched but with Jarvis Wilson back to full fitness he was able to slot into the centre of defence alongside Charlie De’ath allowing Ben Jackson to move across into the full back slot to fill in for Wallis. Kelly’s place alongside Jake Newman was taken by the industrious Ollie Snaith who is returning to his best after his recent suspension.
The hosts opened positively and could have gone in front in only fifth minute as a corner was cleared to Mark Coulson on the half way line his powerful header back down the pitch caught on the breeze and floated over the Canaries defence allowing Ben Seymour-Shove to get clear down the left. Rather than go for goal he turned back inside and tried to pick out a team mate arriving in the box but unfortunately his low cross was just behind both Newman and Snaith arriving at pace in the centre.
Alfie Cue had the visitors first effort at goal two minutes later as he got on the end of a Matt Nolan flick and tried his luck from 25 yards but home keeper Martin Conway watched the effort all the way and made a comfortable save.
Ives carved out another good opportunity in eleventh minute as a Robbie Parker free kick was only half cleared to Jarvis Wilson just outside the box. He played a clever flick inside a defender to give Jackson chance for a cross, his teasing ball in picked out Snaith by the penalty spot. The Ives striker went for power with his header but was unable to hit the target from a good position.
Having enjoyed the majority of possession and gone close on a couple of occasions the hosts then found themselves behind to the Canaries first meaningful attack in 26th minute. Michael Cain found a little bit of space on the left and drove infield to the edge of the Ives box. He picked out Isaac Galliford with his low cross into the centre. The tricky striker had his back to goal but cleverly turned his marker to fire in a rasping left footed drive that flew past the despairing dive of Conway and nestled in the far corner of the net.
Going in front raised the otherwise fragile confidence of the visitors and the play now swung in their favour as they worked hard to try and further pierce the Ives rear guard. They went close on three more occasions before the break. On the half hour a deep Galliford free kick looked like it was clearing everyone but Alfie Cue had got around the back he only just directed his volleyed effort wide from a narrow angle. Galliford was again involved seven minutes later as he flashed a free kick from a just outside the left edge of the box across the face of goal with no one able to get the vital touch. The third attempt five minutes before half time was probably the best opportunity. A deep cross from the left by Jay Dowie was half cleared to Nolan who cleverly clipped the ball back into the centre where Cain arriving at pace powered a header from ten yards just wide of the post.
Going in one down the lacklustre Ives knew they needed to lift themselves to find a way back into the contest and no doubt guiding works were said by manager Ricky Marheineke to lift his charges for the second half. Captain Parker is one who will always give of his best and lead by example and that is exactly what he did only sixty seconds after the restart. Jack Green was trying to shepherd a rolling ball out of play for a goal kick but Parker never gave up the cause and hounded him all the way sliding in cleanly around the dawdling Canary to hook the ball away from him. Seymour-Shove pounced on the loose ball and fired in a powerful shot from a narrow angle that keeper Michael Johnson blocked with his legs at his near post. The resulting corner from the left was swung in by Seymour-Shove and with players moving in all directions in a pre-rehearsed move the Hitchin defence was at sixes and sevens as it allowed the ball to bounce inside the six yard box to permit a late arriving Jackson to bundle it home at the back post to level things up.
If the equaliser was a little untidy if effective the goal that decided the contest which came on the hour was considerably more spectacular. Seymour-Shove and Coulson combined well to win another corner on the left. Seymour-Shove again delivered the telling ball as once more the movement completely deceived the Canaries. The decisive move was De’ath completely losing his marker to meet the ball perfectly eight yards out and power home a header that gave Johnson no chance as it rocketed into the roof of the net.
The fragile confidence which had been present in the visitors ranks whilst they were in front seemed to desert them once they fell behind and although the Ives did not create any more clear cut chances in the next twenty minutes they began to look more comfortable defending their advantage.
The increasingly desperate visitors struggled to create anything against the rugged Ives back line. Their attacks seemed to be concentrated down their left flank where Noah Chesmain or substitute Ezra Forde found a few opportunities to deliver balls into the box but these proved to either be to deep to cause any worry or simply provided catching practice to the well protected Conway. It was not until ten minutes before the end that the visitors were able to create even a half chance on that occasion a Cue long throw was flicked on by Nolan but an under pressure Forde fired his close range volley over the top.
Conway did have one smart save to make eight minutes from time as Galliford’s run at the Ives defence was halted by a solid challenge from Parker 25 yards from goal. Cue was following up and pounced on the loose ball firing in a low drive which Conway got down to well and saved low to his right.
But the final opportunity of the afternoon came the way of the hosts with just four minutes of the ninety left. A swift break saw Newman feed the ball into the run of substitute Ben Baker who looked like he could outpace the tiring Canaries back line but instead turned inside and teed the ball up for Munashe Sundire 20 yards from goal. Unfortunately the never say die midfielder did not make a clean contact on the chance and his shot bobbled wide.
The Ives saw out the remaining time including the added four minutes without further scares to move one further place up the table to twelfth but more importantly having matched their points total for the entire of last season they now find themselves thirteen points above their rivals who currently sit in the last relegation place. As for the Canaries with their next five games all against teams in the top ten they appear to be in for a tough time.
The sponsors picked Charlie De’ath as their man of the match no doubt as much for his rugged display in the centre of Ives miserly defence as for his spectacular winner. But as ever with this side it was another excellent all round team performance that for once got us the reward it deserved against the Canaries.
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 Hitchin Town 1
Goals : Jackson 48, De’ath 60
Team : Conway, Jackson, Coulson, Sundire, Jarvis Wilson, De’ath, Ward, Parker (capt), Newman (Bailey 86), Snaith (Baker 76), Seymour-Shove (Hood 84)
Unused subs : Torkornoo
Sponsors man of the match : Charlie De’ath
Attendance : 228
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson
|January 12, 2019||15:00||Evo-Stik League South - Premier Division Central||2018-19|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||0||2|