St Ives Town v Royston Town
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 26-12-18
A very competitive Boxing Day derby ended honours even as the Ives took a deserved home point from another of the pre-season promotion favourites. This time it was the stuttering Crows who will probably feel most pleased to take a share of the spoils.
After his tactical master stroke at Tamworth manager Ricky Marheineke returned to the more familiar 4-4-2 formation for the Ives with wide men Ben Baker and Ben Seymour-Shove returning to the starting line up at the expense of George Bailey and Saturday’s man of the match Ty Ward. Jarvis Wilson was also missing from the starting eleven having picked up a dead leg against the Lambs. Ben Jackson slotted in alongside Sam Cartwright in the centre of the Ives back four.
The game started with both sides probing their opponent’s defences looking for any possible weak links. An early Charlie De’ath long throw was half cleared to Baker on the edge of the D. The young winger showed excellent technique to get over the dropping ball and slammed in a goal bound volley that was bravely blocked by a covering defender.
The Crows first opportunity to test Martin Conway in the home goal came in seventh minute when Jackson was adjudged to have pushed Josh Castiglione 25 yards from goal. Crows leading scorer James Potton lined up the free kick but only succeeded in slamming his effort into the Ives four man wall.
The even first period continued with both defences remaining on top and neither side able to create a clear cut chance to get in front. The Crows best attempt of the half came in 18th minute as Castiglione found a little space wide on the left and cut inside Owen Wallis before curling in a right footed effort from the edge of the box that arced inches over the angle of crossbar and post.
Ives had chance to create something from a free kick in a good position on the right in 25th minute after Baker had been brought down by Luke Oswick. Robbie Parker’s free kick cleared the wall but was cut out by Oswick before it could reach the lurking Ives strikers at the back post. The loose ball fell to Baker 30 yards from goal but his first time effort flew well over the top.
Another De’ath long throw in 33rd minute caused some disarray in the Crows box. The initial throw was cleared to Munashe Sundire and rather than go for goal from long range he cleverly curled the ball back into the box De’ath arriving late won the header at the back post and looped a ball back into the mix where keeper Joe Welch did well to punch it away off the head of Jake Newman. The ball fell to Baker on the right but his further attempt to curl the ball back into the box was a little to close to the keeper who made a comfortable catch.
The final attempt of the first half high on endeavour and effort but low on chances came eight minutes from the break when the Crows Scott Thomas hammered a first time effort well over the top from fully 35 yards after a free kick had been cleared to him.
Baker had an early half chance only three minutes after the restart when a slip by Thomas allowed him a little bit of space the get a shot away from 25 yards but his powerful drive was always rising and although it beat a sprawling dive from Welch the ball flew inches over the top.
After that early chance the Ives found themselves pegged back as the Crows got on top and exerted a period of pressure on the home goal. Castiglione cleverly dropped off at the back post to get a free header to a Thomas corner in 54th minute but De’ath was on hand to hack away his goal bound effort.
De’ath was Ives saviour again two minutes later as Potton cleverly threaded a ball through the Ives back line to put substitute Joe Newton in around the back on the left. Newton’s low driven cross was his first touch after entering the fray only seconds earlier but fortunately for the hosts De’ath was in the right place to prevent the ball reaching Castiglione in the centre.
Potton repeated the feat in 64th minute this time cleverly flicking the ball over Wallis to put Newton in on goal. The Crow’s youngster bravely went in with keeper Conway who had swiftly closed him down and a fast recovering Wallis but although he got to the ball first and got his shot away he slid his effort inches wide of the far post.
Less than sixty seconds later Ives lost their influential skipper Parker as he limped out of the game having taken a bang on the knee moments earlier. The man that replaced him was another all action midfield man last Saturday’s hero Ty Ward.
Having weathered the Crows early second half storm Ives slowly began to get on top and started to carve out chances of their own again. They went close twice in thirty seconds in 81st minute. A quick De’ath throw picked out Sundire in space and he found Danny Kelly with his in-swinging cross. Kelly’s flicked header almost put in Newman but keeper Welch was alert to the danger and bravely dived in to smother the ball just ahead of the Ives striker. Only seconds later a teasing left wing cross from De’ath curled over Adam Murray but the centre back did just enough to put off Kelly lurking behind him and the ball hit the Ives striker only eight yards out and fell to the ground Welch was again first to react to fall on the ball and snuff out the danger.
Each side then had what was probably their best chance in 86th minute. Initially Newton found space on the left and delivered a perfect cross that bisected the Ives centre backs and picked out his fellow substitute Vance Bola eight yards from goal. Bola looked like he only had to direct his header either side of keeper Conway to score but he put it straight at the Ives custodian who held on well. The ball was channelled straight up the other end where Kelly cleverly dribbled his way to the edge of the box before holding up the ball well and laying it back into the fast arriving Sundire. He struck his shot well but the ball ricocheted off a Crows defender straight back to the feet of Kelly inside the box he side stepped Gus Scott-Morris and fired in a low left footed effort that beat the diving Welch but flashed inches wide of his left hand post.
There was still time for Baker to get around the back twice as his pace took his away from tiring Crows defenders but on both occasions his attempts to pick out team mates in the box were thwarted by last ditch blocks. On the second occasion in third minute of added time a stretching defender’s knee just diverted the ball away from a late arriving Newman who would otherwise have had the goal at his mercy.
Overall the verdict was that although there were no goals this was an enjoyable Boxing Day lunch time match that probably ended in a fair result. This just goes show how far we have come when we can feel a little disappointed at “only” taking four points from our two fixtures with the Crows this season.
The holiday season fixtures still come thick and fast with two crucial games to come in the next six days as we entertain Lowestoft Town in our last game in 2018 on Saturday 29th December before visiting our struggling Cambridgeshire rivals St Neots Town for our opening game of 2019 on Tuesday 1st January.
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Royston Town 0
Goals : none
Team : Conway, Wallis (Coulson 78), De’ath, Sundire, Cartwright, Jackson, Baker, Parker (capt) (Ward 65), Newman, Kelly, Seymour-Shove (Bailey 85)
Unused subs : Jarvis Wilson, Dylan Wilson
Supporters man of the match : Sam Cartwright
Attendance : 287
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson
|December 26, 2018
|Southern League Premier Division Central
|St Ives Town