St Ives Town v St Neots Town
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central 22-04-19
A bumper Bank Holiday crowd and the sun shining, the visitors are already relegated local rivals St Neots who with their present financial problems are fielding what looks like a youth team. On paper it looked like Ives simply had to do the simple things right to finish off their very successful season at home with a comfortable victory. But games are never played on paper the Saints kids showed they still have an appetite for the battle in spite of knowing their fate is sealed after their heavy defeat from King’s Lynn only 48 hours earlier. Not only did they make things difficult for the Ives throughout they came within millimetres of claiming a very unlikely win.
It all started very positively for Ives and in only the second minute a long Mark Coulson throw was flicked on by Tom Wood, Ollie Snaith tried his best to direct his effort on target but the ball was just behind him and his acrobatic effort flew just wide.
Probably Ives best chance of the afternoon went the way of Morgan Penfold only four minutes later. Robbie Parker won the ball deep inside Saints territory and picked him out on the right hand corner of the box. The young winger cut inside Leon Fulianty and the goal opened up for him but rather than put his left foot through it he went for a curving cross come shot to the far post with the outside of his right foot and the ball curled harmlessly wide.
Already under the cosh the visitors received a further blow as their skipper and most experienced player Matt Miles was forced to limp off with an injury after only eight minutes. He was replaced by another youngster in 18 year old Joe Rider. This forced a reshuffle in the Saints line up but this did not seem to greatly inconvenience them.
The host continued to enjoy the majority of the possession but they were struggling to find a way through the resilient massed ranks of the Saints who quickly got men behind the ball as soon as they lost possession. It took until 22nd minute before another chance came along and again it was Ives on the attack. Munashe Sundire and Wood combined well on the right to get Penfold to the bye line. His cross flew through the six yard box just evading Snaith arriving at pace. Ex Ives man Joe Hood was covering by the back post and just managed to smuggle the ball behind for a corner.
On this very hot day the referee had agreed to drinks breaks midway through each half and Ives were almost caught cold only seconds after the re-start as the failed to deal with a bouncing ball down the centre of the park. Dan Trendall made his presence felt and the ball eventually dropped to Jacob Joseph twenty yards from goal. The young winger struck his right footed effort well forcing home keeper Martin Conway into an excellent save low to his left.
Andrew Osei-Bonsu was proving a handful for the Saints defenders and his persistence created a real opportunity for Ives six minutes before half time. He chased down a long bouncing ball out of defence by Coulson and got between centre half Ryan Hughes and keeper James Philip forcing the Saints custodian to handle the ball outside the box. Parker rolled the free kick sideways to Osei-Bonsu who struck an excellent dipping effort over the four man wall and past the static Philip only to be denied by the crossbar as the ball struck it and bounced away.
Osei-Bonsu caused further problems for Saints back line three minutes later as he robbed Stevan Shaw deep inside his own half and fed the ball out to Ben Seymour-Shove wide on the left. The Ives striker continued his run and had the ball laid back to him. His teasing cross was met well beyond the back post by Wood whose header into the centre was just to high for a stretching Snaith who could only direct his header over the top from eight yards.
The hosts were forced into a change at half time as Peterborough loanee Penfold was forced out of the game with what looked like a hamstring injury. He was replaced by George Bailey who took up a position on the left with Seymour-Shove moving across to the right. The second half picked up in similar vain to the first with the hosts knocking the ball around well in front of the massed ranks of their opponents but unable to find a route through. Half chances came and went. The first of these in 52nd minute saw Snaith combine with Bailey before getting to the bye line on the left. His low cross bobbled on the way towards Wood making it difficult for the Ives midfielder who failed to make clean contact the ball bobbling wide.
As Ives began to throw more men forward in search of that all important opening goal they became a little more vulnerable to the counter attack and the visitors twice created half chances in a ten minute spell just after the hour. In 61st minute Rider showed his strength as he picked up a loose ball inside Ives territory and drove at the defence his shot when it eventually came from 20 yards deflected off Owen Wallis for a corner. Rider was involved again eight minutes later as fellow substitute Joe Sutton managed to get on the end of his flick just outside the left edge of the box where he was bundled over by the covering Coulson to give the Saints a free kick in a dangerous position. But Sutton wasted the opportunity as he failed to get the ball past the two man Ives wall.
The clock continued to tick down and the frustration for the home players and supporters continued to grow and things became a little tetchy in the middle, Snaith picked up a needless booking for chopping down Sutton in the centre circle. He was quickly followed into referee Alex Rayment’s notebook by Sutton as the Saints man returned the compliment. The official did well as he ensured that he kept up a dialog with the players rather than resort to a flush of cards.
As the game entered the last fifteen minutes manager Ricky Marheineke decided to throw on Jake Newman as a strike partner for Osei-Bonsu but still Ives struggled to find a way through. Parker had a snap shot from 25 yards that skimmed harmlessly wide of Philip’s right hand upright. Newman similarly tried his luck first time from a little bit closer after Osei-Bonsu had flicked on a long Conway punt but the Ives substitute faired even worse than his skipper as the effort flew high and wide.
Then with seven minutes to go and Ives throwing everyone forward Saints thought that they had grabbed the winner. Bradley picked up a clearance in the centre circle and threaded a pass into the feet of Trendall as he broke through the right channel Conway came sprinting off his line to meet him and the centre forward did everything right clipping the ball past the exposed keeper. It was on its way into the net but as all Ives supporters held their breath and Saints fans started to celebrate Wallis never gave up and somehow he managed to complete a remarkable goal line clearance as he caught up with the ball on the goal line and hooked it out. It looked like Rider might stab home the loose ball but Conway was alert enough to recover and claim it off the foot of the Saints striker to complete a remarkable let off for the hosts.
Play quickly swung back to the other end as Ives continued to try and batter a way through but in spite of all their effort they remained unable to test Philip. The only noteworthy effort in the final minutes came two minutes into added time when A Coulson throw was knocked down to Bailey inside the box but with his back to goal. He teed up Parker but the Ives skipper’s low drive was blocked by a covering defender to ensure that Saints got what they deserved for their battling performance a very hard earned point. The effort level alone will bring them points in step four, but a little more quality will probably required to lift them back up into the Southern League Premier Division. Ives remain on target to match their best ever finish in step three of thirteenth but with Barwell and Banbury breathing down their necks they may well need to get something at Coalville next week to retain it.
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 St Neots Town 0
Goals : none
Team : Conway, Sundire, Coulson, Wood, Wallis, Jarvis Wilson, Penfold (Bailey 45), Parker (capt), Osei-Bonsu, Snaith (Baker 86), Seymour-Shove (Newman 76)
Unused subs : Ward, Griffiths
Supporters man of the match : Andrew Osei-Bonsu
Attendance : 351
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|April 22, 2019
|Southern League Premier Division Central
|St Ives Town
|St Neots Town