St Ives Town 0 Stratford Town 2
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 03-11-18
Once again failure to dead with dead ball situations into the box cost Ives dearly as the in- form Town came to Westwood Road and returned to the Midlands with all three points without ever really needing to get out of second gear.
The visitors had the perfect start as they took the lead inside the first fifty seconds. Ives kicked off and delivered the ball intended for wide man Ben Baker straight into touch. The throw saw the ball manoeuvred into the hosts half where Sam Cartwright committed a foul in a wide left position. Will Grocott swung the ball in out of the sun and whilst goalkeeper Sam Wilson and his defenders seemed to lose the in-swinging ball Town’s Chris Cox had no problems as he rose unchallenged in the heart of the penalty area and flicked the ball home past the static Wilson from ten yards.
With Ives already low on confidence this early set back was the last thing they wanted and it took them some time to make any meaningful penetrations into the visitors final third of the pitch. Their first real opportunity came in 19th minute and involved a good Baker run across the face of the Town defence. He fed the ball wide left to Ben Seymour-Shove who got around the outside of Cox before picking out Charlie De’ath with his pull back. The Ives centre back took on the shot first time but curled his left footed effort well over the top of Richard Walton’s goal.
Another Grocott free kick from an almost identical position to the first one proved the catalyst for a second Town goal. Full back Mark Coulson just managed to prevent Cox repeating his first minute act but the Ives defender’s excellent clearing header over his own crossbar gave Grocott the chance to once more show his skills from a dead ball situation. His in-swinging corner from the left somehow got right through Ives six yard box to arrive at the back post where Town leading scorer Mike Taylor stooped to nod the ball home from point blank range.
The hosts suffered another blow only a couple of minutes after going two down as one of this season’s most consistent players Coulson was forced out of the game with an injury that saw him replaced by Jarvis Wilson. Ives reshuffle saw Wilson go in alongside Sam Cartwright to reform the successful centre back partnership of early season with Charlie De’ath replacing Coulson at left back.
Although Ives continued to work hard their struggles against a bigger, stronger, more physical side matched similar efforts in recent games. Long balls out of defence were being comfortably dealt with by Town centre back pairing of Jamie McAteer and Jordan Williams. Attempts to play through the centre were being thwarted by the visitor’s powerful central midfield pairing and in wide positions the ball was to often played in the air towards Baker, or Seymour-Shove giving them little opportunity to run at their opponents. The only Ives players winning the physical battles against their opposite numbers were Cartwright and Wilson and even they were being pushed on occasions by the movement and power of Grocott and Taylor.
The only other chance carved out by either side before the break went the way of the visitors three minutes before the interval as the tricky Wilson Carvalho found some space on the left and delivered his cross to the near post where Taylor got in front of Cartwright but steered his header just wide.
Manager Ricky Marheineke made an early tactical change at the break as he replaced Baker with the bigger presence of Danny Kelly to try and give the Town back line something a little different to think about. Ives did create one opportunity to get back into the game on the hour. Seymour-Shove won a corner which he himself delivered from the left. Keeper Walton misjudged the in-swinger and completely missed the ball inside the six yard box. Cartwright was arriving behind him, but the centre back was always stretching and only succeeded in powering his header well over the topfrom close range.
Ives struggles to find a way through continued, but the visitors continued to look comfortable on their two goal lead and they again went close to increasing their advantage in 69th minute. Cox continued to be a thorn in Ives side throughout the afternoon and he was fed in down the right by Albi Skendi. Joe Hood just managed to turn his cross to the back post away from the lurking Carvalho but the ball fell to Grocott just outside the box. For once the number tens skills let him down as he curled his effort inches over the top with Wilson scrambling to get across to it.
Grocott was given another chance to test Wilson in 80th minute as Bailey struggling to clear a corner brought down substitute Isaac Kynan inside the D. Grocott got the free kick up and over the wall only to be denied as Wilson hurled himself full length to his right to spectacularly turn the ball away.
The visitors went close to adding to their lead twice more in next four minutes. Taylor showed his strength and power to turn Jarvis Wilson and get away from him to get a run on goal in 82nd minute. But the big Town forward had not anticipated the speed and tenacity of Wilson as the Ives centre back made a remarkable recovery to catch and cleanly dispossess the big man just as he shaped to shoot. Hood came to Ives rescue two minutes later as Skendi and Grocott combined in a move that saw the former slide a ball through to put the latter clear into the box. Hood put his body on the line as he bravely hurled himself in to block the shot at point blank range.
The hosts did not give up and pushed forward in search of a route back into the game right to the death. They wasted an opportunity to test Walton three minutes from time as a rampaging De’ath was hauled down 30 yards from goal by Town substitute James Fry. Robbie Parker went for goal with the free kick but cleared the crossbar by a metre.
Keeper Walton had to make his only real save of the game three minutes into added time. A deep free kick into the box was headed back into the mix by De’ath and fell into a melee of legs just outside the six yard box. An attempted clearance struck substitute Ollie Snaith and rebounded at goal but Walton was equal to it getting down quickly to block the shot and smother the ball to kill any lingering hopes Ives supporters had of an unlikely late rally.
Town manager Thomas Baillie will be happy with a routine three points on the road, but perhaps a little less happy with unnecessary late bookings for Williams, Skendi and Kynan. Ives manager Ricky Marheineke on the other hand has a much more difficult task of somehow rediscovering the early season form that showed so much promise, a dip into the transfer market was being muted to freshen up the squad. Whatever is done it needs to happen quickly before losing becomes a real habit and Ives find themselves in the dreaded bottom three.
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Stratford Town 2
Goals : none
Team : Sam Wilson, Hood, Coulson (Jarvis Wilson 28), Wallis, Cartwright, De’ath, Baker (Kelly 45), Parker (capt), Bailey, Sundire, Seymour-Shove (Snaith 80)
Unused subs : Dylan Wilson, Patrick
Man of the match : Robbie Parker
Attendance : 181
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson
|November 3, 2018
|Southern League Premier Division Central
|St Ives Town