St Neots Town v St Ives Town
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 01-01-19
Ives took the bragging rights from their struggling hosts in the Cambridgeshire derby but the one goal margin in no way reflects the superiority which the visitors had in this game particularly in the first half where they exploited some naive defending from the Saints and should have effectively killed off any remote hopes that the hosts had of getting back into the game.
Jake Newman gave them an early lead capitalising on an error from home keeper Finley Iron but also in the opening half Charlie De’ath twice rattled the crossbar with powerful headers and Ben Jackson had a close range effort well saved by Iron as the host struggled to deal with a number of well directed dead ball deliveries into their box.
Saints defensive frailties were exposed as early as sixth minute when De’ath completely lost his marker to get on the end of a long Robbie Parker free kick into the hosts box. Keeper Iron stayed on his line giving the Ives centre back a free header from eight yards but he got his angles all wrong and directed the effort back across goal and wide of the keeper’s left hand post.
The visitors went in front only six minutes later as Newman closed down Iron on a back pass. The keeper’s hurried attempt at a clearance went straight to Danny Kelly just outside the box. The tall Ives striker tried to jink his way around his marker Ryan Hughes and went down under challenge from the Saints defender claiming a penalty. Whilst others dallied awaiting a decision from the referee Newman seized on the loose ball and curled it home around the out of position Iron to spark much celebration amongst the large travelling Ives contingent.
The pace and trickery of Ives wide men Ben Seymour-Shove and Ben Baker was also causing problems for the Saints shaky back line and in 21st minute Baker sprinted away down the left before cleverly feeding the ball back to Munashe Sundire in space thirty yards from goal. He instantly fed the ball onto Seymour-Shove wide on the right to keep the flowing move going. Seymour-Shove’s attempted cross took a deflection off Jordan Norville-Williams and looped up to the back post where Taylor Parr did very well to prevent the late arriving Kelly from forcing the ball home. The resulting corner was delivered to the near post by Seymour-Shove where De’ath rose strongly above the crowd to power in a header that beat Iron all ends up but cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and was scrambled clear.
Hughes was perhaps fortunate to escape with only a yellow card after he had got caught out the wrong side of Newman in 25th minute. Newman was clear onto a Seymour-Shove ball over the top and was within inches of breaking into the box when he was taken down by the struggling Hughes who only escaped the obligatory red because Parr was also making a desperate attempt to get around and cover. The resulting free kick was wasted as a planned move did not quite work out and the ball ended up in the side netting.
The Saints have been struggling to score goals all season and had made three signings in the lead up to this fixture one of them being ex Ives striker James Hall and he was heavily involved in what turned out to be the hosts best effort of the afternoon in 28th minute. He did well to hold up a ball played into his feet under heavy pressure from Sam Cartwright before eventually feeding it into the run of Dylan Williams fully 30 yards from Ives goal. The youngster took a touch before unleashing a wicked drive that twisted and turned in the air like an Exocet missile tracking its prey. Fortunately Martin Conway in the Ives goal was fully on his toes and although he had to react late he managed to get a good solid hand in the way of the cannonball and push it up in the air staying alert to catch the dropping ball before any other forward could react.
Conway was called into much less taxing action to deny the same player ten minutes before half time. This time the Ives custodian made a comfortable catch to a free kick from 25 yards that Williams curled over the visitors three man wall. The opportunity had come about when Sundire had brought down Hall as he tried to worm his way through Ives back line have been fed the ball through the centre by Tom Wood.
It seemed that Saints had not learnt their lessons from the early exchanges as they twice more went close to conceding in the run up to the break. In 37th minute a Mark Coulson corner from the right was not dealt with and the ball dropped in the melee at the back post. Jackson prodded it goalwards from inside the six yard box only to be denied by a smart reaction save from Iron. The ball looped up giving Kelly the opportunity to go for the spectacular and he contacted well with his attempted overhead kick and was unlucky as the ball struck a Saints defender and rebounded away.
De’ath came within millimetres of doubling Ives advantage just seconds before the break. Seymour-Shove chased what looked like a lost cause wide left to keep a loose ball in play. Saints defenders were slow to close him down allowing him to curl in an in-swinging cross that De’ath rose majestically to meet by the penalty spot his towering header flash past the despairing dive of Iron but again rebounded to safety off the crossbar.
The second half started in similar vein with Ives still on top and in search of the second goal which would surely kill off the game. Kelly went close three minutes after the restart as he found enough space inside Saints box to skilfully take down a Coulson corner beyond the far post. He side stepped the first defender but his left footed effort was blocked by a covering Saints man.
Ives pressing continued and they went close again on the hour in very simple fashion. Kelly flicked on a long Conway free kick Newman held up the ball well before teeing up Cartwright who saw his shot from the edge of the box deflected wide by a defender. The resulting Seymour-Shove corner bounced inside the six yard box and flashed across the face of the goal without anyone able to get the all important touch to force it home.
Having failed to get the second goal Ives decided that it was time to preserve the lead they had and started to drop back into their very solid defensive formation. This meant that the Saints began to enjoy a lot of possession in the centre of the park but when it came to trying to find a way through they lacked the necessary invention or finishing ability. The closest they came in the remaining time was fifteen minutes from the end when Parr dropped off at the back of the box to head a Williams corner back into the mix. Wood won the header in the middle and directed his header goalwards but Conway made a good save by his right hand post.
Long range shots from Norville-Williams, Hall, Luke Knight and late substitute, another ex Ives man Scott Sinclair all looked in more danger of damaging cars in the station car park than testing Conway and as so often happens when the time ticks down with a side one behind they begin to throw more bodies forward and gaps appear at the back. Ives had two golden opportunities to put a more accurate reflection on the score line in added time. In 91st minute substitute Ty Ward robbed Saints sub Matty Miles and put Baker away. He unselfishly drew in the covering defenders and then fed the ball square to fellow Ives replacement George Bailey the young Ives striker could have probably taken a touch but took on the opportunity first time and fired straight at Iron from the edge of the box.
Only sixty seconds later Kelly robbed a dallying Wood deep inside his own half and broke into the box before squaring the ball to pick out Baker in space at the back post on this occasion the Ives wide man did take a touch and ended up making the angle to narrow for himself eventually firing into the side netting.
Referee Alex Rayment brought a close to proceedings a few minutes later and whist a tired but very happy looking Ives group of players celebrated the victory with their fans who had gathered behind the goal at the Eastern end of the ground a very dejected Saints squad were summoned into the centre circle where there appeared to be something of an inquest going on which lasted fully fifteen minutes after the final whistle.
Not only is it the result of this game or simply the two teams respective teams League positions that give you a big clue to the reasons for each teams end of match itinerary. The results of each sides respective four Christmas fixtures give you a clue to their present fortunes. Ives achieved their stated pre-Christmas target of eight points from the four games whilst the struggling Saints did not pick up a single point and only scored one goal from a similar number of games.
The tired footballers from both sides must force their weary bodies through another game in four days time Ives visit to the high flying Biggleswade will be another tough road trip but one they will make in a very positive frame of mind. Saints on the other hand will be hoping that under achieving Royston do not hit form against them.
Final Score : St Neots Town 0 St Ives Town 1
Goals : Newman 12
Team : Conway, Jackson, Coulson, Sundire (Ward 88), Cartwright, De’ath, Baker, Parker (capt), Newman (Bailey 76), Kelly, Seymour-Shove (Snaith 63)
Unused subs : Hood, Wallis
Supporters man of the match : Robbie Parker
Attendance : 428
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|January 1, 2019
|Southern League Premier Division Central
|St Neots Town
|St Ives Town