Stourbridge v St Ives Town
Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 30-03-19
A rousing second half comeback earned Ives an excellent point on the road at the imposing home of the promotion chasing Glassboys. It was always going to be an interesting clash between the hosts with the best home record in the Division and the visitors with an away record only bettered by champions elect Kettering Town.
With Gavin Hoyte missing injured Owen Wallis was called up for his first start since early January, Ollie Snaith and Andrew Osei-Bonsu also came back into the starting line up as manager Ricky Marheineke again shook things up to keep the squad fresh.
Things almost went disastrously wrong for the Ives straight from the kick off which was played straight back to Martin Conway in the visitor’s goal. He allowed himself to be closed down by Kaiman Anderson who managed to block the keeper’s attempted clearance which caused the ball to balloon up into the air. Anderson reacted first to the dropping ball but steered his header just wide much to the relief of Ives keeper.
The visitors did not learn from their very early escape and fell behind to the hosts next attack in fourth minute. Tom Wood wrestled Anderson to the ground inside the penalty area to prevent him getting on the end of a dangerous Greg Mills cross from the left and unfortunately for the all action midfielder referee Paul Stonier was in the perfect position to spot his misdemeanour and immediately pointed to the spot. Mills did the rest sending Conway the wrong way with the penalty.
The lively Mills continued to create problems down the left flank and Conway did well to tip another of his dangerous crosses off the head of Anderson at full stretch in twelfth minute, Wallis was in the right position to clear up the loose ball.
Ives were slowly working their way into the contest and they carved out their first opportunity to get a shot on goal of the afternoon in 16th minute when Ty Ward was brought down 30 yards from goal by Brad Birch. Osei-Bonsu went for goal directly but rather than worry keeper James Wren he warmed the hands of a spectator on the terrace behind the goal.
Wren was called into action seven minutes later when Osei-Bonsu’s quick thinking created an opportunity for Snaith to get in an effort on goal. The Ives number ten’s quick throw gave Mark Coulson chance to pick out Snaith on the edge of the box but he did not hit his volley cleanly allowing Wren to make a comfortable save.
Wren’s hands were warmed a little more in 26th minute when Osei-Bonsu put Ben Seymour-Shove through the left channel. The Ives winger was pushed wide but still managed to power in a fierce left footed effort that the well positioned keeper was forced to palm over the top.
The remainder of the first half was fairly even with the only noteworthy event coming six minutes from the break when Conway missed a Mills cross from the left under heavy pressure from Anderson. But Wallis was again on hand to tidy up the pieces and remove the ball from danger.
Behind at the break but by no means out of the contest manager Marheineke’s half time team talk lifted his charges and they came out for the re-start determined to give it a massive go and managed to wrestle control of the game away from their illustrious opponents and started to create chances of their own. The first of these arrived in 53rd minute when another quick Osei-Bonsu throw gave Seymour-Shove time and space to pick out a man in the centre but he wasted the opportunity by over hitting his cross with Ty Ward lurking in space at the back post.
Less than sixty seconds later Osei-Bonsu carved out another excellent opportunity for an equaliser as he ghosted past two defenders on the left to get to the bye line but although he picked out Seymour-Shove with his driven cross he hit it a little to hard and the stretching Ives winger failed to keep down his header from the edge of the six yard box.
Ives pressure continued to mount as the pace and movement of their front players troubled the Glassboys back line. In 58th minute a short free kick on the left provided Osei-Bonsu the opportunity to run at the defence allowing him to unleash a powerful drive from the corner of the box that Wren only managed to hold at the second attempt just ahead of a fast closing Wood.
Despite being under the cosh for long periods the hosts still looked dangerous on the break and it took an excellent recovery tackle from Snaith to prevent them increasing their advantage in 62nd minute. Robbie Parker lost possession on the half way line and Birch broke away at pace down the right before feeding the ball into the run of Robbie Thompson-Brown who looked like he was clear into the box only for Snaith to appear from nowhere to take the ball off his toe at the vital moment.
The hosts went even closer to doubling their lead in 70th minute when substitute Nehemiah Zazi sprinted down the right before feeding the ball into the feet of Thompson-Brown on the edge of the box. He in turn teed up George Forsyth who cracked a first time effort that flashed through the crowd of players in the box rattled Conway’s right hand post and rebounded straight into the hands of the grateful keeper.
Having survived that scare Ives again lifted themselves to once more put pressure on the tiring hosts. A 74th minute Mark Coulson corner from the right picked out Wallis in the centre who had somehow got a free run between the towering Glassboys defenders but the Ives centre back failed to hit the target with his free header from eight yards.
The hosts had one more chance to sew the game up with fourteen minutes to go and again Conway was pleased that the frame of his goal came to his rescue. A deep Mills cross from the left was kept alive by Zazi who delivered the ball back into the near post where Anderson and Jarvis Wilson both challenged for it. It was impossible to tell if the ball came off friend, or foe, but for the second time in quick succession it rattled an upright and bounced straight into the grateful keeper’s hands.
The last ten minutes was all Ives as they pressed forward in search of the all important leveller. There first chance came at the end of a flowing move that put Osei-Bonsu into space on the right. His low driven cross just eluded Wood in the centre and crept inches wide of the far post with all looking on.
Only sixty seconds later a mistake by Glassboys skipper Paul McCone allowed Seymour-Shove to get on the end of a lob over the top. His shot from a narrow angle was deflected off the keeper into the legs of a fast recovering McCone who was very fortunate that Aaron Hayden had got back onto the line to prevent him knocking the ball into his own net.
McCone’s fellow defender Zak Lilly was not as lucky as his skipper four minutes later when Ives finally managed to get the equaliser that their second half performance deserved. Another Ives corner from the left was kept alive by Wilson who fed the ball back to substitute Ben Baker on the right his hanging cross was flapped at by keeper Wren under heavy pressure from Munashe Sundire and the ball rebounded off the knee of the luckless Lilly and rolled over the line to spark wild celebrations amongst the travelling Ives contingent.
The only opportunity for either side to grab a winner came in the first minute of added time when Osei-Bonsu and Seymour-Shove combined well down the left with the move finishing as the latter curled a dipping effort inches over the top from just outside the box.
Overall verdict was yet another excellent point on the road at one of the toughest places to visit in the League. The unbeaten away run stretches to seven games, if only the home record were on a par the Ives would be on the fringes of the play-offs, scary territory indeed!.
There were some colossal performances from some of the usual suspects but the man of the match award went to a player who has not seen to many starts in the recent past, Owen Wallis who did a fantastic job keeping quiet the dangerous Glassboys strikers in tandem with his centre back partner the equally ebullient Jarvis Wilson.
Final Score : Stourbridge 1 St Ives Town 1
Goals : Lilly (own goal) 88
Team : Conway, Jackson, Coulson (Baker 85), Wood, Wallis, Jarvis Wilson, Snaith (Newman 85), Parker (capt), Osei-Bonsu, Seymour-Shove, Ward (Sundire 68)
Unused subs : Patrick
Supporters man of the match : Owen Wallis
Attendance : 621
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|March 30, 2019
|Southern League Premier Division Central
|St Ives Town