Saturday 12th September 2015 – FA Cup First Round Qualifying
Welwyn Garden City 0 St Ives Town 1
The Ives were perhaps a little fortunate to come out on top in this hard fought 1st Qualifying Round match against a battling Citizens side who enjoyed the majority of possession and created a number of chances to take this game to a replay. However the visitors held on and are the team in the hat for Monday’s draw.
Ives started the game well against their somewhat nervous looking opponents and should have gone in front after only six minutes. A delightfully weighted clip over the top by Jack Higgs put Peter Clark clear. Clark took the ball into the box, but was quickly closed down by home keeper Joe Croft and only succeeded in firing the ball against his legs.
Four minutes later Stuart Eason picked up a quick throw from Harry O’Malley and laid the ball into the quicksilver Clark who got to the bye line and laid the ball back to Joe Peacock just inside the box. Peacock fired his effort just wide of Croft’s left hand post.
The visitors thought they had gone in front on 24 minutes as Luke Knight played a short corner to Phil Draycott who delivered a first time cross to the far post where Charlie De’ath rose highest to force the ball over the line. But referee Forrester ruled out the effort for a blatant push on home defender Jay Welsh.
The Ives were looking the only likely scorers at this stage of the game and went close again on 31 minutes as the home defence allowed a Higgs corner from the right to bounce across their box and Peacock came in with a stooping header from 12 yards that he put just over the top.
Peter Clark was looking a class above the home defence in this first period and only one minute later his persistence created another opportunity as he chased down a long ball and robbed Carl Mensah by the corner flag. He cut in and laid the ball back to Eason in space on the edge of the box, but the big striker could only slice his first time effort well wide of the post.
The Citizens raids into Ives territory were few and far between, but with giant centre forward Ash Kersey they were always going to be a threat from dead ball situations. Kersey had the home side’s first effort at goal on 35 minutes as he rose highest to a Welsh free kick from the right, but headed just over the top.
But as the half drew to a close the Ives continued to look the more likely side to score and they came very close on 38 minutes as a free kick from the left was returned to Luke Knight and he delivered the ball back into the crowded box. The ball was knocked down by Eason and O’Malley hit a cracking half volley from the edge of the box that Croft just managed to deflect onto the post and away.
The only goal of the game was missed by most of the fans in the stadium as they were still queuing at the bar, or refreshment kiosk. It came only 36 seconds into the second period. The ball was played back to home centre back John McGrandles who miss kicked his attempted clearance straight to Draycott on the left. Draycott instantly went past home captain Sam Perrin and drove a low ball into the box. Eason arrived at the near post and hammered in a first time effort that smashed into the underside of the crossbar and landed in the six yard box. Eason was first to react and prodded the rebound against the legs of keeper Croft. But Peacock was following up and he gleefully hammered the loose ball home from close range.
However having gone in front the visitors seemed to think that they had done enough and started to sit back to protect their lead. This allowed the home side to grow in confidence and they started to get well on top. Their first effort of the second half came on 52 minutes as Nathan Dimmock found space to turn 20 yards out, but could only fire his effort straight at Tim Trebes in the visitor’s goal.
Three minutes later they created a much better opportunity as Josh Bronti found space on the right and delivered a dangerous ball across the six yard line that only just evaded the diving Kersey.
Bronti had been very quiet in the first period, but he was now causing a lot of problems down the right for the Citizens and he ran clear onto a flick on 58 minutes and only a last ditch covering tackle by O’Malley prevented him getting his shot away from well inside the box. The towering Kersey headed the resulting corner just over the top.
Bronti was again involved on 69 minutes as he threaded a precise ball through the left channel to put home substitute Dave Parkinson clear, but he snatched at his effort from 12 yards and dragged the ball past the far post.
Ives well under the cosh in this second period and their raids into home territory were only sporadic. They did go close on 71 minutes as Eason played in Draycott down the left, Draycott cleverly picked out the inrushing Knight who was unlucky to see his first time effort from the edge of the box deflected just wide. Gentle rose highest to Higgs corner, but could only power his header from a narrow angle into the side netting.
The visitors final attempt on goal in the second half came with 15 minutes to go as Draycott played a through ball to put substitute Chae Simons clear, he was forced wide by keeper Croft, but managed to get round the home custodian only to see the covering Mensah clear his goal bound effort of the line.
The home side spent the final ten minutes camped in and around the Ives box and went close to the elusive equaliser on a few occasions. On 83 minutes Parkinson managed to wriggle his way through from the left, but he failed to hit the target from 15 yards.
Four minutes later Bronti delivered another dangerous ball into the box that arrived at the feet of Reggie Ross, but fortunately O’Malley was in the right place to acrobatically clear his effort off the line.
Right on the 90 minutes Bronti delivered yet another telling ball into the box that flashed across the face of goal and was headed back into the mix by Welsh at the far post, but once again no one was on hand to turn the ball home and Ives again managed to scramble the ball clear.
With the game deep into injury time the home side tried the final desperate throw of sending their keeper up for a corner, but just to prove it was not their day Welsh’s corner sailed over everyone and went harmlessly out for a gaol kick.
So the Ives have advanced to the second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for only the second time in their history. Once again they proved hard to break down, but I think the lesson to learn from this game is that they must take their chances to kill off sides when they are on top just to make the last 20 minutes of games a little less nerve racking for the Ives faithful.
Peter Clark took the man of the match accolade for his all action display in the first period which should have lead to the Ives being at least two up by half time.
St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley, Jarrold, Death, Gentle, Knight (capt), Peacock (Simons 61), Higgs, Eason (Seymour-Shove 84), Clark (Warwick 76), Draycott
Unused subs : Moyes, Davidson
Goals : Peacock 46
Supporters Man of the Match : Peter Clark
Final Score : Welwyn Garden City 0 St Ives Town 1
Attendance : 257