St Ives Town 4 v Halesowen Town 2
Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 11-11-2023
Nigel Howlett Reports
In form Ives swept away the out of form Yeltz with a scintillating first half display that was topped off with four goals in a fifteen minute spell just before the interval. The two late consolation goals claimed by the visitors merely proved to be a dent in an otherwise impressive home victory. The Ives fifth successive win in all competitions.
The win was all the more impressive as it was achieved without the probing runs of the tricky Dan Barton with the Cambridge United loanee picking up a knock very early in proceedings that saw him limp off in only twelfth minute to be replaced in central midfield by the combative Ed Hottor.
The confidence gained from an excellent midweek win at Coalville was showing through early on with Ives pressing high to unsettle their opponents. That tactic created an opportunity in seventh minute. Jonny Edwards robbed Josh Ezewele just outside the box before driving on and unleashing a shot that was blocked by the keeper’s legs. Barton kept the ball alive and his clip into the centre was just to high for Brandon Njoku who could only direct a stretching header wide of the post.
A couple of half chances fell the way of the visitors whilst Ives were settling themselves following the departure of Barton. Miracle Okafor managed to get on the end of a 14th minute free kick from the right but could only direct his flicked header from twelve yards wide of the target. The closest that the visitors came to scoring in the first period was four minutes later when Ives struggled to clear a ball into their box. The loose ball fell to Josh Hawker and his shot was deflected forcing Eddie Brearey into a diving save to his left but he could not hold the ball and it took an excellent clearance from Aaron Smith to prevent lurking Yeltz forwards from knocking the ball home.
It was from the half way point in the first period that the hosts really started to get on top. A 22nd minute long throw from Smith was fed back to him wide left and his clever ball inside picked out Jordan Williams on the edge of the box. A composed sideways pass from Williams picked out Michael Richens in space inside the D and his first time effort flew inches wide of Daniel Platt’s left hand upright as the keeper scrambled to get across.
Smith’s long throws and crosses from the left continued to cause problems in the Yeltz back line. His 28th minute cross perfectly picked out Njoku arriving in the centre but the striker’s header took a deflection off Ryan Wynter and went over the top. Smith’s next projectile into the box lead to Ives opener in 31st minute as the visitors struggled desperately to deal with the long throw the ball bouncing around just yards from goal before it eventually fell to the feet of the unmarked Josh Tomlinson six yards out and the Northampton Town loanee gratefully accepted the chance to open his account for Ives.
The goal seemed to lift Ives to even greater efforts and they almost doubled their lead three minutes later as a long range pile driver from Hottor deflected off a defender into the feet of Edwards inside the box. He was quickly crowded out and his shot blocked but the rebound fell to Luke Harris following up his powerful drive was blocked by a defender bravely throwing himself across the line of the shot.
The hosts were not to be denied for long and sure enough the lead was doubled in 36th minute as Richens rampaged forward down the right getting to the bye line before pulling the ball back to Edwards eight yards out. The centre forward scuffed his first time effort but luck was on his side as the ball travelled across the face of goal straight to the unmarked Njoku who became the second Ives player to score a tap in from six yards.
The visitor’s defence was now visibly rattled and Ives added two more in the additional four minutes at the end of the first period. Njoku and Edwards combined again in the first added minute with a slide rule pass from Njoku putting Edwards clear. This time his contact on the ball was perfect as he calmly lobbed the exposed Platt from the edge of the box. The final goal right on the stroke of half time again came in simple fashion with the Yeltz defence again falling apart. Myles Cowling robbed Ezewele 25 yards from goal and sent Edwards through the left channel he got to the bye line before unselfishly picking out his strike partner with a dink into the box that gave Njoku a simple header into the net from inside the six yard box.
With the game already over at the break the visitors were just playing for pride second half and Yeltz manager made two changes at the interval to try and get something of a foothold in the game. Those sacrificed were Hawker and Richard Gregory replaced by George Cater and Kieren Donnelly respectively.
The pace and mobility of Njoku and Edwards continued to cause the visitors defence problems in the early stages of the second half and both were denied clear runs on goal by offside flags inside the first ten minutes. After that the Ives seemed satisfied to hold on to what they had got and the pace of the game dropped off a little allowing the visitors to get into the game. They created a couple of half chances from a 55th minute McKauley Manning free kick. Brearey came for the ball into the box but was forced to punch it clear under heavy pressure from friend and foe alike. His attempted clearance fell to Todd Parker 25 yards out. His shot was blocked by a defender but the rebound dropped to Donnelly who curled his effort from 20 yards just over the top.
There followed a couple more efforts from the visitors with Manning ending a 60th minute run down the right by cutting inside and firing into the side netting from just outside the box. Brearey did well to cling onto a 68th minute 25 yard pile driver from Parker.
Ives thought they had got a fifth goal in 75th minute as a clever corner routine between Cowling and Njoku ended with the former delivering a perfect ball to the back post where Richens knocked it home but the Yeltz defence had got out quickly leaving the Ives skipper offside.
The hosts switched off just for a few seconds in 78th minute and it cost them their clean sheet with Okafor losing his man in the centre to get on the end of Manning’s cross from the left and power his header home from eight yards.
With time ticking down Edwards had one final chance to claim Ives fifth of the day as he and Njoku once more combined well deep in opposition territory. This time the final pass from Njoku teed up Edwards for a 25 yard effort that he struck well forcing keeper Platt to make a diving save low to his right.
Another late lapse in concentration allowed the visitors to grab a second consolation and make the score line a little more respectable deep in added time. Parker threaded a ball through Ives back line to pick out the run of substitute Simeon Cobourne and the Yeltz substitute beat Brearey with a crisp low drive from just inside the box.
Form really is everything in any sport and a follower of form may well have predicted this result. The Yeltz started the season like a train going unbeaten in their first eleven games in all competitions but are now on a low ebb this being their fifth game without a win. Ives form is the complete reverse, only one win in their opening eleven games they now take a five game winning run into their tough Isuzu FA Trophy tie at National League South high fliers Aveley next week.
Final Score: St Ives Town 4 Halesowen Town 2
ST IVES: Tomlinson 31, Njoku 36, 45+3, Edwards 45+1
HALESOWEN: Okafor 78, Cobourne 90+4
Team Line Ups:
ST IVES: Brearey, Harris, Smith, Richens (capt), Williams, Casey, Barton (Hottor 12), Cowling (Mensah 76), Edwards, Njoku, Tomlinson (Tessler 65), Unused subs: Kaziboni, Nassunculo
HALESOWEN: Platt (capt), Ezewele, Redfern, Parker, Wynter, Morris, Holmes (Cobourne 65), Hawker (Cater 46), Okafor, Gregory (Donnelly 46), Manning, Unused subs: Hickman, Mitchell
Cards: Yellow: ST IVES: Harris (58), Cowling (67), Hottor (69) HALESOWEN: Hawker (26), Wynter (76)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Brandon Njoku