St Ives Town 0 Cambridge City 0
Date: Monday 26th December 2016
Kick Off: 1pm
Competition: Southern League Premier Division
Ground Address: ProEdge Westwood Road, St Ives, Cambridgeshire, PE27 6DT
Match Day Sponsor: Cambridge Sensotec Ltd
This was a game which promised much for those keen to shake off some of the Christmas excess. A Bank Holiday game between two in form teams with a lunch time kick off in brilliant sunshine. The crowd responded in good number to the potential of a mouth watering encounter between landlords and tenants.
However as is so often the case on such occasions the fair on show did not quite live up to the hopes and aspirations as both defences reigned supreme throughout in a hard fought, but ultimately goalless encounter which means both sides extend their unbeaten League runs, the Ives to eight games and the Lilywhites to four since Robbie Nightingale took over as boss.
The visitors were first into their stride and home keeper Tim Trebes was forced into a smart save diving to his left to turn away a snap shot from ex Ives wide man Salim Relizani after only six minutes. The opportunity had been created by a jinking run from Nathan Mavila cutting in from the left and playing the ball into the feet of his opposite flanker just outside the box.
Ives responded four minutes later as Mark Coulson and Josh Dawkin combined down the left before the latter clipped in a teasing cross to the back post where another ex Ives man keeper Enol Ordonez was just able to fingertip the ball off the head of Dubi Ogbonna as he looked to nod it home from close range.
The home side’s best opportunity of the game arrived on 16 minutes as Ogbonna won the ball in midfield a lobbed a perfect ball over the top that Dawkin just beat keeper Ordonez to, but the Spanish stopper was quickly off his line and spread himself in front of the Ives wide man to deflect his prodded effort past the post.
Ives were enjoying a lot of possession, but were running up against a very resilient Lilywhites back line well organised by Jordan Gent and fellow centre back Jordan Williams. City had less possession, but were looking dangerous on the break and they went close three times in a five minute spell just before the half hour.
A rare City corner was cleared to Ben Robinson on 25 minutes. He drilled a low cross through the crowded box that found Mavila in space at the back post, but fortunately Ives back line had got out quickly and the City man found himself offside.
Lilywhites skipper Ross Paterson and his fellow central midfielder Ryan Sharman, were enjoying a battle in midfield with the equally combative Ives pair of Jack Higgs and Tom McGowan. Paterson carved out a half chance for himself on 27 minutes as he robbed Higgs on the edge of the centre circle and strode forward before unleashing a low drive from 30 yards that Trebes saved comfortably low to his right.
The third City chance came on the half hour and was the best of the three. Leyton Orient loanee and City debutant striker Tristran Abrahams got away down the left and delivered a cross to the near post where Liam McDevitt did well to block Matty Stevens initial shot, but the ball popped up again for the City man who succeeded in lifting it over keeper Trebes only for Coulson to cover behind his stopper and calmly clear the goal bound effort off the line.
It took until three minutes before the break before Ives managed to get another noteworthy attempt on goal. Danny Kelly was fouled wide on the right. Ben Seymour-Shove delivered an out-swinging free kick that McDevitt attacked well in the City box, but his powerful header from 15 yards flew well over the top.
There was still time for City to carve out another chance as the first period entered added time. Relizani again got away down the right and delivered another low driven cross that got through everyone in the centre and arrived at the far post where Mavila arriving at pace should really have done better, but he only succeeded in rifling his first time effort from ten yards into the side netting.
The Lilywhites started the second half as they ended the first by going close to breaking the deadlock after only two minutes as Stevens fed Relizani down the right and his driven cross was met perfectly at the near post by Abrahams. But fortunately Trebes reactions were undimmed by Christmas excess and he reacted well to palm away the close range effort.
Centre back McDevitt almost became provider in 49th minutes as he picked up a deep free kick from the right by Higgs out by the corner flag. He showed his skills with a side step past Robinson before cutting in along the bye line and then showed composure to lay the ball back into the feet of Dawkin. His low ball to the centre was clipped goalwards by Seymour-Shove, but Ordonez showed that his reactions were as good as his opposite number by blocking the close range effort with his legs.
Ives enjoyed a purple patch just after the hour and created three half chances in a ten minute spell. McGowan won another of his many tackles in the centre of the park on 63 minutes. He played the ball into the feet of Kelly just inside the box. The big striker managed to turn Gent and get a shot away, but it lacked venom. Ordonez probably could have taken a stride to his right and caught it comfortably, but he decided to go for an extravagant dive that saw him spill the ball as he landed. Fortunately for him Williams got to the loose ball first and cleared the danger just ahead of the lurking Ogbonna.
The resulting corner was powerfully headed away at the near post by Lewis Freestone. But McGowan picked up the clearance and fed the ball back down the line to Higgs who delivered a dangerous in-swinging cross that just evaded three unmarked Ives players in the centre and drifted out to safety.
Higgs seized an opportunity to run at the heart of the Lilywhite’s defence on 73 minutes. He played an excellent one, two with Kelly and looked to be bursting clear into the box only to be pulled back by Williams. Higgs picked himself up and fired the resulting free kick from the edge of the D over the wall, but Ordonez plunged low to his right to turn the ball away.
The remainder of the game was predominantly fought out in the centre of the park as both sides seemed to settle for a point, or simply the number of games played by both sides in recent weeks began to take their toll.
There was one brief burst of excitement for Ives fans with eight minutes to go as substitute Morgan Penfold burst forward at pace and fed a ball out to Ogbonna who had drifted out to the left. He in turn beat his man and delivered a low cross into the box that fellow sub Jared Cunniff appeared to knock up onto the hand of Gent. The supporter’s shouts for spot kick were barely backed up by the players suggesting that referee Tom Hancock’s decision to wave them away was probably the right one.
At the end both sides will probably be happy with a point from this game and both can move forward into tough New Year fixtures with their unbeaten runs still intact.
Man of the match had to go to a defender on a day such as this and the organisational skills and leadership of Lee Chaffey just edged it for him over the fellow members of his back four.
St Ives team : Trebes, Bradshaw, Coulson, Chaffey (capt), McDevitt, Higgs, Dawkin (Penfold 80), McGowan, Kelly (Cunniff 74), Ogbonna, Seymour-Shove (Jarrold 87)
Unused subs : O’Malley, Moyes
Goals : none
Supporters Man of the Match : Lee Chaffey
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Cambridge City 0
Attendance : 539