St Ives Town 2 Bedford Town 2
Date: Tuesday 25th July 2017
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly
Ground Address: ProEdge Westwood Road, St Ives, Cambs, PE27 6DT
Ives pre-season preparations stepped up a gear in a competitive friendly that boiled over five minutes before the break. At this point the visiting Eagles were two goals to the good and looking value for that lead as the hosts had their first dip in form this season.
The talking point that changed the entire course of the game came out of nothing when Bedford wide man Kyjuon Marsh-Brown decided to display his angry young man attitude on the half way line. Not satisfied with flying in on full back Brett Longden with probably the worst tackle of the night he then delivered a full blown head but into the face of the Ives man as he leapt to his feet to remonstrate with his assailant.
To his great credit referee Josh Few, who was probably expecting a fairly quite night, was instantly on the spot to defuse the situation and pull the deserved red card from his pocket. Longden required a period of treatment before returning to the fray with fortunately only a cut lip to show for the unprovoked assault.
Prior to this unexpected incident it had been the visitors who had looked the sharper side right from the off and taken an early lead with piercing move through the left side of the Ives defence after only seven minutes. Bradley Woods-Garness seized an opportunity to run at the Ives back line before slipping the ball out to Lee Roache wide right and then continuing his run into the box getting on end of a perfectly weighted pass from Roache and rattling an unstoppable shot past trialist Ives keeper Conor Barton and into the net off the far post.
The hosts had a golden opportunity to level things up only five minutes later as Ben Seymour-Shove played a perfectly weighted clip over the head of centre back Gradi Milenge. James Hall timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap and found himself with only keeper Adam Harpur to beat. The Eagles stopper closed him down and stayed upright, but Hall should probably have done better as he only succeeded in firing his effort against the legs of the exposed custodian. Seymour-Shove latched onto the rebound, but Harpur recovered well and made a comfortable save to the winger’s low drive from the edge of the box.
The visitors continued to take the game to the Ives and Barton was forced into a smart save on 14 minutes as Marsh-Brown found time and space in midfield and fired in a 25 yard effort that Barton had to tip over.
The young keeper did not perform so admirably in 23rd minute as he spilled a long free kick into the box by Ryan Auger presenting Jemale McKenzie-Lowe a clear opportunity to double the visitor’s advantage. But the big centre back was slow to react to the loose ball inside the six yard box and only succeeded in turning his close range effort into the side netting.
Ives only other noteworthy effort of a very low key first half for them was a low drive from the edge of the box by Lewis Hilliard after 25 minutes. The chance was created by good work down the left by Jimmy Hartley and Hall. But Harpur was smartly down to his left to save.
Bedford continued to press forward in search of a second and should have gone two in front on 35 minutes as McKenzie-Lowe sprayed a ball out to Marsh-Brown on the left and his teasing cross picked out Auger unmarked in the centre. He carefully placed his looping header over the exposed Barton, but the ball drifted just the wrong side of the post.
However the visitor’s did manage to double their lead only two minutes later as Ives skipper Charlie De’ath was caught out. He allowed a ball to drift over his shoulder and the lively Woods-Garness was onto in a flash out-muscling the Ives man and playing the ball on to Devante Stanley who in turn drilled it low across the six yard box where ex Ives man James Peters slid in to slam the ball home.
With the Eagles now apparently heading comfortably towards a well deserved half time cuppa Marsh-Brown must have somehow decided he wanted to make it more difficult for his team mates as he inexplicably executed the manoeuvres described above to earn himself an early bath.
Ives manager Ricky Marheineke probably had to deliver his first difficult half time talk of the season at the break and that plus the opportunity to put right the wrong delivered by the hopefully now more reticent Marsh-Brown saw the Ives suddenly up their game and tear into their ten man opponents.
The first five minutes of the second half saw as many efforts on goal as the entire first period with two shots from Seymour-Shove rattling the boards and a Hartley effort pushed away at full stretch by Harpur.
A goal looked on the cards for the rampant Ives and it duly arrived on 52 minutes thanks to a howler from keeper Harpur. He called and came for a deep Hartley cross to the far post, but seemed to misjudge the flight and got under the ball only succeeding in getting enough of a touch to knock the ball down to the feet of the lurking Hilliard who rolled it home.
The Ives onslaught continued and Hall went within inches of an equaliser on the hour. He picked up a long ball down the right from Longden and turned inside his marker before curling a carefully placed effort inches wide of the far post with keeper Harpur beaten.
The leveller did arrive two minutes later thanks to what is becoming one of Ives trademark moves this season as Hilliard, Hartley and Seymour-Shove exchanged a quick interchange of passes down the right. Seymour-Shove’s final ball into the feet of Hilliard on the corner of the box saw the silky midfielder turn past Milenge and fire in a powerful drive that Harpur managed to parry, but Hall was on hand to show his poacher instinct and slam home the loose ball from ten yards.
With their tails now well and truly up the hosts went in search of a winner as their front line continued to stretch the Eagles defence. Hall had a shot block after good work by Hartley on 71 minutes. Seymour-Shove and the all action Hartley were also involved two minutes later as Hilliard swept another chance wide from just inside the box.
Ives best chance to grab a winner came in a goalmouth scramble 13 minutes from time as a ball into the box from substitute Tiago Dias on the right was deflected into the path of Hall, he fired in a low drive the Harpur did well to block with his feet. Hartley followed up and fired the rebound on target, but again the gallant Harpur managed to get his legs in the way. This time the ball ricochet to Hall again who looked certain to turn it home only to be denied by an assistants flag as he had wandered into an offside position.
Each side had one more go at winning the game Peters hammering a free kick from a good position well over the top for the Eagles on 81 minutes and Hilliard firing over having worked some space for himself 25 yards out two minutes from time.
Overall verdict on this very entertaining game was that when they switch on and get the ball down and play Ives will be a match for anyone this season, but the longer ball tactic of the first period did not seem to suit this group of players. The Eagles also look like they will be very competitive in the Central Division provided that they can keep eleven players on the pitch.
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 Bedford Town 2
Goals : Hilliard 52, Hall 62
St Ives team : Barton, Longden, De’ath (capt), Femiola, Chaffey (Ferrell 45), McGowan (Dias 73), Seymour-Shove, Clark, Hall, Hilliard, Hartley
Attendance : 86
Match Report by Nigel Howlett