First Team Friendly Result St Ives Town 2 Eynesbury Rovers 2

St Ives Town vs Eynesbury Rovers

Date: Tuesday 01st August 2017
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Competition: Pre-Season Friendly
Ground Address: ProEdge Westwood Road, St Ives, Cambs, PE27 6DT

Ives manager Ricky Marheineke must be hopeful that his luck will change for the season proper as once again he found himself short of at least five players from his likely first choice line up as again injuries and unavailability made his job difficult..

Eugene Libertucci also earned himself the title of unluckiest player around. Injured in the first pre-season training session he had just worked his way back to close to full fitness and was named in the starting line up for his seasonal debut only to break down in the warm up with a recurrence of his injury to give 17 year old Tiago Dias a start.

The many changes in the line ups for these friendly fixtures has meant that Ives have suffered a very disjointed pre-season and for the third game in a row they found themselves two goals down at the break to lower level opposition.

The start could have been explosive for the hosts when after only three minutes Danny Kelly skilfully brought down a long ball on the edge of Rovers box and turned inside giving himself a sight of goal. Unselfishly he fed the ball into the path of James Hall who chose to take a touch only to be crowded out by a pack of recovering Rovers defenders.

Having let this opportunity slip by the game settled down with the Rovers defence well marshalled by ex Ives promotion hero Steve Gentle looking fairly comfortable as Ives either played across the front of them, or delivered long balls which were always going to be gobbled up by a wise old 6’ 5” centre half and his colleagues.

The visiting Rovers sparked the game to life by grabbing the lead half way through the first period. Dom Lawless and Craig Smith combined well down the right working their way into the host’s box before Smith unleashed a rasping drive from a narrow angle that flashed past Conor Barton and entered the net via the far upright.

Ives tried to react to falling behind and Phil Draycott wriggled his way into the left hand side of Rovers box on 29 minutes. Although he managed to get his shot on target it lacked power and provided visitors keeper Dan George with a comfortable save. Shots from distance by Dias and Brett Longden which rattled the boards either side of the goal were the hosts only other efforts worthy of note in an uninspiring first half.

Rovers continued to look dangerous on the break and went close to a second five minutes before the interval. Declan Rogers threaded a careful through ball that pierced the Ives back line and put Lawless clear. His powerful effort from the edge of the box was well blocked by the legs of Barton. The keeper had to do even better to deny the same player only seconds later as Tom Coles kept the ball alive to tee up Lawless for a second effort that Barton had to dive full length to his right to palm around the post.

The second goal arrived in very simple fashion from the resulting corner as Rogers lofted the ball to the centre of the box where Gentle rose majestically above the crowd and powered his header into the top corner of the net.

The hosts had their keeper to thank again seconds before the break as he tipped over an effort from just outside the box by Smith after he had been played into space following good work from Lawless and another ex Ives man Jack Warwick.

Ives continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession in the early stages of the second half, but still struggled to create any real opportunities. Their closest efforts were a shot from Tom McGowan that flew inches wide of George’s near post on 52 minutes. The chance had been carved out by the combined efforts of Dias and Kelly. Jordan Jarrold  then ended an overlapping run with a shot that similarly thudded the boards on 66 minutes.

As in the first half Rovers looked incisive every time they broke away and Barton was called into action to keep the hosts in the game in 70th minute. A break through the centre saw Rogers feed the ball into the feet of Lawless who cut inside Dan Moyes from the left and fired in a shot from the edge of the box that Barton did well to tip away diving full length to his left.

With time ticking away and only 14 minutes left on the clock most of us were beginning to resign ourselves to a second 2-0 defeat in four days, but up stepped the ebullient Jimmy Hartley to lift our spirits. Draycott tried to jink his way past Eynesbury’s substitute right back and was brought down just outside the box. Hartley carefully placed the ball and curled it precisely over the wall to beat keeper George low down at his right hand post.

The goal lifted the Ives and captain Lewis Ferrell set off on a storming run through the middle only seconds later which ended in a corner being won off a Rovers defender. Draycott hung up the flag kick and Hall timed his leap to perfection at the far post, but unfortunately he failed to hit the target from eight yards.

However an equaliser did arrive from an unexpected source ten minutes from time. Ives won another corner this time on the right and in what looked like a pre-rehearsed move Draycott delivered it low to the near post where McGowan flicked it on and substitute David Femiola cheekily back heeled it home past the unsighted George from close range.

Neither side created a decent chance to win the game in the remaining time with the only noteworthy event being a visitor’s shout for a penalty two minutes from time as Rogers went down under challenge from Femiola inside the box. But referee Brian O’Sullivan was right on the spot and waved away the hopeful claims.

Hartley limped out of the game four minutes from time and we must hope that the knock is only minor as he was one of the few bright sparks from this game. But we must hope that the return to fitness of the injured and the return from sunny climes of those on holiday will lift the whole camp to a better performance in our final friendly against Cambridge City to give us a little momentum to take into the season proper. Eynesbury are widely tipped to challenge for the UCL title this season and on the evidence of this they will certainly not be far away.

Final Score : St Ives Town  2  Eynesbury Rovers  2

Goals : Hartley 76, Femiola 80

St Ives team : Barton, Longden, Jarrold (Wright 73), Chaffey (Femiola 73), Ferrell (capt), McGowan, Hartley (Torkornoo 86), Dias (Moyes 55), Hall, Kelly, Draycott (Robins 87)

Attendance  :  70 approx