St Ives Town vs Slough Town
Date: Saturday 7th January 2017
Kick Off: 3pm
Competition: Southern League Premier Division
Ground Address: ProEdge Westwood Road, St Ives, Cambridgeshire, PE27 6DT
Match Day Sponsor: Jonney Gates
Dubi Ogbonna and Jack Higgs with a penalty grabbed the goals, but once again this was an eye catching all round team performance that saw the Ives not only topple the third placed Rebels, but clearly beat them on merit.
The visitors could have perhaps been forgiven for thinking it may be an easy three points for them if they remembered the three goal battering they gave the home side in the reverse fixture in August. But the Ives have come a long way since that early season encounter. Their record of only one defeat in the last ten League games, and that their hugely unlucky defeat at Kings Lynn last time out, shows the direction this team are heading. A look at this record should have warned the high flyers this game would not be easy, and so it proved.
The home side started the game in confident mood knocking the ball around at pace. Ben Seymour-Shove would have got clear on only six minutes had not a clumsy challenge from Paul Stonehouse brought him tumbling down. The Rebels full back escaped a card probably because it was so early in the game and Jack Higgs free kick came to nothing.
Visiting keeper Mark Scott was the first to be called into action on 14 minutes as he just managed to smother a low Seymour-Shove cross from the right ahead of Josh Dawkin. Young Morgan Penfold had won the ball on the half way line with Tom McGowan curling an inch perfect pass out to the speedy winger to create the opportunity.
Ives had a decent shout for a penalty turned down only sixty seconds later as Ogbonna out muscled Guy Hollis to get on the end of a bouncing clearance from Lee Chaffey. His shot from just inside the box was pushed away by keeper Scott and Dawkin looked favourite to pounce on the loose ball six yards out, but he was robbed by a tackle from behind by Stonehouse. Referee Andrew Humphries ruled that the defender had won the ball cleanly and waved away the home sides protests.
Scott had a lucky escape on that occasion, but he was not so fortunate seconds later as the lively Ogbonna beat the Rebels offside trap to get on the end of a long ball out of defence. He kept his composure and coolly knocked the bouncing ball past the advancing keeper to send the Ives faithful into raptures.
It could, and probably should, have been 2-0 on 24 minutes as McGowan spurned a golden opportunity having been put completely clear as he timed his run to perfection to get on the end of a flowing move involving Dawkin and Seymour-Shove. Having found himself with time and space the all action midfielder went for power from the edge of the box only for Scott to make an excellent save by tipping his rising drive over the top.
It had been all Ives up to this point and the visitors only managed their first effort at goal in the 27th minute as Gavin James got on the end of a low near post cross from the right by James Dobson. But Liam McDevitt kept tight on the striker who only succeeded in turning his shot into the side netting.
With Slough now enjoying more possession the game began to even up as half time approached. But the pace and power of Ogbonna was proving a constant menace to the Rebels defence and he had another opportunity to double the Ives advantage just before the break. Seymour-Shove won the ball in midfield and broke forward at pace. Penfold made a run across the defence and cleverly dummied Seymour-Shove’s cross field pass which ran on to Ogbonna in space cutting in from the left. He took a touch, but rifled his shot straight into the midriff of Scott who held on well.
After another excellent first period when Ives should probably have been more than one in front we were all worrying would this be a repeat of King’s Lynn last week.
As last week the home side started the second half well and the sheer energy and persistence of Ogbonna earned him another half chance on 54 minutes. Goalkeeper Scott came out to a wide ball down the left, well outside his box. He was probably expecting the ball to either run out for a goal kick, or him to be able to hack it away. But he did not allow for Ogbonna’s pace and the striker beat him to the ball as he hesitated. We then had the comical situation of the keeper trying to shadow the striker as he took the ball back to create himself an angle to get a shot on goal. Fortunately for the red faced custodian Hollis came to his aid by blocking the striker’s effort after he had managed to get away from Scott.
Three minutes later it was Higgs turn to go close to the elusive second goal. Ogbonna and Dawkin combined well on the left before the latter teed the ball up for Penfold to deliver a pinpoint cross that picked out Higgs at the far post. His first time volley struck Stonehouse and deflected inches wide of Scott’s left hand post with the keeper beaten.
In a desperate attempt to find a way back into the game the Rebels joint management team made a double change on the hour bringing on Nathan Webb and Chris Flood for the ineffective front pair of Lewis Putman and Gavin James. This double change brought about the visitor’s best period of the game. Webb cleverly fed a ball into the feet of Charlie Moone on 64 minutes. Moone’s run took him to the edge of the box where he was brought down by a clumsy challenge from McDevitt. The resulting free kick was driven across the box by Dobson and flicked across the face of goal by Flood, but flashed inches wide of the far post.
Three minutes later Lee Togwell and Simon Dunn combined well in the centre to create a shooting opportunity for Moone, but his effort from just outside the box lacked paced and was comfortably held by Trebes for his only real save of the day.
The Rebels did go close again on 69 minutes as Mark Nisbet rose highest to a Dobson corner from the left, but he could only direct his header well over under pressure from McDevitt.
Having picked up a couple of knocks Ogbonna limped off to a crescendo of applause fifteen minutes from time to be replaced by Jared Cunniff. This was a signal for the Rebels management duo to play their last card by replacing defender Nisbet with another striker Tom Biss and go with just three at the back.
This move back fired on the Rebels as Ives broke away to sew up the points five minutes later. McDevitt won yet another massive header in the centre of the Ives defence and Jack Bradshaw who had just come on to replace the tiring McGowan, knocked the ball on to the ever willing Seymour-Shove. He strode forward before playing the ball into the feet of Penfold inside the Rebels box. The young striker tried to take a touch only to be clattered from behind by Rebels skipper Sean Fraser. The excellent referee Humphries was right on the spot to award the penalty and mister reliable Higgs did the rest sending Scott the wrong way from the spot.
The home defence held firm without any scares for the remaining time, including the seven added minutes clocked up for a few injuries and a short period when all of the match balls were outside the stadium, to claim their biggest scalp to date at step three.
This was another day when the man of the match award was difficult to pick as everyone did their job almost to perfection. With a number of nominations coming in from the behind the goal crew we were saved from a recount by our match sponsor for the day Jonney Gates who picked Dubi Ogbonna a decision that got general agreement as he certainly caused the Rebels back line who had kept nine clean sheets in a row earlier in the season more than a few problems.
St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley, Jarrold, Chaffey (capt), McDevitt, Higgs, Seymour-Shove, McGowan (Bradshaw 80), Ogbonna (Cunniff 75), Dawkin, Penfold
Unused subs : Coulson, De’ath, Kelly
Goals : Ogbonna 16, Higgs 82 (pen)
Sponsors Man of the Match : Dubi Ogbonna
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 Slough Town 0
Attendance : 305