Barton Rovers 2 St IVes Town 3
Date: Tuesday 31st January 2017
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Competition: Southern League Challenge Cup Quarter Final
Ground Address: Sharpenhoe Road, Barton Le-Clay, Bedfordshire, MK45 4LQ
Ives waded their way into the semi finals in underfoot conditions more akin to the 1980’s matches that we all grew up loving. The game passed three inspections before, with both teams eager to play, match referee Tim Donnellan finally decided that it could safely commence. I must not only commend Mr Donnellan on his decision to allow the fixture to take place, but also the very sensible way he refereed the game taking full account of the conditions. A sensible quiet word to those that tried sliding tackles from twenty yards away kept all on board without a single card shown throughout the evening. Even ex Ives skipper Luke Knight who thoroughly enjoyed plugging through the quagmire in the centre of the pitch limited himself to only one rash challenge and barely a crossed word with the admirable Mr Donnellan.
As seems to be the way in all cup fixtures these days both sides made a number of changes from their previous League fixtures with players rested and others given pitch time. Ives changes were a first start for 16 year old goal keeper Tom Smith, a return of Jordan Jarrold at left back and first starts for a while for club captain Charlie De’ath and flying winger Scott Sinclair. Lined up against them in Rovers ranks were two former Ives fans favourites in the aforementioned Knight and giant centre back Steve Gentle.
Ives started the game looking the more likely side to score and went in front on nine minutes thanks to quick thinking by Sinclair. He spotted Danny Kelly in space inside the Rovers box and hurled a quick throw in to him. Kelly cleverly drew keeper Tom Coulton to him before laying the ball back to Josh Dawkin by the penalty spot a side foot finish into the bottom corner from Ives leading scorer did the rest.
The home side recovered from this early set back and started to take the game to the Ives. Jarrold had to be alert five minutes later as he made an excellent covering tackle to prevent Byron Bubb getting onto a through ball from Charlie Smith. Knight also tried his luck on 16 minutes, but his effort from 30 yards was always rising and comfortably cleared Smith’s crossbar.
A flowing move down the left brought another opportunity for the home side on 22 minutes. Full back Luke Warner-Hall got down the left and fed the ball into the feet of Michael Malcolm on the edge of the box. He in turn teed up Smith who fired his crisp low drive just past the post with keeper Smith scrambling across to cover it.
Ives almost doubled their lead two minutes later as Ben Seymour-Shove broke down the left at pace and slid in a teasing low cross that Kelly just got to ahead of keeper Coulton, but the keeper was quick enough to block Kelly’s attempted flick over him at close range.
Tom Smith was called into his first real action of the evening on the half hour as he confidently came and claimed a high hanging cross to the back post delivered from the right by Howie Hall.
The final action of the half again saw the visitors go close to increasing their lead as Kelly closed down a back pass through the mud and forced Coulton into a hurried clearance that went straight to Seymour-Shove 40 yards from goal. He picked out Sinclair at the back post who cleverly took the ball down and hit a dipping volley that Coulton struggled to palm away. Seymour-Shove was following up to poke the loose ball home only to be denied by an offside flag.
The second half started with the centre of the pitch now cutting up badly and the rain still falling, but everyone keen to keep the game going to a finish. The first noteworthy attempt of the second period came on 51 minutes as a well hit low drive from 35 yards by Charlie Smith, was well held by keeper Smith.
Smith was called into action again six minutes later as he was quickly off his line to close down Malcolm who had got clear onto a Knight through ball. The keeper’s presence was enough to put the striker off and his heavy touch saw the ball run out for a goal kick.
Ives first opportunity of the second period arrived on the hour as Jared Cunniff jinked past two players down the left before playing the ball into the feet of Kelly who again showed his class to pick out Sinclair in space at the back post. The flying winger took a touch and then arced the ball around the advancing keeper with the outside of his right foot, and was unlucky to see the effort skim the outside of the far post with Coulton well beaten.
De’ath was adjudged to have fouled Malcolm as the two challenged for a long ball into Ives half on 64 minutes to set up a free kick opportunity for Rovers in a central position 25 yards from goal. Smith lined up the kick and fired it into the five man Ives wall. But the ball ran free to Jimmy Harley who looked clear on goal only to be denied as Jarrold appeared from nowhere to bravely block his effort at close range.
Jarrold was involved at the other end of the park seven minutes later as Cunniff and Dawkin combined well on the right before the latter delivered a low cross to try to pick out Jarrold on the edge of the box. The ball was behind the young full back, but he recovered and advanced to the edge before flashing a low drive across the face of Coulton’s goal that beat the keepers dive, but only rattled the boards.
Jarrold continued to be in the heart of the action and on 74 minutes he threaded a ball through the Rovers back line to put Cunniff completely clear. As the Rovers defence vainly called for offside Cunniff danced through the mud into the penalty area got past the exposed keeper Coulton with his famous shimmy and struck the ball into the empty net.
Ives were now looking comfortable and perhaps sat back a little to much letting the home side back into the game. Smith pulled off his best save of the night nine minutes from time to deny Warner-Hall who had got onto a through ball into the box by substitute Elliott Bailey and drilled in a low shot from twelve yards that Smith did well to palm away one handed low to his left. Smith was to be denied his clean sheet though as the resulting corner swung in from the left by Dan Hutchins was powerfully headed home from close range by the unmarked Hall.
As they have done so often this season Ives reacted well to the set back and restored their two goal advantage only four minutes later with Jarrold again involved in the goal. He played in the overlapping substitute Mark Coulson who delivered a low cross from the left that Dawkin managed to get to through a crowd of Rovers defenders and knock home with his knee from close range.
The same three players tried to repeat the feat in identical fashion in the final minute of the ninety, but this time Dawkin was denied a hat trick as Gentle got a touch at the near post to divert the ball away from him.
There was still time for Rovers to claim a final consolation goal with thirty seconds of the added three minutes remaining as Bubb was allowed space to crack in a shot from 25 yards that arrowed past Smith and rattled his left hand post. Hartley was first to react to fire home the loose ball as it rolled through the goalmouth mud.
The final whistle sounded seconds later and Ives march on to a semi-final clash on 21st February. One final comment proving that referee Donnellan’s decision to play the game was correct. Not only were no cards issued, but neither physio was called from the relatively dry sanctuary of their respective dug-outs throughout the proceedings.
St Ives team : Smith, O’Malley, Jarrold, De’ath (capt), Chaffey, Higgs, Sinclair, Cunniff, Dawkin, Kelly (Coulson 66), Seymour-Shove (Dias 79)
Unused subs : McDevitt,
Goals : Dawkin 9, 85, Cunniff 74,
Supporters Man of the Match : Jordan Jarrold
Final Score : Barton Rovers 2 St Ives Town 3
Attendance : 80