Eynesbury Rovers 2 St Ives Town 0
Date: Tuesday 14th February 2017
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Competition: Hunts Senior Cup Semi Final
Ground Address: Alfred Hall Memorial Ground, Hall Road, Eynesbury, St Neots, PE19 2SF
It was Ives men to the fore as Rovers dumped out the holders to gain revenge for defeat in last year’s final. The goals came from ex Ives full back and defensive midfield man now converted to a striker Hayden Bream and a man still on the visitors books Allan Owen. To further add insult to injury Ives legend Dan Moyes played a big role in the victor’s rear guard action in the second half and Jack Warwick who appeared for the visitors in that final played in the centre of the home side’s midfield.
Eager to retain the silverware Manager Ricky Marheineke named a strong side for this match including Tom McGowan making a welcome return for his first start after a month out with injury. He replaced a rested Jack Higgs in the centre of midfield. The only other changes from Saturday’s League fixture were Liam McDevitt making a return in the centre of defence for Lee Chaffey and Ben Seymour-Shove coming in on the wing with Scott Sinclair moving back to replace the rested Harry O’Malley at right back.
The game started with Eynesbury very quick to close down Ives all over the park. This all action style was very effective in breaking up the play and prevented the visitors from creating any clear cut chances and although Ives were moving the ball around well on the excellent carpet at the Alfred Hall Memorial Ground they did not really look likely to penetrate the well organised Rovers back line. The only noteworthy event of the early period was a goal bound shot from McGowan on the edge of the box, after a corner had fallen to him, that was inadvertently blocked by referee Jon Burridge.
Neither goalkeeper was called into action until 24th minute when Danny Kelly found space to turn in the box and feed the ball into the run of McGowan as he found a gap. McGowan managed to get a shot away from a narrow angle, but home keeper Jamie Greygoose was equal to it tipping the effort over the top.
The visitor’s best chance of the first half arrived on the half hour as Kelly played a clever flick through the legs of a defender to put McGowan through the left channel. He in turn played Jared Cunniff in one on one with keeper Greygoose, but the young stopper was sharply off his line and spread himself well to block Cunniff’s attempted flick past him with his legs.
Rovers were continuing their pressing style and this almost brought them reward on 35 minutes as Craig Smith closed down keeper Tim Trebes on a McDevitt back pass. The keeper got to the ball first, but his hurried clearance only went straight to Warwick. His ball back into the middle was only scrambled away at the expense of a corner. The flag kick came to nothing, but the ball was quickly channelled back down Rovers right where Coles got outside Jordan Jarrold before firing the ball across the face of Trebes goal from the corner of the box.
The opening goal arrived on 38 minutes and it was a soft goal for Ives to concede Jack Uttridge delivered a long ball into the Ives box that McDevitt won in the air, but his header under pressure from Coles lacked distance and fell to the feet of Bream 25 yards from goal. He was allowed time and space to take a touch before hitting a low shot beat Trebes at his near post and ended up in the back of the net.
Ives responded well to going behind and only four minutes later Kelly picked out Dawkin wide on the left. He cut in past two Rovers defenders and unleashed a shot from a narrow angle that covering defender Daren Woodend knocked out for a corner. Seymour-Shove delivered the corner from the left and Kelly rose majestically above his marker before powering a header against the upright from eight yards.
Having not really got going in the first half the visitors came out for the second with much more purpose and lifted their work rate to match that of their hosts. Seymour-Shove fired an early effort wide from a good position having been played into space by Kelly.
Rovers were still looking dangerous on the break and Bream teed up Smith for a dip at goal on 54 minutes. Smith hit his shot from 25 yards well, but it was straight at Trebes who comfortably grasped the effort.
Ives had a very good shout for a penalty waved away two minutes later as Cunniff jinked his way into the massed ranks of the Rovers back line before slipping the ball to Dawkin who danced past two defenders into the box before having his legs swept from under him by a third just as he was about to shoot.
Manager Marheineke made his first change just before the hour replacing the tiring Jack Bradshaw with Jack Higgs in centre of midfield. The high pressing style of Rovers was beginning to tell from this point and they started to drop deeper. With the extra time Ives midfielders were now getting they could have a greater influence on the game and the pressure on the home defence started to grow. Kelly and Cunniff combined well on 63 minutes before the latter fed the ball into the run of Dawkin cutting in from the left. He battled his way past three defenders before unleashing a shot from inside the box that was blocked away for a corner.
Moyes came to the rescue of his keeper five minutes later as Greygoose got beaten to a long ball down the right by Seymour-Shove. The darting winger robbed the keeper, but Moyes saved the blushes of his custodian by quickly closing down the Ives man and preventing getting his shot away.
The pressure was continuing to build and Ives had two efforts cleared off the line in a single attack only one minute later. A corner from the right was half cleared to Chaffey who had only just entered the fray. The big centre back met his volley perfectly, but the goal bound effort hit Moyes on the line and ricochet back into the mêlée where Jarrold got in a shot that hit Smith by the opposite post and was finally scrambled out for another corner.
With Ives now three at the back and skipper Charlie De’ath pushed forward to bolster the attack it was looking like the equaliser must come soon, but the charmed life of the Eynesbury goal continued. Higgs fired a 25 yard effort straight at keeper Greygoose on 71 minutes. Kelly glanced a header inches wide from Higgs free kick only one minute later.
Having been a bystander for most of the second half Trebes was called into action again 15 minutes from time as Uttridge got on the end of a Warwick free kick from the left and Trebes had to palm his goal bound header around his left hand post.
The brief respite for the Rovers defence was soon over as Ives continued to press for the equaliser. Jarrold was now operating wide right and on 78 minutes he delivered an excellent deep cross that picked out Dawkin beyond the far post. He cushioned his header to the feet of Kelly deep inside the box. But the big striker did not hit the ball cleanly and Greygoose was in the right place to make another save.
The Rovers goalmouth was beginning to look like the Alamo as defenders were putting their bodies on the line to hang onto their narrow advantage. Chaffey was denied by a brave block from Dan Buddle on 81 minutes. The ball rebounded to the Ives substitute who delivered it back into the crowded box where it fell to Kelly who fired a hurried effort just past the post with the unsighted Greygoose rooted.
Ives threw everything forward as the clock ticked down. Keeper Trebes found himself in the opposition box for two corners around the ninety minute mark. Both of these came to nothing and as is so often the way with so many men thrown forward there are gaps at the back and Rovers substitute Owen exploited one of these four minutes into added time as he got clear down the middle before finishing well past the exposed Trebes from the edge of the box.
Sometimes you just know it is not your day and this was certainly one of those. Perhaps we could have had a penalty, or even two. Maybe we should have tried a few more shots, particularly in the first half. One thing is certain we have got to get out of the habit of making things difficult for ourselves by giving teams a start and then trying to come back. That is not always possible as tonight proved.
Best of luck to Rovers in the Final, if they battle as they did in this game they will certainly give themselves a decent chance of winning the trophy for the first time in 15 years.
St Ives team : Trebes, Sinclair, Jarrold, De’ath (capt), McDevitt, Bradshaw (Higgs 58), Seymour-Shove (Chaffey 68), McGowan, Kelly, Cunniff, Dawkin
Unused subs : O,Malley, Smith
Goals : none
Supporters Man of the Match : Danny Kelly
Final Score : Eynesbury Rovers 2 St Ives Town 0
Attendance : 100 approx.