St Ives Town 0 Hitchin Town 3
Date: Tuesday 21st March 2017
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Competition: Southern League Premier Division
Ground Address: ProEdge Westwood Road, St Ives, Cambridgeshire, PE27 6DT
Match Day Sponsor: Jerry Wood
If there is one team in this division that you cannot afford to give a start in a game it is the Canaries and Ives made two huge early errors to gift their visitors a two goal lead after only eleven minutes.
These mistakes were all the more galling as Ives had made a decent start against their promotion chasing rivals and had almost executed their best move of the match only seconds before the calamitous opener after only eight minutes. A flowing move by the home side ended with Jack Bradshaw laying a ball through the right hand channel that came within inches of picking out a well timed run by Tom McGowan.
Unfortunately the move broke down and the ball was channelled down the Hitchin right where Jonny McNamara found space to deliver a telling cross into the no man’s land between centre backs and goalkeeper. Keeper Tim Trebes started to come for it, but then stopped and called for his centre backs to deal with the ball. With the dangerous Brett Donnelly lurking Liam McDevitt was forced to go for the ball and seemed stuck in two minds whether to try and head it back to his keeper, or try to put the ball over the bar. Unfortunately he did neither, but made sufficient contact to successfully loop the ball over the stranded Trebes and into the back of his own net.
One goal down this early was going to give Ives a hill to climb, but a comeback was possible. However the Canaries could not believe their luck as a second gift arrived only three minutes later. Lucas Kirkpatrick tried to feed a ball down the right to McNamara, but it deflected off Charlie Day and rolled into that same no man’s land and with Ives defenders and keeper all looking at each other Matt Lench could not believe his luck as he reacted quickest to claim the loose ball and clip it home past the exposed Trebes from the edge of the box. That hill the Ives had to climb to get back into this game had now grown to a small mountain.
The visitors continued to press the Ives all over the pitch and McDevitt was robbed inside his own half by Lench on 14 minutes. Lench picked out the run of Kirkpatrick cutting in from the left, fortunately his well struck low drive was straight at Trebes. The home keeper was called into action again ten minutes later as he did well to cling onto a stinging drive from 30 yards by Robbie Burns.
Even though Ives were two down they were still playing some good football, but struggling to break through a resilient Canaries back line. Visiting keeper Michael Johnson was commanding his box well and claiming crosses and corners delivered into it very confidently. He was called on to make his first real save of the evening after 31 minutes as Danny Kelly picked up a ball from Josh Dawkin on the edge of the box and worked his way past a couple of defenders before firing off a low right foot drive that forced Johnson into a diving save to his right.
Ives were enjoying their best spell of the evening in this period and Dawkin forced another diving save out of Johnson three minutes later as he skilfully took down a Jordan Jarrold cross, turned and shot low to Johnson’s right. The ball took a deflection on the way through, but the agile Canaries stopper was still equal to it.
Tom McGowan was getting through a tremendous amount of work in the centre of midfield for the Ives and he came close to pulling them back into the game four minutes before the break as he burst through the centre of the Hitchin defence and fired in a powerful drive that deflected just past Johnson’s right hand post.
Having enjoyed a good spell when it looked like they might grab a goal back before the break Ives were caught out again by the movement and quality of the visitor’s front line who effectively killed the game off with a third right on the whistle. Burns battled his way down the left and delivered the perfect inviting cross to the back post which cleared both Ives centre backs. Jarrold looked favourite to win the header, but while he dallied McNamara bravely dived in ahead of him and diverted the ball just inside Trebes left hand post to turn Ives small mountain into Everest.
In a valiant effort to find a route back into the game Ives manager Ricky Marheineke made a change at half time sacrificing Ben Seymour-Shove for Dubi Ogbonna to give the Hitchin back line a new threat to worry about. But the Canaries continued their high pressing game and always looked the more likely team to add to their goal tally. Trebes was being closed down with purpose on every back pass and he had a fortunate escape on 53 minutes as he just managed to smuggle the ball away from a fast closing Brett Donnelly.
McDevitt came to Ives rescue on the hour as he bravely cut out a cross from Kane Smith just ahead of Donnelly deep inside the home box. Kane’s crossing opportunity had been set up by an excellent flowing move involving Burns and Jay Dowie. Dowie was involved again only seconds later as he strode into Ives territory and unleashed a thunderbolt from fully 35 yards that Trebes did well to palm away at full stretch.
Ives did have their good spells in the second period, but they were still struggling to find a way through the very well marshalled Canaries back line. Charlie Day was almost put through by a cushioned header from the battling Kelly on 65 minutes, but again Day was quickly swamped by green shirted defenders and unable to get his shot away.
Manager Marheineke boldly continued to try and find a route back into the contest and replaced full back Jack Bradshaw with battering ram “striker” Charlie De’ath with 25 minutes to go and went three at the back. De’ath was involved only four minutes later as he played the ball into the feet of Ogbonna on the edge of the visitor’s box. Ogbonna skilfully turned and got away a shot that was deflected for a corner. He rose highest to the resulting flag kick, but having come off the keeper he failed to get sufficient deflection on the ball and only succeeded in directing his free header inside the six yard box back in the direction it had just come, much to his own frustration.
Ives final substitution arrived with fifteen minutes to go and it was a debut for classy midfielder Eugene Libertucci. His first action of the game was to thread a ball into the run of Ogbonna through the left channel, but again Canaries Will Wright was on hand to come across and close out the danger preventing the Ives striker getting his shot away.
With time running down the Canaries continued to make life difficult for the Ives by effectively keeping the ball at the wrong end of the pitch and the home side’s frustrations began to show. Kelly fouled Wright just outside the box two minutes from time presenting Ban Walster with chance to fire in a free kick that he struck well around the wall only to be denied by a spectacular flying save high to his left by Trebes.
Ogbonna’s frustrations were bubbling over and he committed two fouls in quick succession. The second of these upended Dowie on the edge of the home box and earned Ogbonna the only yellow card of the game. Walster again fired in the free kick this time cleverly hitting it low under the leaping Ives wall. Again Trebes denied him this time in more unorthodox fashion blocking the ball with his feet.
That was the final action of an entertaining game in which Ives although second best and being on the end of a three goal beating from the Canaries for the second time this season can take some positives from a game in which apart from the early defensive errors they competed well. It gave us all chance to see what we must aspire to in order to push on at this level. The Canaries just about cemented their place in the play offs with these three points and could yet get in the shake up for the one guaranteed promotion place.
The behind the goal gang voted Danny Kelly as their man of the match for his battling display throughout with some particularly good flicks and unselfish movement to create space for others. Keep battling away Danny another goal, or two, are just around the corner.
St Ives team : Trebes, Bradshaw (De’ath 65), Jarrold, Chaffey (capt), McDevitt, McGowan (Libertucci 74), Seymour-Shove (Ogbonna 45), Clark, Kelly, Dawkin, Day
Unused subs : Wright, Smith
Goals : None
Supporters Man of the Match : Danny Kelly
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Hitchin Town 3
Attendance : 274