Hitchin Town vs St Ives Town
Date: Saturday 22nd October 2016
Kick Off: 3pm
Competition: Southern League Premier Division
Ground Address: Top Field, Fishponds Road, Hitchin, Herts, SG5 1NU
Ives took a good following on the short trip to Hitchin, many taking advantage of a railway away day with the chance to visit a few hostelries on the way. Unfortunately they were only present to witness another comprehensive defeat against a very good top five side.
The faithful were pleased to welcome back fans favourite Dubi Ogbonna to the fold and I am sure that many remember his previous short stint with the Ives three years ago when he averaged a goal a game. His physical strength and ability to hold the ball up also offered hope that we could even up the possession statistics in these games against the better teams.
Boosted by last week’s vital victory at Cirencester Ives started this game positively and Ogbonna showed an early flash of his class as he worked himself some space and got a shot away from the edge of the box after only six minutes. Unfortunately the effort lacked power and was a comfortable save for home keeper Michael Johnson.
Five minutes later Tom McGowan won a ball well in midfield and slid it into the feet of Ben Seymour-Shove on the edge of the box. Seymour-Shove managed to turn away from his marker and get a shot away, but failed to get over the effort which sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
Although Ives were enjoying a large amount of possession in these early stages The Canaries proved they were sharp up front and would present a real danger as Lucas Kirkpatrick fed a ball into the run of Robbie Burns who cut in from the left and rifled in an effort from the corner of the box that Tim Trebes only managed to hang onto at the second attempt.
Ives were unfortunate to be denied a clear run on goal only one minute later as skipper Charlie De’ath won a header against Alasan Ann and Jack Higgs fed the loose ball through a gap in the Canaries defence to put Jordan Jarrold clear only for the play to be halted by the referee who deemed that Ann had picked up a head injury that required urgent attention.
This was Ives final opportunity to create a real chance in the first half as the Canaries began to wrestle control of the game in the middle of the park and take over the possession putting the visitors defence under heavy pressure. However the goal that saw the Ives fall behind came from a needlessly conceded free kick 35 yards from goal on 19 minutes. Kane Smith delivered the kick deep to the far post where home skipper Dan Webb rose highest and looped a headed over Trebes that found the back of the net.
This goal seemed to knock the fragile confidence of the Ives and only a brave block by Lee Chaffey prevent the home side adding to their advantage six minutes later. Matt Lench picked out Smith in space on the right and his cross to the far post put Harry O’Malley under pressure. Kirkpatrick pounced on his poor defensive header and Chaffey did well to stand up and bravely block the striker’s powerful half volley.
Fellow centre back De’ath did equally well to bravely block a powerful drive from Callum Donnelly on 36 minutes after the Canaries midfielder had been teed up by a pull back from the bye line by Smith.
The pressure continued to mount on the visitor’s defence and Lench was denied by Trebes at the expense of a corner on 42 minutes. Ives have struggled to defend dead ball situations this season and the resulting flag kick proved their undoing once more as Webb again rose highest to Kirkpatrick’s ball into the box. His header was blocked on the line but full back Will Wright was on hand to hammer home the loose ball.
The usually effective Josh Dawkin had struggled to get into this game and it was no surprise that manager Ricky Marheineke replaced him with Scott Sinclair at the break. But it looked a vain attempted to get the Ives going as the home side continued to monopolise possession and were first to the ball all over the park. They looked to be heading for a comfortable victory.
They were jolted out of their stride a little as Ives grabbed a goal back out of nothing on 64 minutes. Keeper Trebes put a big punt down the middle which Lewis Rolfe misjudged in the centre of the Canaries back line. Knowing that the ball was going to drift by him he instinctively stuck out his arm to stop it’s flight. The referee was on the spot to award the free kick and Ogbonna again showed his class as he curled the ball over the wall and into the top corner giving keeper Johnson no chance.
This gave the Ives faithful a glimmer of hope that the visitors could get something out of this game that had looked well beyond them. McGowan could have really lifted the hearts five minutes later as he wriggled his way past two defenders and got to the bye line on the left hand side. He got to the six yard box, but neither shot, nor picked out a colleague in the middle and eventually simply lost the ball to combination of a covering defender and goalkeeper Johnson.
The glimmer of hope was immediately extinguished as the Canaries went straight up the other end and restored their two goal margin. Lench and Donnelly combined on the left before the latter cut in and delivered a low ball into the box that Burns turned home from close range at the near post.
Ives were now under the cosh again with the home side moving the ball around at pace and the visitors chasing shadows. A flowing move involving four Canaries players on 73 minutes was finished by an exquisite reverse pass from Kirkpatrick that almost put Burns in again, but fortunately De’ath was on hand to bravely block his effort on goal from 15 yards.
The fourth Canaries goal arrived nine minutes from time as Smith delivered another ball into the box from the right that De’ath looked likely to clear, but his attempted clearance rebounded off Kirkpatrick and the bouncing ball was acrobatically hooked home by Burns from twelve yards.
The home side were so much in control that they did not really see the need to play out time in the corners and the last kick of the game was a thumping effort from 25 yards by Hitchin substitute James Verney who had been teed up by fellow sub Liam Brooks. Ives were pleased to hear the final whistle sound even before the goal kick could be taken.
Other results meant that the Ives have now slipped into the relegation zone, and the conclusion from this game is that we still have a long way to go to match the top sides in this division. However our goal to survive must continue to be to win the games against the teams around us and look to pick up points where we can against the sides in the top half of the table.
Dubi Ogbonna took the supporters man of the match award on his return to the Club for his very well taken free kick and simply providing us with a little bit more up front.
St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley, Coulson, De’ath (capt), Chaffey, Higgs, Dawkin (Sinclair 45), McGowan (Harradine 71), Seymour-Shove, Ogbonna, Jarrold (Penfold 56)
Unused subs : McDevitt, Leavers
Goals : Ogbonna 64
Supporters Man of the Match : Dubi Ogbonna
Final Score : Hitchin Town 4 St Ives Town 1
Attendance : 413