St Ives Town vs Merthyr Town
Date: Tuesday 20th September 2016
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Competition: Southern League Premier Division
Ground Address: ProEdge Westwood Road, St Ives, Cambs, PE27 6DT
Not to take anything away from the players on both sides, but the real heroes of this game were Club Secretary Marina Howlett and stand in assistant referee Phil Crossland. There appeared to be a very real prospect that the game could be abandoned when assistant Michael Dunkley pulled up with a recurrence of a calf injury midway through the first half. Following a period of treatment Mr Dunkley was able to continue, although clearly struggling, until half time.
The prospect of having to repeat their nine hour round trip was foremost in the minds of some of the Merthyr contingent, but they need not have worried as Marina was already on the case of finding a replacement official and her first call raised Mr Crossland from his sofa. The change at half time was seamless and probably not even noticed by a large number of supporters in the ground.
Reverting to the action on the pitch, the visiting Martyrs riding on the crest of a three game winning run started best and went close in only 3rd minute as their first corner delivered from the right by Scott Barrow was turned inches wide of the near post by Jon Brown.
They went close again only four minutes later as a dangerous free kick from Elliott Scotcher was headed clear under pressure by home skipper Charlie De’ath. But the loose ball was picked up by Barrow who delivered a deep cross to the far post where Kyle McLaggon rose highest, but only directed his header from eight yards over the top.
Ives first half chance of the match came on ten minutes as the high tempo start to the game continued. The chance was created by the sheer persistence and hard running of Andrew Phillips as he closed down an attempted clearance by Scott Tancock. The ball ricocheted goalwards off the Ives striker and was only kept out by a sharp reaction save from Glyn Garner in the visitors goal.
The end to end nature of the game continued with Barrow again involved on 17 minutes as he found McLaggon in space 25 yards from goal. The Martyrs skipper took a touch and fired in a snap shot that fizzed across the face of Tim Trebes goal and thudded the boards just outside his left hand post.
The unfortunate injury to Mr Dunkley followed mid way through the half and lead to a three minute delay whilst he received treatment from Ives physio Liam Peaks. The game resumed with a limping linesman and the action continued to swing from end to end.
The Martyrs carved out another opportunity on 34 minutes as Brown drilled a ball across the box that evaded everyone in the centre and arrived at the feet of Ian Traylor cutting in from the right. He hit the ball first time, but again failed to test Trebes as the ball flashed inches wide of his near post.
Phillips showed the wayward Martyrs strikers how to hit the target only sixty seconds later as he picked up a loose ball in midfield and tried his luck from fully 30 yards. The ball dipped in front of keeper Garner as he went down to cover the shot. He was most fortunate as the ball reared up of the deck and cannoned into his shoulder before flying wide.
The final opportunity of the first period was carved out by a piece of magic from the man making his home debut, Danny Kelly. The big striker manoeuvred his way past two Merthyr defenders to get to the bye line. He ran in towards goal and carefully picked out Phillips with his cut back. The Ives front man was instantly closed down, but managed to get his shot away and was unlucky to see the ball rebound to safety off the body of keeper Garner.
The second half commenced on time with the replacement linesman in position and both sides still probing for the opening goal.
The first opportunity did not arrive until just before the hour when a deep corner from the left by Scotcher was won at the far post by Rhys Baggridge. His header down into the middle would have been turned home by the lurking McLaggon but for a brave block by De’ath who just beat the striker to the ball and knocked it away. De’ath also reacted quickest to head away the follow up cross as the ball was returned into the mix by Scotcher.
The first Ives effort of note in the second period did not arrive until 20 minutes from time and that was only a speculative effort from fully 25 yards by full back Harry O’Malley the sailed harmlessly wide.
The visitors were determined to push on for their fourth victory in a row and made a couple of positive substitutions. One of these late introductions, Corey Jenkins went close with ten minutes to go. Barrow managed to rob Harry O’Malley and Ben Seymour-Shove as they tried to shield a ball out of play by Ives corner flag. He drove in on for goal and delivered a low cross that Jenkins diverted into the side netting at Trebes near post.
Goalkeeper Trebes had to thank his defenders for coming to his aid as he completely missed an attempted punch to a Barrow corner five minutes later. Fortunately for Trebes the ball fell into the six yard box by was scrambled to safety by an Ives defender. Trebes redeemed himself sixty seconds later as he did well to cling onto a close range effort from McLaggon to preserve his clean sheet.
Ives had one final chance to send their visitors home to the Valleys pointless as Jordan Jarrold sprayed an excellent cross field pass out of defence into the path of flying substitute Joe Carden. The young striker sprinted away at pace and was cutting in for goal when he was clipped by a desperate challenge from covering defender Barrow inches outside the box. Barrow picked up a yellow card for his misdemeanour and Jack Higgs failed to inflict further punishment as he clipped the free kick over the wall, but also just over the top of Garner’s crossbar.
This was the last real action of the proceedings and both sides seemed pleased with a point at the final whistle. Ives arrested their slide down the table and broke their duck for points against teams in the top six. The Martyrs were pleased to extend their unbeaten run and retain their spot in the top six.
Everyone put in a shift in the good old Ives style, but the man of the match contenders all came from the resilient back line. Charlie De’ath went very close as he was at the heart of a number of vital challenges and blocks to deny the visitors front men. But Jordan Jarrold won the nod as he returned to much more like his old self and was so successful in keeping the shackles on the dangerous Ian Traylnor that the Martyrs boss was forced to change him on 67 minutes. Jarrold did an equally good job in keeping a tight rein on his replacement and still found a few opportunities to probe forward.
St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley, Jarrold, De’ath (capt), McDevitt, Higgs, Seymour-Shove, McGowan, Phillips, Kelly (Leavers 76), Dawkin (Carden 86)
Unused subs : Sinclair, Chaffey, Harradine
Goals : none
Supporters Man of the Match : Jordan Jarrold
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Merthyr Town 0
Attendance : 210