First Team Result St Ives Town 1 Banbury United 1

St Ives Town vs Banbury United

Date: Tuesday 25th October 2016
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Competition: Southern League Premier Division
Ground Address: ProEdge Westwood Road, St Ives, Cambridgeshire, PE27 6DT

On another day, against a different keeper Dubi Ogbonna could have had a hat trick and Ives a comfortable win. But they ran into a keeper in inspired form in Jack Harding who pulled off at least four excellent saves to deny the home side what would have been a well deserved three points.

After their lacklustre performance on Saturday at Hitchin manager Ricky Marheineke had asked for a much improved display against the Puritans and the players responded well to his demands. The kick off was delayed for 15 minutes due to a floodlight problem which was thankfully resolved.

With the lights on it was the Ives who came out of the traps well and took the game to their opposition with a high pressing game. They enjoyed the majority of possession without really creating any chances for the first ten minutes.

Then, as has happened on a number of occasions this season, they fell behind to the visitor’s first real attack on 12 minutes. George Nash threaded a ball into the box where Conor McDonagh found a little bit of space to take the ball in his stride and rifle it home unchallenged into the far corner of the net from 15 yards.

This knocked the Ives out of their stride a little, but they continued to press the opposition high up the park. Ogbonna pressed Luke Carnell into a mistake on 21 minutes, robbed him and tried a snap shot from 25 yards that forced Harding into a low diving save to his right.

Ogbonna is the new free kick king for the Ives and he was quick to grab the ball after Buster Harradine had been brought down 30 yards from goal in a central position on 27 minutes. His powerful free kick beat the wall, but took a deflection off a Puritans defender and looked like going in the bottom corner only to be kept out by a full length diving stop from Harding to tip the ball around the post. The resulting corner was won at the far post by Charlie De’ath, but his looping header under pressure landed on the roof of the net.

This first half was by no means one way traffic and the next opportunity fell to the visitors only two minutes later as Ives struggled to clear a deep free kick into the box. McDonagh picked up the loose ball and went outside Scott Sinclair before delivering a low cross to the near post that Ricky Johnson got to first but he got to much on it and steered his close range effort wide of the near post.

Ives well deserved equaliser came along on 33 minutes as Sinclair took a quick throw into the feet of Harradine who cleverly clipped the ball into the feet of Danny Kelly on the edge of the box. Kelly did a perfect job of holding off the defenders and teed the ball up for the incoming Josh Dawkin who picked his spot with a side footed effort into the top right hand corner of the net giving Harding no chance.

The end to end first half continued and home keeper Tim Trebes was forced into a save three minutes later as he turned over a fierce drive from a narrow angle by Johnson.

Harding was called into action again seven minutes before the break as he pulled off his second excellent save of the night again denying Ogbonna. The move had started deep in Ives territory as Sinclair broke away at pace on the right and sprayed an excellent cross field ball to pick out Jordan Jarrold on the opposite flank. Jarrold picked out Ogbonna in space 25 yards from goal and the powerful striker hit a rising drive that stung the fingers of Harding as he leapt to his left to tip the ball over the top.

A similar quick break down the right involving Sinclair, Jack Higgs and Dawkin ended with the latter teeing up Ogbonna for another crack from a similar distance just before the break. Unfortunately this time he did not quite get the same contact and the save was much more routine for Harding.

The first half had been an entertaining, but fairly even affair. However the home side started to take control right from the off in the second period with Higgs and Harradine winning the battle in midfield and the whole side harrying their opposition into errors all over the park. Jarrold cut out and intended ball out of defence in 50th minute and fed the ball into the feet of Ogbonna just outside the box. He in turn teed up Higgs who hit a crisp low drive that Harding again did well to keep out diving to his left to turn the ball around the post.

They continued to keep the pressure on and seven minutes later Kelly battled his way into the box, but was crowded out and his attempted shot ricochet out to Jarrold on the left. He delivered a driven low cross into the melee on the six yard line that sliced off Jack Westbrook’s foot and flew just wide of the post much to the relief of the defender.

Ogbonna went close to grabbing a deserved second for the Ives twice in a minute just after the hour. He initially ran clear onto a perfectly weighted ball through the channel from Harradine outpacing Westbrook, only to be denied by an excellent covering tackle from Puritans captain Andy Gunn who took the ball off his toe just as he shaped to shoot. The ball was cleared to Higgs in the centre of the park who slipped it wide to Dawkin on the right. Ogbonna ran onto Dawkin’s little clip into space, but fired wide of the post from a good position as he cut in from the corner of the box.

Harding’s final save of the night, and possibly his best came in 67th minute as Dawkin fed the ball into Kelly inside the box. He managed to get to the bye line with it before delivering a low cross to the near post where Ogbonna showed his true strikers instinct to get in front of his marker and deflect a shot on target. Harding hurled himself to his right to block the effort at point blank range and the loose ball was scrambled away.

Ives final opportunity during their prolonged period on top in this game came on 75 minutes as Dawkin again showed his skill breaking out from defence at pace and threading an excellent ball through a very narrow gap into the feet of Ogbonna who went down the right and delivered a ball into the near post where Westbrook just managed to get in front of Kelly and knock it out for a corner.

Having enjoyed this long period in the ascendency, but not been able to get the all important second goal Ives seemed to tire a little and came under some pressure in the final ten minutes. But to their credit they defended well and did not give anything away. The closest the Puritans came to grabbing a winner were two headers both off target from Johnson.

The first he powered over the top from a good position as he got on the end of a Nash corner with seven minutes to go. The second was a diving header from eight yards out as he flung himself at a dangerous cross delivered into the box from the left by tricky substitute Darius Browne. But both times he was put under heavy pressure from Liam McDevitt to prevent him getting the efforts on target.

Overall an excellent all round performance that deserved three points and against a less inspired keeper would have certainly seen more goals. The new strike partnership of Danny Kelly and Dubi Ogbonna looks potent and will score goals at this level. If we can keep them both fit and firing we will move up the table. Both were in the running for man of the match on an evening when everyone performed well. But the award went to Buster Harradine who had his best game for a long time and his return to full fitness also gives the Ives renewed hope of moving away from the bottom four.

St Ives team : Trebes, Sinclair, Coulson, De’ath (capt), McDevitt, Higgs, Dawkin, Harradine, Kelly (McGowan 84), Ogbonna, Jarrold (Seymour-Shove 83)

Unused subs : O’Malley, Chaffey, Moyes

Goals : Dawkin 33

Supporters Man of the Match : Buster Harradine

Final Score :  St Ives Town 1  Banbury United  1

Attendance  :  204