First Team Result: St Ives Town 1 Stratford Town 1

St Ives Town vs Stratford Town

Date: Saturday 6th August 2016
Kick Off: 3pm
Competition: Southern League Premier Division
Ground Address: ProEdge Westwood Road, St Ives, Cambridgeshire, PE27 6DT
Match Day Sponsor:  R Costings Ltd

Ives will be a little disappointed that their debut in step three football only delivered one point as they produced some excellent football and overall deserved to take all three. But the difference at this level is that if you do not take your chances others will punish you.

The visiting Town who are in their second season at this level started the brighter side and created a very good opportunity in only the second minute. Trey Braithwaite played an excellent flick on a ball into his feet and put Jamie Sheldon clear. 20 year old keeper Oli Sutton who was making his debut for the home side replacing the injured Tim Trebes quickly closed down the speedy winger. Sheldon chose to square the ball just giving covering defender Liam McDevitt time to nip in and take the ball off Will Grocott’s toe.

Having survived this early scare Ives began to settle into their stride playing some flowing football. Buster Harradine expertly took down a long ball out of defence on eight minutes and fed the ball left to Ben Seymour-Shove. His driven cross along the six yard line skimmed through without anyone getting the vital touch.

Three minutes later Seymour-Shove who seems to have more licence to roam these days found himself wide right where he tried to slip past Guy Clark who unceremoniously upended him 30 yards from goal. Jack Higgs delivered an in-swinging free kick which Sam Ives deftly flicked on at the near post, but Charlie De’ath just failed to get a firm touch at the far post.

Young Sutton was called into action again on 20 minutes as he made an excellent stop low to his right to deny Richard Gregory. Gregory had pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the box after a low cross from Sheldon was only half cleared by De’ath. Sutton distinguished himself again cleanly catching the resulting corner and picking out Seymour-Shove in space by the half way line with a swift throw. The young winger instantly set off on a direct run towards the visitor’s goal and was only halted by a lunging tackle from behind by Simeon Tulloch 25 yards from goal. The Town man picked up a yellow card, but Josh Dawkin failed to hit the target with the resulting free kick.

The pace began to drop as the heat started to take its toll in the latter stages of the period. But just as the half looked like it was going to end goalless Ives grabbed an opener that needed the dubious goals panel to decide who had scored it.

The home side picked up a free kick wide on the right fully 35 yards from goal. Higgs delivered an in-swinging ball into the box which O’Malley attacked in front of the keeper. The presence of the Ives full back caused keeper Niall Cooper to take his eye off the ball which was allowed to bounce on into the net.

The goal just before the break seemed to inspire the home side who started the second half well on top and should have sewn up the points in the first few minutes. The half was only 30 seconds old when Ives pounced on a poor back pass by Jordan Cullinane-Liburd. But the young striker just delayed his shot and allowed Emmitt Delfounesco to catch him and just deflect his effort past the post.

The resulting corner was tipped away by keeper Copper for a second flag kick. This one was delivered to the near post by Dawkin where Ives got in front of his man, but failed to get enough on his close range header which flashed across goal. The ball was kept alive beyond the far post by Seymour-Shove who delivered another dangerous ball into the middle where Ives again reacted first, but glanced his header wide.

Josh Dawkin robbed a dallying Cullinane-Liburd in the 53rd minute and combined well with Higgs to put Seymour-Shove away down the left. His driven cross from a good position again failed to pick out a home striker in the box.

Having failed to settle the issue with a second goal whilst they were on top Ives suddenly found themselves pegged back as the visitor’s grabbed an equaliser from their first attack of the second half. Town substitute Edwin Ahenkorah found space on the left and tried to deliver a cross which deflected into the air off O’Malley and floated over the head of De’ath. Mike Taylor pounced on the loose ball and rattled home a rising shot from close range which went in off the underside of the crossbar.

The pace of the game again began to slow as the heat took it’s toll in the second period. Chances were very much at a premium in this section of the game as both defences held firm. However each side created opportunities to win the game in stoppage time. As the game entered added time an excellent clip from home substitute Andrew Phillips found Josh Dawkin in space. He played the ball on to Joe Carden on the edge of the box. Carden skilfully stepped inside his marker and curled in an effort from the edge of the box which was heading just inside the far post only to be prevented by the fingertips of keeper Cooper who flung himself to his right to tip the ball around the post.

Only one minute later Clark and Ahenkorah combined well on the left with the substitute delivering a low driven cross that Sutton did very well to cut out bravely diving in just ahead of Taylor.

The final chance of the game came in the fifth minute of added time as Dawkin again picked up a loose ball in midfield and ran at the visitors defence before delivering a low cross along the eighteen yard line that Carden expertly dummied to leave Higgs in space. Unfortunately the usually reliable midfielder failed to keep his effort down.

The verdict on this introduction to step three was that we certainly have the players to compete at this level and are very capable of picking up points. But we must be more clinical in our finishing otherwise we will get punished by the quality of striker that we will run into at this level. Still the games come thick and fast now and a visit to Chesham on Tuesday evening will no doubt prove another stern test.

There were many contenders for man of the match in this game with all playing well. Young Sutton must have gone close on his debut, but the sponsors plumped for skipper Charlie De’ath who had his usual reliable game in the centre of defence.

It was good to see lots of new faces around the ground, along with the old crowd. Let us hope that they all enjoyed what they saw and will join us as Pro-Edge Westwood Road regulars over the coming season.

St Ives team : Sutton, O’Malley, Jarrold, De’ath (capt), McDevitt, Higgs, Seymour-Shove, McGowan, Harradine (Phillips 78), Ives (Carden 85), Dawkin

Unused subs : Chaffey, Sinclair, Clayton

Goals : O’Malley 45

Sponsors Man of the Match : Charlie De’ath

Final Score :  St Ives Town 1 Stratford Town  1

Attendance  :  342