St Ives Town 2 St Neots Town 1
Date: Tuesday 16th August 2016
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Competition: Southern League Premier Division
Ground Address: ProEdge Westwood Road, St Ives, Cambs, PE27 6DT
Josh Dawkin was the goal scoring hero as Ives came from behind to claim the early season bragging rights in a pulsating Huntingdonshire derby in front of a bumper crowd of 528 on Tuesday evening.
The last time these two sides met in a League fixture was over five years ago and two steps lower in the football pyramid. In the intervening period St Neots have established themselves at step three whilst the Ives have only arrived at the elevated level this season and this performance and result will certainly announce to others in this division that they have arrived.
For the second game in a row injury forced manager Ricky Marheineke into a change in the starting line up. Buster Harradine failing t recover from a knee injury sustained during his excellent performance at Cinderford meant an opportunity for the all action Scott Sinclair to make his debut in the hole just behind front man Andrew Phillips.
Both sides were testing each other out in the early stages of this game and few opportunities were created early on. Ives had the first attempt on goal after five minutes as ex St Neots man Josh Dawkin found a little space on the edge of the box to take down and turn on a clip in from Jack Higgs. But he failed to hit the target with his low bobbling effort.
The next noteworthy effort came on 16 minutes when a St Neots corner was cleared to Phillips inside his own half. He turned and ran at the Saints defence before laying the ball out to Ben Seymour-Shove who managed to cut inside covering defender Dom Mason, but failed to hit the target with his rising drive from the left corner of the box.
The opening goal when it arrived on 28 minutes was somewhat against the run of play a cross was delivered from the right by the hard working James Hall and home keeper Ollie Sutton was put under heavy pressure by Jordan Brown forcing him to miscue his attempted punch. Peter Clark pounced on the loose ball in an instant and rifled it home from just inside the box.
The opener gave the visitors a lift and they enjoyed a good period of possession for the next ten minutes with Sutton forced into a good save low to his right to deny Clark a second from 25 yards in the 33rd minute.
What may have been the turning point of the game arrived three minutes from the break as the influential Clark sustained a head injury in an aerial challenge with Jack Higgs in the centre of the park. In spite of the physio’s attempts to stem the flow of blood it was clear it was a serious wound and the diminutive midfielder was forced off to hospital for stitches and was replaced by Micky Hyem.
From this point the Ives began to wrestle control of the game. They managed to create two good opportunities in the remaining few minutes before the break. The best of these fell to Harry O’Malley. Dawkin took a short corner to Seymour-Shove which he delivered perfectly to the back post where O’Malley had somehow found space. But the full back made the cardinal sin of failing to hit the target with his free header from inside the six yard box.
The final opportunity of the half fell to Sinclair as he got on the end of a flowing move involving Tom McGowan, Phillips, and Dawkin. The former rolling a pass into the path of Sinclair 20 yards from goal, but the shot again failed to trouble Alex Archer in the visitor’s goal as it thudded the boards wide of his right hand post.
The Ives started the second period as they ended the first by creating another good opportunity only four minutes in. Seymour-Shove tried to sprint clear down the left only to be hauled back by the struggling Mason. Seymour-Shove picked himself up and floated in the free kick which was half cleared to the edge of the box. Higgs looked likely to latch onto the loose ball only to have it taken off his toe by McGowan. But just when it looked like the chance had gone McGowan delivered the perfect hanging clip into the box to pick out O’Malley ten yards from goal. This time the powerful full back hit the target with his header, but unfortunately it was straight at the well positioned Archer.
The traffic continued to be almost exclusively one way with Seymour-Shove again denied a clear run on goal by a very well timed tackle from Mason on 57 minutes. Phillips just failed to get on the end of a well delivered Higgs free kick from the right two minutes later and McGowan volleyed over from a good position after Phillips had headed down another Higgs free kick to him inside the box on 69 minutes.
It was beginning to look like it was not going to be Ives night as Archer was forced into his first real save of the evening one minute later plunging to his left to finger tip a curling effort from Phillips around the post. The resulting corner was won in the air by Phillips, but his goal bound effort struck team mate Liam McDevitt and was scramble clear.
Manager Marheineke decided to really go for it with 20 minutes to go throwing on speedy winger Joe Carden in place of full back O’Malley and the new introduction was hugely influential in the equaliser which came on 73 minutes, although it did need a big slice of luck.
Carden sped past tiring Saints full back Jonny Hall on the right and delivered a teasing cross that evaded everyone in the centre and arrived at the feet of Seymour-Shove beyond the far post. He fired the ball back into the centre first time where Saints skipper Tom Wood panicked and took a swing at the ball which was arrowing wide. He only succeeded in slicing it high off his right boot into the roof of his own net.
The goal sparked the visitors into a mini revival and Declan Rogers went close to restoring their lead twice in the next seven minutes. James Hall played him in on the right on 76 minutes, but his well struck shot from the edge of the box failed to trouble Sutton as it thudded the boards by his near post. Rogers also got between defenders to get on the end of a cross from the left by Jonny Hall with ten minutes to go, but only succeeded in heading over the top from a good position.
Ives thought they had won the game with four minutes to go as Carden again got away down the right and picked out Phillips in the box. He skilfully drove on to the bye line and pulled the ball back to McGowan by the penalty spot. He looked certain to score and struck his effort well only to be denied by an excellent flying stop from keeper Archer.
The Saints custodian must have thought he had won his side a point, but there was to be one more twist in the tale as Carden and Sinclair combined on the right to feed the ball into the feet of Dawkin who looked no danger as he was surrounded by Saints defenders on the edge of the box. He somehow found space to control the ball, jink to his right, and fire in a low bobbling effort back across the goal that deceived Archer and found its way into the far corner of the net to spark delirious celebrations amongst the Ives fans and finally silence the Saints drummer.
The home side managed to play out the remaining few minutes without further scare to claim a hard fought, but deserved, victory that moved them above their local rivals in the embryonic league table and even more importantly earned them a further three points in their quest for consolidation at this level.
Sponsors man of the match award went to Ben Seymour-Shove for his all action display up and down the left side. His main contenders were again to many to mention as everyone once more played their part. Two I will give note to though were the pacey Joe Carden who was only on the park for 20 minutes, but turned the game during that period and somewhat unsung hero Tom McGowan who was everywhere in the middle of the park and still managed to get on the end of a couple of good opportunities.
St Ives team : Sutton, O’Malley (Carden 69), Jarrold, Chaffey (capt), McDevitt, Higgs, Seymour-Shove (De’ath 89), McGowan, Phillips, Sinclair, Dawkin
Unused subs : Clayton, Harradine,
Goals : Wood (own goal) 73, Dawkin 88
Sponsors Man of the Match : Ben Seymour-Shove
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 St Neots Town 1
Attendance : 528