Stratford Town 2 St Ives Town 3
Date: Tuesday 24th January 2017
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Competition: Southern League Premier Division
Ground Address: DCS Stadium, Knights Lane, Tiddington, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 7BZ
The small contingent of Ives supporters that braved a cold and foggy night to make the trip to Stratford witnessed a hugely entertaining game culminated in a magnificent come back to claim another excellent three points on the road.
However things did not start well for the visitor’s as manager Ricky Marheineke’s plan to give Lee Chaffey a well earned rest and start club captain Charlie De’ath in the centre of defence backfired when De’ath was taken ill in the warm up and Chaffey returned to his familiar starting position as a late change to the team sheet.
Things went even further downhill for the Ives as they fell behind after only 46 seconds without actually touching the ball. Barry Fitzharris, Will Grocott and Guy Clark combined well down the left to work space for Charlie Faulkner to get in a cross which Justin Marsden turned home at the near post to put the home side in front.
The Town continued to probe down the left and went close to adding to their lead on five minutes as Daniel Summerfield and Faulkner exchanged passes down the left to get the latter into a good position inside the box, but fortunately the tricky winger mishit his effort allowing Liam McDevitt to recover and complete the clearance.
This was already beginning to turn into an open attacking game with both sides looking to move the ball around at every opportunity and Ives got themselves back level with their first real attack on seven minutes. Ben Seymour-Shove set off at pace down the right, but was forced wide and fed the ball back to Harry O’Malley who delivered a deep cross beyond the far post where Josh Dawkin had dropped off and found space. He carefully directed his header down to the feet of Jack Higgs just inside the box and as the ball bounced up Higgs showed excellent technique to get over the ball and drill it into the bottom corner beating keeper Niall Cooper at his near post.
Having got level Ives enjoyed a period in the ascendency and went close to going in front only five minutes later. Higgs delivered a free kick from the centre circle that McDevitt won in the air to force a scrambling save from Cooper low down by his right hand post.
Liam Francis was making his hundredth appearance for the home side, but his mistake, as his missed a long ball out of defence by Jordan Jarrold, almost let in Danny Kelly in 16th minute. Fortunately for the Town centre back his colleagues managed to get around to cover and with players left and right of him screaming for the ball Kelly went for goal from the edge of the box and just curled his effort over the top with Cooper looking on.
The end to end nature of the game continued and it was now the home sides turn to enjoy a good spell. In 20th minute a quick throw to Grocott allowed him to float in a cross from the left that was attacked in the centre by Marsden who powered his header just past the post from a good central position.
The first corner of the game went to the home side on 23 minutes and Summerfield delivered a teasing ball into the six yard box that Ives keeper Tim Trebes did well to tip off the head of Fitzharris under severe pressure. The ball fell to Grocott, but fortunately his shot from a narrow angle was straight into the hands of the recovering Trebes.
Trebes had another shaky moment two minutes later as he dropped a cross from the left by Clark under pressure from Marsden. The striker was onto the ball in a flash, but McDevitt and Chaffey combined to block the effort and hack the ball away and save the blushes of their keeper.
The move of the match came on 28 minutes as Town showed their ability as a passing side by moving the ball around at pace in a flowing move that initially probed down the left, came back, then went right before eventually the ball was played into the feet of Marsden who turned Chaffey on the edge of the box and fired in a bullet that flew inches past Trebes right upright and rattled the boards. A move involving in excess of twenty passes that almost deserved a goal!.
Having survived that breathtaking move Ives came close to going in front in somewhat less striking fashion on 37 minutes. Dubi Ogbonna chased down a back pass that took a bobble. Goalkeeper Cooper sliced his attempted clearance so badly that the ball looped up in the air and dropped back to the feet of the Ives striker. Cooper had the presence of mind to close on Ogbonna and try and prevent him getting a shot in from well outside the box. Ogbonna managed to shake him off and clipped his effort past the stranded stopper, but Francis had managed to get back to head the effort off the goal line.
The pulsating first period still had an opportunity for Trebes to show his abilities and keep his side level as Grocott threaded a pass through the Ives back line as they tried to step up to play offside. Simeon Tulloch had timed his run from the right to perfection and was through one on one with the keeper. Trebes did everything right stayed upright and narrowed the angle forcing Tulloch to take the shot on early which the Ives keeper then managed to block with his legs to keep the scores level at the break.
The second period started a little more slowly than the first and it was fifteen minutes in before either side created a clear cut opportunity. That came the way of Ives as Ogbonna broke at pace from the half way line. In spite of an attempted trip by Clark the striker kept going and referee Matthew Law played an excellent advantage. Ogbonna played the ball into the feet of Kelly on the edge of the box. His shot on the turn was blocked, but Dawkin was following up and managed to knock the loose ball past keeper Cooper, but James Fry was on hand to knock the ball away from the six yard box.
Ives were generally coping better with the mobile Town front line in the second period and home manager Carl Adams replaced tricky winger Faulkner with the bigger, more powerful, Mike Taylor on the hour. Taylor showed his power six minutes later as he won a battle with Chaffey to set up a crossing opportunity for Tulloch. His dangerous swirling cross was excellently claimed by Trebes under heavy pressure from two Town strikers.
Harry O’Malley twice came within inches of putting Ives ahead in a two minute spell. The first opportunity came on 72 minutes as Kelly and Dawkin combined well on the left to set up a crossing opportunity for the Ives winger. His driven cross hit the raised arm of Town full back Jean Kalenda just outside the box. Seymour-Shove’s free kick into the crowded box was flicked on at the near post by Kelly and O’Malley arriving at the back post managed to get his header on target, but it lacked power giving Cooper the chance to spectacularly tip it over the top.
The resulting corner was delivered in-swinging from the right by Higgs and tipped out for another corner by Cooper. The second corner from the left was a lower trajectory, Chaffey dummied it at the near post, Kelly dived in to direct a header which was going inches wide. O’Malley, at the far post again, just needed a touch, but failed to get any contact as the ball flashed by.
Marsden was still looking dangerous for the home side and he came within millimetres of putting his side back in front with fifteen minutes to go. Tulloch broke down the centre at pace and fed the ball on to Marsden cutting in from the right. His powerful drive from the corner of the box beat Trebes despairing full length dive, but just scraped outside the far post.
Having played a lot of excellent passing football throughout the game Town managed to get back in front in much more route one fashion six minutes from time. Fry delivered a long free kick from just inside his own half deep into the Ives box. Chaffey won the header under extreme pressure, but his attempted clearance fell to Grocott just outside the box. He hit a low shot into the box which took a deflection on its way past Trebes and nestled in the bottom corner.
The small travelling contingent thought our goose was cooked as the remaining minutes ticked by. But we should have known better as this Ives side just do not know when they are beaten. Jack Bradshaw has threatened to get a goal from distance on a few occasions this season and as the clock ticked into the ninetieth minute he came up with a contender for the goal of the season to grab an equaliser. Dawkin picked him out with a cross field ball and he took a touch before unleashing a pile driver from fully thirty yards that beat the despairing dive of Cooper and billowed the back of the net.
Even at this stage of the game neither side seemed willing to settle for a point. Two minutes into added time full back Kalenda delivered a deep cross to the far post where Grocott had ghosted in unmarked. The Town striker beat Trebes with his header, but was unlucky to see the ball strike the upright and bounce away. Surely that was the last action of the night and everyone would now settle for a draw. But no as the game entered the fourth added minute and with referee Law looking at his watch Ives won a free kick in the centre circle. The ball was delivered up to the edge of the box where Dawkin held it up and fed it out to Seymour-Shove on the left edge of the box, but running away from goal. We all know he is capable of delivering crosses at pace with his left foot, but this was something special as he screwed in his left footed effort back across keeper Cooper and just inside the far post. The celebrations amongst the team and the travelling few were immense and went on well after the final whistle which followed only seconds later.
Grabbing a draw from the jaws of defeat is something, grabbing victory is something else. The two members of the behind the goal club present gave a unanimous vote for man of the match to Jack Bradshaw, not only for his goal, but also for the massive amount of work he got through in the centre of the park.
A final word for our gallant opposition who more than played their part in this pulsating encounter. We know exactly how they feel as we only have to look back to the dark days of our home defeat to Chippenham in similar circumstances earlier in the season. We have come a long way since then and we equally wish them well for the remainder of the season.
St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley, Jarrold, Chaffey (capt), McDevitt, Higgs, Seymour-Shove, Bradshaw, Ogbonna (Cunniff 70), Kelly (Sinclair 81), Dawkin,
Unused subs : Coulson, De’ath,
Goals : Higgs 7, Bradshaw 90, Seymour-Shove 90 + 4
Suporters Man of the Match : Jack Bradshaw
Final Score : Stratford Town 2 St Ives Town 3
Attendance : 136