Ives exit FA Cup at first hurdle

Emirates FA Cup – 1st Qualifying Round   02-09-2023

Leiston 2 v St Ives Town 1 

Nigel Howlett reports from The Watson & Hillhouse Victory Road Stadium

This season’s familiar failings re-emerged to ensure that battling Ives exited the FA Cup at the first hurdle and the Blues will consider themselves very fortunate to not have to face a Monday night replay in Cambridgeshire. But if you concede poor goals and then do not take your chances a defeat is the only likely result. 

Two crucial errors in two minutes just after midway through the first half put Ives on the back foot but they battled back by grabbing a goal early in the second half, then proceeded to create another half a dozen good chances to level things up without taking one of them. 

The statistics tell the tale with a first half with the hosts on top they amassed seven shots, with six on target and scored two. Ives also very much in the game had five efforts before the break but only two required a save from Sam Donkin. Second half Ives superiority shows through with seven attempts, but only three on target to the Blues solitary off target effort. But stats don’t win games goals do and Ives need to start converting a much higher percentage of their chances to get their season on track. 

The visitors were seriously hampered prior to kick off with two of what would have been their starting eleven getting stuck behind a serious accident on the A12 and arriving only minutes before the game got under way, to late to be included in the eleven that started the game. But to go a little way towards balancing out the missing pair Ives welcomed back Greg Kaziboni to the squad and he was the first player to create an opportunity in only the second minute when he out muscled Cameron Rayworth and delivered a low cross to the near post which Brandon Njoku got to ahead of his marker and was unlucky to see his effort deflected wide. 

The hosts first attempt on 14 minutes was a fierce 25 yarder from Ryan Jarvis that Eddie Brearey did well to push around the post diving low to his left. The resulting Blues corner turned into another chance for the Ives as Dan Barton broke away from his own box with the ball and tried to put Njoku away but keeper Donkin’s starting position was very high and he just beat the Ives striker to the ball inside the centre circle. It ricocheted to Michael Richens fully 65 yards from the opposition goal but with Donkin way out of position a goal was on if he got his effort right, sadly it was not, and his long distance shot floated at least ten yards wide. 

Play continued to swing from end to end with Kaziboni looking the main threat for the visitors. His 19th minute cross field ball picked out Barton in space and the youngster cut inside before unleashing a shot from just outside the box the flew just wide of Donkin’s left hand post. 

But at the other end Ives first error was looming. In 24th minute Ollie Saunders fed in ex Ives man Kieran Higgs through the right channel and he burst into the box past a tame challenge from Murphy Culkin before going down over the outstretched leg of the covering Luke Harris. Referee Joe Casey was in no doubt that there was sufficient contact and awarded the spot kick. Joe Marsden did the rest beating Brearey low to his left with a powerful spot kick. 

The Blues doubled their lead only two minutes later as Ross Crane seized the opportunity to cut in from the left and run at Ives defence getting past Culkin before comprehensively beating the diving Brearey with a crisp drive from just inside the box. 

To their credit Ives heads did not go down and thanks to the persistence of Njoku they carved out a chance to pull one back on the half hour. The young centre forward harried and robbed Chris Casement high up the pitch and fed the ball inside to Richens who unleashed a fierce, rising, drive from the edge of the box that Donkin tipped over. 

The hosts thought that they had made it three five minutes before the break as overlapping full back Rayworth fired in a powerful, dipping, shot from fully 25 yards that Brearey was forced to push away. Crane was first to the loose ball and turned it square to Higgs who slammed home only to be denied by the linesman’s upraised flag as Crane had been in an offside position when the initial shot came in. 

Final action of the half saw Kaziboni create another golden opportunity for the visitors. This time he got down the right before delivering an inviting cross to the near post, six yards out. Richens arrived between defenders but failed to keep his header down. 

As always in these situations the next goal is vital and Ives set off in hot pursuit of it at the start of the second period. Charlie Johnson had already had an early effort well held by Donkin before Kaziboni got the visitors back into the game with an excellent goal that his efforts on the day very much deserved. He robbed substitute Seb Dunbar on halfway before setting off on a mazy run that took him to the edge of the box where he cleverly deceived Donkin with a left footed effort that found the bottom corner of the net, game on!. 

They were almost level only seconds later when Njoku burst through down the right and drove in a low cross through the six yard box that hit Rayworth and could so easily have gone in the net, but somehow got stuck between the defenders legs and he reacted just quickly enough to get it away off the line before Barton could pounce. Ninety seconds later it was Barton’s turn to go close as he broke through the centre of the Blues defence before unleashing a fierce shot from inside the D that deflected just over the top off a covering defender. 

Ives hopes of getting on level terms were delivered a serious blow on the hour when Njoku was helped from the field after landing awkwardly under a last ditch challenge from Casement which only just prevented the centre forward getting clear. Njoku was relaced by Tiago Nassunculo who took up position on the right with Kaziboni moving into the centre. 

The loss of Njoku did not stop the one way traffic towards the Blues goal as Ives continued in search of the equaliser. In 64th minute Barton again sped away down the left and was unlucky to see his driven cross deflect off Rayworth to just take it away from the unmarked Nassunculo arriving at the back post. 

The substitute was involved again two minutes later when he combined well with Kaziboni before firing over the top from the edge of the box. Johnson then had an effort cleared off the line in 68th minute as he got on the end of Johnny Herd’s in-swinging corner beyond the far post. The angle was just to narrow and the well position Saunders got the ball away. 

The Blues solitary second half effort came with fifteen minutes to go when Dunbar delivered a deep cross from the left that Fernando Bell-Toxtle tried to head away, but his header fell to Rayworth on the edge of the box, the young full back struck his effort well but the ball flew just wide. 

With time ticking down Ives began to run out of steam, but they still managed to create two excellent opportunities both falling to Richens who failed to test Donkin with either. With ten minutes to go Kaziboni delivered a corner from the left that picked out Richens who had somehow lost his marker in the centre but the Ives skipper failed to hit the target with his free header from six yards. 

Ives had a shout for a penalty turned down as the game entered added time. Kaziboni’s attempted cross from the right deflected off the leg of the covering Dunbar onto his arm, the sort of decision which is occasionally given, but more often than not it isn’t and this time the match officials decided that it was not to be. But the final opportunity to force a replay came from the resulting corner delivered in-swinging by Herd, Richens again lost his marker and met the ball on the edge of the six yard box, but again with the same result the powerful header flying inches over the top.  

No one can say that Ives went out of the FA Cup tamely as they battled very hard and were the better team for long periods of this game, but it is not possession and chances created that win games and once again errors at both ends of the park have proved costly.   

Final Score:  Leiston  2  St Ives Town  1 


LEISTON: Marsden 25 (pen), Crane 27 

ST IVES: Kaziboni 51 

Team Line Ups: 

LEISTON: Donkin, Rayworth, Hill (Dunbar 46), Saunders (capt), Casement, Jackson, Dronfield, Crane, Ryan Javis (Manley 77), Higgs (Spooner 71), Marsden, Unused subs: Atkin, Rossi Jarvis,  

ST IVES: Brearey, Casey, Herd, Richens (capt), Johnson, Murphy, Barton (Baker 87), Harris (Hickinson 82), Njoku (Nassunculo 60), Bell-Toxtle, Kaziboni, Unused subs: Williams, Hottor, O’Neill  

Cards: Yellow:  LEISTON: Rayworth (78)        ST IVES: Richens (74) 


Attendance:  187