Stourbridge 2 v St Ives Town 0
Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 12-12-2023
Nigel Howlett Reports from the War Memorial Athletic Ground
A lacklustre performance saw Ives slip to their first defeat of the season against a team in the lower half of the table. However having endured the same three hour struggle through the Birmingham traffic to get to this game I can offer a little sympathy with the players and perhaps offer a small modicum of an excuse for the below par performance of so many. Fortunately Eddie Brearey was not one of those and it was thanks to him that the hosts did not record a more emphatic victory. But just to give an indication of an opportunity the Ives may have missed here Brearey’s opposite number in this game was Glassboys 41 year old goalkeeper coach Lewis Solly standing in for injured regular keeper Charlie Price. Not only was he not tested but Solly did not have a save worthy of note to make throughout the evening.
After the struggle to get to the West Midlands on time it was perhaps no surprise that it was the hosts who started on the front foot and Brearey’s first action came in fifth minute when Brad Bood cut in from the left and hit a low driven cross shot that was turned away by the Ives keeper. The Glassboys kept up the pressure and only seconds later Charlie Dowd cut inside from the opposite side of the pitch and fizzed a shot from the edge of the box just wide of the far post.
Niall Flint had picked up an early booking for pulling back Benji Mensah right in front of the referee, but he was soon a man causing Ives problems with his pace down the left creating two chances in quick succession around the ten minute mark. Initially picking out Alex Prosser in space on the left corner of the box. His fierce low drive beat the diving Brearey but flashed wide of the post. Flint’s pace saw him get away down the left again moments later and this time it took an excellent block from Paddy Casey to prevent Luke Benbow turning home the wide man’s low cross.
The host’s found a route through in spectacular fashion in 21st minute. Dowd’s initial run was blocked thirty yards from goal by a solid challenge from Myles Cowling but the loose ball ran to Prosser who put his foot through it to unleash a thunderbolt that flew past Brearey’s dive and nestled in the top corner of the net.
The one-way traffic continued as the Glassboys went close again seven minutes later Joel Kettle did well to keep alive a deep Bood free kick from the left. The centre back’s knock down fell to Dowd whose fierce first time effort flew through the crowd in the centre of goal and flashed past the far post.
Ives one bright spark in the first half came ten minutes before the break when a quick Aaron Smith throw put Jonny Edwards away down the left. He fed the ball into the well timed run of Dan Barton who picked out Mensah on the edge of the box with his pull back. But rather than take on the chance first time the young wing back took a touch giving Bood the opportunity to get across and take all of the sting out of the shot allowing Solly to make a very comfortable save.
Had that gone in it would have given Ives something to build on, but it did not and very quickly play was back at the other end where Joel Kettle’s 25 yarder was well held by Brearey diving low to his left.
The host’s second goal arrived just before the break and was a poor goal to concede at a very bad time to concede it. Brearey’s long punt down the field was won by an unchallenged Jesse Bavanganga who powered his header back up the park where Benbow outmuscled Jordan Williams leaving the Ives centre back on the deck as he raced clear bearing down on Brearey’s goal. The young stopper did his best not committing early and forcing the striker to try and go around him. But Benbow is a wily old fox and as Brearey dived in to try and grab the ball he felt the contact and went down leaving a simple decision for referee Lewis Mountain penalty and a yellow card for the Ives keeper. The Glassboy’s centre forward picked himself up and beat Brearey high to his left from the spot. The keeper going the right way and getting a hand to it but beaten by the power.
There was still time for referee Mountain to have to make a more difficult decision before the break Michael Richens appearing to stamp on Reece King as the two skippers tangled in the centre of the park and it took a consultation involving all three officials before the final decision was a yellow card for the Ives man much to the chagrin of most in the ground.
The second half started in similar vein to most of the first with the hosts on top and being kept out by the gallant Brearey. Prosser dispossessed a dallying Paddy Casey deep inside his own half only two minutes after the re-start. Brearey did well to get down smartly to his right to keep out the effort but the loose ball fell to Jack Fletcher who probably should have scored, but screwed his shot wide.
Ives did get a shooting opportunity only ninety seconds later as patient build up down the right ended with Richens delivering a clip into the centre that was missed by a defender and arrived at the feet of Edwards who to sum up his evening failed to react with the ball bouncing off him and being scrambled away.
Back at the other end Brearey was in action again four minutes later diving low to his left to keep out a fierce low drive from the edge of the box by Bood after the overlapping full back had been played in by Flint.
Ives carved out a couple of opportunities around the hour mark but again failed to test Solly. Initially Mensah tried to catch out the veteran stopper as he floated a clip from the right over his head and had he got the effort right it might well have crept in as the keeper was struggling to back peddle but unfortunately the ball landed on top of the net. Seconds later an even better chance arrived as Barton picked out Brandon Njoku arriving at the near post in front of his man. But again, to sum up Ives evening the usually deadly striker completely missed his kick and the opportunity was gone.
Play quickly returned to the other end and it took an excellent recovery tackle from Williams to prevent Dowd getting a shot away after the speedy winger looked like he had got clear down the right. Five minutes later and it took more heroics from Brearey to keep the score line down as he initially plunged to his left to keep out a fierce low drive from Benbow that skimmed off the wet turf. The young stopper did even better to recover and dive onto the loose ball just ahead of Fletcher following up.
As the game wore on Ives began to enjoy a bit more possession with the hosts sitting back a little more looking to preserve their lead. Even with seeing a little more of the ball the visitors were still not able to work an opening to test Solly, or even force him into a meaningful save. The closest that they came was two minutes from time when a Smith long throw dropped to Williams inside the box. The centre back struck his effort well but Bood flung himself across the line to deflect the ball away and see the Glassboys home to a comfortable win and leave the Ives to look forward to another three hour drive home, thanks to a couple of diversions for night time roadworks.
The result means that the Glassboys leapfrog Ives in the table with the visitors dropping to fourteenth and with the next two games for the boys from Cambridgeshire against teams in the top four the run in to Christmas looks a tough one.
Final Score: Stourbridge 2 St Ives Town 0
STOURBRIDGE: Prosser 21, Benbow 40 (pen)
Team Line Ups:
STOURBRIDGE: Solly, Bavanganga, Bood, Prosser, Kettle, Forde (Portman 73), Dowd (Knights 84), King (capt), Benbow, Fletcher, Flint, Unused subs: Steward, Walters, Wilson
ST IVES: Brearey, Mensah (Oti 76), Smith, Richens (capt), Williams, Casey, Barton (Hottor 68), Cowling (Harris 80), Edwards, Njoku, Milne, Unused subs: Tesler,
Cards: Yellow: STOURBRIDGE: Flint (3) ST IVES: Brearey (39), Cowling (45), Richens (45+2)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Eddie Brearey