Ives hit another four on the road

Alvechurch 1 v St Ives Town 4

Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central  09-03-2024

Nigel Howlett reports from Lye Meadow

A rip roaring second half performance saw Ives turn this game on its head after they had sleepwalked their way through an uninspiring first period where they were very fortunate to go in at the break on level terms. The equaliser just before the break coming courtesy a Michael Richens free kick from fully forty yards out wide on the left that swung in, evaded everyone in the centre and deceived home keeper Ronnie Hollingshead to find the bottom corner of the net.

That goal coming how it did and at the point in the game when it did undoubtably went some way to knocking the stuffing out of the Church but the real catalyst at half time was the rocket that manager Ricky Marheineke gave his soporific charges. That plus a tactical change replacing Josh Tomlinson with Paddy Casey and changing the back three to a flat back four. The change of tactics had the effect of nullifying the hosts threat down their left side where the combination of Nick Clayton-Phillips and Ben Cassidy had found a lot of joy before the break. The rocket also seemed to work as Ives stepped things up all over the park suddenly getting in the faces of their young opponents and clearly rattling their composure.

As previously stated the early period of the game saw the Church enjoying some good possession and trying to break down their visitors. Ed Hottor picked up an early booking for scything down the lively Clayton-Phillips in eleventh minute. Referee Dale Wooton played an excellent advantage as the ball ran on to Dylan Mitchell who fired inches wide from just outside the box.

Ives were not without their chances, but these were generally coming from dead ball situations rather than flowing football. A 15th minute Aaron Smith long throw was knocked back to Theo Alexandrou who delivered the ball into the danger zone between keeper and defenders. Josh Tomlinson got a touch and the ball bounced up to Jordan Williams whose header was cleared off the line by a well positioned Jaanai Gordon.

That threat on the left proved fruitful for the hosts in 28th minute when Cassidy fed the ball into the feet of Clayton-Phillips who cut inside into space before firing low past the left hand of diving keeper Sam Bentley and finding the back of the net via the inside of the post.

The same two players combined ten minutes later to set up another chance for the hosts. This time Clayton-Phillips threaded the ball through to the run of Cassidy who got to the bye line before hanging a ball up to the back post where Smith did very well to head the ball away from the fast arriving DJ Campton-Sturridge. But it dropped to Mitchell on the edge of the box who hit a rasping half volley just over the top.

But having missed that chance to go two up before the break the hosts suddenly found their lead cancelled out in somewhat bizarre circumstances, although Richens will say that he meant it all along. Alexandrou was bundled over near the left touchline by a clumsy challenge from Church skipper Josh Dugmore. Richens struck the free kick powerfully swinging it in on goal and both Williams and Tomlinson managed to get across in front of Hollingshead but neither got a touch, however their movement was enough to cause the keeper to take his eye off the ball which bounced in front of him and skipped on into the corner of the net.

Ives came out for the second half instantly showing more purpose, but before they managed to get in front they did have one let off in 54th minute. Keeper Bentley miss cued an attempted clearance straight to Gordon 45 yards from goal. The Church centre forward had chance to take a touch and tried to lob the out of position stopper. Despite his valiant attempt to recover his position the keeper could only watch as the ball sailed over his head and was mighty relieved to see it float just wide of his right hand post.

It was from that point which Ives took complete control and the hosts next noteworthy attempt on goal did not come until two minutes from time. The high press got the visitors in front just after the hour. Richens harried and robbed Cassidy deep inside the Church half. Striding forward Ives skipper fed the ball into the run of Luke Harris just outside the box. He in turn fed it on to the feet of Jonny Edwards just inside the box. The Ives centre forward had chance to take a touch before firing a left footer low past the right hand of the static Hollingshead.

The flow was now all one way and Richens scored his second free kick of the afternoon to make it three in 73rd minute. A Smith long throw was knocked out to Richens on the edge of the box and his first time effort arrowed through the crowded Church box and rattled the crossbar. The rebound fell to Myles Cowling on the edge of the D his fierce drive was blocked by the upraised arm of a desperate diving defender inches outside the box. Referee Wooton was right on the spot and immediately awarded the free kick. It looked to close for Richens to get the ball up and down over the five man wall. But he had other ideas and as the players beside the wall parted he fired a powerful low drive through the gap to find the bottom corner just out of reach of the diving Hollingshead.

The rampant Ives were now taring apart their struggling hosts. Richens came within inches of his hat trick two minutes later. Smith fed the ball to Alexandrou on the left and he cut inside along the edge of the box before squaring the ball to his skipper 20 yards out. Again Richens went for power, but this time he got the elevation wrong as the effort beat the flying Hollingshead but flew just over the crossbar.

The all-action midfield duo of Cowling and Richens combined to set up an opportunity for Greg Kaziboni in 82nd minute. The Ives substitute tried to place his effort from just inside the box only to be denied by Hollingshead as the keeper flung himself to his right to palm the ball away.

A series of Ives corners followed before the dancing feet of Cowling set up Williams to deliver the coup de gras four minutes from time. The ball was fed out to the midfielder in a wide left position and he immediately seized his opportunity to run at the tiring Church defence going past three defenders to get to the bye line before picking out Williams on the six yard line with his cut back. Ives centre half gleefully prodded the ball home just ahead of young substitute Amaru Kaunda who was right behind him and eagerly awaiting his first goal for the club.

There was still time left for the stunned hosts to spurn a good opportunity for a consolation goal as Yaw Ofosu got his head on Clayton-Phillips 88th minute corner but failed to hit the target from eight yards.

There were a number of contenders for man of the match but Ives very small band of travelling supporters behind the goal were unanimous in acclaiming Cowling the deserved winner of the award.  

Final Score:  Alvechurch   1   St Ives Town   4     


ALVECHURCH: Clayton-Phillips 28

ST IVES:  Richens 41, 73, Edwards 62, Williams 86

Team Line Ups:

ALVECHURCH: Hollingshead, Dugmore (capt), Cassidy, Mitchell, Ofosu, Crowther, Allen-Hadley (Campton-Sturridge 31), Hallahan (Brown 68), Gordon (Reka 89), Clayton-Phillips, Dawkins, Unused subs: Dyer, Patterson,

ST IVES: Bentley, Harris, Smith, Richens (capt), J. Williams, Hutchings, Cowling, Hottor (Kaziboni 63), Edwards, Alexandrou (Kaunda 77), Tomlinson (Casey 46), Unused subs: none

Cards:   Yellow:  ALVECHURCH:  Mitchell (45)      ST IVES: Hottor (11), Williams (34), Harris (90)  


Attendance:  246