Ives hit four in Royston win

Royston Town 2 v St Ives Town  4

Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central  02-03-2024

Nigel Howlett reports from Garden Walk

The previously in form Crows were presented with something of a poison challis prior to the start of this game as they were awarded with the Southern League team of the month award for January, a prize that they just managed to pip the Ives to and perhaps it was that extra little incentive that the visitors needed to spur them on to completing their second double in two seasons over their local rivals.

Ives started the game down the slope and with the wind and sun behind them and tore into the heart of their opponents straight from the off seizing the lead in cracking style in only the fourth minute. Theo Alexandrou gained possession inside the centre circle and instantly set off directly through the centre of the Crows back line which seemed to just open up for him and the youngster took full advantage advancing to the edge of the box before unleashing a fierce drive that left Louis Chadwick in the hosts goal clawing at fresh air as the ball flew past him into the net.

The hosts picked themselves up from that early set back and started to try and work their way back into the game. The lively Andronicos Georgiou robbed Aaron Smith 25 yards from goal and it took an excellent block from the covering Jordan Williams to prevent the youngster getting his eighth minute strike on target. Georgiou caused more problems five minutes later when he was upended just outside the box by Ed Hottor but Ives five man wall did its job blocking out James Brighton’s curling free kick.

Ives should have doubled their advantage in 16th minute when skipper Michael Richens picked out the left sided run of Alexandrou. The youngster did brilliantly to get to the bye line and pick out Jonny Edwards in a little bit of space by the penalty spot. But unusually the visitors leading scorer fluffed his lines directing his first time effort a couple of yards wide of Chadwick’s right hand upright.

The visitors very mobile front line continued to cause all sorts of problems for the Crows and Dan Barton had a good shout for a penalty turned down two minutes later as he galloped away onto a Richens through ball, just beat Chadwick to it and was then bundled over by the keeper in a wide right position, but crucially just inside the box.

Georgiou continued to look the main threat for the hosts and he twice set up shooting opportunities for Kian Harness in a six minute spell midway through the half. First time he cut in from the right before teeing up his strike partner for a shot from the edge of the box that he curled wide. Second time was an even better chance as the busy number ten burst through the middle before feeding Harness through inside the box but the striker again failed to hit the target from a good position.

The very open game continued to flow end to end and Ives spurned another golden opportunity to double their lead just after the half hour. A long punt from debutant keeper Sam Bentley fell to Alexandrou 25 yards out. He took the ball down well and threaded it through into the run of Luke Harris. The wing back was clear with only Chadwick to beat but the keeper spread himself well to make an excellent block.

But keeper Chadwick was caught out by Richens six minutes later as Ives finally did claim the second goal that their first half performance deserved. The Ives skipper picked up the ball on halfway and strode forward. Seeing the out of position Chadwick fast back peddling he tried his luck from 30 yards and caught the keeper flat footed with a rasping drive that beat his despairing dive and found the back of the net.

The hosts did manage to carve out a couple of half chances to find a route back into the game before the break. A quick 42nd minute free kick saw Harness fed in through the left channel but Bentley was smartly off his line to close him down and make a good block. The keeper was a little more fortunate ninety seconds later when he came off his line to head away a lob over the top by ex Ives man Charlie Johnson. The ball dropped to Georgiou and his on target effort deflected off an Ives defender straight into the grateful hands of Bentley who had retreated into his box.

Having started the first half like a train Ives repeated the trick at the start of the second and it only took them 150 seconds to go three up. Harris fed in Barton down the right and his cross to the near post was met perfectly by Alexandrou who drifted his deft header over Chadwick and just inside the far post.

The hosts were unlucky not to pull a goal back only four minutes later as Harness got on the end of a cross from the right at the near post and looked like he had replicated Alexandrou’s effort but it was not to be as the ball struck the far post and rebounded straight into the hands of keeper Bentley who gratefully grasped it to his chest.

Harris came within millimetres of putting the game completely out of the Crows reach in 54th minute. Fed in by a perfectly weighted pass from Alexandrou he carefully weighed up his options and deftly chipped it over the exposed Chadwick with Edwards fast arriving at the back post it looked certain to be four but both Harris and Edwards were denied by the upright as the ball struck it and rebounded back into play for it to be scrambled away by a Crows defender.

Alexandrou was continuing to cause the Crows defence all sorts of problems with his direct running style and ability to beat a man. Only sixty seconds after Harris hit the post he stung the hands of Chadwick with a crisp rising drive from just outside the box that the well positioned keeper held at the second attempt.

The Crows did however manage to grab a lifeline in 57th minute. Centre back Adam Murray had by this point been thrown forward by manager Matt Waldron and he found himself in the right place to force the ball home after Harness’s lob over Bentley had rebounded off an upright.

It took another good save from Bentley to prevent the Crows making it a nail biting last 20 minutes as the keeper spread himself well to deny Harness after the striker had got on the end of Sam Mvemba’s cross from the left.

Four minutes later captain fantastic Richens killed off the game by grabbing his second and Ives fourth of the day. It came in very similar circumstances to his first as he won a tackle against Harness inside the centre circle and strode forward all the way to the edge of the box before unleashing a powerful low drive that struck the legs of the diving Chadwick and looped into the air. Everyone looked on in hope that the ball would come down in their favour and it was Ives fans celebrating when it did as the ball crept under the crossbar and into the net.

Richens almost completed his hat trick only seconds later as he robbed a shell shocked Ed Asafu-Adjaye just outside the box and tried to lob the out of position Chadwick but the ball floated just over the top much to the relief of Crows keeper.

The Crows did manage to grab a late consolation goal midway through an added five minutes. Johnson’s near post flick to a corner from the right was cleared off the line by a covering defender and it looked like the chance was gone but Ives were slow to react allowing substitute Damaray Anyadike to latch on to the loose ball and thrash it past Bentley to make the final score in this exciting encounter 4-2 in favour of the Ives.  

Final Score:  Royston Town   2   St Ives Town   4    


ROYSTON: Murray 57, Anyadike 90+2

ST IVES:  Alexandrou 4, 48, Richens 37, 74

Team Line Ups:

ROYSTON: Chadwick, Dawodu, Johnson (capt), Coldicott-Stevens (Anyadike 75), Murray, Henry, A. Williams (Esan 46), Brighton (Asafu-Adjaye 75), Harness, Georgiou, Mvemba, Unused subs: Virciglio, Townsend-West

ST IVES: Bentley, Harris, Smith, Richens (capt), J. Williams, Hutchings, Barton (Kaunda 84), Hottor (Cowling 87), Edwards, Alexandrou (Casey 80), Tomlinson, Unused subs: Kaziboni

Cards:   Yellow:  ROYSTON:  none                ST IVES:  Alexandrou (79), Tomlinson (82)


Attendance:  423