Ives hit four in Stourbridge win

St Ives Town 4 v Stourbridge  1

Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central  13-04-2024

Nigel Howlett reports

It took a half time roasting from manager Ricky Marheineke to lift the previously soporific Ives back to their ebullient best as three second goals saw off the previously in form Glassboys. Prior to the inspirational second half performance the game had been drifting much as one might expect for an end of season encounter between two mid table sides. Ives had grabbed the lead ten minutes before the break courtesy of a brilliant run and perhaps fortunate finish from Theo Alexandrou. They also had to thank keeper Sam Bentley for preserving that advantage with an excellent low save to his right to keep out Brendon Daniels tame spot kick.

The visitors came into this game on a three game unbeaten run, still enjoying the new manager bounce since Darryl Knights took over the side at the end of March. But that bounce may have been deflated a little in the warm up when star man Alex Prosser pulled up with an injury that lead to a late change on the team sheet. To counteract that Ives were missing two of their most consistent players with Jordan Williams and Ed Hottor both suspended after picking up red cards in recent games.

The early pressure came from the Glassboys with Jake Hutchings bravely blocking a third minute strike from Kian Ryley after he had been teed up on the edge of the box by Koby Arthur. Visiting skipper Joel Kettle should also have done better with his header after he lost his man to get on the end of Daniels fifth minute corner but the big centre back failed to hit the target from ten yards.

Ives first opportunity arrived in twelth minute when Amadu Kaunda siezed on Jack Wilson’s wayward pass just outside the box. But the youngster snatched at the chance and blazed his effort well over the crossbar.

The first half then began the previously mentioned drift as both teams seemed to be enjoying the warm spring sunshine and coasting their way through the game. This mediocraty was punctuated by occassional periods of excitement mostly provided by Alexandrou who was siezing every opportunity to try his luck at getting past Wilson on the left hand side. He succeeded in showing Wilson a clean pair of heels on a couple of occassions without then providing a telling ball to pick out a team mate. But in 35th minute the young striker picked up a ball from Myles Cowling just inside the visitors half and set off on a pacy run that saw him again get past the struggling Wilson but this time he went on, and on, eventually rounding keeper Charlie Price with a shimmy before sliding the ball goalwards from a narrow angle. A desparate attempt to get the ball off the line by Aaron Forde only succeeded in forcing it into the net but the dubious goal panel awarded it to the deserving Alexandrou.

A second goal could have arrived two minutes later when Jonny Edwards robbed a dallying Kettle on the edge of the box. The loose ball rolling to Kaunda leaving the youngster with only the exposed Price to beat but much to the chagrin of the Ives supporters behind the goal referee Matthew Fletcher deemed that Edwards had fouled the Glassboys skipper in winning the ball.

That was a moment of Edwards at his best but five minutes before the break he did not do so well as he lost possession 25 yards from the visitors goal. The move then lead to a Glassboys breakaway that ended with Daniels taken down inside the box by a combination of Josh Tomlinson and Hutchings. Referee Fletcher had no doubt and pointed to the spot. Daniels picked himself up to take the kick himself, but the effort lacked conviction allowing Bentley to make an excellent save low to his right to preserve the host’s lead at the interval.

Ives still have targets this season as they continue to hunt out their best ever finish at step three and also their quest to finish leading goalscorers in the division and Marheineke reiterated these targets to his charges at the interval. The hosts took the manager’s rallying call to heart and came out for the second half a rejuvinated team sporting a new formation with a flat back four and Luke Harris pushed forward from his wing back spot into midfield

The half was only four minutes old when Kaunda drifted between players to get a clean header onto Smith’s long throw but the younger failed to hit the target with his effort. Harris was enjoying his more forward role and he set up the next opportunity for Cowling three minutes later. But the all action midfielder blazed his effort well over the top from 25 yards.

The threat was certainly there to suggest a second goal may come and sure enough it did courtesy of leading scorer Edwards on the hour. But the goal owed a lot to both Harris and Cowling. The former burst through the centre of the park going past two players with drag backs before feeding in the run of Cowling who got to the bye line before delivering a low cross into the six yard box that Edwards gleefully thumped home.

Cowling was everywhere and he almost grabbed a goal for himself seven minutes later following a brilliant interchange of passes with Alexandrou down the left. The wide man’s final ball into the feet of a fast arriving Cowling just inside the box looked a little heavy. But the diminuative midfielder took it perefctly into his run and stabbed a shot on goal that deflected inches wide off a covering defender. Substitute Dan Barton’s inswinging corner caused panic in the Glassboys defence and as the ball bounced around their box it eventually dropped to Tomlinson inside the six yard box who depatched it high into the net to make it three.

There was a hicup in the one way tide as Ives made the classic mistake of relaxing after scoring and duly let the visitor get a goal back only sixty seconds later. Glassboys debut making substitute Diallo Boubacar ran at the host’s back line and was bundled over 25 yards from goal by Hutchings. Daniels did a lot better with the resulting free kick than he did with his earlier spot kick getting the ball up and over Ives three man wall to beat the static Bentley high to his left.

Ives quickly switched back on and the flow towards the visitors goal resumed. By this point the tricky Greg Kaziboni had joined the cause in place of the tiring Alexandrou. His battling qualities came out in 76th minute as having lost possession to Harvey Portman he battled to win it back deep in Glassboys territory. His threaded pass put Barton away down the right. The youngster’s pull back found the feet of Edwards by the penalty spot but the big striker’s toe poked effort rolled inches wide of the post as Price scrambled across to cover.

It was Kaziboni’s turn to get on the scoresheet three minutes later and again it was his battling qualities that won him the chance as he challenged Portman for a lob over the top by Smith. The loose ball dropped to Cowling who unselfishly fed it back into the path of Kaziboni who cleverly curled it through the crowd into the bottom corner of the net past the despairing dive of Price.

The remaining time saw the visitors twice go close to a consolation goal with Wilson ghosting into the near post to get on the end of Jack Fletcher’s free kick from the right but steering his close range header wide. Daniels also had an opportunity with another free kick almost identical to the one that he scored but this time a fourth man in Ives wall denied him as his shot deflected wide of that bolstered wall.

Michael Richens had the game’s final chance two minutes into added time but his 25 yard free kick flew inches over the top.

For the records Ives have now matched their record points tally at step three still with two games to go and currently sit tenth in the table, three places above previous highest finishing position. Their four goals also leaves them on 81 goals from 38 games, five clear of next best Stamford. Still plenty to play for in those remaining two games.

Final Score:  St Ives Town   4  Stourbridge  1


ST IVES: Alexandrou 35, Edwards 60, Tomlinson 67, Kaziboni 79


Team Line Ups:

ST IVES: Bentley, Harris, Smith, Richens (capt), Casey, Hutchings, Alexandrou (Kaziboni 74), Cowling, Edwards, Kaunda (Barton 66), Tomlinson, Unused subs: none

STOURBRIDGE: Price, Flint, Portman, Forde (Walters 78), Kettle (capt), Wilson, Arthur (Boubacar 61), Fletcher, Daniels, Ryley, Bood (Cooper 89), Unused subs: Prosser, Bavanganga

Cards:   Yellow:  ST IVES:  Barton (86), Cowling (87)    STOURBRIDGE: Portman (41), Bood (45)


Attendance:  401