Ives lose out in seven goal thriller

Halesowen Town 4 v St Ives Town 3

Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central  20-04-2024

Nigel Howlett reports from The Grove

Yet again Ives came out to entertain and on this occasion they found opponents willing to take them on toe to toe, giving the bumper West Midlands crowd an exciting afternoon in the pleasant April sunshine.

With both teams in good form each boasting five wins from their last seven games this fixture always looked likely to be a good one for the neutral and so it turned out. Whilst Ives had been scoring goals for fun in recent weeks the Yeltz had built their good run on solid performances usually leading to one goal victories. But Ives manager Ricky Marheineke was not about to set up for a cagy game and his opposite number Ross Penn rose to the challenge.

The opening minutes were generally ruled by the hosts with Kieren Donnelly firing an early opportunity wide before McKauley Manning fired the Yeltz in front in eighth minute. Kai Lissimore picked out the roving full back in space on the left edge of the box. A good first touch and a powerful low drive were sufficient to beat the diving Sam Bentley and find the bottom corner.

Ives slowly worked their way back into the game but it looked like they had suffered a serious blow to their hopes when the tricky Dan Barton picked up a knock as he tried to skip through the hosts formidable back line in 15th minute. After treatment and a fruitless attempt to return to the fray the young midfielder limped off to be replaced by Myles Cowling.

The Yeltz should probably have doubled their lead in 25th minute as an excellent flowing move down the left involving Manning, Donnelley and Caine Elliott ended with Miracle Okafor teeing up Lissimore but the hosts number eight snatched at the chance and fired over from a good position.

That miss proved costly as Ives, inspired by Cowling, suddenly turned the game on its head. The midfielder threaded a 27th minute slide rule pass through the Yeltz back line to pick out the perfectly timed run of Jonny Edwards. Keeper Dan Platt came to try and slide in and claim the ball ahead of the marauding centre forward. But Edwards got enough of a touch to ensure that the sliding keeper could not hang onto the ball and then showed his killer instinct by pouncing on the loose ball and curling it into the roof of the net from the corner of the box.

Only ninety seconds later Cowling proved provider again. This time threading a ball through the centre that put the speedy Amaru Kaunda clear. He too showed the true striker’s instinct to beat the exposed Platt comprehensively from the edge of the box to put Ives in front for the first time.

But the first half entertainment was far from over as the hosts came taring back at the Ives and six minutes after going in front they found themselves pegged back. Full back Manning grabbed his second of the game curling his 25 yard free kick around Ives four man wall to beat Bentley low to his right as the keeper scrambled to get across. The free kick had been awarded when the battling Luke Harris clumsily upended Todd Parker as the midfielder tried to burrow his way through.

The game just kept on giving as Theo Alexandrou stunned the massive home crowd to silence again when he put Ives back in front with the goal of the game in 37th minute. Michael Richens corner was powerfully met in the six yard box by Ryan Wynter but his clearing header dropped to Alexandrou fully 25 yards out. The youngster took on the dropping ball and met it perfectly beating the startled Platt low to his right with a screamer that found the corner of the net.

There was still time before the break for Ives to suffer a couple of big scares. Paddy Casey took one for the team to thwart the first of these five minutes before the break. Richens free kick from the left was cleared with Donnelley just beating Casey to the clearance on half way and touching the ball past him. A blatant body check was the only thing that prevented the pacy number eleven getting away. Fortunately for Ives referee Tom Wall deemed the foul so far away from goal that Casey could not really be considered the last man and much to the disgust of the home crowd the card shown was yellow.

The final opportunity of the half for the hosts just moments before the break came courtesy of the dangerous Manning. The roving full back again found space on the left and drew in defenders before picking out Jak Hickman in space at the back of the box. But the Yeltz winger tried to take on the effort first time and sliced well wide from just inside the box.

So a five goal first half, could the two sides keep up the entertainment level for the second period?. They certainly gave it a go. First chance of the second half fell to the hosts five minutes after the re-start with Lissimore putting Hickman away down the right and Okafor getting in front of his man at the near post to flick his effort narrowly wide.

Two minutes later at the other end Aaron Smith went close to opening his account for Ives as he got on the end of Cowling’s clever pull back from the left. But the full back’s close range effort deflected wide off a defender.

The two sides continued to trade blows and it was the Yeltz who pulled themselves level in 55th minute. Wynter started his run to meet Hickman’s corner from the back of the box, on his way through he lost his marker before meeting the delivery to the near post perfectly and giving Bentley no chance from close range.

Ives could so easily have been back in front only four minutes later as Cowling and Edwards worked a one two through the centre, keeper Platt raced out to just beat Edwards to the return, the loose ball skewed to Kaunda on the corner of the box. But as defenders desperately raced back to cover the youngster fired wide of the empty net.

The visitors continued to probe and twice went close in 64th minute. Initially Platt was forced to make a scrambling save after he was almost caught out by Richens 30 yarder. Only seconds later the home keeper did even better as he flung himself high to his left to fingertip over Harris’s attempted curler from 25 yards.

The value of those two saves was increased dramatically two minutes later when Hickman seized an opportunity to run at Smith down the right eventually turning inside past the full back and firing in a fierce left footer that took a deflection off the head of Jake Hutchings on its way past Bentley.

Now with their noses in front the hosts went in search of a fifth goal to kill off their tenacious visitors. Okafor went close without testing Bentley twice around the 80 minute mark. Initially outjumping Josh Tomlinson to get on the end of Hickman’s cross from the right. Then firing over from 25 yards with a chance that he created himself with a turn and shot.

But Ives were by no means done and created a series of chances in those last ten minutes, at least one of which should have been taken to get them their deserved reward from this game. The resulting Bentley goal kick from Okafor’s effort flicked off the head of Edwards to put Alexandrou away down the right. But he was unable to pick out a team mate with a low cross shot that flashed across the face of goal.

The closest Ives came to an equaliser was in 84th minute when substitute Johnny Herd’s deep free kick was headed out of the box but fell to Richens who beat Platt with his fierce drive only to see the ball rebound to safety off the underside of the crossbar.

The visitors kept pressing, in 88th minute Edwards held up the ball well before laying off to substitute Kai Fifield who picked out the run of Alexandrou but his tired looking shot from the edge of the box was parried away by a well positioned Platt.

The final chance for a deserved leveller came with the very last kick of the game. Bentley’s long punt deceived the Yeltz back line and bounced over the head of a defender. Cowling and Alexandrou both chased onto the ball, did they get in each other’s way?, maybe, as with only the exposed Platt to beat Cowling tamely pulled his effort wide from fifteen yards.

It was a much relieved hosts who concluded their final home game of the season with a lap lap of honour after the final whistle to thank their twelfth man, the raucous home support who had certainly enjoyed their afternoon in the sun. Let’s hope for similar weather next Saturday to give you all chance to get down to quattro-tech Westwood Road to enjoy the final bit of entertainment from the Ives for this season.

Final Score:  Halesowen Town   4   St Ives Town  3       


HALESOWEN: Manning 8, 35, Wynter 55, Hickman 66

ST IVES: Edwards 27, Kaunda 29, Alexandrou 37

Team Line Ups:

HALESOWEN: Platt (capt), Mitchell, Manning, Parker, Wynter, Taylor (Redfern 58), Hickman, Lissimore, Okafor (Boothe 82), Elliott (Holmes 69), Donnelly, Unused subs: Ezewele, Gregory

ST IVES: Bentley, Casey, Smith (Herd 70), Richens (capt), Tomlinson, Hutchings, Barton (Cowling 17), Harris (Fifield 84), Edwards, Kaunda, Alexandrou, Unused subs: none

Cards:   Yellow:  HALESOWEN: Wynter (55), Boothe (90+5)     ST IVES: Kaunda (32), Casey (40), Fifield (87)


Attendance: 1206