Ives record victory to progress in Trophy

St Ives Town 3 v Kettering Town 2  

Isuzu FA Trophy 3rd Qualifying Round  07-10-2023

Nigel Howlett Reports

Three goals up and cruising it looked like Ives were going to comfortably claim their place in Mondays draw for the first round proper of the Isuzu FA Trophy. But with four players in their side returning from long term injury it was always likely that they would struggle to sustain their early pace and sure enough they allowed the Poppies to find a route back into the game and gave themselves a very nervy last twenty minutes but unlike the previous meeting between these two sides on August Bank Holiday Monday they did manage to get themselves over the line.

Ives were happy that the fixtures had worked out well for them giving them a ten day break since their mauling at Needham Market. This period had given those recovering from extended injury breaks time to get themselves a little fitter and the introduction of two new loanees from Northampton Town in Peter Abimbola and Josh Tomlinson certainly freshened things up.

The hosts started like men inspired taring into their opponents right from the off with a high pressing style that rattled their visitors. Their first real chance came after eight minutes when Dan Barton robbed Ben Toseland just outside his own box forcing the ex Ives full back to pull him back. Michael Richens curled the resulting free kick into the danger zone where Luca Purse just beat Jonny Edwards to it to knock the ball out for a corner. That flag kick was immediately followed by a second which was knocked back to Myles Cowling by the corner of the box and he curled a first time effort just wide.

It took a good save from Poppies keeper Billy Johnson to prevent Ives getting in front five minutes later. Cowling burst forward from half way and laid the ball into the feet of Brandon Njoku who in turn fed the ball through defenders into Cowling who had continued his run into the box. But Johnson was alert to the danger and quickly off his line to spread himself and block the midfielder’s effort at point blank range.

Ives pressure continued and they went close twice more in the next ninety seconds. Edwards fed in Njoku who got to the bye line before picking out Cowling with his pull back. His effort from the edge of the box was blocked but the ball rebounded to Richens who fired a first time volley just wide. Seconds later Barton fed in Njoku who ruffled the side netting with a fierce drive from a narrow angle.

Johnson was called into action again in 20th minute when Richens won one of his trademark crunching tackles in the middle of the park before striding forward and trying his luck from fully thirty yards forcing keeper Johnson into a scrambling save low to his right.

Having struggled to get any quality possession in the first period it began to look like the Poppies were going to manage to hold off the rampant Ives until the break. But then the opening goal arrived out of nothing in 38th minute. The hosts were breaking at pace, but Edwards was forced out to the right touchline by a slightly heavy pass and initially did well to keep the ball in. What happened next will probably be the first event of the afternoon to give keeper Johnson nightmares as Edwards swung his boot through the ball tyring to deliver a cross into the centre. But the ball arrowed in on goal and with Johnson a little slow to react the cross shot sailed over his head and went in off the upright.

Maybe he was rattled from getting beaten in such fashion, or maybe this was just a stand-alone error but just as the clock ticked into added time at the end of the first half Johnson and his skipper Gary Stohrer combined to gift Ives a second. The keeper played the ball out short to Toseland who fed it inside to Stohrer about 25 yards from goal. As Cowling closed him down the skipper rolled the ball back towards his keeper who was caught on his heels and could only watch as the ball rolled past him into the net. There was still time for Njoku to have appeals for a penalty waved away as Toseland lent into him as he tried to get past the full back inside the box.

Poppies manager Andy Leese sacrificed Toseland to replace him with an extra attacker in Sam Bennett five minutes after the restart. But before the new man could have any impact the visitors found themselves three down as Njoku and Barton combined brilliantly down the left to set up the goal of the game for Richens. The Ives skipper arriving at pace by the penalty spot to slam home Barton’s pull back.

Now three goals to the good and seemingly in complete control surely Ives could not let this game slip out of their grasp. But they allowed the Poppies a lifeline four minutes later when Stohrer redeemed himself a little in the eyes of the Kettering fans with a ball that picked out Tyrone Lewthwaite loitering on the left. The big number nine skilfully brought the ball under control before cutting inside leaving Tomlinson and Charlie Johnson in his wake before firing past Eddie Brearey from the edge of the box.

The goal gave the visitors something of a lift and it was also from this point that the lack of match fitness began to show in Ives long term absentees. Suddenly the tide in the game had turned. Rhys Sharpe was now delivering a series of dangerous long throws into the host’s box. It took a sharp save from Brearey to prevent the Poppies adding a second in 63rd minute. The long throw was cleared to Dan Jarvis just outside the box and Ives keeper did well to spot his fierce low drive through the crowd and even better to get down smartly and smother it.

The visitor’s second seven minutes later did owe a little to fortune as Stohrer’s shot from 25 yards deflected off a defender and fell to the feet of Bennett who looked to be standing in an offside position but the flag stayed down allowing the substitute to calmly slot the ball past the exposed Brearey.

The hard working Ives continued to deal well with the Poppies pressure as the clock ticked down. But they looked like they might be undone in 89th minute as a long range effort from Owen Cochrane was deflected off a defender and fell to the feet of Leon Clarke deep inside the box. This time the flag did go up much to the relief of the home crowd.

The pressure cooker was definitely boiling and it boiled over for Ives manager Ricky Marheineke as he disagreed vehemently with the decision when referee Martyn Mitchell awarded a free kick against Richens for a foul on Lewthwaite right in front of the dug outs in the first of five added minutes. The referee instantly lifted the red card sending Marheineke to the stands for the remainder of the game.

Only sixty seconds after that event referee Mitchell’s red card got another airing as Purse, who had earlier picked up a yellow card for a foul on Barton earned himself a second one for pulling back Njoku as the striker looked like breaking clear. The resulting free kick gave Ives chance to eat up some time and the Poppies were limited to one final opportunity as a last minute Sharpe missile into the box saw every player inside the penalty area but Edwards rose highest to head the ball away and see Ives to their first home win of the season.

A fantastic performance for the first hour that saw Ives deservedly progress. It just shows what is possible when the whole squad is fully fit and this must be seen as a catalyst for the next run of games where results must be gleaned to pick up the necessary points to pull Ives away from the bottom four. A run in the FA Trophy would also offer a nice diversion at the same time.

Final Score:  St Ives Town   3   Kettering Town  2


ST IVES: Edwards 38, Stohrer (own goal) 45+1, Richens 52

KETTERING: Lewthwaite 56, Bennett 70

Team Line Ups:

ST IVES: Brearey, Abimbola, Casey, Richens (capt), Williams, Johnson, Barton (Bell-Toxtle 81), Cowling (Harris 81), Edwards, Njoku (Nassunculo 90+4), Tomlinson, Unused subs: Smith, Baker

KETTERING: Johnson, Cochrane, Toseland (Bennett 50), Langmead, Clarke, Stohrer (capt), Lewthwaite, Sharpe, Jarvis (Scott 67), Dawson (Reilly 67), Purse, Unused subs: Okita, Bridgeman, Stewart, Mellors-Blair

Cards: Red: KETTERING: Purse – 2 x yellows (40) & (90+2)

            Yellow:  ST IVES: Richens (76)        KETTERING: Toseland (8),


Attendance:  351