Ives salvage draw at Long Eaton

Long Eaton United v St Ives Town    

Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central  16-03-2024

For the second week in a row, it took a sterling second half performance to get reward from a game where the first half showing had left Ives with a lot of work to do. Unlike last week at Alvechurch where they fortunately managed to arrive at the break on level terms the visitors found themselves two goals in arrears against their struggling hosts who had registered only one win on home soil all season.

To give them credit though with the relegation trap door hanging by a thread the Blues had picked up some excellent draws against promotion chasing teams in recent weeks and came into this game with a modicum of confidence of improving that dismal home record. It was they who started on the front foot and it took a brave block from Jordan Williams to prevent Andrew Wright getting a seventh minute shot on goal from the edge of the box.

Tricky winger Joseph Nyahwema was looking dangerous on the left and should probably have done better with a tenth minute effort as he cut inside and fired a fierce effort well over the top from 20 yards.

In a similar pattern to last week Ives greatest threat in the first half was coming from dead ball situations and they managed to get in front in the simplest fashion from one of those in 17th minute. Aaron Smith’s long throw was knocked back to him and he curled a first time cross to the back post where Jonny Edwards had ghosted in unmarked. His knock back into the centre was forced home from point blank range by a similarly unattended Josh Tomlinson. 

But that lead only lasted ninety seconds as the Blues responded in style to level up with a well taken goal. Nyahwema was the provider showing good footwork on the left to get past Jake Hutchings and deliver a cross that Callum Cocks attacked at the back post to turn it past Sam Bentley low to his left.

The host’s left back had taken his first goal well and he took his second seven minutes later in much more spectacular style finding the top corner with a free kick from 25 yards that caught out Bentley beating him high to his left with the keeper perhaps a little slow to move his feet.

The lacklustre Ives main threat continued to come from Smith’s long throws and Theo Alexandrou should really have levelled things up in 39th minute. The long throw was flicked on at the near post by Tomlinson and fell to Alexandrou in space ten yards out by the back post. He went for it first time on the half volley and made clean contact but directed his effort just wide of the post.

As so often in football failure to take a chance at one end of the pitch comes back to haunt you at the other. So it was to be three minutes before the break as a mix up between Williams and Bentley presented Liam Loughlan with a simple third for the hosts. Williams was going to deal with a long ball down the park but got a shout from his keeper so ducked it to allow it to go through. But the keeper had not allowed for the pace of Loughlan who nipped between the two to steal the ball and then maintained his composure to take it down before striding on to roll it into the empty net.

Alexandrou quickly got Ives going after the re-start and his 48th minute run set up the first of the visitors ten attempts on goal in the second period. He got down the left outside Owen Betts and delivered a driven cross that was knocked away at the near post but the ball fell to Michael Richens 25 yards out. But his powerful first time effort screamed well wide.

Ives continued to pour forward in search of a route back into the game and Richens turned provider for their next chance four minutes later as he carefully hung up a cross to the back post where Hutchings rose highest but the centre back directed his looping header back across goal and wide of the far post as Blues stopper Ross Durrant scrambled across his line to cover.

The visitors pressure continued with Alexandrou finding lots of space on the left. In 64th minute he cleverly cut inside and delivered a teasing ball to the back post where the covering Cocks did just enough to deflect the ball away from the lurking Tomlinson. Alexandrou was again involved in Ives halving the arrears in 67th minute. He drew a foul out of the struggling Betts in a wide left position. Richens clever free kick was only half cleared to Myles Cowling on the edge of the box and he did very well to carefully steer his shot through the crowded box and past the unsighted Durrant into the bottom corner of the net.

That was Cowlings last action for the afternoon as he instantly became part of a double substitution from Ives manager Ricky Marheineke as the visitors went in pursuit of a leveller. Cowling was replaced by Greg Kaziboni with fit again Dan Barton replacing wing back Tomlinson. Kaziboni was involved in setting up Ives next opportunity as he got down the right before delivering a cross to the back post which Hutchings met with a first time effort that was bravely blocked by a covering defender.

The equaliser finally arrived in 82nd minute with wide men Kaziboni and Alexandrou both involved. The former putting the latter away down the left and Alexandrou’s pinpoint cross to the centre perfectly picked out Edwards arriving inside the six yard box and Ives leading scorer did the rest forcing the ball home into the roof of the net.

To give them their due neither side settled for a point and both had late chances to grab a winner. Blues opportunity came first in 90th minute when a corner from the right bounced around Ives box with two flying blocks from defenders before Nyahwema snatched at the loose ball and fired wide from just outside the box.

Ives opportunity only seconds later was more clear cut and should probably have been taken. Once more the duo of Alexandrou and Kaziboni were involved. With Alexandrou cleverly feeding Kaziboni into space down the left. He turned inside on the edge of the box and tried to beat Durrant with a curling effort that the stretching keeper just managed to palm away. But the ball fell to the feet of the unmarked Edwards just six yards out. He took a touch and unleashed a powerful drive that was brilliantly blocked on the line by the covering Cocks to deny Ives what would have been a fantastic three points.

The hosts will certainly look at this result as two points dropped and the draw leaves them very much on the precipice as with just six games left they find themselves 15 points from safety. Ives poor first half gave them a mountain to climb in the second and they came within inches of reaching the pinnacle with Edwards late effort blocked on the line. The consolation that Ives can take from the game is that the three goals that they scored have now taken them up to joint leading scorers in the division alongside high flying Mickleover. For the statisticians amongst you this is only Ives fourth draw of the season and their first since 12th September last year. There is still plenty more entertainment in the remaining weeks of the season yet. 

Final Score:  Long Eaton United   3   St Ives Town  3      


LONG EATON: Cocks 19, 26, Loughlan 42

ST IVES:  Tomlinson 17, Cowling 68, Edwards 82

Team Line Ups:

LONG EATON: Durrant (capt), Betts, Cocks, Atwal (Keane 65), Bertram, Hanson (Martin 57), Mandjoba (Rogers 87), Wright, Hewlett, Nyahwema, Loughlan, Unused subs: Gordon, Tyson 

ST IVES: Bentley, Casey, Smith, Richens (capt), J. Williams, Hutchings, Cowling (Kaziboni 68), Hottor (Kaunda 87), Edwards, Alexandrou, Tomlinson (Barton 68), Unused subs: Harris

Cards:   Yellow:  LONG EATON:  Hanson (14), Wright (21)      ST IVES:  Hutchings (59) 


Attendance:  154