Ives see the lead slip once more

Leiston 1 St Ives Town 1

PitchingIN Southern League Premier Division Central – Tuesday 12 September 2023

Nigel Howlett reports from Victory Road

Ten days earlier when Ives visited Victory Road they were unlucky to come away with nothing from a pulsating FA Cup tie. This time that luck went some way to evening out as they can consider themselves somewhat fortunate to take a point away from a game where they spent virtually the entire second half camped in their own penalty area trying to hang onto a lead grabbed by a solo break away goal right on half time by Tiago Nassunculo.

Arriving in Suffolk in the pouring rain there may have been doubt in the minds of some that this fixture would take place but the Victory Road pitch had taken the downpour well, however the locals had not with only a meagre attendance of just over one hundred braving the weather.

There was an unexpected late blow for Ives when Greg Kaziboni got a call to say that his wife was going into labour and he needed to head back to Northamptonshire for the birth of his first child. We wish Greg and his expanding family well. Tyrone Baker came into the starting line up leaving the visitors with only three on the bench.

Aaron Smith had half a chance from the game’s first corner in the sixth minute as he lost his man to meet Michael Richens out swinging flag kick cleanly by the penalty spot but he could only direct his header wide of the post.

It took the hosts a little while to get into their stride and the first real action for Eddie Brearey did not arrive until 18th minute when overlapping full back Seb Dunbar laid the ball inside to Blues debutant Albie Armin. But the Ipswich Town loanees effort from 25 yards was straight at the Ives keeper who held on well.

Two minutes later it was the hosts other full back that got forward to cause problems as Wyatt Hill got down the right before feeding inside to the dangerous Ross Crane who ran at Ives defence before firing just wide from 25 yards.

The game was still fairly even during this middle period of the first half and Baker seized on a poor ball out of defence by Chris Casement to set up Dan Barton for a shooting chance in 23rd minute. The youngster took a touch before unleashing a fierce right footed effort the Casement did well to recover and block probably feeling that the sting from the shot was going to make him more careful playing out from the back for the rest of the game.

Back down the other end in 28th minute Paddy Casey upended Joe Marsden just outside the left edge of the box. Eddie Brearey did well to cling on to Crane’s free kick into the danger zone as attackers crowded around him ready to pounce on any slight error.

Similar sniffing for goal would have brought Ives reward three minutes later as home keeper Sam Donkin confidently called for Richen’s corner into the six yard box but then unexpectedly let the ball slip through his fingers. Unfortunately no Ives player reacted to the loose ball bouncing just in front of the goal line allowing Ryan Jarvis to save his keeper’s blushes by hacking it away.

Again the play quickly swung to the other end where Crane continued to cause problems. A 33rd minute drive into Ives back line saw him get past two defenders before slipping the ball to Dunbar but the ever busy Richens had tracked back well and made an excellent block to the full back’s effort on the edge of the box. Three minutes later the same player picked out Jack Manley with a low driven cross. The Blues number eleven struck his effort from the edge of the box well but again Brearey showed his prowess diving to his left make the save.

Then with half time fast approaching and the board being prepared to indicate the added time came Ives goal. Nassunculo picked up a long ball out of defence fully 35 yards from goal and set off on a mazy run into the heart of the Blues defence being tracked by three defenders it looked like he was being pushed harmlessly wide as he went on into the penalty area. But he still had the ball at his feet and he tried his luck with a rising left footed effort that keeper Donkin will probably not want to see again as it beat his upraised arm at the near post and went into the roof of the net.

The hosts started the second half very much on the front foot and determined to get back on terms. They quickly found themselves picking up free kicks around the Ives box and Richens, already with a suspension looming, picked up his sixth yellow card of the season for upending Crane four minutes after the re-start. The Blues danger man picked himself up and fired the resulting free kick over the visitors four man wall and just inches wide of Brearey’s left hand upright as the young keeper flung himself across goal to cover the effort.

The foul count continued to clock up against Ives but they were all outside the box until a hearts in mouths moment on the hour when ex Ives man Kieran Higgs cut in from the left and went down under challenge from Paddy Casey. But referee Chris Hastings, who may have been a little unsighted, waved the incident away. The decision so incensed the host’s goalkeeper coach Nigel Ling that he found himself dismissed from the dugout for his protestations.

The tide continued to flow towards Ives goal and a 67th minute snap shot from Higgs just cleared the crossbar. You might say that was close but what followed four minutes later was an amazing escape for the visitors. Crane was again the provider as he clipped a ball into the centre that led to an amazing scramble inside Ives box. The initial header was from Dunbar was blocked on the line by Williams, apparently with the use of a hand if the locals are to be believed. A follow up effort was also kept out at point blank range and the ball finally scrambled clear.

After two very good shout for a penalty had been turned down the third that came in the 77th minute lacked conviction and again was not given as Dunbar went down inside the box again under challenge from the hard working Casey.

It was beginning to look like Ives might hang on for what would have been an amazing win on the road but their luck finally ran out in 84th minute as a corner from the right was fed back to Crane on the edge of the box and his well struck, first time effort found a way through the crowd and went in off the far post to level things up.

Having got level one might have expected the hosts to go for the jugular and try to grab all three points, but they were still cautious of Ives on the break and the only two half chances that arrived in the remaining minutes both fell Ives way with Williams harshly adjudged to have fouled keeper Donkin as the pair challenged for Richens 88th minute free kick and another Richens free kick in added time falling to the feet of Charlie Johnson but his left footed effort lacking the power to test the Blues keeper.

The very hard earned point was not enough to lift Ives out of the bottom four but it does keep them well in touch with those around them. A Saturday off to allow some of the injured a bit more recovery time now awaits before a return to league action at home to mid table Redditch on 23rd September.

Final Score:  Leiston   1  St Ives Town  1  


LEISTON: Crane 84

ST IVES: Nassunculo 44

Team Line Ups:

LEISTON: Donkin, Hill, Dunbar (capt), Armin, Casement, Jackson, Crane, Higgs, Manley (McNeil 75), Marsden (Loza 64), Ryan Jarvis (Spooner 75), Unused subs: Batho, Dronfield,

ST IVES: Brearey, Casey, Smith, Richens (capt), Williams, Johnson, Barton (Culkin 79), Andoh (Harris 64), Nassunculo, Bell-Toxtle, Baker (Hickinson 76), Unused subs: none

Cards: Yellow:  LEISTON:  Crane (90+3)       ST IVES: Richens (47), Culkin (86)


Attendance:  103