Ives slip to narrow defeat as winning run ends

AFC Telford United 2 v St Ives Town  1 

Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central  09-12-2023

Nigel Howlett reports from the New Bucks Head Stadium

Ives winning league run came to a halt after six on the bounce, but they were unfortunate to get nothing from their first ever trip to the impressive New Bucks Head Stadium where their equally in-form hosts stretched their unbeaten league run to nine games. The Bucks last league defeat being against Needham Market way back on 23rd September.

The visitors made a confident start and enjoyed the lion’s share of early possession going very close to getting in front in eleventh minute when Callum Milne did very well to keep alive a deep cross beyond the far post. Brandon Njoku looked like he was going to poke home Milne’s header back into the six yard box only to have the ball touched off his toe by Orrin Pendley.

Not to be outdone the hosts then also went close to grabbing that all important opener only ninety seconds later. The dangerous Reece Styche executed a brilliant turn just outside the box before delivering a low skidding ball to the far post that only just evaded Ricardo Dinanga sliding in at full stretch.

The game continued in an even pattern but whist Ives struggled to create clear chances, or even good half chances their opponents did manage to force a save from Eddie Brearey midway through the half. Jared Hodgkiss picked up a loose ball fully thirty yards out and unleashed a low drive that skipped off the wet turf but Brearey was equal to it holding on well low to his right.

Ives only conceded two free kicks in the entire first half but the first one of those in 24th minute saw the hosts go very close indeed to going ahead. Nathan Fox’s in-swinging delivery was met acrobatically at the back post by Montel Gibson and it took an equally spectacular goal line clearance from Paddy Casey to keep the ball out of the net. He was in just the right place to twist and deflect the ball over the crossbar with Brearey beaten.

The aerial bombardment was looking like the favoured route for the Bucks and they managed to get in front with a scrappy goal on the half hour. Fox was again the provider. This time being given space to deliver a deep cross from the left to beyond the far post where Styche got above Casey to head the ball back into the mix. Brearey looked favourite to get a fist to the looping ball, but Gibson bravely went in with the keeper and won the header. Brearey kept the effort out at point blank range but Gibson was first to react to the loose ball slamming home into the roof of the unguarded net.

Ives had one chance to get level before the break as Myles Cowling seized an opportunity to run into the heart of the Bucks defence before being unceremoniously taken down by Sam Whittall inside the D. Michael Richens stepped up and thumped the free kick past the edge of the four man wall but straight at keeper Brandon Hall whose hands were warmed on a cold afternoon as he parried the effort away.

The Bucks showed off a clever short corner routine right at the end of the first half as all of the big boys started in front of the near post before taking their markers across the face of goal opening up a gaping space to allow Fox to play his corner low into the feet of Styche arriving late at that near post but fortunately for Ives the host’s number ten did not give the move the finish that it deserved firing over the top from a very good position.

The hosts came out of the traps fast in the second period and doubled their lead only four minutes after the re-start. Once more it was a delivery from wide left by Fox that caught out the visitors. This time he exchanged passes with Dinanga before delivering another curling cross to the centre that was powered home by Jordan Piggott as the Bucks skipper ghosted in between Ives centre backs to head home from ten yards giving Brearey no chance.

Ives lost the vital presence of Jordan Williams for a five minute spell soon after that second goal as he was receiving treatment for a bloody nose picked up in his running battle with the powerful Styche and Gibson. It took an excellent saving header from Milne to prevent the hosts adding a third in 55th minute. Another perfect delivery from Fox was hanging in the air in the centre of Ives goal with both of the Bucks strikers homing in on it but somehow Milne managed to get between the two and even more amazingly he managed to direct his header away from goal when it looked far easier to steer it past his own keeper.

Having survived the fifteen minutes of pressure from the hosts only two goals in arrears and still in the contest Ives began to lift themselves again and they almost found a route back into the game just after the hour. A flowing move was ended with Cowling skipping through a gap in the hosts back line before feeding the ball into the run of Dan Barton through the right channel. His well struck effort from the edge of the box was kept out by full length diving save from Hall as the athletic keeper thew himself to his left to palm the ball away.

But Ives were not to be denied and only sixty seconds later a similar move saw Richens drive through the centre before feeding the ball into the feet of Barton just inside the box. This time a clumsy challenge from behind by Fox gave the excellent referee Tom Swift little choice but to point to the spot. Jonny Edwards made no mistake thrashing the ball high past the diving Hall to halve the deficit.

Only four minutes later it should have been 2-2 as Cowling worked a short corner routine with Barton before cleverly hanging the ball up to the back post where Edwards rose unmarked but powered his close range header inches the wrong side of the upright as Hall and his defenders looked on.

Having survived that let off the hosts then had one good opportunity of their own to kill the game with twenty minutes to go and Piggott was left shaking his head in amazement that he did not do just that as he again lost his marker to cleanly meet a corner from the left at the near post. His close range header flashed past Brearey but rebounded to safety off the crossbar.

Ives huffed and puffed and sent on the pace of Ben Mensah and Khris Oti in the closing stages but the nearest that the came to grabbing an equaliser was two minutes from time when Mensah burst forward from his own half before sliding the ball inside to Richens whose effort from 25 yards just required a routine save from Hall to ensure that the Bucks claimed the three points.

Final Score:  AFC Telford United    2   St Ives Town  1


TELFORD: Gibson 30, Piggott 49

ST IVES: Edwards 63 (pen)

Team Line Ups:

TELFORD: Hall, Tebbutt, Fox, Piggott (capt), Pendley, Whittall, Dinanga, Walker, Gibson, Styche (Yusuf 86), Hodgkiss (Kerr 90+4), Unused subs: Webster, Jones, Forsyth

ST IVES: Brearey, Harris (Mensah 76), Smith, Richens (capt), Williams, Casey, Barton (Oti 84), Cowling (Hottor 78), Edwards, Njoku, Milne, Unused subs: Tessler,

Cards:   Yellow:  TELFORD:  Styche (18), Gibson (44)            ST IVES:  none


Attendance:  855