Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 05-08-2023
A goal in each half from Marcus Barnes ensured that the impressive looking visitors inflicted Ives first opening day defeat since their United Counties League days over ten years ago.
Sports ended last season by missing out on the play-off places by a single point and judging by this performance they look determined to make amends for that this time out. They were the side doing the early pressing and Ives Oxford United loanee keeper Eddie Brearey was called into smart action as early as seventh minute when Dan Bradley was fed clean through by Andy Dales. Brearey showed his prowess by swiftly closing down the silky midfielder and blocking his shot at point blank range. The visitors went even closer only ninety seconds later when Dales turned inside from the right and unleashed a skimming drive from just outside the box that Brearey did well to block low to his right. Centre back Jordan Williams had to be alert to hack the loose ball away before Andre Wright could force it home.
Ives first half chance came in 16th minute when Michael Richens hanging free kick into the box was half cleared to Murphy Culkin on the edge of the box. But the big centre half snatched at his chance and lifted his effort well over the top of Oliver Bosworth’s goal.
Bosworth was called upon to make his first real save of the game six minutes later. This time an in-swinging Johnny Herd free kick from the right ricocheted around the Sports box before eventually falling to Richens inside the D. He hit a crisp low drive that looked like it was going to find the bottom corner of the net only to be palmed away low to his right by the diving Bosworth.
Cambridge United loanee striker Brandon Njoku was working hard up front but was struggling to get any joy out of Sports very mobile and powerful centre back pairing. The closest that he came to getting away was in 27th minute as he looked like breaking clear onto a Richens through ball. But Sports skipper Ethan Mann managed to catch him and harry him sufficiently to prevent him getting a shot away.
The two teams continued to cancel each other out and the game looked to be heading towards the break with parity in the scoreline only for the visitors to grab the lead with a goal out of nothing seven minutes before the interval. Barnes gained possession deep in Ives territory on the left. He switched back inside and delivered a low cross shot into the centre that took a deflection off Culkin, at the near post, which was just enough to deceive Brearey and despite the keeper’s despairing dive the ball crept in at the far post. With Sports now on top Brearey was called upon to make another save three minutes later as he did well to hold onto Bradley’s deflected 25 yard effort low to his right.
Ives started the second half well and went in search of an equaliser. The closest that they came was ten minutes after the re-start when Enoch Andoh managed to skip past a couple of defenders before teeing up Tyrone Baker who struck his 20 yard effort well but once more Bosworth was equal to it plunging low to his right to push the effort away.
As is so often the way in football, play swung straight to the other end where Sports pace found out the Ives back line. Oli Greaves sprinting away down the left before finding the unmarked Barnes with his low cross. The Sports number eleven gladly doubled his tally for the day, simply side footing home from close range.
Once again scoring the goal lifted the visitors to another level and Brearey again came to Ives rescue as he got down smartly to his left to keep out a rasping drive from Wright only moments later.
The hosts continued to search for a way back into the game with the tricky Greg Kaziboni replacing Luke Harris just after the hour. But try as they might Ives struggled to get any change out of the resolute Sports back line. Midway through the half Baker picked up a Richens cross on the left and seized the opportunity to drive into the box before going down dramatically as a defender came to meet him. Although Ives supporters by the clubhouse may not agree from my vantage point excellent referee Alistair Wilson got it spot on by raising the yellow card to the Ives winger for simulation.
Ives made two more changes in a desperate attempt to find a route back into the game with Tiago Nassunculo and a 70% fit Jonny Edwards joining the fray in place of Baker and Njoku respectively with twelve minutes to go. But the changes had little impact and Sports back line continued to look solid.
It took another excellent stop from Brearey to deny Barnes his hat trick eight minutes from time. The Sports winger took in a pass from Bradley before cutting inside from the right and trying to curl his effort around the Ives stopper who flung himself to his right to push the ball away.
There were six added minutes, but sadly no grandstand finish from Ives. Richens and Williams both directed late headers off target from two Herd deliveries into the box but nothing troubled Bosworth as he and his team mates comfortably held on to take the three points back to Derbyshire.
Manager Ricky Marheineke has a clear week to get his charges firing again and hopefully get Edwards and Dan Barton, who looked so sharp in pre-season before picking up an injury, fit again ahead of two games in 48 hours. Saturday’s trip to Nuneaton will be followed by a Monday evening visit to quattro tech Westwood Road for Southern League Premier Division Central newcomers AFC Sudbury.
Final Score: St Ives Town 0 Mickleover 2
MICKLEOVER: Barnes 38 & 56
Team Line Ups:
ST IVES: Brearey, Casey, Herd, Richens (capt), Williams, Culkin, Baker (Nassunculo 78), Harris (Kaziboni 63), Njoku (Edwards 78), Hottor, Andoh, Unused subs: Kurylowicz, Bell-Toxtle
MICKLEOVER: Bosworth, Sault, Bennett, Atkinson, Delap, Mann (capt), Dales, Bradley, Wright (Beavon 77), Greaves, Barnes (Nunn 87), Unused subs: Pollard, Atwal, Ferron
Cards: Yellow: ST IVES: Hottor (35), Baker (68) MICKLEOVER: Bradley (21), Sault (45+1), Dales (72)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Michael Richens
Next up for the Ives: Saturday 12 August. The Ives are on the road for the first time this season when they make the trip to Nuneaton who were defeated 2-1 at Berkhamsted today.
Match Highlights: https://youtu.be/WaZPn8eUaOY
Post match interview: https://youtu.be/Dd3TbPeCd7M