St Ives Town 0 Bromsgrove Sporting 1
Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 14-10-2023
Nigel Howlett Reports
Struggling Ives looked like things were going their way when visiting player manager Michael McGrath recklessly slid in on Brandon Njoku to earn himself a straight red card with half an hour to go. But not only did the hosts not win the game against their resilient, but uninspiring, opponents they somehow managed to concede a late goal to ensure that they got no return at all which sees them remain one from bottom with only one win to their name at the end of the first quarter of the season.
After last weeks confidence boosting performance and result in the FA Trophy things were looking on the up for the hosts. But that confidence took a bit of a knock with the pre-game news that both Paddy Casey and the inspirational Myles Cowling had picked up knocks in training and both were going to miss out. Aaron Smith and Luke Harris came in to replace the missing pair in an otherwise unchanged line up.
That fragile confidence could so easily have been handed a massive boost only three minutes in when one of Smith’s trademark long throws sailed over all of the big men at the near post and seemed to hit Njoku six yards out. He reacted quickly enough to direct his effort on target but it was straight at keeper Ollie Taylor who got the ball jammed between his legs right on the goal line but most importantly he kept it out.
The Rouslers number ten Conor Tee was quickly showing as their danger man and his sixth minute run down the left which started inside his own half was finished with a fierce shot from just outside the box that stung the hands of Ives keeper Eddie Brearey as he palmed it away.
It was skipper Michael Richens turn to go on a powerful run six minutes later as he drove into the right side of the box to get to the bye line before picking out Dan Barton in space by the edge of the area with his pull back. But the young winger snatched at the chance firing his first time effort well over the top.
Another Smith long throw caused more chaos in the visitor’s box on the half hour. This time Charlie Johnson rose highest to win the flick at the near post and somehow both Njoku and Jonny Edwards had been left in the centre of goal unmarked. Surely one of them must finish it, but no they seemed to get in each other’s way with the final effort being a tame header from Njoku straight at keeper Taylor who made a comfortable save.
There was one more scare for Ives before the break with Tee again involved as he combined well down the left with Keanu Cooper before delivering a dangerous cross shot to the near post. Tristan Dunkley lost his marker to get across in front of Brearey and the keeper did well to keep his eye on the ball and knock it away.
What proved to be an eventful second half started with the visitors enjoying their best period of the game and it took an excellent reaction save from Brearey ten minutes after the restart to keep the scores level. The move came down the right with Dunkley and Callum King-Harmes exchanging passes before the latter delivered a ball to the near post where Cooper met it first time forcing the save from Ives stopper.
Full back Ayomide Lekuti then got in on the act two minutes later ranging forward down the left before cutting inside past a couple of Ives defenders and teeing up Tee who fired well over from 25 yards. Lekuti himself did no better with a long range effort that flew well wide just before the hour.
Then came the moment that changed the game as McGrath lunged in with his boot dangerously high on Njoku giving referee Thomas Harvey the simple task of raising the straight red card to the Rouslers centre back. As well as injuring Njoku, McGrath also inflicted some injury on himself in making the challenge so it was a few minutes before he left the field of play. On his way to the dressing room he risked more injury to himself by taking a few kicks to the fencing by the tunnel. Referee Harvey added those misdemeanours to his discipline report. But was it all a cunning ploy to use up some time to allow the visitors to reorganise before the resumption as it gave them chance to sacrifice Dunkley to bring on a replacement centre back in David Solademi.
Solademi came very close to giving Ives the lead in 73rd minute as another Smith long throw flicked off his head at the near post and was going in the bottom corner of the net until keeper Taylor got down to make the save. Ives remained patient but at times their slow build up play was giving the ten men chance to shape up their two banks of four that were proving so difficult to penetrate. Edwards had an 80th minute shot from just outside the box that hit a defender to take all of the sting out of it before it arrived in the hands of Taylor.
Greg Kaziboni was introduced to replace hard working wing back Peter Abimbola ten minutes from time and he delivered a teasing 82nd minute corner that Jordan Williams rose to win in the centre of goal, but he could not get over the ball and his close range header powered over the top.
There was a scare for Ives four minutes later as keeper Brearey came racing from his goal to just beat the speedy Rouslers substitute Gustavo Macedo-Sanches to a through ball. The keeper won the ball cleanly but a shower of rain had slicked up the surface and he went sliding out of his box with ball still in hands to pick up a yellow card. Tee swung the resulting free kick into the mix but Johnson rose highest to power the ball clear.
Back up the other end Kaziboni did brilliantly to get past two defenders to get to the bye line and deliver a ball to the near post where Njoku was arriving at pace. Taylor went for the unorthodox in kicking the ball away just ahead of the Ives striker.
The board went up for an added twelve minutes, mostly gleaned from the injuries to Njoku and McGrath plus a comical interlude where the assistant’s flag was broken by a flying football and he had to return to his car to get a replacement. Surely a dozen minutes was enough time for Ives to find a way through. Two substitutions were made by manager Ricky Marheineke to try and freshen up the attack for those remaining minutes but almost immediately after the introduction of Ed Hottor and Tiago Nassunculo disaster struck for the hosts. Macedo-Sanches outpaced Josh Tomlinson and cut inside past a static Johnson before delivering a low cross to the centre that Tee gleefully side footed home.
There was still plenty of time for Ives to get something from the game. In the 99th minute Richens got on the end of a deep cross from the left by the tireless Njoku, but rather than direct his header down into the crowded six yard box he went for goal from a narrow angle and was unlucky to see the ball strike the back of the covering Luke Rowe on the goal line and be scrambled clear.
Thanks to the delays from the goal celebration and a bit of time wasting there was a further three minutes added to the twelve and Ives again went close in the final of those minutes. Nassunculo managed to get to the bye line on the right and his pull back was knocked goalwards by Barton but again it was Rowe that got his body in the way to block the effort and protect his side’s very hard fought three points.
Final Score: St Ives Town 0 Bromsgrove Sporting 1
BROMSGROVE: Tee 90+3
Team Line Ups:
ST IVES: Brearey, Abimbola (Kaziboni 81), Smith, Richens (capt), Williams, Johnson, Barton, Harris (Hottor 90+2), Edwards (Nassunculo 90+2), Njoku, Tomlinson, Unused subs: Bell-Toxtle, Baker
BROMSGROVE: Taylor, White (Auld 24), Lekuti, Newell, Roberts, McGrath, King-Harmes (Macedo-Sanches 83), Cooper, Dunkley (Solademi 61), Tee, Rowe (capt), Unused subs: Eke,
Cards: Red: BROMSGROVE: McGrath (61)
Yellow: ST IVES: Harris (68), Brearey (85), Richens (90+1) BROMSGROVE: King-Harmes (48)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Peter Abimbola