Leamington 3 v St Ives Town 1
Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 23-12-2023
Brakes right winger Henry Landers capitalised on a poor first half performance from Ives to grab himself a hat trick before the break and effectively kill off the game as a contest. Two substitutions and a change of formation at the interval from manager Ricky Marheineke saw a much improved second half performance from the visitors with them deservedly pulling a goal back courtesy of an excellent Michael Richens free kick that was turned home from close range by Jordan Williams. But any hope of a late surge to grab anything from the game was effectively extinguished with eight minutes to go as the Ives skipper picked himself up two yellow cards in seven minutes to take the visitors down to ten men.
Ives made two changes from the side beaten by Hitchin a week earlier Jonny Edwards failing a pre-match fitness test meant Khris Oti came in for his first start at centre forward and George Joyce was preferred at right wing back in favour of Benji Mensah.
With both sides suffering dips in form after good winning runs this game was all about who could bounce back to form the best. With Ives slow out of the blocks it was the hosts who seized the early initiative and could have gone in front as early a sixth minute when Landers got away down the right to deliver a clip to the back post where Sam Tessler did well to prevent Callum Stewart forcing the ball home. The resulting Landers corner from the right dropped on the edge of the six yard box where it was prodded goalwards and just kept out by Eddie Brearey dropping on the ball right on his goal line.
Two minutes later Landers was at it again as referee Daniel Smith played an excellent advantage to allow him to get away down the right side again. This time it took a last ditch block from the covering Joyce to prevent Stewart turning the low cross in at the back post.
The pressure on Ives goal did not relent and there was an air of inevitability about the opening goal when in arrived in very simple fashion in 14th minute. Josh Quaynor was given to much space on the left and picked out Tyrone Barnett on the edge of the box with his cross. Barnett knocked the ball down with his chest to Landers who hit it first time and found the bottom corner with his low shot that the unsighted Brearey was unable to keep out despite getting a hand to it.
Ives had one opportunity to get back in the game in the first half and it came only two minutes after the Brakes opener as Dan Barton scampered onto a well weighted Tesler chip down the right. The young winger outpaced Quaynor and got to the bye line before picking out Brandon Njoku with his pull back. The striker’s initial shot was blocked and Luke Harris following up fired the loose ball out of the ground from the edge of the box.
It did not take many minutes for normal service to resume and only four minutes after Ives missed opportunity they found themselves with a greater hill to climb as Stewart cleverly turned Tesler to get to the bye line down the left. His clip into the centre picked out Landers arriving at pace and the wide man again showed his skills with a calm finish that found the top corner giving Brearey no chance.
The usually reliable Paddy Casey almost gifted the Brakes at third in 33rd minute as he got an attempted clearance completely wrong against the strong breeze the ball curling across the face of his own goal and arriving on the head of Barnett at the back post. It took an excellent goal line clearance from Tesler to prevent the striker’s stooping header going in.
The host’s pressure continued as Adam Walker and Landers combined to tee up Ewan Williams for a 33rd minute fierce drive from just inside the box that flew across the face of goal and just wide. Ives were fortunate to escape unscathed from that effort but not so fortunate only sixty seconds later when Landers completed his hat trick. Walker delivered the telling cross from the left and Landers managed to get across in front of his marker at the near post to loop a header over Brearey and into the net to effectively kill the game before the break.
Manager Marheineke gave his players a deserved roasting at the break, made two changes in personnel replacing Tesler and Oti with two players returning from injury in Josh Tomlinson and Greg Kaziboni respectively. He also switched the formation to a back four from the previously used back three and wing backs.
Whilst Ives were settling into the new formation Brearey made a good early save to deny Stewart who had almost forced home Theo Streete’s header into the mix after the centre back had got on the end of Quaynor’s deep free kick. But once Ives had settled into the new formation they started to threaten a little more than the had in the first period mainly thanks to the probing runs of Barton. In 52nd minute he managed to wriggle his way past Jack Edwards along the bye line and got to the six yard line before trying to pick out Njoku arriving at pace. Streete got in the way of the ball and knocked it straight back to Barton who reacted well to get a shot away but the angle was to narrow and the ball ended up in the side netting.
The visitors improved form continued and an excellent 64th minute Richens free kick allowed them to pull a goal back. The ball from the right was delivered into the no man’s land between keeper and defenders. Jordan Williams attacked it well and prodded the ball home from eight yards to reduce the arrears. Only seconds later there was a chance that could have changed the course of the afternoon and would certainly have put a lot more pressure on the hosts had it gone in. Kaziboni raced away down the right and delivered a teasing cross to the near post where Njoku got in front of his man but his flick flashed across the face of Callum Hawkins goal and much to the keepers relief drifted inches wide of the far post.
But that was the final Ives chance to get anything from the game and as the time ticked down the most noteworthy item in the remaining time was a frustrated Richens picking up two yellow cards in seven minutes. Having already been warned that he was living on the edge for persistent fouls throughout the game he picked up the first for clattering Walker in midfield in 75th minute and the second for taking down Quaynor inside his own half only moments later.
Losing their skipper took all of the momentum away and effectively killed any hope of a late charge from Ives. The late chances fell to the hosts as Walker directed a header just wide from a Landers cross and the host’s hat trick hero almost added a fourth to his tally as he fired an 86th minute drive inches wide having been fed in down the right by Dan Meredith.
An interesting fact from this game is that the last time anyone scored a hat trick for the Brakes it was three years ago in Ives last visit to the Co-Op Community Stadium in an FA Trophy tie played behind closed doors during the time of Covid in December 2020.
Pluses from today’s game were returns to fitness for Tomlinson and Kaziboni. The short break between now and Boxing Day will also hopefully give Edwards chance to recover ahead of what now looks like a vital fixture at the wrong end of the table against local rivals Kettering Town at the quattro-tech Westwood Road. Get their early as the game has a 1.00pm kick off.
Final Score: Leamington 3 St Ives Town 1
LEAMINGTON: Landers 14, 20, 36
ST IVES: Williams 64
Team Line Ups:
LEAMINGTON: Hawkins, Meredith, Quaynor, Clarke, Edwards, Streete, Landers (Medrano 86), Walker (capt), Stewart (Shorrock 79), Barnett (Taylor 90), E. Williams, Unused subs: Brown-Hill, Baldwin
ST IVES: Brearey, Joyce (Mensah 77), Harris, Richens (capt), J. Williams, Casey, Barton, Cowling, Oti (Kaziboni 46), Njoku, Tesler (Tomlinson 46), Unused subs: Hottor, Edwards
Cards: Red: ST IVES: Richens 2 x yellow (75) (82)
Yellow: LEAMINGTON: none ST IVES: Kaziboni (84)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Dan Barton