Bishop’s Stortford 4 St Ives Town 3
Evo-Stik League South Premier Division – 03/02/18
A fantastic game for a neutral, but a hugely frustrating one for Ives players, management, and their fifty plus supporters who made the short trip down the M11.
One might have expected a game between two sides battling to stay out of the bottom four to be a tight, cagy, affair. But how wrong they were, as the game started in a very open fashion with both defences looking shaky from the off and continued that way almost throughout.
Ives were first to carve out an opening in the fourth minute as Tom Knowles raced away down the right and delivered a low cross into the box which was deflected into the path of Ollie Snaith just inside the box. He struck a low drive which was heading for the bottom corner before it struck the leg of Marvel Ekpiteta and just crept over the crossbar.
Only two minutes later play swung to the other end and Darren Foxley combined well with Dipo Akinyemi before delivering a cross to the back post where Jack Thomas managed to slip his marker. But fortunately for Ives he powered his free header straight at Tim Trebes who parried the initial effort and managed to drop on the loose ball.
One minute later Ives on the attack again as Rogan McGeorge picked out Danny Watson on the right his pull back to Snaith on the edge of the area found the young striker in space, but he was foiled by the pitch as the ball took a big bobble off a divot forcing him to balloon his shot well over the top.
But the visitors were not to be denied for long and went in front in the tenth minute. Knowles was brought down by Foxley 35 yards from goal on the right. He picked himself up and delivered a teasing free kick to the back post where a under pressure Ekpiteta only succeeded in knocking the ball onto the head of Lloyd Groves. His powerful header down into the six yard box was expertly turned home from close range by the lurking Ben Baker.
The lead was short lived as eight minutes later the Blues went down the other end and grabbed an equaliser. A corner from the right was half cleared to Mark Hughes and with the Ives defence a little slow to get out he picked out the powerful Akinyemi who sprung the offside trap and had time to take the ball down before hammering it home past the exposed Trebes from a narrow angle.
Straight from the kick off Ives carved out another opportunity as Snaith picked up a poor defensive header thirty yards from goal and slid the ball outside the full back for Knowles to run onto it. The young winger outpaced his man and cut in on goal but fired his low drive into the side netting.
Back to the other end where a Luke Warner-Eley slip on the wet turf allowed Jordan Westcott to get away. Trebes closed him down quickly and did well to parry the young wingers powerful shot. Fortunately for the visitors the evergreen Jamie Cureton had wandered into an offside position before the shot was taken so his attempt to roll home the loose ball was thwarted by the assistant’s flag.
Ives went back in front in 28th minute as Watson did very well to keep alive a Warner-Eley ball down the line. The big striker managed to find Baker on the edge of the box with his pull back. His initial shot was blocked, but Snaith was following up and rammed home the loose ball from ten yards past the off-balance home keeper Tyler McCarthy.
The visitors should have increased their lead four minutes later as referee Lee Grimsey played an excellent advantage as Peter Clark was fouled in midfield. This allowed Clark to knock the ball out to Knowles on the right as he fell. Knowles cut inside and struck a low drive that was kept out by the feet of keeper McCarthy. Miles Smith was following up and fired an identical low drive through the crowd of players in the box that was kept out by the keeper in identical fashion.
There was still time for Trebes to enjoy a huge slice of luck before the break as Akinyemi curled a 35 yard free kick over the wall. The keeper seemed to be in two minds whether to catch the ball or parry it over the top. The ball squirmed through his gloves, but fortunately he got enough of a deflection on it to knock it onto the underside of the crossbar and he retained the presence of mind to smother the loose ball.
After a half time roasting it was always likely that the Blues would come out fired up for the start of the second period and if Ives could hold them in these early exchanges it certainly looked like a game that was there for the winning. But Ives did not take on board the wise words of their managed and allowed the hosts to get themselves back level only eight minutes after the restart. A rare error from Danny Kelly as he misjudged a through ball, allowed Cureton to get clear. His initial low drive was tipped onto the post by Trebes, but with the visitors back line slow to react Cureton was able to latch onto the loose ball and deliver it into the centre where Akinyemi had the simple task of slotting it home.
Things turned from bad to worse for the Ives as they fell behind for the first time in the game only two minutes later. Warner-Eley allowed Westcott to get the wrong side of him and get onto a through ball. He picked out 42 year old Cureton just inside the box and the ex Premier League striker shows that he has still got what it takes as he slotted home into the bottom corner from just inside the box.
But the game was by no means over at this point and in 65th minute Knowles grabbed a fantastic solo goal to pull the Ives back level again. He picked up a ball out of defence from Groves on the half way line and ran at the retreating Blues defence before cutting inside past two defenders and then running across the face of the box before slotting a low left foot shot back into the opposite corner of the net past the despairing dive of McCarthy.
Now back on terms we were hoping for Ives to go on and claim all three points, but they were undone by a simple goal from a set piece fifteen minutes from time. Foxley delivered a deep corner from the right to the far post where Ekpiteta rose above Groves and powered in a header from just outside the six yard box that Trebes could only push into his net.
There was still time for Ives to carve out a couple of opportunities to grab a point from the game. In 78th minute a break at pace was completed as Snaith slid a pass through the middle to put Baker clear, but the young winger had gone a split second to soon and the assistant’s flag halted his clear run on goal.
The final opportunity, and probably the best came nine minutes from time as an excellent flowing move down the left involving Warner-Eley, substitute Declan Rogers and Kelly ended with the latter feeding the ball into the feet of Baker deep inside the box. Baker calmly took a touch and sidestepped a sliding attempt to block from Ekpiteta. But with McCarthy at his mercy he screwed his shot inches past the post.
The hosts were happy to play out the remaining minutes without further scares to claim an unlikely double over the Ives. Manager Ricky Marheineke was left to ponder his options as the visitors continue to look extremely threatening every time they go forward, but very fragile at the back and eight goals conceded in their last two away trips suggests it may be back to basics for the boys in training this week.
Score : Bishop’s Stortford 4 St Ives Town 3
Goals : Baker 10, Snaith 28, Knowles 65
St Ives team : Trebes (capt), Smith, Warner-Eley, McGeorge (Libertucci 78), Groves, Kelly, Knowles, Snaith (Moyes 78), Clark (Rogers 78), Watson, Baker
Unused subs : Jarrold, Draycott
Supporters man of the match : Rogan McGeorge
Attendance : 307
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo by Louise Thompson