Gosport Borough 0 St Ives Town 0
Evo-Stik League South Premier – 07/04/18
A poor game between two poor teams was the considered verdict after this drab affair on a sunny, almost spring like, south coast. The one big positive for the Ives was that this hard earned point ensures their survival at step three for another season. Their rivals however still find themselves resting in the one relegation place and now facing a massive trip to the side one place and two points above them on Tuesday evening.
The first half proved the least eventful 45 minutes of football this season with only four noteworthy events in the entire period. The first of these was a spat between Tom Knowles and Borough centre back Robert Flooks in 20th minute. Knowles took a nibble at the heels of Flooks as the big man was attempting to shepherd the ball out of play for a goal kick and the Borough man reacted angrily pushing the Ives winger in the face. Both men got a talking to and a deserved yellow card from referee Daniel Lamport.
That unsavoury event lead to a degree of ill feeling between a number of players for the next few minutes. The referee kept a tight handle on things although his regular use of the whistle did mean there was no real flow to the game. Fortunately he did not buy the somewhat outrageous attempts of Ryan Case to get Knowles dismissed eight minutes later as the speedy winger clipped the Borough full back as he cleared a dangerous cross into the box. The Borough cause was probably not helped by the huddle of players lead by player manager Rowan Vine who attempted to intimidate the referee into deciding the matter in their favour.
The first noteworthy attempt on goal came from the hosts on the half hour as a cross from the right by Case was won in the air by the imposing Lloyd Groves. His header only reached James Harper 25 yards from goal. Harper’s attempt on goal was charged down by Dan Moyes, but the ball rebounded back to the Borough midfielder who carefully side footed his attempt on goal just a couple of feet wide of Tim Trebes left hand post.
The final item worthy of a mention was a penalty shout by the home fans against Dan Moyes as the Ives centre back blocked an attempted cross from the right by Pat Sucari. But referee Lamport was right on the spot and instantly waved away the claims.
With a strengthening breeze at their backs the Ives began to take the game to their increasingly nervy looking opponents right from the off in the second half. Only two minutes after the restart Declan Rogers picked out Knowles in space on the right and the speedy winger got to the bye line before hanging up a cross into the centre that home keeper Patrick O’Flaherty just managed to tip off the head of Ollie Snaith. The ball dropped inside the box but was scrambled away by a covering defender.
Five minutes later Snaith was again involved as he wriggled his way past a couple of tackles before sliding the ball out to Ben Baker whose crisp effort from the edge of the box was deflected wide. The first Knowles corner was headed behind for another corner at the near post by Ed Sanders. The second corner was much more dangerous as it somehow evaded everyone and bounced inside the six yard box where an unmarked Charlie De’ath just could not stretch enough to force it home.
Borough were clearly still in the game and although their raids into Ives territory were sporadic they still looked dangerous on those rare occasions. In 54th minute Case found just enough space on the left to deliver a dangerous in-swinging cross that Trebes did well to take off the head of Ben Wright. The ball fell to Sucari on the edge of the box, but he was quickly closed down and curled his hurried effort just over the top.
Knowles spurned a golden opportunity to put Ives in front two minutes later. A long throw from De’ath was headed out to Rogan McGeorge just outside the box. He fed the ball back out to De’ath who curled a perfect cross into the no mans land between defence and goal keeper. Knowles had timed his run perfectly to ghost in unmarked, but he failed to hit the target with his free header from ten yards.
Borough’s only other two attempts on goal both came from free kicks. The first in 62nd minute came after Groves was adjudged to have pushed Wright in the back inside the D. The big centre forward tried to curl the resulting free kick over the Ives four man wall, but they all jumped in unison to block his attempt.
Wright was again the man on free kick duty five minutes later as he tried to catch out Trebes by going for goal from fully 35 yards. His fizzing effort skimmed across the sandy turf and thudded the boards inches wide of Trebes right hand post with the Ives custodian scrambling to make up his ground but looking fairly confident that he had it covered all the way.
As the game entered the last fifteen minutes we were expecting something of a Borough bombardment in an attempt to claim all three points. But this did not materialise and as the clock ticked down the hosts began to look more and more nervous that they man lose the precious one point. Groves got on the end of a long Trebes free kick in 76th minute. His cross to the near post was just scrambled away at full stretch by Sanders with Snaith waiting to pounce.
Ives hit the woodwork only one minute later as McGeorge picked out Knowles on the right and he got around the outside of Case only for his attempted pull back to deflect off Flooks and onto the near post before going out for a corner. The corner was only half cleared to Rogers whose crisp low drive from 25 yards was pushed around the post at full stretch by O’Flaherty as the keeper flung himself to his right. The resulting corner was won cleanly at the back post by Groves, but his header flew inches wide of the post.
The final opportunity of the day nine minutes from time was probably the best one as McGeorge curled in an inviting cross from the right and Rogers ghosting in completely unmarked got on the end of it eight yards out. But with the goal at his mercy he only succeeded in side footing his effort over the top much to the relief of the home faithful.
Both sides had something to celebrate at the end. Ives secured their safety and Borough claimed their first clean sheet since mid-November and a point that means a win at Dunstable in their vital six pointer on Tuesday evening could see them climb off the bottom for the first time since the opening day of the season.
Score : Gosport Borough 0 St Ives Town 0
Goals : none
St Ives team : Trebes, Smith, De’ath (capt), Moyes, Groves, McGeorge, Knowles, Rogers, Kelly (Libertucci 89), Snaith (Leslie 79), Baker (Draycott 83)
Unused subs : Clark, Ogbonna
Supporters man of the match : Lloyd Groves
Attendance : 241
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo by Louise Thompson