Hereford 4 St Ives Town 0
Evo-Stik League Southern – Premier Division 21/11/17
Make no mistake getting anything out of this game was always going to be a huge ask for Ives as they visited the historic, and if somewhat crumbling, still impressive home of one of the League’s big boys who also just happen to be on a cracking run of form. Things were made even more difficult as defenders Lloyd Groves and Jordan Jarrold were both unavailable to make the Tuesday night trip due to work commitments. With Eugene Libertucci and Danny Kelly also missing injured it meant a change of formation to a back five with Club captain Charlie De’ath returning from injury into that back line that also included the evergreen Dan Moyes for a very tough first start of the season and Phil Draycott also just back from injury filling in at left wingback.
Add to the problems above a four hour coach journey following delays behind an accident on the M42. All of this was not the ideal preparation to face on of the most potent strike forces in the League and it was no surprise that Ives were a little slow out of the blocks. The Bulls first effort on goal came in only fourth minute as an early corner was channelled back to Garyn Preen who fired in a first time effort from the right corner of the box that keeper James Goff held well at his near post.
The hosts were moving the ball around at pace with Preen at the heart of a lot of their moves. Jimmy Oates fed Preen down the right in 12th minute and his cross field ball picked out Keyon Reffell in space at the far post. But Reffell snatched at his shot and screwed his effort wide.
Preen had changed flanks only a minute later and cleverly fed in overlapping Bristol City loanee full back Cameron Pring who hung up a teasing cross to the edge of the six yard box that De’ath did remarkably well to head away from between John Mills and Reffell.
But the unrelenting early Bulls pressure continued and Ives cracked in 17th minute as another loanee from a Championship club Tyrone Duffus, from Cardiff City, was allowed a free run inside the box to get on the end of Preen’s corner from the right and he made no mistake powering his header home from eight yards.
Stand in full back Draycott was having a tough time against the pacey Lance Smith and in 25th minute Smith outstripped him before picking out Pring at the far post. The marauding full back had time to take a touch and turn inside the covering Lewis Ferrell, but then fired his shot wide from a good position.
Another flowing move down the Bulls left flank lead to the second goal in 33rd minute as again Preen and Pring combined. This time the latter laid the ball into Mills inside the box. The powerful striker looked like he had got the ball stuck in his feet, but he managed to release it just in time to fire a left foot shot across keeper Goff and inside the far post.
To their credit Ives to a man continued to battle, but they were chasing shadows as the hosts harried them mercilessly forcing mistakes and then moving the ball around at pace to build up pressure on the embattled back line. Jimmy Hartley had a lucky escape in 36th minute as he misplaced a pass into the feet of Reffell in midfield, he in turn released Mills through the left channel. As moments earlier the big striker beat keeper Goff with a low drive from just inside the box. But this time he was unlucky as the ball cannoned off the inside of the post to safety.
But the respite was only brief as two minutes later a poor clearance fell to Oates 25 yards out. He unleashed a powerful snap shot that Goff managed to parry low to his right. But the ever alert Mills was onto the loose ball in a flash and gleefully smashed the home from ten yards to finish the game as a contest before the break.
The final opportunity before the break also fell to the hosts as Duffus showed his undoubted ability in expertly taking down a long ball out of defence before turning inside Draycott and teeing up Preen who fired a rising drive over the top from 20 yards.
The half time whistle must have been a relief to the beleaguered visitors as all had put in a massive shift to just try and stay with their visitors. To the credit of Ives they came out for the second period and matched their visitors well in the early stages so much so that a number of the home fans seemed to forget the score line and amazingly started to get on the backs of their own players.
However Ives were almost caught out in 63rd minute by a quick free kick as Rob Purdie tapped the ball sideways to Preen who seized the opportunity to run at the heart of the visitor’s defence before unleashing a low drive from 30 yards that beat Goff low to his right and cannoned off the post before hitting the back of the prone Goff and dropping in the six yard box. Fortunately Moyes was on hand to hack the ball away just ahead of Mills.
The big centre forward went close again two minutes later as he got on the end of a Preen free kick at the near post. But his flicked effort evaded everyone as it flashed across the face of goal to safety.
With fifteen minutes to go the Bulls replaced the classy Duffus with the much more powerful Mike Symons and it did not take long before he to got in on the action as he chased a long ball down the park in the company of Moyes. Unfortunately for the Ives man he simply could not lever the big man off the ball and found himself out muscled as Symons powered on and lashed the ball past the exposed Goff to finally kill off any lingering hopes that Ives had of finding a slither of hope of getting back into the game.
Once more to their huge credit the Ives players all continued to battle to the end. In the centre of the park Peter Clark and Tom McGowan between them must have run half marathons each, and both were still going strong at the end. Miles Smith and Ben Seymour-Shove similarly got through a tremendous amount of work in a losing cause. Some of the others, particularly those recently returning from injury were almost running on empty some time before the end but all kept going and earnt their applause from the 20, or so, travelling supporters who had made the long journey to the Welsh border.
To put the whole occasion into some context the Bulls committee were disappointed with their attendance of 1705, a figure which exceeds Ives record crowd. It was inspiring to visit a Club and a ground with the history of Hereford. Those of us that are old enough to remember that famous Ronnie Radford goal which knocked mighty Newcastle out of the 1972 FA Cup have to perhaps pinch ourselves to think that tiny St Ives who in those days were playing in 3rd Division of Peterborough League are now on a level playing field with these guys.
We get chance of a second tilt at them to as the Bulls visit Cambridgeshire for the last game of the season. An opportunity when we can hopefully exceed that record crowd and put out a fully fit team to push them much closer than today.
Final Score : Hereford 4 St Ives Town 0
Goals : none
St Ives team : Goff, Smith, Draycott, Ferrell, De’ath (capt) (Sawyer 79), Moyes, Seymour-Shove (Wright 83), McGowan, Hall (Ogbonna 79), Clark, Hartley
Unused subs : none
Supporters man of the match : Peter Clark
Attendance : 1705
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo – www.herefordfc.co.uk