King’s Lynn Town 1 St Ives Town 1
Evo-Stik South Premier Division – 26/12/17
Could it be that finally our season is turning?. Following our hard fought victory over fellow strugglers Gosport three days earlier very few gave us a prayer of getting anything from a Boxing Day visit to the League leading Linnets who had dropped only five points from their previous eleven home games. The hosts were also roared on by their bumper Bank Holiday crowd who clearly expected us to be nothing more than cannon fodder in their promotion push.
But Manager Ricky Marheineke had other ideas and made the bold move of replacing both centre backs as Lloyd Groves returned in place of Dan Moyes and Danny Kelly made another return into defence in place of Lewis Ferrell. Other changes also saw Eugene Libertucci and Peter Clark back in the middle of the park and Danny Watson also returning to lead the attack. Even at Southern League level football is very much a squad game as the matches come thick and fast at this time of year.
The belief in the Ives squad came through early on and but for a fantastic double save by home keeper Alex Street the visitors would have gone in front after only three minutes. A break at pace through the centre of the park saw Ollie Snaith sliding a ball through to Watson cutting in from the right hand side of the box. Street quickly closed him down and did very well to throw himself to his right to block Watson’s attempt to clip the ball past him. He did even better to similarly keep out the follow up effort from Ben Baker at close range. The ball bobbled on to the back post where a stretching Snaith was inches away from turning it home.
The pace and movement of the Ives front line continued to unsettle the Linnets back four and only two minutes later Watson played Tom McGowan into the box on the left hand side. His attempted pull back to pick out Peter Clark was just scrambled away from the midfielder at the near post.
The visitors continued to push forward in these early stages and Snaith was brought down on the left edge of the box by Frazer Blake-Tracy in 14th minute. Baker’s free kick was headed down in the box by Kelly and Groves attempted spin and shot from twelve yards was deflected wide.
Having survived the early pressure the Linnets slowly started to work their way back into the game. The classy Simon Lappin cut inside Miles Smith in 21st minute and unleashed a dipping strike from 25 yards that brought a flying save from Tim Trebes as he hurled himself high to his left and fingertipped the effort onto the crossbar.
Ryan Hawkins was also beginning to look a danger for the hosts as he started to make inroads down the right combining well on occasions with wing back Cameron Norman. Hawkins cut in from the right in 29th minute and went down inches outside the box under challenge from Groves. The tricky winger’s momentum took him down inside the area, but referee Alistair Wilson was right on the spot and deemed the initial contact inches outside in spite of the protests from Linnets players and supporters alike. Ultimately it made little difference as Lappin carefully positioned the ball and then fired it around the four man Ives wall, beyond the despairing dive of Trebes and just inside the far post to put the hosts in front.
Falling behind did not knock the Ives out of their stride for long and they twice went close to grabbing an equaliser before the break. In 39th minute Watson held up the ball well on the left and laid it into the feet of the over lapping Luke Warner-Eley his cross to the back post was knocked away but fell to Miles Smith who fed the ball down the line into the run of Clark and his driven cross was only inches away from Snaith sliding in at the back post.
Street was brought into action again in added time. The speedy Baker was brought down by Tom Ward on the left corner of the box. Libertucci went for goal with his free kick that dipped and kicked up wickedly off the surface just in front of the keeper forcing him to push the ball away. He was fortunate that it fell to the feet of friend and not foe in the crowded box and was scrambled to safety.
Having played well in the first half, but gleaned no reward, it was going to be interesting to see how Ives responded after the break. We did not have to wait long to find out as only three minutes after the re-start the scorers were levelled up. An excellent break at speed from their own half was ended as Snaith threaded a ball through the left channel for Clark to run onto. He drew keeper Street to him, but rather than go for goal himself he unselfishly squared the ball to Watson in acres of space at the back post and he gleefully slammed the ball home to stun the home crowd to silence.
Those same home fans were soon trying to roar their heroes on as they began to show a little more of why they are top of the table as they slowly started to turn the screw and rack up some pressure on the Ives. In 49th minute Michael Clunan dropped a volleyed effort from 25 yards onto the roof of the net after a corner had been cleared to him.
Trebes came to the rescue of his comrades in 57th minute as Lappin hung up a cross to the back post where Michael Gash climbed high above his marker to power down a goal bound header that Trebes did very well to claw away low to his right. He did equally well to get down to his right again to turn away the follow up effort from the edge of the box by Clunan.
In spite of the building pressure Ives back line were coping well and it was not until 71st minute before Trebes was called upon to make another real save this time blocking a Hawkins effort with his feet after the tricky winger had powered his way through the left channel, his route to goal eventually being restricted by a covering Kelly.
The Linnets thought that they had finally pierced the resilient Ives back line with fifteen minutes to go only to be denied by an assistant’s raised flag. Norman drove into the heart of the Ives back line before releasing the ball inside to Hawkins 25 yards from goal. His precise curler beat the diving Trebes, but rattled the crossbar and went up into the air. Substitute Leon Mettam was first to react and headed home the dropping ball, but his celebration was cut short as he had wandered into an offside position prior to the shot being struck.
Trebes continued to show his qualities claiming long throws and high crosses into the box to relieve the pressure on his side at every opportunity. He did well to punch an in-swinging Hawkins free kick off the head of Gash at the far post in 78th minute. He also clung on well to a Sam Gaughran header only ninety seconds later. This chance had come as Ward had rose highest to a Clunan free kick from the left and headed it back into the centre.
The time continued to slowly tick away and the Linnets seemed to be running out of ideas to breach the Ives solid orange line. Both Hawkins and Lappin were replaced and with them seemed to go most of the better creative ideas from the home side. Even an added six minutes did not see any real scares until the final one when Norman was brought down in an almost identical position to that where the opening goal had been scored from. Fortunately Lappin had already been sat on the bench for ten minutes by this point and the free kick was only fired straight into the wall. One more corner followed, but that was also comfortably dealt with to enable Ives to claim a memorable point that could prove vital at both ends of the table come the end of the season.
Tim Trebes won the supporters vote for the man of the match for his outstanding saves and very solid all round performance, but this was another day when everyone who set foot on the pitch in an orange shirt was a hero. Equally important are the management team who plotted this result and the rest of the squad who are all ready to slot in given the opportunity and know that their chance will come. The confidence is growing let’s hope we can take it on another step against our local rivals St Neots on New Years Day.
Score : King’s Lynn Town 1 St Ives Town 1
Goals : Watson 48
St Ives team : Trebes, Smith, Warner-Eley, Libertucci (Rogers 69), Groves, Kelly, Clark, McGowan (capt), Watson (Sawyer 81), Snaith, Baker
Unused subs : Jarrold, Ferrell, McGeorge
Supporters man of the match : Tim Trebes
Attendance : 801
Report by Nigel Howlett