St Ives Town 2 Basingstoke Town 2
Evo-Stik League South Premier – 26/04/18
An excellent free kick and well taken penalty by Dubi Ogbonna claimed a deserved comeback point for the Ives after they had gifted their visitors a two goal lead. Any neutral watching the game would have been hard pressed to realise that it was an end of season dead rubber as both sides put in a full compliment of effort and both tried to play entertaining football in what proved to be a very competitive game.
The Ives could have gone in front from their first meaningful attack in seventh minute as Ben Sawyer who was making a rare appearance in the starting line up cleverly flicked the ball over the Dragons back line to pick out an apparently well timed run by Ogbonna. The Ives front man flicked the ball over the advancing visitor’s keeper Jack Martin and into the net, only to have his celebration cut short as the assistant deemed that he had gone a split second to soon.
The first save for either keeper was a routine one for home keeper Tim Trebes in 13th minute. Dragons debutant Kaine McAuley managed to cut inside Jamie Short and fire in a well struck shot from the left corner of the box, but the effort was straight at the Ives stopper who held on well.
The usually ultra reliable Ives skipper Rogan McGeorge made a huge error to gift the visitors the lead midway through the first period as he tried to head a bouncing ball back to his keeper from 30 yards and failed to get enough on it. The ball dropped to the feet of centre forward Callum Bunting on the edge of the box who could not believe his luck. But the young striker kept his composure and slid the ball home low past the left hand of the exposed Trebes.
In spite of this set back Ives continued to enjoy a lot of possession and probe forward at every opportunity. The two wing backs Short and Luke Warner-Eley were both finding a lot of space deep inside opposition territory and both were delivering quality crosses into the Dragons box. But centre backs Guri Demuria and Dan Bayliss although stretched at times remained solid and denied the hosts a single clear site of goal.
Ives only effort at goal in a first half where they more than matched their visitors did not arrive until 35th minute and that was a right footed effort from 20 yards by Warner-Eley that flew well wide. The chance was created by an excellent cross field ball from McGeorge to pick out Warner-Eley in space and give him chance to cut inside full back Tim Wohlfiel.
The Dragons made a double change at half time replacing youngsters George McGuiness and McAuley with the more experienced Dan Collier and Harry Long. These changes were presumably made with the idea of preserving what they had.
But things got even better for the visitors only two minutes after the restart as for the second time in recent weeks Ives were caught out by a pre-rehearsed free kick identical to the one which deceived them at Banbury only four weeks ago. George Bennett stood over the kick but then sprinted away to the left on the side of the pitch where the defensive wall was still forming. No one went with him and the ball was channelled to him in space on the left hand corner of the Ives box. He drilled in a powerful low shot that seemed to take a deflection as it flew past Trebes and into the back of the net.
It would have been easy for a tired Ives squad to throw in the towel at this point, but to their great credit they continued to battled and grabbed a lifeline back into the game only seven minutes later. Warner-Eley was again heavily involved in the move which lead to the goal as he picked up a Peter Clark pass and tried to cut inside Wohlfiel only to be pulled back by the defender just outside the box. Ogbonna fooled keeper Martin and almost everyone in the ground with the free kick as most were expecting him to deliver a cross into the centre but instead he cleverly curled the ball over the defensive wall and just inside Martin’s near post with the keeper hurling himself to his right, but unable to keep the effort out.
The momentum was now with the Ives and they pulled level just after the hour with Warner-Eley once more the instigator as he picked up a cross field ball from Clark and tried to go outside Wohlfiel. The defender just managed to block the full backs attempted cross, but the ball rebounded to Warner-Eley who now went to cut inside only to be tugged back by the struggling Wohlfiel. Warner-Eley went down just inside the box and referee Abi Marriott had no doubt the contact was sufficient and awarded the penalty. Ogbonna made no mistake from the spot sending keeper Martin the wrong way.
Ives continued to go in search of a winner and in 71st minute Ogbonna went close to completing his hat trick as he outmuscled Demuria and battled into the box, but the ball would just not quite come down to allow him to get a shot away before he was crowded out by covering defenders.
Keeper Martin came to his sides rescue with an excellent double save nine minutes from the end as substitute Ben Baker cut inside Wohlfiel from the left and fired in a fierce right foot drive that looked like it was heading for the bottom corner only for Martin to hurl himself low to his right and get a good firm hand on the ball. Ollie Snaith pounced on the loose ball and fired in a follow up effort that Martin did even better to palm away low to his left.
Baker went close to grabbing the winner again three minutes later as fellow substitute Danny Kelly battled through the centre and went down just outside the box under challenge from Demuria. With referee Marriott playing an excellent advantage the ball bounced loose to Baker who tried to dink it over keeper Martin and just failed to get sufficient height on the effort allowing the Dragons custodian to make the save.
Having failed to take their chances to grab all three points Ives found themselves under pressure in the closing stages. There were five minutes of the ninety left when Bennett picked out Bunting at the back post with a curling cross from the left. But fortunately for the hosts Bunting’s header was straight at keeper Trebes.
The final opportunity of the entertaining evening also fell to the visitors in the 90th minute as with time ticking down Ives struggled to clear a long ball into their box the ball eventually falling to Demuria but although he struck his shot well enough the radar was a little off and it thudded the boards a couple of metres wide of Trebes left hand post.
So it ended honours even in a game the Ives probably just about shaded on points but to comeback from two down at this stage of the season shows the character that this side has built up in recent weeks. Luke Warner-Eley just shaded fellow full back Jamie Short to the supporter’s man of the match award thanks to his big input into both goals. But once again it was a game where everyone put in a shift to gain a hard earned reward.
Score : St Ives Town 2 Basingstoke Town 2
Goals : Ogbonna 54, 61 (pen)
St Ives team : Trebes, Smith, Warner-Eley, Short, Moyes, McGeorge (capt), Clark, Leslie (Torkornoo 72), Ogbonna (Kelly 80), Snaith, Sawyer (Baker 67)
Unused sub : Rogers
Supporters man of the match : Luke Warner-Eley
Attendance : 76
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo by Louise Thompson