Dunstable Town 0 St Ives Town 0
Evo-Stik League South Premier – 21/04/18
The regular Ives travelling contingent saw their numbers bolstered by the usual drinking crew determined to enjoy themselves in the traditional manner to celebrate the last away game of the season. This group and the noisy home following behind one goal lifted the atmosphere in what was otherwise a poor affair between two fairly poor sides.
The Blues problem all season has been scoring goals and with Cambridge United recalling Tom Knowles from his loan spell and Dubi Ogbonna going down with a sickness bug on the morning of the match Ives scoring options were also severely restricted so it should be no surprise that goal scoring opportunities were limited throughout and the game ended goal less.
The hosts had a lot more riding on this game than the Ives and they can count themselves extremely unlucky not to take all three points as they hit the woodwork twice in added time and ultimately found themselves dropping to the bottom of the table as their rivals for the one relegation spot on offer Gosport thumped seven past Frome.
With the confidence from their excellent win less than 48 hours earlier it was the Ives that started the best taking the game to their perhaps nervous opposition in the opening stages. Luke Warner-Eley probed forward down the left in only the fourth minute. He fed the ball inside to Ollie Snaith who teed up Phil Draycott on the corner of the box. Rather than go for goal Draycott cleverly flighted the ball to the back post where Declan Rogers was lurking. He was only denied a clear effort on goal by a stretching Gedeon Okito who just got enough on the ball to knock it out for a corner.
The game then settled down into a tight midfield battle and the next chance for either side did not arrive until 17th minute. Ben Baker collected a ball out of defence on the half way line and outpaced Okito before picking out Danny Kelly in the centre with his pull back. Kelly unleashed a well struck low drive from 15 yards that brought a smart save out of keeper Nathan Harness who got down low to his right to block the effort but could not hold it. The ball rebounded high into the air off the rock hard pitch Snaith looked likely to force it home but Blues skipper John Sonuga saved his side bravely hurling himself in the head the ball away.
The remainder of the first half was a fairly tepid affair with Draycott forcing a routine save out of Harness in 34th minute. His 25 yard effort had all of the sting taken out of it by a deflection off Peter Kioso. The hosts first real attempt on goal arrived five minutes before the break as Ryan Young robbed Warner-Eley on the half way line. The young winger fed the ball inside to Andrew Osei-Bonsu and sprinted away down the right. Osei-Bonsu picked him out again with an excellent ball threaded inside the recovering full back. Fortunately for Ives keeper Tim Trebes was alert to the danger and sprinted off his line to block Young’s effort at point blank range.
Both sides had shouts for penalties turned down in the first fifteen minutes of the second half. Ollie Snaith had the early claim only three minutes after the restart as he went down under challenge from Okito as the two went for a clip over the top just inside the Blues box. Referee Paul Johnson waved away the claims as he did on the hour when Erin Amu went down holding his back as he came off worse when challenging Trebes for a high bouncing ball. His challenge forced Trebes into dropping the ball, but Ben Sawyer was on hand to hack it clear.
With the news getting through to the home players that Gosport were well in front in their game it became clear that they were going to want more than a point from this game. With their management crew urging them forward and their noisy group of supporters hammering out a rhythm on the back of the stand behind Trebes goal to urge their men to greater effort the hosts lifted themselves.
Osei-Bonsu went close for them in 73rd minute as he found some space 30 yards from goal and strode forward before unleashing a shot that skimmed across the turf and thudded the fence inches outside Trebes right hand post with the Ives custodian scrambling to get across.
Some of the Ives team were visibly flagging in the heat as the energy exerted in four games in eight days began to take its toll. Manager Ricky Marheineke decided to send on some fresh legs replacing Snaith and Draycott with Peter Clark and Lewis Leslie. The change almost conjured up a goal as both were involved in the move only a couple of minutes later that saw Kelly unleash a curling effort from the edge of the box that forced Harness into a full length diving save low to his right.
Osei-Bonsu was at the heart of most of the Blues best effort and he charged down McGeorge’s attempted clearance to win his side a corner in 80th minute. He also got on the end of Okito’s in-swinger but directed his header straight at Trebes presenting the keeper with a comfortable save.
With time running out the hosts began to get more urgent in their efforts to grab that all important goal. Three minutes from the end of the ninety Kieran Ogden got on the end of another Okito corner but failed to hit the target from a good position.
The game really heated up as it went into added time. In the first added minute Osei-Bonsu cut inside Sawyer and clipped a ball to the far post where a stretching Charlie De’ath just did enough to deflect the ball away from a late arriving Kioso. The resulting corner was cleared allowing Ives to break away Warner-Eley fed the ball onto Clark in space on the left. He delivered a low cross that was only inches away from Baker arriving in the centre.
Leslie saved his side in fourth minute of added time as he just did enough to deflect a Osei-Bonsu shot from 25 yards onto the base of Trebes left hand post and out for yet another corner. The referee blew up for a foul on Trebes from the resulting corner which seemed to be the signal for the Blues frustration to come out and a small fracas followed that seemed to involve all 22 players on the pitch with goalkeeper Harkness running fully 80 yards to arrive just as things were settling down. The ultimate result was three yellow cards two for Blues players and one for the old warrior Dan Moyes.
This delay ensured that there were a few more minutes to be added and in the seventh and final added minute The Blues managed to force their eight corner of the half. Okito delivered it perfectly into the centre Sonuga rose like a salmon above the crowd, including Trebes who had come to try and claim it, and powered in a header that beat everyone but slammed into the underside of the crossbar bounced down and was hacked away. The final whistle that sounded only seconds later was a signal for the Blues players to slump to the pitch ala a cup final losing side.
Although they dropped to the bottom of the table the good thing for them is that their fate is still entirely in their own hands with three winnable games to come including hosting Gosport in a crunch game on Thursday evening.
Ives on the other hand can celebrate their second clean sheet in a row for the first time this season. The presence of Dan Moyes in the back line for those two games is no coincidence his reading of the game, battling qualities and communication skills bring the best out of those around him. Freed of the pressures of captaincy Charlie De’ath had one of his best games in a while alongside Moyes and deservedly won the supporters man of the match accolade.
As for the happy travelling crew they had settled down to enjoy the FA Cup semi-final on television as we departed Creasey Park and may still be sharing a friendly glass or two with their opposing supporters as this report is being written. Just what non-League football is all about.
Score : Dunstable Town 0 St Ives Town 0
Goals : none
St Ives team : Trebes, Sawyer, Warner-Eley, De’ath, Moyes, McGeorge (capt) Baker, Rogers, Kelly, Snaith (Leslie 76), Draycott (Clark 76)
Unused subs : Groves
Supporters man of the match : Charlie De’ath
Attendance : 164
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson