St Ives Town 1 Redditch United 0
Evo-Stik League Southern – Premier Division 19/04/18
To badly plagiarise Dinah Washington’s hit “what a difference two days makes!”. Ives somehow lifted themselves from the depths of despair following Tuesday evenings tonking against Stratford to put in one of their best all around performances of the season and claim only their third home victory of the season with a clean sheet to boot.
Ollie Snaith’s contender for goal of the season was the clincher, but the real hero amongst this much changed side was a man who showed his true character as he went from the ignominy of a half time substitution on Tuesday to rightfully claim the man of the match award 48 hours later.
Amid manager Ricky Marheineke’s six changes was a return to the back four for eighteen year old Jamie Short who found himself alongside veteran centre back Dan Moyes. Moyes return allowed Groves to move across to his more familiar left sided centre back position with the back line being completed by the solid Luke Warner-Eley. The vocal presence of Rogan McGeorge added steel to the midfield alongside the silky skills of Declan Rogers with the ever willing Snaith just behind a back to form Dubi Ogbonna who once again lead the line with passion.
After their poor starts in the last two games Ives were simply looking for a solid opening period and they achieved that well. As the confidence grew they started to nibble at the Reds back line. Warner-Eley roamed forward on the left side in tenth minute and his clip over the top picked out Ogbonna running into space. The big striker took the ball down well and fired in a shot from a narrow angle that ruffled the side netting.
Snaith’s persistence won Ives a corner in 20th minute as he harried Nathan Fox into an error. Rogers delivered the resulting flag kick into the mix where Groves got in front of his man to flick the ball on and it only just evaded the lunging Moyes at the far post.
Tom Knowles pulled the first save of the game out of Redditch keeper Ethan Ross two minutes later as he cut in from the right hand corner of the box and unleashed a rising left footer that the big Reds keeper comfortably palmed over the top.
The visitor’s best chance in the first half came only ninety seconds later as Stuart Fleetwood got between Short and Moyes and managed to get away at pace. He cut in on goal leaving Moyes in his wake. Keeper Tim Trebes came out to close him down and it looked like Fleetwood had done everything right as he clipped the ball past the advancing keeper, but the effort finished up bouncing inches wide of the far post.
Ives could have gone in front in 28th minute as Warner-Eley again probed forward down the left side. His pull back picked out Knowles who took a touch before firing in a low drive that beat Ross low to his right but cannoned to safety off his near post.
Ogbonna forced another good stop out of Ross in 35th minute as he ran onto a Short clip over the top. The Ives striker got on the end of it deep inside the box, but his powerful right footed effort was kept out by the well positioned keeper’s legs.
Ben Baker should have scored the opener less than sixty seconds later as Knowles outpaced Lewis Wright down the left. Ogbonna tried to flick home his low driven cross with a cheeky attempted back heel at the near post but completely missed the ball which rolled on to Baker arriving at pace at the back post. He appeared to go for the roof of the net to avoid the scrambling keeper as he tried to recover. But he got it all wrong and skied the effort from the edge of the six yard box.
Young Short showed his composure as came to Ives rescue five minutes before the break as he just managed to divert Fleetwood’s driven cross from the right away from the onrushing Jordan Mills at the back post..
Unlike Tuesday night we arrived at the break with the game still goalless, but Ives certainly edging it on points. The nervousness seemed to return to the supporters in the early stages of the second half and this was certainly not helped by the Reds picking a up a free kick inside the D only two minutes after the restart. Skipper James Mutton curled the ball expertly over Ives wall but Trebes was equal to the effort leaping high to his left to palm the ball away.
The visitors who had seemed to spend long periods of the first half thinking that they simply had to turn up to win suddenly began to realise that they were in a genuine contest. The tricky Mills flashed a 25 yarder inches wide of Trebes left hand post two minutes later.
However the visitors were rocked as Ives took the lead in spectacular fashion in 52nd minute. Jamie Short cut out a pass intended for Mills on the half way line and slid the ball into the feet of Baker he turned it inside to Snaith who was being closely marshalled by a defender. At least 25 yards out the young midfielder took a touch and went for goal with a right footed effort that screamed past Ross and dipped in off the underside of the crossbar.
Ives should have doubled their lead five minutes later as Ogbonna managed to get on the end of a long cross field ball. His low ball into the centre was wildly sliced by Fox straight to the feet of Baker ten yards out in a central position. Unfortunately he scuffed his shot giving Ross chance to get down to his right to make a save. But the big keeper spilled the ball. Baker reacted quickest nipping the ball away from the scrambling Ross, but he was forced wide and only succeeded in firing his effort against the outside of the post from a very narrow angle.
Knowles forced another save out of Ross in 63rd minute as he curled a free kick over the wall forcing the keeper to plunge low to his right to push the ball out for a corner.
Urged on by their manager the visitors started to show a little bit more fight but with the very vocal leadership of McGeorge backed up by the awareness and communicative skills of Moyes the Ives back line dealt very well with the Reds direct approach. Groves was at the heart of this resistance winning header after header as crosses and corners continued to be delivered into the box.
The usually reliable Knowles should have sewn the game up thirteen minutes from time as he got on the end of a flowing Ives break away. Rogers delivered a low cross field ball into the centre looking for Danny Kelly who had just entered the fray. But everyone missed the ball and it rolled on perfectly into the run of the late arriving Knowles. The cheer was rising as he opened his body to clip the ball over the exposed Ross, but he got it horribly wrong and the cheer had to swallowed as although he clipped the ball over the keeper he got to much on it and also cleared the crossbar.
To show how effective the Ives back line was on this evening Trebes was barely forced into a save of note in the remaining time. In fact the best chance in the latter stages came from an Ives raid at the other end as Fox made a hash of trying to clear a Knowles cross from the left and presented Kelly with a shooting opportunity inside the box. But the Ives substitute fired his effort inches wide of the target with Ross looking on.
Let us hope that Ives can keep the nucleus of this side together for the remaining four games as it would be great to go into next season with a bit of momentum after such a poor 2018 to date.
Score : St Ives Town 1 Redditch United 0
Goals : Snaith 52
St Ives team : Trebes, Short, Warner-Eley, Groves, Moyes, McGeorge (capt) (Leslie 76), Knowles, Rogers, Ogbonna (Kelly 70), Snaith (Clark 76), Baker
Unused subs : De’ath, Draycott
Supporters man of the match : Lloyd Groves
Attendance : 74
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo by Louise Thompson