St Ives Town 2 Banbury United 2
Evo-Stik League South Premier Division – 02/12/17
The Puritans came to the Pro-Edge Stadium boasting an away record bettered only by League leaders King’s Lynn with an impressive six wins on the road already under their belts and were probably expecting another full points return from their second from bottom hosts. They certainly did not expect the early battering which they received that saw them two behind in 25 minutes. All in the ground except referee Paul Forrester would have also awarded a penalty to the hosts for a blatant handball during this early pressure.
With James Goff returning to Northampton Town Ives supporters were pleased to welcome a familiar face back between the sticks as fans favourite Tim Trebes made his seasonal debut. Another debutant who looks likely to quickly become a fans favourite is Ollie Snaith who has made the short move across from tenants Cambridge City.
Snaith was instantly in the action as the game was only in the second minute when he closed down an under hit back pass to Jack Harding forcing the visitor’s keeper into a hurried clearance that went straight to Rogan McGeorge inside the centre circle. McGeorge’s first time effort turned into a goal as good as the one we have all seen recently by Wayne Rooney on television as the ball sailed over the stranded Harding and into the gaping net.
McGeorge was at the heart of the action again only four minutes later as he ran onto a Phil Draycott pass on the left edge of the box. His attempted clip into the danger zone to pick out Danny Kelly was cut out by the raised arm of defender Jack Self. All present on both occasions would suggest a much more blatant handball than Dan Moyes which gave Hitchin a route back into last Tuesdays game. But referee Forrester was right on the spot and deemed the contact accidental.
The resulting corner was almost turned home for an own goal at the near post by Tom Bradbury as he struggled to stop Phil Draycott getting in front of him. Ben Seymour-Shove’s follow up corner was then pawed away at full stretch by Harding as Ives continued to pile on the pressure.
The Puritans first opportunity in this pulsating early period arrived in 10th minute as the tricky Tom Winters found some space on the left and delivered a low cross which veteran striker Jefferson Louis got on the end of, but only succeeded in deflecting his effort wide from a good position.
Ives doubled their advantage in 25th minute as Seymour-Shove robbed a dallying Ricky Johnson just inside the visitor’s half. He broke away down the right with the ball and delivered a cross which was only half cleared to McGeorge just outside the box. His well struck shot was blocked, but the ball ricocheted back to Seymour-Shove who hung up a teasing cross that Snaith attacked in the centre. He did not get clean contact, but his close range header still deceived the efforts of two defenders and keeper Harding and crept over the line.
Ives were now purring and a flowing move down the left involving Seymour-Shove, Snaith and Kelly ended with the latter firing his effort straight at the keeper from the edge of the box.
Having enjoyed the lion’s share of the first period, and been good value for their two goal advantage, Ives were perhaps a little unlucky to see that lead halved nine minutes before the break. Self picked out Winters on the left with an excellent cross field ball. The winger delivered a cross that looked a little to deep but Louis did well to keep the ball alive. He got past Jordan Jarrold before delivering a powerful cross shot that Trebes did well to stop, but could not hold. Self had continued his run and was first to react firing home the loose ball.
The hosts came out at the start of the second half determined to restore their two goal cushion. The period was only 45 second old when a flowing move involving Snaith and Draycott saw the former roll the ball into the run of Seymour-Shove on the right hand edge of the box. But his rising drive did not trouble Harding as it flew high and wide.
Seven minutes later Tom McGowan fed Kelly who in turn slid a ball into the feet of Snaith. His first time effort from the edge of the box took a deflection off Johnson to make it a comfortable save for Harding.
The Puritans enjoyed a good spell around the hour with Winters continuing to be at the centre of most of their good work going forward. It took an excellent bloc at the back post to keep out a Louis drive as he got on the end of a deflected driven cross from the tricky winger that had got through the crowd in the centre of goal. Winters also fired a free kick from just outside the box inches wide in 62nd minute. The winger again teed up Louis two minutes later and this time the big striker’s powerful effort from the edge of the box was turned around the post by a diving Trebes.
But it was not all one way traffic and the battling McGeorge forced his way through the centre before rolling the ball into Snaith just inside the box in 67th minute. But the busy striker was denied the chance by an assistant’ flag.
Snaith had another shot on goal three minutes later after Kelly had held the ball up well and played it into him 25 yards out. He struck the shot cleanly, but straight at keeper Harding who held on well. The big chance for Ives to kill the game off arrived ten minutes from the end of the ninety. Seymour-Shove threaded a perfect ball into the well timed run of Snaith to put him clear into the box. But the young striker’s first touch was just a little bit heavy which gave Harding the chance to plunge in at his feet and bravely block his effort at point blank range.
By this stage in the game the Ives were beginning to tire as the fitness on some of the players who have recently returned from injury began to tell. But they were still willing to put their bodies on the line to preserve their slender advantage. Both Lewis Ferrell and Lloyd Groves did well to block efforts from Conor McDonagh and Louis respectively as the clock ticked down.
In spite of their gallant efforts, as has happened so often this season, Ives conceded late on in the simplest fashion. Louis won a long ball down the middle in the air and a tiring Jarrold failed to go with his man allowing substitute McDonagh to run onto the ball unchallenged and slot it past the exposed Trebes to grab a point for his side.
It could have got worse for the Ives as Louis skilfully turned inside his man deep into the fifth minute of added time and curled an effort from 20 yards that beat Trebes and rattled his left hand post. Fortunately Jarrold found enough energy to just beat McDonagh to the loose ball to preserve the valuable point.
Overall an excellent point given the visitor’s away form which we would have probably taken before the start. But having lead for so long it felt like two points dropped at the end. However it is beginning to look like manager Ricky Marheineke’s rebuilding plans are starting to bear fruit as the lads coming in are all battlers. After going close to getting the honour on Tuesday night Rogan McGeorge won his first man of the match award something his all action style is going to put him in the frame for every week. His closest challengers were also newcomers as Lloyd Groves and particularly the livewire Ollie Snaith were also well in contention. A big challenge awaits at Kettering on Tuesday evening, but anything is possible.
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 Banbury United 2
Goals : McGeorge 2, Snaith 25
St Ives team : Trebes, Smith, Jarrold, Ferrell, Groves, McGeorge, Seymour-Shove (Sawyer 84), McGowan (capt), Kelly (Libertucci 72), Snaith, Draycott
Unused subs : Short
Sponsors man of the match : Rogan McGeorge
Attendance : 201
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photos by Louise Thompson
Many thanks to match day sponsor Mayiclaim and match ball sponsor R.Costings