St Ives Town 2 Dunstable Town 1
Evo-Stik League Southern – Premier Division – 11/11/17
It is surely to early in the season to be talking about relegation six pointers, but on paper this fixture looked like it and the tension was certainly there from the first whistle. Fortunately Ives were pleased to welcome back Lewis Ferrell, James Hall and Jimmy Hartley from injury after they all came through vital minutes in the County Cup tie in midweek. Miles Smith was also back from suspension to further strengthen the back line.
With the two teams only separated by two points in the bottom three of the table and boasting only three wins between them all season one might well have expected this to be something of a war of attrition from the off. Ives did show some early nerves and keeper James Goff failed to hold onto a low driven cross from the right by Andrew Osei-Bonsu, but centre back Lloyd Groves was on hand to clear the danger.
Groves, making his first League start for the Ives, went close to opening his account four minutes later as he got on the end of Jordan Jarrold’s in-swinging corner from the right and was unlucky to see his goal bound header blocked in the six yard box by Jonathan Barnett.
The game was surprisingly open in these early exchanges and the Blues went close to going in front in 16th minute as Osei-Bonsu ran at the defence before sliding the ball into the run of Arel Amu. His shot from the edge of the box was bravely blocked by Ferrell, but the ball ran back to Osei-Bonsu who side stepped Smith before firing in a well struck effort that Goff did well to parry and Groves was again on hand to complete the clearance.
The opening goal arrived in 19th minute thanks to what seems like the first real stroke of luck Ives have had in the opposition box all season. Combative skipper Tom McGowan won the ball well in the centre circle and fed the ball out to Jimmy Hartley who sped down the right before delivering a cross into the box. Peter Kioso looked like he only had to make a routine clearance at the back post, but he got it all wrong. The ball struck his standing leg and dropped invitingly for Hall eight yards out. The Ives in-form striker did not spurn the opportunity gleefully slamming home past Nick Hayes in the Blues goal to claim his third goal in two games.
Hall looked certain to add another to his tally only four minutes later as he got away down the middle to get on the end of a long ball over the top. He outpaced the Blues defence and went around keeper Hayes only to be denied by a remarkable covering tackle from John Sonuga just as he was about to slot the ball home.
However Blues relief was only very short lived as the resulting corner was delivered to the near post by Jarrold where Groves flicked it on. The ball fell to McGowan in the centre of the box. His shot was blocked on the line by Barnett, but Peter Clark was following up and slammed home the loose ball to double the hosts advantage.
At this stage the Ives were looking good value for their lead with the pace and sheer work rate of Hall and Hartley pulling the Blues defence around. With Eugene Libertucci, Clark, and McGowan also winning the midfield battle more goals looked on the cards. Hall, McGowan and Ben Seymour-Shove all fired in efforts from around the box that failed to hit the target.
Clark did hit the target in 36th minute following a flowing move down the right involving Libertucci, Hartley and McGowan. McGowan’s final ball into the feet of Clark on the edge of the box allowed the tricky midfielder to side step his marker before firing in a low shot that keeper Hayes failed to hang onto, but no Ives player was able to beat the recovering keeper to the loose ball.
In spite of a mini Blues revival in the closing stages of the first half Ives saw out the game to the break without any real scares. However they were slow out of the blocks in the second half and gifted their visitors a route back into the game only ninety seconds after the re-start. Blues substitute Lanre Lapido tried to turn Groves just outside the box. The big centre back was caught off balance and forced to pull back the attacker. Arel Amu curled the free kick over the wall and it looked like a routine catch for Goff, but he chose to palm the ball down and catch it as it bounced up. Unfortunately the ball hit a bobble and got away from him. Blues skipper Sonuga was first to react and forced home the loose ball.
This gave the visitors heart and they started to enjoy a lot more possession and force the Ives back. They went close to an equaliser in 57th minute as the home side struggled to clear a corner. The ball was fed back the feet of Arel Amu as he found space inside the box. He cleverly clipped his shot past the advancing Goff, but Groves was again in the right position to get the ball away from the goal line.
Ives best chance to kill the game off came five minutes later as Hartley worked his way past two defenders on the right before delivering a cross into the centre where McGowan had ghosted into the Blues box completely unmarked. Unfortunately he failed to hit the target with his effort from twelve yards. However this did not save the visitors defenders from a barrage from their management team for failing to pick up McGowan’s run.
The hosts were perhaps a little fortunate to stay in front in 68th minute. Jordan Jarrold brought down Osei-Bonsu inches outside the box on the right as the tricky striker tried to get around him. Erin Amu delivered the free kick to the centre where Blues substitute Scott Betts somehow managed to get free of his marker and power in a header from eight yards the rattled the inside of the post and bounced down into the six yard box. A scramble ensued in which Arel Amu had an effort blocked and much to Ives relief Daniel Triff’s follow up header drifted over all on the line, but landed on the roof of the net.
The hard working Ives continued to maintain their discipline and their shape and with centre back Jamie Short replacing wide man Ben Seymour-Shove they contained their visitors well. The Blues only created one more half chance and that came fourteen minutes from time as the dangerous Osei-Bonsu again tricked his way down the right before delivering a cross that Arel Amu flung himself at in the middle. But the close attendance of Ferrell was enough to make sure the Blues number nine only succeeded in firing his header well wide.
The hosts were very successful in frustrating the Blues and ran down time very effectively. The visitors frustration bubbled over a little to much for Kioso as he completed his miserable day with an early bath for picking up a second yellow card as he scythed down Jarrold as the game entered added time.
The final whistle was greeted with cheers from the Ives faithful as the team claimed their third win in four games to put a little more daylight between themselves and the one relegation spot and also close up on the teams above them. Supporters man of the match was a close vote with a number of players picking up nominations. The never say die James Hall won the vote just ahead of Tom McGowan, Lloyd Groves, Jimmy Hartley and Eugene Libertucci.
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 Dunstable Town 1
Goals : Hall 19, Clark 24
St Ives team : Goff, Smith, Jarrold, Ferrell, Goves, Libertucci, Seymour-Shove (Short 77), McGowan (capt), Hall, Clark, Hartley (Sawyer 81)
Unused subs : Draycott, Moyes
Supporters man of the match : James Hall
Attendance : 185
Match report by Nigel Howlett. Photo by Louise Thompson
Many thanks to match sponsor S E Hase Transport Ltd
Match mascots – St Ives Rangers Colts U8 White Sox