St Ives Town 2 Frome Town 2
Evo-Stik League Southern – Premier Division – 18/11/17
These two teams must be a pools punter’s dream as they have now met three times and everyone has been a score draw. However I think that there is little doubt that Ives manager Ricky Marheineke would have taken the point had it been on offer before the game started as the play-off chasing Robins came to the Pro-Edge Stadium on a five game winning run and sitting seventh in the table.
What the visitors may not have taken into account is that although the Ives only sit two places above rock bottom Gosport they are just beginning to get the majority of their squad fit for the first time this season. Manager Marheineke had the almost unheard of luxury of being able to name an unchanged starting eleven and the additional fillip of four players returning from injury to take their places on a strong looking bench.
It may have been complacency in the visitors ranks, or just a slow start but the Robins found themselves behind from Ives first attack after only seven minutes. Peter Clark picked out Miles Smith in space on the right hand side and the full back delivered a teasing ball into the near post where Tom McGowan attacked it at the same moment as Ben Morgan attempted to clear. The ball ricocheted off the pair and rolled across the face of goal and into the net off the far post with keeper Kyle Phillips rooted to the spot.
This early goal woke up Frome and they tore at the Ives back line in search of a swift equaliser. Five minutes later overlapping full back Krissy Miller got down the right and managed to get past the covering Jimmy Hartley. He picked out Jake Jackson at the near post and Jackson turned and shot in one motion, but his marker Lloyd Groves was wise to the move and blocked the effort. Jordan Jarrold did equally well to bravely block the follow up from Mitchell Page.
The Robins should have levelled in 14th minute as skipper Sam Teale combined stylishly with Ollie Knight down the left. The move finished with the latter playing a perfect ball into the run of the former to put him clean through on goal. Teale opened his body well and looked certain to slot the ball past the fast advancing James Goff. He did beat Goff with the shot but also inexplicably put it well over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Ives were almost punished for not playing to the whistle only seconds later as the classy Jon Davies was allowed to run on deep into the hosts half as players stopped on a shout of handball as the ball appeared to hit his arm as he brought it under control. Fortunately Goff remained alert and did very well to plunge to his left and hang onto Davies’s well struck shot from 25 yards.
The pressure for the equaliser continued to build and Goff was again called into action in 17th minute as once more he had to go down low to his left to keep out a low drive from just outside the box by Joe Raynes.
To this point Robins keeper Phillips had touched the ball just once to pick it out the back of his net after the first goal. In 18th minute his second touch of the afternoon became a repeat performance. Ben Seymour-Shove picked up the ball well inside his own half and spotted James Hall making a run into opposition territory. Seymour-Shove curled the perfect ball over the visitors back line where Hall out muscled the unfortunate Morgan and finished well lifting the ball over the exposed Phillips from the edge of the box to double Ives advantage.
Going two behind rattled the Robins confidence and Ives came within inches of adding a third six minutes later. Hartley outpaced his marker on the left and delivered his cross into the feet of Clark at the near post. His shot on the turn was blocked by Marcus Mapstone. But the rebound fell to Eugene Libertucci 30 yards from goal. He hit a low drive that thudded into the boards inches the wrong side of keeper Phillips left hand post with the custodian looking on.
Having survive that scare the Robins went down the other end and should have got themselves back into the game. The silky Davies threaded a ball into the run of Jackson to put him clear into the box. Goff tried to knock the ball away from him with his feet, but referee Stephen Bates decreed the young keeper had fouled Jackson in his attempt to get the ball. However Goff redeemed himself instantly as he guessed the right way and hung onto Davies’s spot kick low to his right.
The half continued with Robins getting the lion’s share of possession and moving the ball around well and to their credit Ives side as a unit were all working like Trojans to preserve their two goal advantage. Davies went close in 41st minute as his effort from 20 yards was deflected inches wide. The same player thought he had scored two minutes later as his snap shot from 25 yards beat the diving Goff. But much to the chagrin of the visitor’s referee Bates had already blown the whistle to award them a free kick for a foul in the build up.
The Robins were always going to come out with a head of steam and go at the Ives right from the off in the second half. But to their great credit Ives matched their illustrious visitors for energy and effort straight from the off and although they created little going forward they managed to keep the rampant visitors front line at bay.
The first Robins opportunity did not arrive until 63rd minute when Jackson just managed to beat Goff to a flick over the top. Fortunately Jarrold was covering behind his keeper and managed to hack the ball away. But the respite was only very short lived as only sixty seconds later Miller and Davies combined well on the right and Jackson met Davies’s cross perfectly at the near post spectacularly hooking the ball home past the diving Goff.
Would the flood gates open?, the Robins continued to press. Page fired wide from a good position after a Teale free kick had been knocked down to him. Goff saved well from Davies and the pressure continued to build. The Ives box almost resembled a shooting gallery in 77th minute as Groves, Ferrell and Jarrold all blocked shots in quick succession before the ball was scrambled away.
The equaliser finally arrived twelve minutes from time. A tiring Seymour-Shove conceded a needless free kick 35 yards from goal. The ball was delivered to the back post where Jackson rose highest and powered his header against the post. The ball dropped into the six yard box where Mapstone bravely flung himself in to force it over the line from close range.
Frome now looked the most likely winners and Page went close again three minutes later. Seconds after that the lights went out as a local dip in power tripped them out. After a fifteen minute delay light was restored and play resumed with eight minutes plus an added two to play. But the brief interlude had the effect of taking the sting out of the game and the only opportunity to grab a winner in that remaining time came Ives way as Hall and substitute Dubi Ogbonna broke at pace into the Robins half. Hall’s final ball back into the run of Ogbonna was met on the stretch by the Ives striker. But his toe poked effort from twelve yards was brilliantly blocked by keeper Phillips to ensure that the game ended in a score draw.
Again there were a plethora of contenders for Ives man of the match including Goff, Smith, Groves, McGowan, Hall and Clark. The latter grabbed the accolade as much for his battling back as anything he did going forward. But this was a day very much for battlers with the reward a well earned point.
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 Frome Town 2
Goals : McGowan 7, Hall 18
St Ives team : Goff, Smith, Jarrold, Ferrell, Goves, Libertucci (Draycott 38, Ogbonna 69), Seymour-Shove, McGowan (capt), Hall, Clark, Hartley (De’ath 69)
Unused subs : Sawyer, Wright
Supporters man of the match : Peter Clark
Attendance : 145
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo by Louise Thompson
Many thanks to match-day sponsor ProEdge Construction Ltd