St Ives Town 2 Merthyr Town 3
Evo-Stik League South Premier Division – 30/09/17
Another frustrating day for the Ives as again they matched promotion chasing opponents for long periods of this game, but defensive errors meant they ended up with no reward.
Manager Ricky Marheineke made only one enforced change to the starting eleven that fought so hard to earn a point at Hitchin in midweek. With Brett Longden unavailable Jordan Jarrold returned to the left back role.
Ives immediately found themselves on the back foot as the visiting Martyrs were quickly out of the blocks. The hosts weathered their initial forays and were just beginning to get into the game when the first defensive lapse saw them fall behind after only ten minutes. Eliot Richards picked out the speedy Ian Traylor wide on the left in space. Traylor delivered an early low cross into the box that Ives defence completely failed to deal with and the loose ball was prodded home from close range by the alert Jaye Bowen.
The visitors doubled their lead only two minutes later as the Ives back line seemed to go awol leaving Bowen to return the compliment to Traylor threading a ball through the heart of the hosts central defence which put the Martyrs striker completely clear. He made no mistake slotting the ball under the body of James Goff from just inside the box as the exposed young keeper came to close him down.
Unlike their defence Ives front line were up for a battle and their response was instant as straight from the kick off Peter Clark picked out Lewis Hilliard on the right. Hilliard delivered an inviting low cross along the six yard line that was finished emphatically by Phil Draycott arriving at the back post.
The game was now very much on and Ives continued to press forward in search of an equaliser. A route one effort almost found it for them as under pressure centre back Kyle Patten only succeeded in directing his poor attempt at a clearing header down to the feet of the all action Jimmy Hartley 25 yards from goal. The young striker took a touch and hammered in a right foot effort that beat the despairing dive of keeper Ollie Davies, but thudded into the boards just inches the wrong side of his right hand upright.
The flow of play continued to swing from end to end and on the half hour the experienced Stuart Fleetwood battled his way between Jarrold and Charlie De’ath on the right before cutting into the box and delivering a low driven cross/shot that beat the diving Goff, but flashed across the face of goal just out of reach of Traylor sliding in at the far post.
Danny Kelly spurned a golden opportunity to level things up ten minutes before the break as he out muscled Scott Tancock to win a long ball down the middle. As Tancock stumbled he was left clear with only keeper Davies to beat. But it almost seemed that he stopped expecting to be pulled up for a foul allowing the ball to get stuck between his legs. This gave Davies the opportunity to bravely dive in a grab the ball off his toe.
So once more the Ives arrived at the break a goal in arrears, but playing well enough to make the faithful believe that something could be gleaned from this game. That hope was instantly lifted at the start of the second period as only 19 seconds in Hilliard played in a clever flick to put Hartley in with a sight of goal. With keeper Davies coming to close him down Hartley tried to lift the ball over the stopper, but under pressure from Cameron Pring he failed to get sufficient height on his effort allowing Davies to make a catch above his head.
Having failed to get level Ives came within inches of going two behind only two minutes later. Miles Smith was adjudged to have brought down Traylor on the left corner of the box. Traylor picked himself up and delivered a powerful free kick that dipped over the three man wall and just scraped the crossbar with keeper Goff desperately scrambling to make up his ground.
The hosts had another opportunity to level things up just after the hour as Kelly manage to latch onto a long ball out of defence by Jarrold. He could not quite outpace the Martyrs back line, but cleverly turned inside covering defender Jarrad Wright drawing the foul out of him inside the D. Draycott cleverly ran over the ball knocking it sideways to Kelly who fired in a low drive through the crowd that Davies did well to gather under pressure.
Ives won a corner in 69th minute, but rather than give them a scoring opportunity it cost them a third goal. Draycott delivered the ball into the mix from the right. Davies did well to leap above the crowd and get a good punch on the ball which fell to Fleetwood midway inside his own half. He knocked the ball on to Traylor on the half way line and the Martyrs striker again showed his pace as he sprinted away leaving Jarrold in his wake before slotting the ball low past the exposed Goff from the edge of the box.
Manager Marheineke sacrificed defender Jarrold to bring on an extra attacker in James Hall with fifteen minutes to go. Hall provided a telling impact within four minutes of his introduction as he picked up the ball wide left and wriggled his way past Wright before picking out Clark in space at the far post. The tricky midfielder scored a header at Hitchin last Monday night, but this time he got it wrong getting under the bouncing ball and only succeeding in heading over from six yards with the goal at his mercy.
Hall continued to look sharp and grabbed his first goal since his return to Ives to reduce the arrears with six minutes to go. He battled between Tancock and keeper Davies as they tried to deal with a high bouncing ball. He just managed to get a toe to the ball before the defender and prodded it over the keeper then had to watch in suspense as Martyrs sub Curtis McDonald made a valiant attempt to prevent the rolling ball crossing the line. Much to the delight of the Ives fans he only succeeded in joining the ball in the back of the net.
Unfortunately that was only to be a consolation as despite putting in the effort the home side failed to create another decent opportunity to draw level. The only other effort worthy of note in the remaining time was a rasping free kick from 25 yards by Martyrs substitute Kerry Morgan three minutes from time that pulled a remarkable save out of Goff who hurled himself full length to his right to tip the effort onto the crossbar.
This unfortunate reverse sees Ives remain in 22nd place in Southern League Premier Division and stretches their home League run to five without a win this season. All four defeats have been against teams in the top eight and all have been games where we have scored and played well enough to deserve something from the match. I am convinced that we are not far away, but the challenge for the management team is to urgently find a way to shore up our leaky defence. A return to hard fought one nil wins would be very welcome.
Once again the players in the running for Ives man of the match were all front men and Jimmy Hartley just got the nod for his all action style and ability to take on and beat opponents. He was at the heart of a lot of Ives best moves on the day.
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 Merthyr Town 3
Goals : Draycott 14, Hall 84
Supporters man of the match : Jimmy Hartley
St Ives team : Goff, Smith, Jarrold (Hall 76), De’ath (capt), Chaffey, McGowan, Hilliard, Clark, Kelly (Seymour-Shove 84), Hartley (Nicholls 84), Draycott
Unused substitutes : Wright
Attendance : 272
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo by Louise Thompson
Many thanks to todays match sponsor Extreme Events and match mascots Parkside Priory U9