St Neots Town 3 St Ives Town 1
Evo-Stik League South Premier – 05/04/18
This hastily rearranged local derby went in favour of the hosts who started well and ruled the roost throughout comfortably beating the ten man Ives who fell behind in fifth minute, lost Lewis Leslie to two silly yellow cards in four minutes around the half hour mark and shipped a second goal three minutes before the break. This saw the game finished as a contest and although the gallant ten men continued to battle throughout the second period Danny Kelly’s well taken goal two minutes from the end was only a consolation as an uncharacteristic error from keeper Tim Trebes had allowed Jordan Norville-Williams’s speculative effort to increase the Saints lead eight minutes after the restart.
The hosts came out of the blocks quickly and took the game to Ives straight from the off. Their first effort on goal arrived in only the third minute as Tom Meechan and Nabil Shariff combined to set up a shooting opportunity for Dion Sembie-Ferris. His crisp drive from the right corner of the box flashed across the face of Trebes goal.
The opening goal arrived only two minutes later as Ives back line struggled to deal with a long throw from Saints skipper Luke Knight the ball was allowed to drop inside the box and Dylan Williams reacted first to turn it back into the mix where David Bridges was on hand to prod the ball home from close range.
The pressure on Ives continued to grow as Bridges again found space to run at the Ives back line and delivered a low driven cross from the right that Phil Draycott did well to turn over his own crossbar under heavy pressure from Shariff. The resulting corner arrived at the back post where fortunately for the visitors two Saints players got in each other’s way and only succeeded in knocking the ball into the hands of the grateful Trebes.
The Saints continued to move the ball around and their pace and movement continued to trouble the Ives defensive line. But they continued to hold their shape although frustrations were beginning to bubble under the surface with Leslie and Bridges the two main protagonists. Leslie picked up his first yellow card in 28th minute as he slid into a needless challenge on Williams in a wide left position. The Ives midfielder had already had a talking to after his reaction to an early midfield challenge from Knight so the booking came as no real surprise. The resulting free kick was swung in by Williams and Bridges rose unmarked in the centre of goal ten yards out but failed to hit the target with his free header.
Bridges and Leslie continued their midfield battle and the Saints man joined his Ives colleague in referee Oliver Mackey’s notebook less than sixty seconds later as he pulled back Draycott as the Ives wingback tried to instigate a counter attack.
Referee Mackey was busy again in 32nd minute as Leslie, seemingly not having learnt from his previous caution recklessly flew into another poorly timed midfield tackle where he got more of his opponent than he did the ball. The second yellow card instantly followed and Leslie was condemned to the lonely walk of shame.
Ives won their first corner of the game three minutes before the break and it proved their own undoing as the ball was cleared out to the left where Norville-Williams broke at pace carrying the ball deep into Ives territory before releasing it inside into the run of Shariff who gleefully swept the ball home left footed past the exposed Trebes from just inside the box.
There was still time before half time for Ives full back Luke Warner-Eley to save his side from further embarrassment as he pulled off a remarkable recovery tackle to deny Sembie-Ferris the chance to increase the hosts lead. The marauding Knight pinged a perfect crossfield pass out to Sembie-Ferris on the right and he immediately showed his pace as he raced away from Warner-Eley and cut in on goal. But somehow the Ives man found an extra gear and recovered to not only catch the Saints man, but cleanly take the ball off his toe just as he shaped to shoot.
Ives had struggled to get a foothold in this game with eleven players on the pitch so the likelihood of them claiming anything with ten was nothing more than a small glimmer in the mind of the most hopeful of their faithful fans. Even that glimmer was extinguished in 53rd minute as a scrappy period of play eventually saw the ball knocked out to Norville-Williams fully thirty yards from goal. The young full back was not closed down and took a touch before trying his luck with a low drive that seemed to catch Trebes off guard as it kicked off the turf and beat him low to his left with the startled keeper a little slow to get across his goal.
This looked like it might be the signal for the flood gates to open, but to their credit Ives did not put up the white flag but continued to battle and stay in the game. The ever willing Tom Knowles had got very little service in the first half. But he found a little space on the hour as he skipped past Taylor Parr on the right before delivering a sharp cross to the near post where ex Ives man Liam McDevitt just managed to divert it past his own post under pressure from Danny Kelly.
That raid proved to be a brief diversion to just lift the Ives supporters a little. Knight maintained his grip on the centre of the park and he continued to create opportunities for his colleagues that they either squandered or were denied by the hard working Ives back line. Meechan found just enough space in the visitor’s box to turn and fire wide in 69th minute. Five minutes later the same player was denied by the evergreen Dan Moyes as the Ives veteran threw himself at a teasing cross from Shariff to just take the ball away ahead of the Saints centre forward.
In spite of all their effort Ives had not managed to get a single shot on target before 84th minute. But all that changed in the closing stages as first Knowles tested Finlay Iron in the host’s goal with a dipping shot from 25 yards that had the Saints custodian struggling to keep it out low to his right.
Knowles was also involved in the consolation goal that arrived four minutes from time as he picked up the ball deep in his own half and strode forward before feeding the ball into the feet of substitute Dubi Ogbonna who in turn ran at the fast retreating Saints back line before unselfishly feeding the ball on to Kelly who had found space on the left edge of the box and expertly curled the ball past the static Iron into the corner of the net to grab his first goal since his hat trick in a losing cause against Kettering way back in September.
Some of the Saints faithful must feel that the four points that they have gleaned from two League clashes and a County Cup semi-final win will go a little way towards redressing the balance between the two Huntingdonshire rivals as Ives have ruled the roost in these fixtures in recent seasons. Whilst Saints are already assured of a comfortable mid table position Ives need to ensure their mathematical safety with a result at struggling Gosport on Saturday. This bruising encounter played with only ten men for an hour, less than 48 hours before the trip to the South coast was not ideal preparation. But I am sure that manager Ricky Marheineke will shuffle his cards and some of those rested from this game will have a big part to play on Saturday and in the tough run of games to follow.
Score : St Neots Town 3 St Ives Town 1
Goals : Kelly 88
St Ives team : Trebes, Draycott (Moyes 38), Warner-Eley, De’ath (capt), Kelly, Smith, Knowles, Leslie, Libertucci (Rogers 63), Clark, Baker (Ogbonna 73)
Unused subs : McGeorge, Snaith
Supporters man of the match : Danny Kelly
Attendance : 238
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo by Louise Thompson