Stafford Rangers 6 St Ives Town 0
Buildbase FA Trophy 1st Qualifying Round 28/10/17
Men against boys was how manager Ricky Marheineke described this very one sided cup tie in his post-match interview. As is usually the case in such a contest the powerful men used their strength and nous to sweep aside the skilful, but physically weaker, youngsters and that was exactly how it proved to be as the Rangers showed no mercy to their understrength visitors.
With seven players already missing through injury and suspension Ives once again put together a makeshift back line that for the first fifteen minutes held their once illustrious opponents relatively comfortably. Unfortunately for the visitor’s things started to go downhill for them at that point when centre forward come centre half Danny Kelly, who had been the stand out player in Tuesday night’s victory at Biggleswade, pulled up with a groin injury.
With only forwards on the bench manager Marheineke was forced into wholesale changes which ended up with the previously makeshift back line now looking vulnerable to the power and strength of the Rangers strike force. The hosts took full advantage whilst this catchweight defence was still trying to bed in. A corner from the right was half cleared to Josh Craddock who delivered the ball back into the box. Ives defence were slow to come out leaving Keiran Morris clear. Keeper Jacob Marsden raced from his line, but was beaten to the bouncing ball by Morris and covering defender Miles Smith was unable to prevent his lob over the keeper from crossing the line.
Rangers doubled their lead five minutes later as Alex Fletcher broke away down the left past Jordan Jarrold and delivered a low cross into the centre where Smith was just beaten to it by Rangers debutant Massiah McDonald who opened his account from close range.
The one way traffic continued with Fletcher at the heart of everything going forward for the hosts. In 28th minute he found space on the right getting past makeshift left back Phil Draycott and driving in a powerful shot at the near post that Marsden parried, but could not hold. Smith was on hand to tidy up just ahead of McDonald.
It was McDonald’s strike partner Richard Gregory who went close ten minutes later as over lapping full back Sam Griffiths got down the right and picked out the unmarked Gregory ten yards out in the centre of goal. Fortunately for Ives he slipped at the vital moment and fired his effort well wide.
Seventeen year old Jamie Short was having a tough time against the wily Rangers strikers and he was caught out for the second goal as Gregory cleverly turned him just outside the box and slid the ball inside into the run of McDonald putting the big man in with a clear run on goal. He made no mistake crisply firing into the far corner of the net past the exposed Marsden.
There was still time before the break for Rangers to squander a golden opportunity to make it four as Ives back line failed to deal with a free kick delivered into their box by Louis Briscoe. The ball was channelled out to Kieren Westwood on the left and his deep cross picked out a completely unmarked Morris who went for power with his free header from eight yards, and failed to hit the target with the goal at his mercy.
There was little hope of a revival after the break and it was now just an exercise in trying to keep things respectable. Rangers continued to press forward and Marsden pulled off an excellent save to deny Westwood after he had been played in by Fletcher in 48th minute. That was only a brief respite though as Briscoe punished the Ives for failing to clear another ball delivered into their box by Fletcher. He pounced on the loose ball just inside the box and rifled home giving Marsden no chance from 15 yards.
McDonald should have completed his hat trick in 55th minute as Short was left to deal with him in a one on one situation and was outmuscled by the big striker. He showed piece of mind to not bring the striker down as he strode on into the box and was proved right as McDonald spurned his opportunity side footing past the advancing Marsden, but wide of the post.
The fifth goal did arrive only three minutes later as Smith got the wrong side of McDonald and was forced to pull him back just outside the box to earn himself yet another booking. Gregory powered his free kick up and over the Ives four man wall and into the top corner past Marsden’s despairing dive. The same player missed a golden opportunity to bring up the half dozen as he fired wide from a good position having been put clean through by McDonald in 66th minute.
Ives best chance of a consolation came from a rare corner with 20 minutes to go. Ben Seymour-Shove swung it in from the right and it beat everyone at the near post. Short was arriving at the back post and met the ball almost on the line, but it was just millimetres to high and the contact was off the top of his head and over the bar.
That was a very rare Ives venture into Rangers territory and only seconds later Marsden was back in action at the other end as he denied Daniel Westwood at close range and recovered well to bravely pounce on the loose ball just ahead of the home substitute.
Rangers continued to search for the sixth and Marsden again did well six minutes from time plunging to his left to keep out a Mathew Bailey header after the big centre back had got on the end of a corner from the left by Fletcher. Draycott scrambled the loose ball away.
The final action of the afternoon and one might say the coup de grass was delivered by Daniel Westwood who turned Jarrold inside the Ives box before rifling home across the exposed Marsden into the far corner of the net with just seconds to go.
It was a long trek home for the sad Ives few after such a defeat. The showing, although poor, really highlights the desperate need to get the missing men back fully fit ahead of the vital run of League games Ives now have looming before Christmas. To aide that cause they now have a fourteen day break ahead of their vital six pointer with Dunstable with only a County Cup tie interspersed in that period to hopefully give some of those lads a run out.
Final Score : Stafford Rangers 6 St Ives Town 0
Goals : none
Supporters man of the match : Tom McGowan
St Ives team : Marsden, Short, Jarrold, Smith, Kelly (Sawyer 15), Draycott, Clark, McGowan (capt), Ogbonna, Seymour-Shove (Wright 72), Hartley (Dias 78)
Unused substitutes : none
Attendance : 495
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo by Louise Thompson