Njoku bags the winner as Ives win again

Coalville Town 0 v St Ives Town 1

Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central  07-11-2023

Nigel Howlett reports from The Mander Cruickshank Solicitors Stadium

In form Ives stretched their winning run to four games in all competitions with a thoroughly professional performance against a similarly in form home side who had cracked in sixteen goals without conceding in their previous three games. Make no mistake though this was no smash and grab raid hard working Ives solid back line restricted their hosts to a very small number of chances and they always offered a threat at the other end thanks to the pace of Brandon Njoku and Dan Barton.

The goal that decided the game came thanks to the pace and determination of Njoku coupled with the impetuosity of ex Ives keeper Paul White who dashed fully forty yards from his goal to try and beat Njoku to a Jonny Edwards through ball only to find out all to late that he was going to come off second best in the race.

Ives made two enforced changes from the side that beat Marine in the FA Trophy with Charlie Johnson returning in the heart of the back line in place of the suspended Jordan Williams and Luke Harris continuing in the unfamiliar role of right wingback in place of recalled Northampton Town loanee Peter Abimbola. The hosts made only one change to their line up from their previous victory with Wes York coming in to replace Alex Dean at full back.

The confident hosts applied the early pressure with Tim Berridge firing wide from a good position after being set up well be the dangerous Terrell Pennant after only ninety seconds. Keeper Eddie Brearey was forced into his first save of the evening in seventh minute plunging low to his left to tip around a fierce drive from Tom McGlinchey cutting in from the left.

The visitors first probe into the Ravens box came three minutes later when Myles Cowling burst through the centre before trying to slip a ball through into the well timed run of Njoku but keeper White was alert to the danger and slid in to claim the ball just ahead of the Ives striker.

The high tempo game then settled into more of a midfield battle with goalmouth action limited until the half hour mark when it took more alert action from White to just prevent Njoku getting on the end of an under hit back pass from Herve Pepe-Ngoma. Only moments later it was Brearey’s turn to show his abilities at the other end as he parried away a fierce drive from Luke Shaw at his near post. The chance had come courtesy of a swift move down the Ravens left involving McGlinchey and Berridge.

Another speedy break, this time for Ives in 34th minute saw Jonny Edwards given a shooting opportunity as Barton slipped the ball through to him on the left edge of the box but he took a touch thus narrowing the angle and only succeeded in firing into the side netting.

The last ten minutes of the first period saw the hosts carve out two very good opportunities both of which they squandered without testing Brearey. The first in 37th minute came from a quick break from Berridge racing through the centre and outpacing Ives defenders. Rather than go for goal he squared the ball across to Pennant in space at the back post but the young winger sliced his effort wide when it looked easier to score.

Paddy Casey did well to slide in with a perfectly timed tackle to prevent Berridge getting his shot away after the striker had robbed Cowling deep in Ives territory and strode forward into the box again in 40th minute. The final Ravens chance of the first half, just two minutes before the interval, was also wasted by Pennant. McGlinchey and Eliot Putman combined well down the left with the overlapping full back delivering a low cross into the box which arrived at the feet of Pennant at the back post but under pressure from Casey the youngster again failed to hit the target.

The hosts came out determined to put their resilient visitors to the sword at the start of the second half and they exerted real pressure on Ives goal for the first twenty minutes but with the whole side working like Trojans the lads from Cambridgeshire resisted the storm. McGlinchey was at the heart of most of the threatening moves from the hosts carving out the chances that there were. His 50th minute threaded through ball picked out the run of Pennant cutting in from the right but Casey again did just enough to deflect the effort wide.

McGlinchey and Shaw combined to set up a shooting opportunity for Berridge after 56 minutes but the usually deadly striker did no better than his colleagues before him firing across the face of goal and wide from fifteen yards. Two minutes later it was the turn of centre back Ash Carter to fail to hit the target as a corner was knocked down to him on the edge of the box.

Ives continued to put their bodies on the line to preserve their clean sheet a perfect example of this came in 68th minute as two players both hurled themselves across the line of the shot to block out a 25 yarder from Ravens skipper Joe Doyle-Charles. But the onslaught was beginning to wain by that point and Ives seized their opportunity to get their noses in front in 72nd minute.

A ball out of defence by Harris was fed into the feet of Edwards inside his own half. He played the ball into space behind the Ravens back line and Njoku set off in pursuit outpacing Pepe-Ngoma. The ball was out by the right touchline and full forty yards from his goal but White made the decision to come for it. Realising his error to late as Njoku beat him to the ball leaving the big keeper and Pepe-Ngoma both on the deck as he strode off with the ball. The striker then showed great composure to move forward to the edge of the box before rolling the ball home into the empty net as struggling defenders vainly tried to get back.

The goal silenced the rowdy home crowd and knocked the stuffing out of the players. They only managed to create one good opportunity to grab an equaliser in the remaining twenty minutes and it was the closest that they came to scoring all night. A hopeful 78th minute ball into the box fell to the feet of Berridge by the penalty spot. He beat Brearey with his strike and was unlucky to see the ball strike an upright and rebound across the face of goal before being scrambled clear. From that point the hosts seemed to realise that it was just not going to be their evening and they failed to muster the anticipated late pressure.

Edwards and substitute Tiago Nassunculo both missed chances to kill the game in the same Ives raid two minutes into added time. Barton raced through the centre to set up Edwards for a shooting opportunity on the edge of the box, which unusually for him he declined instead feeding the ball into the feet of Nassunculo inside the box but he took one touch to many and was crowded out before he could get a shot away.

But that did not matter as the final whistle sounded on an excellent evening two minutes later. There were plenty of contenders for the man of the match award with all three centre backs and Luke Harris in his unfamiliar role getting votes from the small contingent of hard core Ives supporters. The eventual winner being Charlie Johnson who won every aerial battle inside Ives half to clinch the nights accolade.

Final Score:  Coalville Town   0   St Ives Town  1



ST IVES: Njoku 72

Team Line Ups:

COALVILLE: White, York, Putman, Carter, Pepe-Ngoma, Shaw (Cook 72), Doyle-Charles (capt), Towers, McGlinchey, Berridge, Pennant, Unused subs: Hutchings, Laban, Chambers, Burkey

ST IVES: Brearey, Harris, Smith, Richens (capt), Tomlinson, Casey, Barton, Cowling (Hottor 74), Edwards, Njoku (Nassunculo 86), Johnson, Unused subs: Tesler, Mensah, Kaziboni,

Cards:   Yellow:  COALVILLE: none                ST IVES:  none


Attendance:  312