Saturday 5th September 2015 – Southern League Division 1 Central
Arlesey Town 0 St Ives Town 1
This was a game the Ives should have probably had sewn up by half time, but in the end were perhaps a little fortunate to take all three points against the struggling Two Blues.
The visitors set off looking like a side coming off the back of their very impressive cup win three days earlier and they went close after only six minutes a Jack Higgs took a quick free kick on the right and Luke Knight fed the ball on to allow him to cut in from the right and fire in a powerful drive the home keeper Nick Thompson did well to block low to his left. Stuart Eason pounced on the rebound and was unlucky to see his close range effort bounce off home captain Louis Lee and end up in the hands of the prone keeper.
Eason went close again seven minutes later as a deep cross from Harry O’Malley was missed by home full back Ash Deeney and arrived at the feet of Eason. Unfortunately the ball would not come down for him and he was only able to hit a tame effort straight at Thompson as he was quickly closed down.
The Ives continued to press forward and had two more efforts at goal in the next three minutes. First an O’Malley cross was deflected into the path of Knight on the edge of the box, but his fierce effort flew well over the top. Only seconds later Peter Clark threaded a through ball to Danny Watson down the right hand channel, but Watson saw his first time effort from 20 yards comfortably saved by Thompson.
Thompson was in action again on 26 minutes as plunged to his left to push a 30 yard effort from Higgs round the post.
The home side enjoyed a little spell of possession around the half hour mark and created their first effort at goal on 28 minutes as Aaron Morgan set the dangerous Lewis Wilson away down the right. Wilson cut in and fired a driven ball across the box that was only inches away from the inrushing Luke Abraham.
Abraham had an even better opportunity four minutes later as a perfectly weighted clip over the defence by Ben Farrell put him clear, but he failed to bring the dropping ball under control and it ran off his toe into the grateful hands of Tim Trebes.
Following this scare the Ives picked up where they left off and continued to create chances. On 35 minutes O’Malley picked up a ball just inside the home half and as the defence retreated in front of him he took the ball forward and tried his luck from 25 yards, but the ball flew inches wide of Thompson’s left hand post.
Ives were continuing to press high and Jack Higgs won the ball off a defender from the resulting goal kick. Clark got on the end of his through ball and expertly turned outside covering defender Jonny Butler, but he dragged his effort from 20 yards just past the post.
The Two Blues continued to look dangerous on the break and the tricky Wilson jinked his way past three defenders on 37 minutes. Jordan Jarrold did well to block his effort with a last ditch covering tackle.
The visitors continued to press forward for the remainder of the first half. Phil Draycott cleverly flicked the ball past Deeney to get away down the left on 39 minutes, but his driven cross was cut out at the near post by Lee at the cost of a corner. Eason rose highest to Higgs flag kick, but could not keep his header down from eight yards.
Eason had an even better opportunity in the last minute of the first period as he found himself in space in the centre of goal ten yards out to get on the end of a Higgs free kick, but again his header flew just over the top.
There was still time for Draycott to fire a fierce effort from 30 yards just over the top to complete 14 efforts at goal by the visitors in the first period.
Managing to keep the Ives at bay in the first period had given the home side a little more confidence and they started the second half in positive fashion. Four minutes in Farrell played in Christian Tavernier down the right. The winger cut inside and fired in a shot from the corner of the box that forced Trebes into a save at his near post.
Three minutes later the danger came from the opposite flank as Morgan played in Abraham who saw his fierce effort from the left hand corner of the box fly across goal and just past the far post.
Ives began to settle down as the half wore on and home keeper Thompson had a lucky escape on 54 minutes as a free kick from the right was half cleared to Knight 35 yards out. Knight lofted the ball back into the box and Thompson came to claim the ball, but dropped it under pressure from Steve Gentle. He was lucky to fall on the ball before the Ives centre back could prod it home.
Thompson instantly gathered his composure and his quick throw out enabled play to swing straight to the other end where Abraham fired in a fierce first time volley to a long cross field ball from Deeney. Trebes was relieved to see the effort fly just past his left hand post.
The visitors were next to create something as a short corner by Watson on 56 minutes allowed Higgs to curl in a dangerous first time cross that eluded everyone in the middle and arrived at the feet of O’Malley beyond the far post. Unfortunately the angle was always against him and the young full back only found the side netting with his first time effort.
The next effort on goal was conjured up by the home side on 76 minutes as Wilson and Tavernier combined down the centre in a move that ended with the latter curling in a well placed effort from 20 yards that Trebes did well to plunge to his left and push away.
Just when most people were beginning to think that this open, entertaining, game was likely to end goal less the goal that settled it came with 15 minutes to go. O’Malley and Knight combined down the right and a cleverly weighted ball from the full back created the space for Knight to drive in a cross. Defender Lee moved to block the ball inside his penalty area, but inexplicably lifted his arm away from his body to aid him in stopping the flight. Referee Daniel Hanna and his assistant were both well positioned to spot the offence and both in unison signalled for the penalty. Higgs stepped up and calmly despatched his kick sending Thompson the wrong way.
The home side came inches from an equaliser only three minutes later as a perfectly flighted in swinging free kick from the right by Abraham looked certain to be turned home by one of the inrushing attackers. But the covering O’Malley just beat them to it and was mightily relieved as his header under extreme pressure rattled off his own crossbar and rebounded to safety.
The Ives are a resilient team these days and they managed to run the clock down well for the remaining time and created another good chance of their own with three minutes to go as a lightning fast break down the left involving Draycott, Clark and substitute Ebey Marango saw fellow substitute Luis Viera skilfully tee up Higgs for a thunderous drive for 25 yards that just crept over Thompson’s crossbar.
The home side had one final attempt on goal in the last minute as substitute Tarum Dawkins managed to wriggle his way past Gentle on the left, but he could only fire his low drive into the side netting from a good position.
Another well ground out three points away from home against a side who played with a style that suggests that their league position is somewhat false and that they will start to pick up points very soon. The man of the match award went to Harry O’Malley for his all action display up and down the right hand side, but there were a number of other contenders including Phil Draycott, Danny Watson and Peter Clark, but everyone played their part in gaining another well earned three points.
St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley, Jarrold, De’ath, Gentle, Knight (capt), Clark, Higgs, Eason (Viera 65), Watson (Marango 82), Draycott (Warwick 89)
Unused subs : Peacock
Goals : Higgs 75 (pen)
Supporters Man of the Match : Harry O’Malley
Final Score : Arlesey Town 0 St Ives Town 1
Attendance : 119