The Ives hit their first target of the season as they claimed their place in the end of season promotion play offs with a thoroughly professional performance at Haywood Way. The result also condemned the Moles to another season in Division 1.
The performance shows just how far the Ives have come since last season’s humiliating defeat in this fixture. The score line on that sunny September afternoon showed manager Ricky Marheineke that he had a lot of work to do to take the Club forward. A clearing of some of the aging “stars” followed that defeat. Wise recruitment has been one cog in the Ives wheel this season, but the true driving force has been the magnificent team ethic which has been built up within the squad and the entire club. This Ives side will not roll over and die like last season’s did, it will fight for the cause to the last man.
That team ethic was crucial to this victory as every part of the team was tested in this fixture which was billed as a play off for a play-off place. The result and the performance was made all the more remarkable as the visitors lost influential captain Luke Knight to what looked like a season ending hamstring injury in only the tenth minute.
In fact Knight’s injury was the only thing of note in the first 20 minutes as the two teams sized each other up. It was the Ives that crafted the first telling move of the match and it lead to the opening goal in 20th minute. Jack Higgs played a ball in to the feet of Andrew Phillips in midfield. Phillips did what he does so well as he held the ball up and fed it back to the feet of Declan Rogers. Rogers played an exquisite ball through the channel to pick out Phillips who had continued his run. He had time to take a touch and slot the ball into the far corner giving James Weatherill in the home goal no chance.
This opening goal sparked a good period for the Ives. Another flowing move should have probably lead to them increasing their lead seven minutes later. Scott Sinclair cut out a ball deep inside his own half. He again played the ball into the feet of the magnificent Phillips who laid it off to Rogers. A first time pass put Draycott away down the left his driven cross was attacked at the near post by Ben Seymour-Shove who was beaten by a bobble and failed to get a touch with the goal at his mercy.
The visitors continued to enjoy the majority of possession up to half time, but the only other half chance they carved out before the break was again created by Phillips as he harried home skipper Dan Murphy into a mistake and robbed him deep inside his own half. He laid the ball back to Cunniff who in turn tried to put Seymour-Shove clear, but the flying wingers touch was just a little to heavy and the ball ran out of play before he could deliver it to Phillips arriving in the centre.
As might be expected the Moles came out fired up for the second half after receiving a roasting from their manager. They almost grabbed an equaliser only two minutes in as the tricky Gareth Price jinked his way past Sinclair on the left and delivered a dangerous cross that Jamie Rudd flicked against the post. The rebound went straight to Brian Haule, but his close range header lacked power and the ball ended up in Tim Trebes arms.
The Ives gave an almost instant repost as less than sixty seconds later Rogers threaded a ball through that looked to have put Draycott clear, but he took his shot early from the edge of the box and fired wide of the far post.
The home side began to turn the screw as the second period wore on, but they were coming up against a resilient Ives back line expertly marshalled by Steve Gentle. Most of the Moles efforts were from distance and did not trouble Trebes. However they did go close on the hour as a free kick from a dead central position 40 yards from goal was curled in by Davis Haule, his brother Brian flicked the ball on, but Price had gone to soon and the assistant’s flag was raised.
They went even closer on 72 minutes as a corner from the right by Aston Goss was flicked on by Ben Stevens, but his goal bound header hit his own man Davis Haule right in front of goal and was hacked clear to safety.
As time began to run down the home side were becoming more and more desperate. They carved out, but wasted, another good opportunity with nine minutes to go as Murphy delivered a deep cross from the left that Brian Haule managed to win in the air at the far post, but his header, under severe pressure, lacked pace and was straight at Trebes.
The final opportunity for the home side came right on time as Haule played in Price down the left, he cut in, but with colleagues screaming for a cut back he chose to go for power from a narrow angle and Trebes stayed solid and made an excellent block.
With the Moles all pushing forward in a despairing search for an equaliser there were bound to be gaps at the back and substitute Danny Watson seized on one of these to seal the points deep into added time. He chased down a long punt out of defence that keeper Weatherill came to hack away. But in his eagerness to keep the ball in play the keeper made a complete hash of it and only succeeded in knocking the ball straight to Watson 25 yards from goal. He took a touch and rolled the ball into the vacant net to spark wild celebrations amongst the team and the visiting faithful.
The trip back from Aylesbury was a lot sweeter this season than it was last. Man of the match went to our colossus at the back Steve Gentle. The home side generally resorted to long ball tactics which fed the big man very generously and he dealt with every one simply and forcefully. Again it was an evening where every part of the team machine worked well, but the other man worthy of special note was Phillips who was a constant thorn in the Moles side throughout the first period and took his goal expertly. He simply lacked service in the second half, but still continued to put a shift in, as always.
So one more League game to go then we arrive in the play-offs. Unfortunately we will be without some hugely influential players for the season ending shoot out as Scott Sinclair will be suspended for the semi-final and Jared Cunniff will miss both semi-final and final as punishment for his moment of rashness at Beaconsfield. It looks like Luke Knight will also be missing through injury. But as previously mentioned this Club all pulls as one and others will step up into the cauldron for these all important fixtures and we know they can do the job.
Keep on believing!!
St Ives team : Trebes, Sinclair, Jarrold, De’ath, Gentle, Higgs, Seymour-Shove, Knight (capt) (Rogers 13), Phillips (Watson 81), Cunniff, Draycott
Unused subs : Brown, O’Malley, Moyes
Goals : Phillips 20, Watson 90+3
Man of the Match : Steve Gentle
Final Score : Aylesbury 0 St Ives Town 2
Attendance : 141