Ives opened their account for 2016 with a hugely impressive victory at the home of the League leaders. The weather enforced break had done them a big favour as it had allowed a number of the long term injured players to get much closer to full fitness and a series of very good training sessions during the break were clearly evident in this performance which got the result it deserved.
The visitors were missing full back Harry O’Malley with his serious hamstring injury picked up in the Boxing Day defeat at Royston and ever reliable centre back Charlie De’ath who was serving a one match ban for his very harsh dismissal in the same game. However they welcomed back long term absentees Jack Higgs and Phil Draycott into the starting line up and club captain Luke Knight and Stuart Eason were amongst the substitutes.
The match had been in some doubt following a number of heavy showers in the morning and the pitch was certainly what would be called in racing circles “heavy” going. But the Ives were very up for this game and opened brightly. Danny Watson was put clear by Jared Cunniff in only the fourth minute, only to be denied by an assistant’s flag.
Lewis Ochoa was looking very sharp on the right for the home side and he took on Jordan Jarrold three minutes later and delivered a low ball into the box which was cut out at the near post by Steve Gentle. But his clearance only found Alex Paine on the edge of the box and he should probably have done better with his first time effort which flew six feet wide of Tim Trebes left hand post.
Ives enjoyed a good period of possession for the next fifteen minutes and went close on a couple of occasions. Cunniff fired a crisp drive from 20 yards just wide in the eleventh minute and Jack Higgs just failed to get on the end of a Cunniff cross from the right nine minutes later.
The Saints were still looking dangerous going forward, particularly down the right hand side. Michael Murray, Kofi Lockhart-Adams, and Ochoa all combined well in the 29th minute and Lockhart-Adams set up a good opportunity for Ochoa, but the speedy winger failed to hit the target from the edge of the box.
The opening goal came on 35 minutes as the all action Cunniff robbed a dallying Adam Kirby in midfield and played the ball into Watson on the edge of the box. Watson held up the ball well and played it perfectly back into the feet of Cunniff who had continued his run and he gleefully fired home from the penalty spot with a powerful low drive that gave home keeper Michael Power-Simpson no chance.
Six minutes later and the visitors went two up with another very well taken goal. Cunniff was again involved as he threaded a slide rule pass through the Saints defence to put Ben Seymour-Shove completely clear. He was quickly closed and pushed wide by keeper Power-Simpson, but kept his cool and rounded the custodian before firing the ball home from a narrow angle to send the Ives faithful to their half time cuppa in a very happy mood.
The second period was only a few minutes old when the heavens opened and the rain started to sweep down onto the already sodden pitch. The more pessimistic amongst us were getting a little worried how well the pitch may hold up. The last thing you want is an abandoned game when you are well in front away from home.
Ives almost grabbed a third five minutes into the second half as a Draycott corner from the left was half cleared to Seymour-Shove on the edge of the box. He hit a low drive back into the crowded box that took a deflection off a Saints defender, but Power-Simpson pulled of an excellent reaction save switching direction to get down low to his left and block the ball before grabbing it at the second attempt.
The visitors were sitting back a little more to ensure they were preserving their advantage and the Saints began to enjoy a lot of possession in the middle of the park, but were struggling to find a way through the solid Ives formation. Ochoa was still looking a danger and he went close with another powerful drive from 20 yards in the 53rd minute. He also managed to set up a shooting opportunity for Murray five minutes later. But Tim Trebes stood firm at his near post and turned the powerful drive from a narrow angle out for a corner.
Ives were still looking very sharp on the break and went close to a third on the hour as Watson set Seymour-Shove away down the right and he laid his cross into the feet of Drew Phillips who turned and shot all in one motion and was unlucky to see the effort deflected out for a corner. Dan Moyes met the corner cleanly at the near post, but could only direct his effort just wide.
Trebes was called into action again three minutes later as Remmel Clarke found space on the left and cut inside before unleashing a powerful drive from 25 yards that the keeper saw late and did very well to hurl himself full length to his left to push the ball away.
Chances were continuing to appear at either end in this very entertaining game as both sides tried to play positive football and were making light of the conditions. Watson came very close to grabbing a third for the visitors in the 65th minute as he was put clear by Phillips. He just beat keeper Power-Simpson to the ball and toed it past him, only to be denied by covering defender Murray who hacked the ball clear just before he could finish it.
The Saints best chance of getting back into the game came on 75 minutes as Trebes struggled to keep out a deep cross shot from substitute Aaron Lansiquot and only succeeded in pushing the ball out to the feet of Paine who somehow failed to hit the target from ten yards with the goal at his mercy.
The goal that settled the game as a contest came in the 84th minute as Ives again broke with pace and substitute Peter Clark played a perfect ball into the box for Phillips to run onto and he drove a fierce effort from 15 yards under the diving Power-Simpson to send the Ives faithful behind the goal into raptures.
The Saints grabbed a goal back almost immediately as Ives switched off for a few seconds and allowed Lansiquot time and space to run at their defence from the right and his powerful low drive from 25 yards beat the despairing dive of Trebes and found the far corner of the net.
This lifted the home side briefly and Moyes did well to steer a dangerous cross from the right by Ochoa over his own cross bar under pressure from a number of Saints strikers. The deep corner arrived at the feet of Clarke, but he fired his effort into the grandstand to ensure Ives were virtually home, if not dry.
The icing on the cake was provided in the fourth minute of added time as Seymour-Shove again outpaced his marker down the right to get to the bye line. He had the presence of mind to get his head up and pick out Clark with his pull back to give the Ives midfielder the simple task of side footing the ball home from six yards.
This result lifted the Ives back into the play off places and put down a statement to the sides around them. This League is still very open and if they can keep a fully fit squad for the run in anything is possible.
Man of the match went to Ben Seymour-Shove who was back to his best in this game and gave his marker a torrid time throughout. Adam Louth tried to stick with him, but was replaced on the hour and his replacement faired no better. A whole series of others pushed him close in another excellent all round team performance. A very promising cameo was also served up in the last ten minutes as Peterborough United work experience lad Ben Keating made his debut and did not look at all out of place winning tackles, passing the ball well, and trying on crisp shot that was blocked.
St Ives team : Trebes (capt), Sinclair, Jarrold, Moyes, Gentle, Higgs (Knight 75), Seymour-Shove, Cunniff, Phillips (Keating 84), Watson (Clark 75), Draycott
Unused subs : Eason
Goals : Cunniff 35, Seymour-Shove 41, Phillips 84, Clark 90+4
Supporters Man of the Match : Ben Seymour-Shove
Final Score : Chalfont St Peter 1 St Ives Town 4
Attendance : 113