Tim Trebes was the hero saving two spot kicks in the shoot out as Ives twice came from behind in this enthralling encounter to eventually prevail and set up a dream final at the Pro-Edge Stadium on Bank Holiday Monday.
Most people coming to this fixture would probably have expected a tight encounter between the two sides with the best defensive records in the division. But they would have been pleasantly surprised as this contest was an open affair with lots of attacking flair on show from both sides. It was hard to separate the pair as the play ebbed and flowed and the battle eventually ended up like a boxing match where neither man could deliver the knock-out blow even in added time. It was cruel for either side to lose the game, but the dreaded shoot out arrived and it was keeper Trebes turn to become the hero as he kept out kick from Bajram Pashaj and Chris Moore whilst Jack Higgs, Phil Draycott, Charlie De’ath and Danny Watson all rattled home their kicks to make Jamie Norris’s save from Luis Vieira irrelevant.
The Ives made only one change from Saturday bringing in the experienced Steve Gentle in place of the only slightly less experienced Dan Moyes who dropped to the bench. The visitors started on the front foot and Jack Warwick and Watson combined to set up an opportunity for Ben Seymour-Shove to test out Norris in the home goal from a narrow angle after only six minutes.
But they were rocked as the Sarnies went in front from their first real attack only two minutes later. Callum Webb delivered a dangerous cross from the right and a stretching Gentle got no power in his attempted clearing header. The ball fell to Pashaj inside the box, he took a touch and fired the ball past Trebes into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
The opener provided the home side with a lift and they enjoyed a good period of pressure. They came close to adding to their lead on 17 minutes as the dangerous Pashaj took on Harry O’Malley down the left and delivered a low cross into the box that arrived at the feet of Goldy Capela. He took a touch which just gave Trebes the chance to close him down and bravely block the effort. The ball rebounded out to Webb who hit a dipping effort from 25 yards that had Trebes scrambling to get back, but fortunately clipped the crossbar and went over.
Another chance for the home side arrived only two minutes later as Pashaj delivered a deep corner from the left that was headed back into the middle by Kurtney Brooks and turned over at close range by Reece Yorke.
The Ives slowly began to work their way back into the game and it was the unfortunate Yorke that gifted them the equaliser ten minutes later. Andrew Phillips won a ball in the centre of the park and fed it out to Seymour-Shove on the right. He went outside Ryan Parsons and clipped a dangerous low cross into the centre. Norris came for the ball, but with Watson closing fast Yorke felt he had to get a touch. Unfortunately for him his touch took the ball away from his keeper and diverted in into the vacant net.
This setback knocked the home sides momentum and the game evened up for the remainder of the first period with each side only able to create one more opportunity in the remaining 15 minutes. Pashaj again got away down the left and delivered a dangerous driven cross that flashed across the face of goal with no one able to get a touch on 36 minutes. In the final seconds Watson and Phillips combined well to tee up Seymour-Shove for an effort from 20 yards that proved a comfortable save for Norris.
The Ives came out fired up at the start of the second period and could have gone in front after only 20 seconds as Watson and Phillips again combined well to put Draycott away down the left. He hung up a cross to the far post where Watson managed to direct a header at goal that Norris was perhaps fortunate to block with his body at close range.
A long clearance from Warwick unexpectedly set up another opportunity three minutes later as Yorke missed the ball to allow Watson to get clear. The big striker was quickly closed down and pushed wide, but still managed to get his shot away from the edge of the box and Norris was forced into a save low to his left. Harry O’Malley got on the end of Jack Higgs in-swinger from the resulting corner, but his flicked header flashed past the far post.
However the Sarnies repeated their first half performance by going back in front with their first opportunity of the second period. Warwick was perhaps somewhat harshly adjudged to have jumped into Moore on the edge of the D. Pashaj carefully placed the ball and delivered a wicked free kick that dipped and swerved over the wall. Trebes was deceived by the spin imparted on the ball and spilled it. Brookes was first to react and slammed home the loose ball from close range.
The home side’s lead this time was very short lived as Ives equalised for the second time in the game only two minutes later, with the goal of the game from a flowing move. Warwick won the ball in midfield and passed sideways to his fellow central midfielder Higgs, a further clip into the feet of Watson, instant knock into the path of Draycott on the left. He looked up and picked out Seymour-Shove arriving on the edge of the box. The speedy winger took the ball down, side stepped Yorke and rattled a left foot effort back across Norris that left the keeper grasping at air as it billowed the net.
Trebes was not having his best game to this point and just after the hour mark he twice required his skipper to save his blushes having come off his line and been beaten to long balls by Sarnies substitute Chris Henry. The first on 62 minutes as a ball Trebes expected to bounce in fact came off the head of the striker. The second just saw Henry get a toe to the ball ahead of Trebes, but fortunately the astute De’ath was in position to hack the ball to safety on both occasions.
Skipper De’ath had to produce an even more dramatic goal line clearance on 72 minutes as the tricky Pashaj went past O’Malley and Seymour-Shove down the left before cutting in a curling a shot past Trebes that looked to be heading into the far corner of the net. But for the third time in ten minutes De’ath was in position to head the ball away and keep his side on level terms.
The Ives weathered this storm from the home side and came back with some jabs of their own. They had a very good shout for handball against Yorke turned down with seven minutes to go as the centre back cut out a Draycott cross from the left and the ball reared up and hit him. Whilst they were still appealing for this play swung straight up the other end and O’Malley was forced to bring down Henry as he cut in from the left 25 yards from goal. Pashaj again delivered a dipping, swerving, kick over the wall, but this time Trebes was equal to it tipping the ball over the top.
The Sarnies piled on the pressure winning two corners in added time, but it was Ives who came closest in the extra three minutes as the second corner was cleared away to the feet of Warwick who played it down the middle for the ever willing Phillips to chase. He got on the end of it, but was driven wide and his shot from a narrow angle was smothered by Norris.
So with the two sides impossible to part the game went to an added 30 minutes. The only real opportunity of the first added period fell to an unlikely source only two minutes in as an Ives corner was knocked down in the box and Gentle swung a leg to fire in a low shot through a crowd of players that Norris did very well to turn away diving to his left.
The only opportunity of the second added period came in the first minute of it and fell to a much more likely source as De’ath brought down Moore right on the edge of the box. Again Pashaj lined up the kick and fired the ball around the wall. But Trebes was the hero on this occasion as he pushed the ball away at full stretch to his left.
The rest extra half hour was a very even contest between two tiring teams who had given their all throughout and in spite of both sides introducing new strikers off the bench neither side could create the telling punch to finish off the other.
So it all came down spot kicks to try and separate the two sides and decide who would host the bumper pay day of a final against the Diamonds who had by this time despatched perpetual play-off chokers Royston. Who would hold their nerve?
Charlie De’ath won the spin and chose to go first, always considered a slight advantage in such contests. Regular penalty man Jack Higgs stepped up and unceremoniously despatched the first kick. Regular spot kick man Bajram Pashaj was also up first for the Sarnies, but he looked more nervous. A slow staggering run up always inspires hope in the fans and sure enough a weak penalty was well saved low to his left by Trebes. Advantage Ives!.
Phil Draycott and Brendan Mathew took the next two penalties and they were probably the best of the contest each in top corners giving neither keeper a chance. Luis Vieira was next up for Ives, but in spite of him striking his penalty well he had put it at a nice saving height and Norris picked the right way to push the ball away.
Chris Henry was next up for the Sarnies. Trebes guess right and got his body in the way of the ball, but was hugely unlucky as the ball squirmed off him and trickled in the opposite corner to level things up at 2-2.
Skipper Charlie De’ath strode forward and confidently despatched his kick with power sending Norris the wrong way. The experienced Chris Moore would surely not miss, but Trebes was determined to not let anther creep past like the last one and although the big striker struck the ball well low to Trebes left the keeper had again read the kick correctly and plunged low to turn the ball away. Advantage Ives again!
Danny Watson had grabbed the ball confidently for the final kick. Those of us that saw him rattle the cross bar with a spot kick in the recent County Cup final were probably a little nervous. But we should not have doubted as his well struck kick sent Norris the wrong way to spark delirious celebrations amongst players and fans alike.
What a night!!, but now we can look forward to the biggest game in the Club’s history which will be staged at Pro-Edge Westwood Road with a 3.00pm kick off on May Bank Holiday Monday. The prize for winning that one is a move up to Step 3 in the football pyramid and a chance to rub shoulders with some of the big boys.
St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley, Jarrold, De’ath, Gentle, Higgs, Seymour-Shove (Vieira 86), Warwick (Rogers 110), Phillips (Eason 96), Watson, Draycott
Unused subs : Moyes, Brown
Goals : Yorke (own goal) 29, Seymour-Shove 54
Supporters Man of the Match : Charlie De’ath
Final Score : Egham Town 2 St Ives Town 2 after extra time (St Ives won 4-2 on penalties)
Attendance : 258