An entertaining final pre-season game saw the Ives claim a well deserved draw in a game they just about edged and probably should have won in the second half against a competitive Tulips side who just missed the play-offs in Northern Premier League Division One South last season and hope to go one better this year.
The visitors were without Steven Gentle and the injured Jordan Jarrold from their first choice back four so reshuffled the pack with Harry O’Malley in at right back to allow Pat Bexfield to move over to the left side and a centre back pairing of Charlie De’ath and the versatile Dan Moyes.
With these changes at the back it was always going to be a little while before the defence settled in and the Tulips quickly took advantage of this grabbing the lead on only nine minutes as ex Ives Dan Lawlor found space in midfield and pinged an inch perfect cross-filed ball to Josh Moreman wide on the left. Moreman’s first touch was immaculate and he jinked his way past O’Malley and into the box only to be clumsily brought down by the covering Ben Seymour-Shove. Moreman picked himself up and rifled home the spot kick sending Tim Trebes the wrong way.
The visitors responded well and Seymour-Shove was again in the action at the right end of the pitch only three minutes later as he got down the right and delivered a dangerous cross into the box that was headed only just past his own post by home skipper Mitch Griffiths.
If this had been a League game the home side would have been down to ten men five minutes later as home keeper Richard Stainsby was forced to handle well outside his box to prevent Danny Watson getting on the end of a well flighted ball over the top. The keeper escaped with a ticking off and Seymour-Shove wasted the free kick by firing it into the wall.
Ives were enjoying the majority of possession during this period of the game and went close again on 36 minutes as Watson and Seymour-Shove combined to set the latter free on the left. The young winger’s low driven cross was a little to close to the keeper and was well claimed by Stainsby just ahead of the fast closing Watson.
The very mobile Watson was proving a real handful for the home defence and managed to grab the goal his overall play deserved just one minute before half time. Stuart Eason managed to flick on a long Trebes kick and Watson forced his way between three defenders to knock the ball past Stainsby from close range.
There was just time in the first period for the home side to get in only their second effort at goal as Neal Spafford got on the end of Lawlor’s corner at the near post, but powered his header just past the post.
Buoyed by their goal at the end of the first half, Ives started the second period very positively and Stainsby had to be at his best to tip away a fierce drive from Phil Draycott only 45 seconds in. De’ath rose highest to the resulting corner, but put his powerful header just wide. Watson again went close on 48 minutes as he fired a first time effort just wide from the edge of the box after being played through by the hard working Draycott.
Ives were well on top during this early period in the second half, but were almost caught on the break on 50 minutes as Lawlor put through a well weighted chip that Sam Murphy just beat Trebes to, but the keepers rush had forced the Tulips midfield man wide and O’Malley was able to cover round and clear the danger.
The visitors continued to push forward and good persistence from Eason saw him chase down a lost cause two minutes later. Having kept the ball in play he did well to lay it back to Jack Higgs on the edge of the box, but the usually reliable Higgs failed to hit the target with his first time effort.
Stainsby had to be alert on 54 minutes as he raced off his line and just beat Seymour-Shove to a well weighted clip over the top by Bexfield. Only one minute later the flying winger managed to get on the end of a Watson flick, but could only fire wide from 20 yards. This was Watson’s last action of the day as he had picked up a knock and was wisely taken off to be replaced by Chae Simons.
The home side also started to make substitutions at this point and their replacement left back Adam Jackson managed to find space on 61 minutes. He delivered a dangerous curling ball into the box that Michael Frew managed to get on the end of, but the stretching striker could only steer his header wide under pressure from Dan Moyes.
The Tulips went close again only one minute later as Moreman delivered a driven ball from the left that went right across goal and looked like it was going to be a tap in for George Zuerner at the far post until Bexfield got a last second touch to take it off his foot.
The substitutions were now coming thick and fast and breaking up the play. The next real action at either end came on 75 minutes when Eason managed to win a long Higgs free kick in the air. Simons managed to pounce onto his downward header, but his driven ball across the box was well gathered by Stainsby.
Simons was in the action again only one minute later as he nutmegged Jackson and wriggled past another defender to get to the bye line. He picked out Seymour-Shove with a precise pull back, but the younger winger fired over from 15 yards.
The home side enjoyed a late period of possession and Trebes was called into action twice to keep the scores level on 81 minutes he had be alert to rush off his line and smother the ball at the feet of Jordan Nuttall as the Tulips substitute looked to be outpacing Moyes. As the game entered added time he had to make a routine catch to powerful header from Lewis McKue as he got on the end of a Griffiths free kick.
Overall a well deserved draw that could probably have been more. We matched and at times outplayed a side at a similar level to ourselves who will be hoping to be in their promotion shake up at the end of the season. The defence still looked sound, midfield as always very competitive and we showed a lot more threat up front. Roll on next Saturday!.
Match Report – Nigel Howlett
Next Saturday the First Team travel to Kings Langley in the first league match of the 2015/16 season. Kick Off 3pm.