Result: St Ives Town 0 Aylesbury United 1

Ives unbeaten run in 2016 came to a tame end as they never really got going against a desperate Aylesbury United side who deservedly claimed a vital three points in their struggle for survival in the Southern League.

The home side went into this game in second place with the visiting Ducks one from bottom. But right from the off it was the visitors who looked like they wanted the three points more and pressurised the Ives into mistakes all over the pitch.

The ground staff had done an excellent job to get this game on, but the heavy pitch started to cut up right from the start and it was one of those days when effort and application was going to be the crucial items for either side to get a result. The Ducks started well and enjoyed a lot of early possession without troubling Tim Trebes in the home goal.

It took either side until the 25th minute to create the first real opportunity. The hard working Andrew Phillips picked up a ball thirty yards from goal and played a perfectly weighted pass inside the full back for Ben Seymour-Shove to run onto cutting in from the right. He took the chance on first time from 15 yards out, but only succeeded in firing the ball across the face of goal where the covering Chris Crook turned it safely out for a corner.

The next chance in a poor first half did not come until five minutes before the break when Luke Knight played a good ball into the feet of Danny Watson on the edge of the box. The Ives leading scorer cleverly allowed the ball to run and turned onto it, but unfortunately the finish did not match the turn and he only managed to screw the ball across the face of goal and just past the far post.

The best two chances of the first period came in added time and both fell to the Ducks. Just as the watch ticked past the 45 minute mark Sonny French and Tyrone Taylor combined to put Greg Williams clear, he slotted the ball past the advancing Trebes, but it rolled agonisingly wide of the far post.

The resulting goal kick was won in the air by Lea Coulter who knocked it down to Shaun Owens on the right. He ran at the defence and delivered a dangerous ball into the near post where Bruno Brito just beat Charlie De’ath to the ball, but he failed to hit the target with his close range effort.

The Ives came out for the second half and took the game to the visitors. Inside the first 60 seconds Declan Rogers and Watson combined to play the overlapping Jordan Jarrold into space down the left. Visitor’s skipper Jack Wood just beat Phillips to his curling cross.

Ives best chance of the game came five minutes later from one of their trademark corners. A quick thinking Higgs played the ball short to Seymour-Shove who delivered a first time cross into the near post where a late arriving Luke Knight looked certain to score if he got any sort of contact, but he somehow completely missed the ball and to make matters worse he then fell on the loose ball and handled it right in front of goal.

Just to prove they were still very much in this game the Ducks created the next opportunity on 54 minutes as Taylor cleverly clipped in a ball from the left. De’ath slipped in the mud on the edge of the box and Coulter looked certain to get on the end of the bouncing ball. But Trebes was alert to the danger and bravely plunged in to take the ball off of Coulter’s toe and take a clattering for his pains.

Phil Draycott replaced the strangely quiet Rogers just after the hour and he got on the end of the next chance on 73 minutes as picked up a quick ball out of defence from Scott Sinclair on the half way line and drove at the visitors defence before firing a powerful effort across the face of goal from 20 yards which visiting keeper Zaki Oulah was happy to wave past.

Four minutes later the same player forced Oulah into his only save of the day. Seymour-Shove got down the right and delivered a teasing cross into the box that Wood just managed to get to at full stretch. But the ball skimmed off his head to Draycott arriving late at the far post. He hit a well struck first time effort straight at Oulah that the keeper did well to push out for a corner.

Ives new signing Luis Viera was introduced to the action with ten minutes to go and he almost had an instant impact as he picked up a clearance just inside the visitors half and ran at Jake Bewley before tricking his way past him just outside the box only to be brought down by the struggling full back. Higgs lined up the free kick and struck it well, but the wall did it’s job deflecting the ball for a corner. Unfortunately the corner, like so many on the day, was a poor one and the pressure was relieved.

Just when it looked like this game was going to end in a stalemate the Ducks went and snatched all three points with just one and a half minutes of the 90 to go. The skilful French delivered a teasing cross from the right which the Ives defence failed to deal with. The ball fell to Brito deep inside the box and he gave Trebes no chance firing home from ten yards.

Thanks to a number of stoppages there were seven added minutes at the end of the second period, but despite a lot of huffing and puffing the home side never looked like blowing the Ducks house down. In fact the best chance in added time fell to the visitors as a quick break saw French play Taylor into space on the edge of the box and he selflessly played the ball square to Brito who with only Trebes to beat could only manage to fire the ball straight into the keeper’s midriff.

Verdict on today was a poor game with both sides putting in a lot of effort for little reward on a very difficult pitch. The extra little bit of desire and a few touches of class provided by French were probably the reason why it was the Ducks celebrating at the end. Scott Sinclair was awarded the sponsors man of the match for the Ives on a day when I was very glad they were in attendance to pick a winner.

St Ives team : Trebes, Sinclair, Jarrold, De’ath, Gentle, Knight (capt), Seymour-Shove, Higgs, Phillips (Eason 75), Watson (Viera 82), Rogers (Draycott 66)

Unused subs : Warwick

Goals : none

Sponsors Man of the Match : Scott Sinclair

Final Score :  St Ives Town 0  Aylesbury United  1

Attendance  :  280