Saturday 19th December 2015 – Southern League Division One Central
St Ives Town 0 Egham 1
Ives unbeaten run came to an unfortunate end in this proverbial game of two halves played out before a bumper pre-Christmas crowd on an unseasonably warm December day. Chairman Gary Clarke’s master stroke of inviting Santa Claus along as a free treat for the kids was hugely successful in bringing extra people through the gate. Unfortunately the chap with the big white beard was not the only one handing out presents on the day as the home side gifted their visitors the three points by conceding a late sloppy goal when their overall performance, whilst not at their best was certainly worthy of a point maybe more.
The game did not start well for an Ives side, already missing five first team regulars due to injury, as they also lost full back Harry O’Malley to a hamstring injury picked up in only the sixth minute. Whilst Dan Moyes proved a more than adequate cover at the back it was probably O’Malley’s happy knack of getting on the end of dead balls swung into the opposition box that was really missed on this occasion.
The home side recovered admirably from this early set back and started to move the ball around well in the heavy conditions. Jordan Jarrold put in the first shot of the match after being played into space by a good run down the left by Scott Sinclair which pulled in the defenders. But Jarrold failed to trouble visiting keeper Jamie Norris as his 25 yard effort flew over the top.
The visiting Sarnies certainly carried a threat up front in the shape of eleven goal leading scorer Brendan Matthew, but he was generally being kept well shackled by Ives centre back pairing of Steve Gentle and Charlie De’ath. It took a well timed tackle from De’ath to prevent him getting clean through after he had already muscled his way through two challenges in 26th minute.
After surviving this threat the home side enjoyed a very good period of play for the remainder of the first half and created the chances which probably should have seen them take the three points from the game. On 29 minutes Peter Clark almost worked his way through in a sharp interchange of passes with Danny Watson, but a very well timed challenge from Luke Neville took the ball off his toe just as he was about to pull the trigger.
Ives were picking up a number of free kicks around the area at this time, but to often not finding their men with the delivery. However in 31st minute they went very close to going in front as Jarrold curled in a free kick from the right that was half cleared to Clark. His in-swinging cross was met with a diving header from De’ath twelve yards out, but Norris flung himself to his right to palm the ball away.
The resulting corner was taken short and Jared Cunniff worked himself into a shooting position, but his curled effort from the edge of the box was deflected away for another corner on the opposite side.
Ives pressure was building, but the Sarnies thin red line was just about hanging on. Norris was called upon to make his best save of the game four minutes later as the hard working Luca Dusi delivered a perfectly weighted ball in to Watson on the edge of the box. He chested the ball down and Ben Seymour-Shove fired in a fist time screamer from the edge of the box that Norris acrobatically tipped over the bar at full stretch.
The resulting corner was headed down to De’ath inside the box and his close range effort was bravely blocked away for yet another corner by a Sarnies defender. This next corner was met by Gentle six yards out and deflected goal wards, but was headed off the line by a well placed Hassan Sulaiman. Much to the relief of keeper Norris the pressure was broken as the referee pulled up play for a foul in the box.
Ives final, and probably best, opportunity to get in front before the break came from their eight corner in the 43rd minute. Sinclair delivered it from the left, it somehow evaded everyone at the near post and arrived at the feet of De’ath five yards out with the goal at his mercy. However he snatched at the opportunity and only managed to fire the ball over the top.
The early period of the second half was much more even with neither keeper really called into action for the first 25 minutes. Home keeper Tim Trebes was the first to be called upon and he was perhaps fortunate to get away with it as he rushed from his goal to get to a ball well outside his box wide on the right. But rather than punting the ball out of play to safety he inexplicably turned it inside to Sarnies winger Bajram Pashaj. Luckily Pashaj looked equally surprised to receive the ball and with the open goal waiting he only succeeded in scuffing his shot straight at Gentle who saved his keeper’s blushes by hacking the ball away.
Ives were struggling to create a real threat going forward, the closest they came was a free kick from the right by Jarrold which Gentle managed to out leap keeper Norris to flick on, but Watson had wandered offside in trying to get onto the flick.
As the game wore on the visitors began to look the only likely winners and substitute Chris Henry and Pashaj combined to set up a golden opportunity for Matthew on 82 minutes. A one two between Pashaj and Henry on the left allowed the former to deliver a cross to the far post where the late arriving Matthew had a free header eight yards out, but he somehow failed to hit the target with his effort.
Three minutes later the same pair combined more centrally to play Sarnies captain Kurtney Brookes into space in the box. Fortunately he also failed to hit the target with his shot from a very good position.
The Ives defence was creaking, but looking likely to hold out as time was ticking by. However the goal when it came with two minutes to go was something of a gift all round. Ives picked up a free kick centrally inside the Sarnies half and pushed up all of the big men. But Jarrold’s free kick down the middle failed to clear the first man and was hacked away by Brookes. Pacey Sarnies substitute Callum Webb set off after the punt and looked likely to beat any defender to the ball forcing Trebes to come well outside his box to get to the ball first. He was forced into a header, but rather than put the ball wide he directed his header straight down the middle directly to the feet of Henry who had time to take a touch and float the ball over the head of the stranded keeper and into the net from fully 35 yards.
There was still time for Ives to get the ball in the net for a potential equaliser, as substitute Jack Warwick fired home from the edge of the box, but the whistle had already gone for handball against Sinclair as Seymour-Shove’s low cross from the right had reared up and hit his arm.
So the unbeaten run has ended, perhaps somewhat unfortunately, but the lack of firepower in the second half was certainly a worry. Fortunately most of the other results went for us and we go into the busy Christmas period sitting in third place something we would probably have taken at the start of the campaign. Hopefully some of the injured will be returning in the near future to sustain the run to our target top five finish.
St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley (Moyes 11), Jarrold, Death (Capt.), Gentle, Dusi (Warwick 83), Seymour-Shove, Cunniff, Clark, Watson (Simons 77), Sinclair
Unused subs : Davidson
Goals : none
Sponsors Man of the Match : Jared Cunniff
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Egham Town 1
Attendance : 360