Tuesday 10th March 2015 – Southern League – Div 1 Central
St Ives Town 0 Rugby Town 3
Attendance : 236
Man of the match: James Hall
They say all good things must come to an end and the Ives eight game unbeaten run since New Years Day came to a juddering halt against a classy Rugby Town side on Tuesday evening.
Right from the off the visiting Valley were knocking the ball around nicely with crisp one and two touch passes, already making the supporters a little nervous that it might be a tough night.
The first chance came on seven minutes when Will Grocott ran at the home defence on the left and slid the ball through to Rich Gregory who struck his first time effort from 15 yards straight at home keeper Tim Trebes.
The game changing moment came only five minutes later when another crisp interchange of passes between Grocott, Gregory and Lewis Rankine finished with a scuffed shot from the latter that Trebes blocked, but failed to hold. The ball ran loose to Gregory who side footed the ball powerfully towards goal from around the penalty spot. Covering defender Luke Smith threw himself across the effort to turn the ball away, but the well positioned referee spotted the use of an arm by the young defender and immediately blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. The inevitable red card followed and to complete the Ives misery Gregory stepped up and calmly sent Trebes the wrong way with the spot kick. It was going to be a long way back from here!
The visitors continued to knock the ball around in midfield and make the ten men work very hard to simply get a glimpse of the ball. Their second goal came on 21 minutes when the classy Robbie Burns found space to slot the ball through to Sam Youngs who coolly drew Trebes to him before slotting the ball past him low to his left as the keeper spread himself.
Even some of the most reliable Ives players were struggling to maintain their usual high standards against the onslaught and the next chance for the rampant Valley came four minutes later as a mix up between Jack Higgs and Luke Knight allowed the dangerous Gregory another run at goal, but he fired his fierce drive from just outside the box inches wide of Trebes left hand post.
The home side managed a rare break on the half hour as Scott Sinclair found space to run at the visitors defence, but his fierce drive from 25 yards struck Mason Rowley and rebounded into the grateful arms of his keeper.
The inevitable tide of pressure from the visitors soon resumed and four minutes later a driven cross from overlapping full back Ben George was headed away at the near post by Jordan Lambert. But the ball fell to Youngs who struck a crisp volley from 25 yards that Trebes was pleased to see just clear his crossbar.
Home manager Ricky Marheineke made the bold move of sacrificing Ben Seymour-Shove in the 35th minute to bring on the aerial power and presence of Stuart Eason as a second striker to support the very hard working James Hall.
The home side’s best chance of getting back into the game was probably from a dead ball situation and they created their best chances of the game from two of these in the next ten minutes. First on 39 minutes they won a free kick wide on the left for a foul on the ever willing Hall. Luke Knight swung in the ball which was won cleanly in the air by Lambert beyond the far post. His powerful header struck Rowley and deflected out for a corner. Eason got on the end of the in-swinging corner and keeper Richard Morris did well to keep out his close range header with the loose ball scrambled clear by his defenders.
The second on 41 minutes was another free kick swung in by Sinclair from the left missed by a group of players at the near post the ball rebounded off the shins of Rowley and could have gone anywhere, but went straight into the hands of his grateful keeper.
The second half started as most of the first had gone with the Valley enjoying the majority of possession and Ives working hard to keep them at bay. The half was only four minutes old when George and Burns played a one, two, on the edge of the home box before Burns released a shot that Peters did well to clear off the line with Trebes beaten.
The third goal came three minutes later as Grocot and Rankine exchanged passes across the face of the visitors defence before the ball was played out to Youngs on the left, he cut inside past stand in full back Peters and slotted the ball low into the far corner past the diving Trebes.
This settled any lingering hopes the Ives may have had of getting back into the game, but to their credit the home side did not crumble and continued to battle all the way and the next two efforts at goal both came from the hard working Sinclair. On 66 minutes he cut in from the left and struck a rising drive from 25 yards that only just cleared the angle of post and crossbar. Two minutes later James Hall battled to get on the end of an Eason flick and squared the ball to Sinclair, but he shot straight at the keeper from a similar distance.
The Valley continued to retain possession with Richard Blythe and Burns both influential in central midfield, however the home defence continued their dogged resistance and chances in the next 20 minutes were very limited. The best of them falling to visitors substitute Mitch Piggon who was put completely clear by fellow sub Seb Lake-Gaskin, but somehow managed to lose control of the ball with the goal at his mercy and allowed Trebes to take it off him.
The most noteworthy event in the final ten minutes was the introduction of the home sides promising Under 18 striker/centre back George Mead who showed some good movement and touches during his brief spell on the pitch and came close to scoring in the 89th minute. Knight played him into space on the corner of the box and he confidently side stepped the defender and curled a left foot effort just past the far post.
The verdict on this game was that losing a man and going a goal down early made things very difficult, but we were beaten by a classy Valley side who are worthy of a play off place and are probably one of the best passing sides we have run into this season (early season Potters Bar pushed them close). We have made huge strides since Christmas, but they have shown us what we need to strive to achieve if we wish to be genuine contenders next year.
There were a number of hero’s in this battling performance, but the supporters man of the match award went to James Hall for yet another never say die performance leading the line. Scott Sinclair pushed him very close as the stand out midfielder with a tireless performance that saw him cover almost every blade of grass on the pitch.
St Ives team : Trebes, Smith, Lambert (Capt.), De’Ath, Jonny Hall, Knight, Peters (Banister 53), Sinclair, Higgs, James Hall (Mead 80), Seymour-Shove (Eason 35)
Unused subs : None
Goals : None
Red Card : Smith
Man of the Match : James Hall
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Rugby Town 3
Attendance : 236
Next 1st team match Sat 14th March 3pm kick off AWAY to AFC Hayes (League)
Next U18 match Wed 11th March 7.45pm kick off AWAY to Biggleswade Town (League)
Source : www.stivestownfc.co.uk