St Ives Town 0 Stratford Town 1
Man of the match: Jordan Lambert
This was a scrappy game St Ives will feel that they could have, and probably should have won. However it was settled by a late strike by Stratford Town’s leading goal scorer Richard Gregory.
The game started evenly and the first real chance fell to the home side on eight minutes when Jack Higgs was brought down by Guy Clark 25 yards out. Higgs picked himself up and carefully lined up the free kick. He curled the ball around the wall and rattled 17 year old debutant keeper James Cutts’s right hand post with the young stopper routed to the spot. The rebound just evaded the on-rushing Ben Seymour-Shove and was scrambled clear.
The home side were forced into an early defensive reshuffle for the second game in a row when Hayden Bream was forced to leave the field feeling ill on only 22 minutes to be replaced by Ollie Medwynter. But the change was seamless and the home defence continued to look sound.
Chances were very few and far between for the remainder of the first half with the Town defence looking very solid and protecting their young keeper well and the Ives defence dealing equally well with the long ball game being employed by their visitors from Shakespeare country.
The home side were winning a series of free kicks thirty to forty yards from goal and from one of these on 26 minutes John Stead’s well curled kick was headed clear to Higgs who tried his luck with a first time volley from 30 yards but his stinging drive was bravely blocked by Alex Price. Two minutes later Clark yet again fouled Higgs 30 yards from goal to rightly earn himself a yellow card, but this time Higgs failed to hit the target with his powerful effort from the resulting free kick.
The visitors created their first half chance of the game on 34 minutes when the lively Simeon Tulloch took on and beat three players down the right and laid the ball back to Joe Halsall who lashed it over from a good position 20 yards from goal. Five minutes later and Tulloch delivered another dangerous low ball into the box where Chris Sterling found space to turn and get his shot away from eight yards. Jordan Lambert bravely threw himself in front of the shot, and with the visitors screaming for a penalty claiming the ball had hit Lambert’s hand, the ball fell to Tyrone Fagan whose miss hit shot from close range hit the cross bar and went over.
The Ives continued to retain good possession for the remainder of the half without really managing to test Cutts whose was growing in confidence as the game progressed.
The home side started the second half well and created two good chances in three minutes. First on 51 minutes Stuart Eason managed to win a header against the rugged visitors centre back Loysio Recci and Stead timed his run to perfection to get clear of the defence but he chose to square the ball rather than go for goal and Aaron Stringfellow managed to scramble the ball out for a corner ahead of Seymour-Shove. Three minutes later Recci again made a mistake misjudging a long throw from Medwynter on the breeze and Seymour-Shove found himself clear, he did go for goal, but flashed his low drive just wide of the far post.
Play swung to the opposite end and on 57 minutes Tulloch set off on another diagonal run past a number of home defenders before being brought down on the edge of the box. Town chose this opportunity to execute something of an American football move as they brought on “kicker” Gregory to replace the tiring Price, and take the free kick. His well struck shot was gallantly blocked, with a defiant cry!, by Jimmy Dean in the wall.
The visitors had their young keeper to thank for keeping them level on the hour as a long diagonal ball by Higgs was expertly brought down by Stead who delivered the ball into the middle where Eason met it perfectly on the volley 20 yards out and it took and acrobatic save at full stretch from Cutts to fingertip the ball over the top.
The game returned to a scrappy midfield battle with neither side able to create much for the next 25 minutes with only one shot of note during that period and that was a 30 yards effort from Stead which flew well over on 74 minutes.
The last five minutes saw three decent chances created. The first on 86 minutes fell to the visitors when a well-directed cross from Sam Adkins found Halsall eight yards out, but he failed to keep his header down under pressure from Lambert and Luke Smith. The home side’s final chance of the game came on 88 minutes when Seymour-Shove managed to turn Recci on the left and deliver a pin point cross into the middle where Scott Sinclair found himself with a free header on the penalty spot, but the skilful winger was unable to get any power, or direction, onto his header.
The home defence was beginning to think they had achieved their first clean sheet of the season and we were all beginning to work out how we were going to get Tuesday afternoon off for a trip to Stratford for the replay. However, to badly paraphrase Shakespeare, it was “not to be”, and just as the game entered added time Sterling found space in the middle to feed in Gregory and the Town marksman did not need a second invite to slot the ball passed the advancing Tim Trebes and settle the tie.
St Ives team : Trebes, Bream (Medwynter 22), Smith, Lambert, Death, Dean (capt) (Relizani 67), Sinclair, Stead, Eason (Muzuimbiri 76), Higgs, Seymour-Shove.
Unused subs : Hall
Goals : None
Yellow cards : Sinclair (30)
Man of the Match : Lambert
Final Score : St Ives Town 0 Stratford Town 1
Attendance : 178
Sat 25th Oct 3pm kick off AWAY to Northwood (League)
Source : www.stivestownfc.co.uk