Result: St Ives Town 1 Cambridge City 2

Saturday 25th July 2015 – Pre-Season Friendly

St Ives Town 1 Cambridge City 2

The Ives welcomed their new tenants to the ProEdge Stadium for this pre-season game that looked likely to be a real test of their unbeaten pre-season run. However The Lillywhites came into the game on the back of a very unimpressive pre-season with only one win out of four games.

However it was the visitors who were first out of the traps and shocked the Ives by grabbing an unexpected lead in only the third minute. Charlie Day delivered a deep cross from the left that did not look dangerous, but the home defence allowed Spanish trialist Alex Serrano space beyond the far post. He showed an impressive touch to bring down the swirling ball and then jinked right and left to lose two closing defenders before prodding the ball just inside the far post past the despairing dive of home keeper Tim Trebes.

The Ives first opportunity to get a strike on goal came only four minutes later as Jack Higgs was clumsily brought down 25 yards from goal. Ben Seymour-Shove lined up the free kick, but his carefully curled free kick crept just over the crossbar.

The Lillywhites were gifted a second goal on 25 minutes when a poor clearance arrived at the feet of the elusive Serrano 25 yards from goal. The tricky winger seized the opportunity to run at the home defence which opened up in front of him. He grabbed the chance with both hands and strode into the vacant space before clipping the ball past Trebes from just inside the box.

The home side had their first effort on target three minutes later as a Higgs corner was headed clear to Seymour-Shove 25 yards from goal. The young striker did well to keep his powerful first time effort down, but the ball flew straight into the grateful arms of visiting keeper Zac Barratt who parried the ball down before grabbing it at the second attempt.

Home skipper Luke Knight managed to get his side a foothold in the game four minutes later as he found space to receive a throw from Pat Bexfield on the right. He immediately ran at the visitors defence and rounded two defenders before being brought down inside the box by the third challenge. Well positioned referee Hallam Cutmore immediately blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. Higgs was his usual deadly self with the spot kick sending Barratt the wrong way with his crisp strike.

But almost from the kick off Serrano came close to restoring City’s two goal lead and grabbing his hat trick. Again he picked up the ball 25 yards from goal and ran at the home defence beating three defenders before side footing his shot just past the far post from a narrow angle.

Serrano was again involved on 40 minutes as he received a ball knocked wide to him by Jon Kaye and rolled a pin point ball into the feet of Drew Phillips who skilfully turned debutant centre back Guiy Mailancel before firing in a shot from 15 yards that Terbes did well to tip away.

The first half had been predominantly City with Phil Ojapah running the game in the centre of the park and Serrano a constant threat with his movement and ball skills. But the second period became much more even and the Ives slowly began to get on top.

The first goalmouth action of the second half did not arrive until the hour. All action skipper Knight received a half cleared ball at his feet just inside the box. He attempted to curl his shot beyond Barratt and was unlucky to see a deflection take the ball just over the angle.

Eight minutes later and the hard working Danny Watson fashioned a chance for himself. He chased a long ball down the middle and won the race against Lee Chaffey, but was only able to drag his effort just past the far post.

The substitutions were now happening with regularity and breaking up the play, but the Ives were still enjoying the majority of possession and continuing to probe the visitors defence. Higgs curled a free kick just over on 70 minutes. He also delivered a well curled free kick from wide on the right that Harry O’Malley just failed to get a touch on ahead of keeper Barratt six minutes later.

The closest the home side came to grabbing an equaliser was on 80 minutes when full back Jordan Jarrold mishit a cross from wide on the left that looked to floating over Barratt and into the top corner, but the agile keeper managed to back peddle and just tip the ball away at full stretch.

City thought they had claimed a third in the 88th minute as Adam Murray climbed highest to power home a header from a Fernando Cueto free kick, but referee Cutmore had spotted a push by the tall centre back and ruled out the strike.

Overall the Ives probably learnt more from this game than they had the previous three and they were only undone by two early errors by an unfamiliar defence. As the game wore on they got stronger and probably just about deserved an equaliser. Only six of the fifteen man squad in this game appeared for the team last year so getting the side to gell is still going to take a bit of work. But the second half display certainly showed promise and with a number of experienced players nearing a return from injury we can still take heart from our first defeat of the season.

Final Score : St Ives Town 1 (Higgs 33 pen) Cambridge City 2 (Serrano 3, 25)

Attendance : 226