The Ives went into this game full of confidence on the back of three impressive wins. But manager Ricky Marheineke was forced to make changes to his starting line up with Jared Cunniff and Luis Vieira unavailable. Dan Moyes was also dropped to the bench to accommodate the fit again Steve Gentle. Declan Rogers was also given a rest with Danny Watson returning to the eleven.
The confidence showed early on as Ives started the game on the front foot and could have gone ahead in only the third minute as a long free kick from Jack Higgs held up against the breeze and deceived The Scholars centre back Connor Sullivan. Ben Seymour-Shove was onto it in a flash. But keeper Ben Goode was equally quick off his line and managed to bravely block his effort at close range.
Goode was on hand to deny Seymour-Shove again three minutes later, but this time in much more routine fashion as he comfortably gathered the speedy winger’s effort from 25 yards.
The home side came even closer to going in front in the tenth minutes as an excellent run from right back by Scott Sinclair drew in Scholar defenders. He played the ball into the feet of Andrew Phillips inside the box, he laid the ball back to Seymour-Shove who curled in a teasing ball to the far post where the late arriving Luke Knight rose highest to guide in a header that bounced to safety off the foot of the post with all watching on in suspended animation.
Having ridden their luck a little the visitors now began to work their way into the game and only one minute later a foul by Sinclair on the tricky Ashley Nathaniel- George allowed Dave Lawrence to deliver a dangerous free kick across the box from the left hand side. Fortunately the in-swinging ball was missed by friend and foe alike and flashed to safety beyond the far post.
Ives keeper Brendan Brown, making his home debut, was called into action on 14 minutes as he had to plunge to his left to turn away a fierce effort from 20 yards by Joe Bennett. The chance had been created by a swift interchange of passes down the right between Billy Adcock, Will Wambeer and Lawrence.
The Scholars thought they had gone in front on 23 minutes as skipper Garry Jones strode forward and delivered a deep cross to the far post that Evandro Delgado brought down stylishly and swivelled to fire home from twelve yards. Fortunately the Ives were saved by an assistants raised flag.
The home side had another fortunate escape three minutes later as a poor back pass from Knight only succeeded in picking out Lawrence deep inside the Ives box. The big striker rolled the ball past the advancing Brown and watched in horror as the ball which looked to be heading just inside the far post hit a divot and instead bounced on into the upright. Delgado fouled Sinclair in his efforts to get onto the loose ball.
As this entertaining first period drew to a close it was the home side that again began to get on top and they had a good shout for a penalty turned down on 39 minutes as Sean Grace bundled into the back of Seymour-Shove well inside the box as the flying winger tried to get on the end of deep cross from the left by overlapping full back Jordan Jarrold. Well positioned referee Callum Walchester deemed the contact marginal, but also resisted any temptation to book Seymour-Shove for a dive.
The Ives again started the second period in positive fashion, but efforts from Watson and Phil Draycott failed to force a save from Goode. The home side were rocked as the Scholars went in front just before the hour mark. The excellent Wambeer had again got forward down the right and threaded a ball through the channel to Lawrence who had timed his run to perfection. He clipped the ball into the centre where Adcock was allowed a free header and he gave Brown no chance from eight yards.
With their tails now up the visitors continued to press forward and they went close again five minutes later as Bennett latched on to a loose ball 35 yards from goal, strode forward and tried his luck with a screamer that had Brown hurling himself full length, but the ball flew inches over the angle of post and crossbar.
Ives came close to grabbing an equaliser in unlikely fashion on 66 minutes as Seymour-Shove curled in a corner from the left that was misjudged by Goode and looked to be heading straight in until Wambeer just managed to get enough on it to turn the ball over the top.
The game was still flowing end to end and Brown was called into action again four minutes later. Adcock danced through a tackle in midfield and fired in an effort from 25 yards that Charlie De’ath bravely blocked. But the ball fell to Lawrence who hit a first time effort from the edge of the box that Brown did excellently to tip around for a corner at full stretch.
The home side were also looking dangerous going forward and a couple of Knight long throws caused some panic in the Scholars box, but no one could get a decisive effort on goal before the ball was scrambled clear on each occasion.
However they did go close to an equaliser on 79 minutes as a free kick from the left by Lawrence was cleared to Seymour-Shove who set off at pace down the right before laying the ball into Phillips, who in turn fed it on to Higgs. Higgs then teed the ball up for Phillips inside the box. His powerful effort beat the diving Goode, but clipped the top of the crossbar and went over.
Manager Marheineke made changes to try and chase the game with Rogers replacing Draycott on the left and Jack Warwick coming on for Knight in the centre. He also pushed Gentle forward to add more height to the front line. Warwick’s first action on 85 minutes was to hassle Grace into a mistake just outside his own box. Higgs clipped the loose ball it into the box where an under pressure Jones miss kicked his clearance. The ball fell to Gentle who swivelled and fired his first time effort from twelve yards inches past the far post.
The vital equaliser came with three minutes to go, as Higgs won a ball in midfield and fed it through the right channel where Watson timed his run well and got clear. Keeper Goode committed very early, although he never looked like getting to the ball, and Watson calmly planted the ball past the stranded keeper from the edge of the box to spark wild celebrations.
However the hoped for Ives onslaught in pursuit of a winner did not materialize and it was the visitors who went closest to grabbing another goal as with only a minute to go Bennett fed in a low cross from the right which picked out Lawrence 25 yards from goal. He fired in a fierce drive that had Brown scrambling across his goal and looked to be heading for the bottom corner, but fortunately Delgado timed his run across goal wrongly and only succeeded in blocking his team mate’s goal bound effort.
There was still time for De’ath and Grace to have a small spat just outside the Ives box after the Ives centre back had fouled the Scholars man. But the only result was a yellow card for each and a free kick for that Lawrence fired well wide right on the 90 minutes.
It always feels like a point gained when an equaliser comes as late as this one did and the Scholars fans were proud to tell us that this was as well as their side have played all season. But we can still dream of what might have been had Seymour-Shove, or Knight’s, early efforts found the net when I think we might have seen a very different game. Confidence is a wonderful thing.
Ben Seymour-Shove received the sponsors accolade as man of the match for his very hard working performance up and down both wings. He must have been pushed close by Sinclair who did well to keep his very tricky winger quite most of the evening and still found time to probe forward on one, or two, of his trade mark surging runs. As ever the hard working Phillips and Higgs will also have been in the frame.
St Ives team : Brown, Sinclair, Jarrold, De’ath, Gentle, Knight (capt) (Warwick 84), Seymour-Shove, Higgs, Phillips (Moyes 90+1), Watson, Rogers, Draycott (Rogers 76)
Unused subs : Vieira
Goals : Watson 87
Sponsors Man of the Match : Ben Seymour-Shove
Final Score : St Ives Town 1 Potters Bar Town 1
Attendance : 260