Tuesday 11th August 2015 – Southern League Division One
St Ives Town 2 AFC Rushden and Diamonds 2
Harry O’Malley was the Ives hero as he grabbed his first goal for the Club to claim a hard earned point in a competitive game against a quality Diamonds side.
Both sides opened the game in enterprising fashion with the first effort on goal coming from the visitors after only four minutes as classy winger Courtney Herbert expertly brought down a long ball out of defence from Delroy Gordon, turned inside and tried his luck from 25 yards. Fortunately home keeper Tim Trebes was alert and plunged to his right to tip the effort around the post.
The Diamonds had a good shout for a penalty turned down two minutes later as Tommy Berwick sprayed a precise cross field ball to Steve Spriggs which seemed to catch the Ives defence out of position. Spriggs took the ball down and ran into the box, but he seemed to just lose control of the ball at the vital moment and as Trebes closed him down the two collided. But well positioned referee Robert Evans deemed the contact accidental and waved play on much to the relief of the home fans who were expecting the worst.
The visiting fans were unhappy not to get a penalty from that incident, their anger at the referee grew considerably only four minutes later as the eagle eyed official spotted a foul on Luis Viera and awarded the home side a spot kick. The opportunity was well fashioned from a long throw by O’Malley which was flicked on by Stuart Eason. Danny Watson laid the ball back into the path of Viera who danced his way past three players into the box only to be clipped by Jack Ashton as he shaped to shoot. The ever reliable Jack Higgs made no mistake from the spot.
The Diamonds have a long throw expert of their own in Sam Brown and only one minute later he delivered a bomb into the box that Trebes failed to hold under extreme pressure, fortunately for him Steve Gentle was covering and headed the ball away from goal and it was scrambled to safety.
Play continued to swing from end to end and the next opportunity again came the way of the Ives. Phil Draycott was hauled down 25 yards from goal by Gordon. Higgs lined up the free kick and carefully curled it inches over the bar much to the relief of unsighted keeper Matt Finlay.
Three minutes later a storming run by Viera down the left flank ended in a dangerous curling cross that a full stretch Gordon just managed to head away from the inrushing Danny Watson.
The Ives were undone by a long ball down the middle from full back Charlie Butt on 37 minutes. Dan Moyes failed to deal with the ball and Tom Lorraine pounced on the loose ball as a good striker will, and bundled it past the advancing Trebes and into the back of the net from ten yards.
Ives were unfortunate to lose a player to injury in the first half for the second game in a row as Draycott limped off on 40 minutes to be replaced by debut making loanee Ebey Marango.
The final chance of the half fell to the home side as added time arrived. A long Jack Higgs free kick was won in the air beyond the far post by Eason who headed the ball back into the middle where Brown did well to deflect it away from O’Malley to win Ives their first corner of the game. But this came to nothing and the two sides went to the break level at one, one.
The visitors started to turn the screw at the start of the second half with the influential Spriggs, Brad Harris and Dan Quigley enjoying a lot of possession in midfield. The Diamonds should have gone in front on 57 minutes as Spriggs fed in overlapping full back Butt who strode into the box and fired the ball across to the far post where Berwick looked to have a simple task of side footing the ball home, but he managed to hit the covering Moyes on the line and then fired the rebound wide under pressure from O’Malley.
On the hour the visitors took a lead few could say they did not deserve and the goal was a peach (or was it a mishit cross?), Quigley fed the ball through to Berwick on the left edge of the box, he took the ball in his stride and clipped it first time over Trebes and into the back of the net via the far post.
The Ives were struggling to get back into the game now, but Viera did have another good run down the left side on 68 minutes, however his out swinging cross was headed away from Eason by the reliable Gordon.
The Diamonds were still well on top and brought on classy Romanian Claudiu Hoban to replace the tiring Berwick on 70 minutes. Hoban was immediately in the action delivering a dangerous cross from the right that Lorraine just managed to get his head to in front of Moyes, but Trebes saved low to his left.
Hoban was again the danger on 82 minutes as he jinked inside and out to create himself space to deliver a driven cross from the right that the Ives defenders were pleased to see flash harmlessly to safety beyond the far post.
Only one minute later Marango helping out his overworked defensive colleagues brought down Spriggs on the edge of the box to provide the visitors another opportunity. Quigley delivered a swerving free kick that Trebes did well to dive to his left and grab at the second attempt.
This was probably a game the Diamonds should have had sewn up long before the end, but the old cliché that you have to take your chances came home to haunt them with five minutes to go and they were undone by the simplest of goals.
Higgs delivered a deep free kick into the Diamonds box and the retreating visitors defence somehow failed to pick up O’Malley who rose majestically to loop his precise header over the static Finlay and into the back of the net to send the home fans into raptures.
The remaining five minutes were played out in the centre of the park with neither side creating a clear cut chance to win it.
Overall a good point for the Ives against a side we, and the bookmakers, are all convinced will be in the top five at the end of the season.
St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley, Jarrold, Moyes, Gentle, Knight (capt), Viera (Simons 71), Higgs, Eason, Watson (Dusi 88), Draycott (Marango 40)
Unused subs : Bexfield, Peacock
Goals : Higgs 11 (pen), O’Malley 85
Supporters Man of the Match : Harry O’Malley
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2
Attendance : 437