The twenty, or so, supporters who answered the Club’s clarion call to try and get this game on were the true home heroes of the day. As they worked tirelessly with buckets and sponges to remove two days of rain from the surface to amazingly get it to a playable condition they were dreaming of three more points from the game, a result which would almost ensure a coveted play-off place.
Visiting Barton Rovers were equally in need of the all important points in order to preserve their Division One status and they had come intending to destroy the dreams of the Ives fans. They appeared to arrive as a team in disarray with chairman Darren Whiley in charge of team affairs having dispensed with the services of team manager Jon Reed only three days earlier. But as is so often the case a new manager can bring a performance from his players and Ives found themselves on the wrong end of just such an event.
The home side started the game on the front foot as they carried the momentum from Wednesday evenings County Cup success into the game. They could have gone in front inside the first minute as Jared Cunniff won the ball in midfield and played it through into space for Andrew Phillips to run onto down the right hand side. Phillips driven cross was just a little to powerful and was inches in front of Luke Knight arriving at the far post.
Phillips persistence almost paid off three minutes later as he chased down a ball clipped in behind by Jordan Jarrold. Joe Reynolds was always favourite to get there first, and did, but his header back to his keeper lacked power and Phillips nipped between them to get a toe onto the ball. But he got to much pace onto it and it ran agonisingly out of play behind the goal line.
The home crowd were stunned only two minutes later as some poor defending allowed the visitors to go in front. George Brinkman delivered a ball in from the left that was knocked back to him. He found time and space to deliver a second more telling cross which was knocked down by Matt Nolan and the ball ran loose to James Bishop who hammered it home from ten yards.
Ives had a golden opportunity to get on level terms less than 60 seconds later. Scott Sinclair delivered a cross from the right and Declan Rogers had timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap. One on one with keeper Kyle Forster he hesitated momentarily and allowed the keeper to close him down and block his attempted clip with his legs.
However the equaliser did come midway through the half as Jarrold delivered a free kick from the left that looked to be dropping short of the danger zone, but a touch of improvisation from Jack Higgs with an overhead kick delivered the ball into the middle where Charlie De’ath found himself all on his own as the Rovers offside trap had again been sprung. Even though he is a centre back De’ath finished like a striker turning the ball past the exposed Forster from ten yards.
But the Ives were only on equal terms for two minutes as another mistake at the back allowed the evergreen Matt Nolan to drift in behind Dan Moyes to get on the end of a long ball from Reynolds. The experienced Nolan showed total composure to lift the ball over the stranded Tim Trebes and watch it roll into the empty net.
The game continued in a more open style than is usual for the Ives this season and with both sides looking shaky at the back more goals looked inevitable. It took a last ditch tackle from De’ath to prevent Bishop adding further to the Ives woes on 33 minutes.
Phillips twice went close to levelling things up as half time approached. On 44 minutes a Jarrold cross from the left was only half cleared to Cunniff, he slipped as he shaped to shoot, but still had the presence of mind to knock the ball sideways to Phillips who fired over from the edge of the box. The hard working striker went a lot closer three minutes into added time as he rose highest to get on the end of a Jarrold free kick from the left and rattled the crossbar from eight yards.
The second half continued in the same open fashion as the first. Ives could easily have fallen further behind on the hour as another defensive error almost presented the visitors with a third. Alex O’Brien chased down a back pass from Jarrold and Trebes rushed attempt at a clearance cannoned off De’ath. Tyler Ingham’s attempted overhead kick to turn in the loose ball travelled only inches wide of the post.
The third Rovers goal did arrive three minutes later as a deep corner from the left found O,Brien in acres of space beyond the far post. He took a touch and drove in a low cross that was powerfully turned home at close range by Ingham giving Trebes no chance.
Manager Ricky Marheineke instantly made a change, bringing on Harry O’Malley for Jordan Jarrold and pushing Sinclair forward to leave only three at the back. But Ives were still struggling to really create decent chances and could have fallen further behind on 72 minutes as Trebes came to punch away a high, hanging free kick by Reynolds, but made very little contact and was only saved by O’Malley scrambling the loose ball clear.
The goal to get Ives back in the game came four minutes later as substitute Phil Draycott delivered a corner from the left that Charlie De’ath attacked at the far post. His powerful header was blocked on the line by Alex Condon, but Cunniff reacted first to hook home the loose ball from close range.
The expected assault on the Rovers goal for the last fifteen minutes did not really materialise as the home side struggled to break down the resilient visitors back line. Chances were hard to come by the best being carved out by Cunniff in the 84th minute as he tricked his way past two defenders before playing the ball wide to Ben Seymour-Shove. He delivered an inviting cross to the near post where Phillips attacked the ball, but only succeeded in powering his downward header inches wide.
The final opportunity came deep in added time as Cunniff was brought down just outside the right hand corner of the box. Draycott powered in the free kick which was acrobatically tipped over by Forster. Trebes came up for the resulting corner, the ball was won by De’ath and headed down but Phillips only succeeded in hammering his effort well over the top as he was quickly closed down.
So a disappointing result from the Ives brought about by an uncharacteristically shaky defensive performance. This now makes Tuesday evenings game at Aylesbury a huge six pointer and a game that will probably decide both teams play off ambitions. The man of the match award went to Luke Knight for the second game in a row this time for his one hundred percent commitment in a losing cause. His closest challengers were Jared Cunniff who was involved in most of the creative aspects of Ives play on the day and Andrew Phillips for yet another unrelenting display of movement and committment.
St Ives team : Trebes, Sinclair (Seymour-Shove 77), Jarrold (O,Malley 64), De’ath, Moyes, Higgs, Cunniff, Knight (capt), Phillips, Watson, Rogers (Draycott 71)
Unused subs : Brown, Warwick
Goals : De’ath 21, Cunniff 76
Sponsors Man of the Match : Luke Knight
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 Barton Rovers 3
Attendance : 306