Up to now the Ives defensive record this season has been exemplary, but they did not cope well with the strength and power of the Saints in this game and ended up getting what they deserved from an all round below par performance, nothing!
The unusually out of sorts defending started as early as the eight minute as visiting skipper Alan Hedley found the freedom of the park to get on the end of the first corner of the match and power in a clean header from ten yards that gave Brendan Brown in the home goal no chance.
The Ives battled well to get back into the game, but on a windy day the hard, bumpy, pitch was making it difficult for them to string any real moves together. They carved out only two half chances in the entire first period. On 14 minutes a long throw from Scott Sinclair created a little uncertainty in the visitors defence and Andrew Phillips pounced on the loose ball and fired in a shot that rebounded to Ben Seymour-Shove in a good position inside the box, but he rushed his effort and only succeeded in hitting the side netting.
The home side had to wait until the 36th minute for their next effort at goal. On this occasion a quick break saw Phillips thread the ball out to Phil Draycott who in turn laid the ball into the path of the overlapping Jordan Jarrold. Jarrold’s low cross was only half cleared into the path of Jared Cunniff, but ball bobbled just as Cunniff went to hit it and his sliced shot only thudded the boards well wide of the Chalfont goal.
The deciding moments of the game all came in the last few minutes of the first half. Saints winger Tyrone Pink had been causing Jarrold all sorts of problems down the right and he was the man that decided the game by laying on two goals in two minutes. Having been denied a spectacular goal himself by Brendan Brown’s tip over on 43 minutes the tricky striker delivered a ball into the box only 50 seconds later that the Ives defence failed to clear. The bouncing ball arrived at the feet of Craige Tomkins who fired home past Brown from close range.
Tomkins went close again only seconds later as he found time, and space, to bring down a long free kick into the box by Remmel Clarke. Fortunately Brown was alert and plunged to his right to turn the ball around the post. But the Saints were not to be denied and as the half entered added time Pink tore past Jarrold to get to the bye line and he laid the ball into the feet of Jack Mullan who gleefully fired home from close range.
The last item of note from the first half was an unsavoury one as a frustrated Steve Gentle lunged into a tackle on Adam Kirby right in front of the dug outs. This lead to a melee involving 20 players and staff and substitutes from both dug outs. The referee and his officials stepped back and took careful note of all that ensued and concluded matters by dishing out reds cards to Gentle for the initial foul and Kirby for his reaction to it. A number of others on both sides were perhaps fortunate to also escape punishment.
With his centre back missing and with a desperate need to get back into the game manager Ricky Marheineke made to changes at the break sacrificing wide men Ben Seymour-Shove and Phil Draycott for Dan Moyes and Declan Rogers.
Ives came very close to getting a route back into the game only two minutes into the second half as a clip into the box by Jared Cunniff was completely misjudged by visiting keeper Garry Malone who allowed the ball to bounce over his head. It looked to be heading into the net, but a wicked second bounce took it up onto the crossbar from whence the ball rebounded straight into the grateful arms of the much relived Malone.
With one less player on each side the game began to open up into a much more end to end affair and the next chance fell to the visitors as Adam Louth managed to cut inside from his left hand berth and fire in a shot from 25 yards that bounced just in front of Brown, but the young stopper judged it well and dived to his left to turn the ball away to safety.
Ives came close to pulling one back again on 66 minutes as Danny Watson got clear of the defence as he ran onto a long punt down the middle by Luke Knight. He managed to lob the ball over the advancing Malone, but did not allow for the strong breeze and the effort floated harmlessly over the crossbar.
Although the Ives were making a fist of getting back into this game, it was always the Saints that looked the more likely to grab another. They came close twice in the 71st minute as first Anthony Mendy fired in a fierce volley from the edge of the box that Brown did very well to tip around the post. The resulting corner from the left by Tomkins was powerfully met in the centre by Mullan whose header from eight yards beat Brown and rattled the crossbar.
Two minutes later a solo goal from Mendy made it 4–0 to the visitors. Ives were on the attack and Sinclair had a shot blocked the ball ran to Mendy 30 yards from his own goal. He turned and ran at the Ives defence outpacing Moyes and jinking past De’ath before firing an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box that flew into the far corner of the net with Brown grasping at air.
With the game now won the visitors made three quick changes taking off Mendy, Pink and Mullan. But to their credit Ives did not give up and grabbed a goal back almost immediately as Cunniff fired in a pile driver from 25 yards that Malone failed to hold and Watson was quickest to react to side foot home the loose ball.
They pulled back a second five minutes later as substitute Jack Warwick, with his first touch, turned the ball into the feet of Rogers on the edge of the box. Rogers cleverly played the ball sideways into the path of the fast arriving Sinclair and his first time effort from 25 yards flew like an arrow into the bottom right hand corner of the net past Malone’s despairing dive.
Ives had one more half chance to set up a grandstand finish as one minute from the end of the ninety a deep cross to the far post was headed down by De’ath into the path of Sinclair again, but this time the flying full back’s effort was deflected wide. The corner came to nothing and the Saints were pleased for their revenge after the mauling that the Ives had given them at Mill Meadow early in the New Year.
Overall a disappointing performance against a very good side, but with the other results again predominantly going in our favour we are still in the play off places. A quick chance to get this game out of the system beckons at Bedford on Monday. But the worry is that Steve Gentle will now miss three games on the run in and with Scott Sinclair also only one yellow card from a ban the ever reliable defence may be broken up for some of these vital matches.
St Ives team : Brown, Sinclair, Jarrold, De’ath, Gentle, Knight (capt) (Warwick 80), Seymour-Shove (Moyes 45), Cunniff, Phillips, Watson, Draycott (Rogers 45)
Unused subs : Vieira, Trebes
Goals : Watson 75, Sinclair 80
Sponsors Man of the Match : Scott Sinclair
Final Score : St Ives Town 2 Chalfont St Peter 4
Attendance : 278