Result: St Ives Town 2 North Greenford United 1

Saturday 14th November 2015 –  Southern League Division One Central

St Ives Town 2 North Greenford United 1

A depleted Ives team held on to top spot in the League thanks to two goals in the first seven minutes, but they were pushed all the way by a battling North Greenford side who completely belied their position in the table in this top versus bottom clash.

The visitors had brought in a new management team in the week prior to this fixture. The new managers had also brought in six new players and were certain to get a good reaction from their whole squad. This plus the fact that Ives were missing seven regulars from their squad, meant that this match was very much a potential banana skin for the home side.

However they started the game in cracking fashion taking the lead after only 50 seconds. An early push on Danny Watson wide on the right set up a free kick for Phil Draycott. He curled the kick perfectly into the danger zone between the keeper and his defenders. Charlie De’ath arriving at pace looked certain to power home a header from six yards, but he somehow missed the ball. Just as it looked like the chance had gone “goal poacher” Harry O’Malley arrived at the back post to slide the ball home from very close range off the body of giant keeper Simeon Charles.

There were only six more minutes on the clock when Ives added a second Draycott and Jordan Jarrold combined well on the left and when the latter curled in an out swinging cross Chae Simons was first to react to get in front of his marker and power home a header from six yards.

The home side continued to run this early part of the game whilst the opposition, with so many new players in the squad, were still getting to know each other. Simons was a constant threat to the Blues back line and he harried a defender into a mistake on 15 minutes and but for a heavy touch would have got clear to bear down on Charles goal again.

As the half wore on it became clear that this game was not going to be the push over that some of the home fans may have expected. The visitors were beginning to enjoy more of the possession with Glen Yala on the right flank looking particularly dangerous.

The Blues created their first opportunity on 21 minutes as player manager Danny Bennell floated a free kick from the half way line into the Ives box. The home side struggled to get the ball clear and it took brave blocks from De’ath and Steve Gentle to keep out attempts from Aaron McLeish and Joe Sparrowhawk. The ball was finally scrambled away at the expense of a corner. The flag kick was cleared to Dan Carter who hit a crisp drive from 25 yards that skipped off the wet turf and forced home keeper Tim Trebes to block with his body. Fortunately he was quickest to react to pounce on the loose ball.

Four minutes later the tricky Yala appear to push De’ath off the ball near the goal line, but was allowed to go on and cut the ball back to McLeish whose well struck effort from 12 yards was parried away by Trebes and Gentle completed the clearance.

Trebes was called into action once more just before the break as he did well to get a solid punch onto the ball under heavy pressure after Yannis Ambroisine had won a header at the far post to direct a deep free kick back into the danger zone.

The visitors came out fully fired up for the second half and should have pulled a goal back only twenty seconds in as Yala got away down the right and laid the ball into the feet of McLeish ten yards out in space. The big striker got a clean contact, but fired the wall well over the top and into the gardens behind the goal.

The same two players were involved when the Blues did pull one back only four minutes later. Yala again delivered a dangerous ball in from the right, but it was a little to close to the keeper and Trebes had it covered. He gave a good clear call, but inexplicably Skipper De’ath intercepted the ball, and only succeeded in directing his attempted clearance straight to the feet of Jessy Yoboue on the edge of the box. He played the ball square to McLeish who made no mistake this time firing the ball home from 15 yards.

Ives steadied the ship and ensured that they maintained their defensive discipline to quell any potential push for an equaliser by the Blues and the game evened out into a midfield battle for the next fifteen minutes. In fact the next couple of opportunities both fell to the home side, both created by the tireless work of lone striker Simons. On the hour he forced Ambroisine into a reckless challenge 20 yards out in the centre of goal. Watson lined up the free kick, but failed to test Charles with an effort that flew well over the top. Ten minutes later Simons out jumped the much taller Ambroisine to flick the ball onto Jared Cunniff, who laid an inch perfect pass into the run of Draycott cutting in from the left. Charles did well to get down quickly and smother his shot from 15 yards.

Yala was still looking like the most dangerous of the Blues and he again provided a dangerous cross into the box on 76 minutes that arrived at the feet of McLeish twelve yards out in space, seemingly with the goal at his mercy. But he inexplicably failed to get the ball under control and it ran to safety for a goal kick.

The home side created one more opportunity to put the game to bed on 81 minutes as an under pressure Charles only succeeded in punching a Cunniff corner down to the feet of Watson 15 yards out. But he was quickly closed down and fired his first time effort well over the top.

The Ives introduced sixteen year olds Sam Davidson for his second game, and Charlie McManus, for his debut, to replace the tiring Watson and Simons with five minutes left on the clock. These two provided some fresh legs and each showed some nice touches in their time on the pitch.

However it was the visitors who pushed forward to try and grab an equaliser in the nervous seven added minutes. They thought they had got it in the fifth of those added seven as a crisp passing move down the left ended with McLeish being put through and slotting the ball low past the advancing Trebes. But much to Ives relief the assistant on the far side had his flag raised to rule out the “goal”.

Having survived this, the home side still had to survive two free kicks and a corner delivered into their box. Fortunately the Blues management team denied the requests of six foot nine keeper Charles to be allowed to go up into the box for these dead balls. The relief at another very hard earned three points was clearly visible as the referee finally signalled time.

Once again a very solid defensive performance and a very quick start were the foundations of this victory. Again it must be said the best teams always find ways to win even when they are not playing particularly well and this was the second Ives game in five days where this statement has been very true. Chae Simons claimed the man of the match accolade for a tireless display in which he constantly harried the visitor’s defence and capped it with a very well taken goal. With no midweek game next week hopefully the present casualty list will be reduced before our trip to Potters Bar next Saturday.

St Ives team : Trebes, O’Malley, Jarrold, Death (Capt.), Gentle, Dusi (Eason 77), Cunniff, Warwick, Simons (McManus 87), Watson (Davidson 85), Draycott

Unused subs : Moyes

Goals : O’Malley 1, Simons 7

Sponsors Man of the Match : Chae Simons

Final Score : St Ives Town 2 North Greenford United 1

Attendance : 262