The first spring like day of the year welcomed the Ives to Uxbridge and a fixture which threw up a six goal thriller last season again provided a very entertaining game and six more very well taken goals.
Even though a number of the senior players were back to full fitness manager Ricky Marheineke decided to stick to the starting line up who performed so well at Hanwell last week. However this meant that the Ives had probably the most experienced bench in their history and it was the shrewdly timed introduction of these players that decided this fixture in favour of the visitors.
But things did not start well for the Ives as the Red Army went at them straight from the off and the game was only 30 seconds old when Reece Grant took advantage of some slow closing down to unleash a dipping drive from 25 yards that needed a full length diving save from Brendan Brown to keep the game level.
The visitors did not heed this very early warning and fell behind to a soft goal only 90 seconds later. An in-swinging free kick was delivered from the left and Anthony O’Conner was allowed to make a free run across the box to divert an uncontested stooping header past the exposed Brown from eight yards.
But Ives are now a resilient side and they responded instantly as straight from the re-start the ball was fed out to Ben Seymour-Shove on the right and he fed in a low cross towards the near post where Andrew Phillips beat keeper Paul McCarthy to the ball and took it round him before firing in a powerful drive from a narrow angle that covering defender Ben Peden blocked on the line with a delicate part of his anatomy.
After some minutes to allow the suffering Peden to recover his composure Declan Rogers delivered an in-swinging corner from the right that was met perfectly at the near post by Phillips. His powerful header thudded the upright and rebounded across goal where it was hammered home at the far post by centre back Dan Moyes.
Having got level the visitors began to get on top and enjoying some good periods of possession and were looking dangerous every time they came forward. They carved out a number of decent half chances, but Rogers and Seyour-Shove both failed to hit the target from good positions.
The home sides next opportunity came just after the half hour as Jared Cunniff dallied on the ball just inside his own half and was robbed by Jon-Jo Bates who drove on at the retreating Ives defence and fired in a powerful effort from 25 yards that Brown did very well to push away diving to his left.
Ives best chance to go in front before the break came from a flowing move on 37 minutes. Skipper Charlie De’ath picked up the ball in a central position well inside his own half. With no one closing him down he took the opportunity to stride forward and played the ball into the feet of Cunniff 30 yards from goal. Phillips made an intelligent run across the face of goal on the edge of the box and Cunniff picked out this run perfectly playing the ball into the hard working striker’s path. Phillips hit the shot without breaking stride, but unfortunately he pulled the ball inches wide of McCarthy’s left hand post with the keeper scrambling to get across.
The visitors and Luis Vieira in particular started the second period well fired up. Vieira’s persistence led to them going in front with the half only four minutes old. He closed down McCarthy as a back pass rolled towards him, and as so often happens as the ground firms up the ball took a bobble and the unfortunate keeper sliced the ball up in the air. Rogers won the header against Mitchell Wiseman on the edge of the box and the ball fell to Seymour-Shove who confidently fired home past the struggling keeper from just inside the box.
It was almost 3 – 1 six minutes later and again Vieira was heavily involved as he tricky he way past Dave Thomas and got to the bye line down the right. He delivered a waist high cross that was headed away at full stretch by Mark Dennison. Jack Higgs picked up the clearance just outside the box and fired in a first time effort that was blocked back to him. As the ball fell to him Higgs unleashed a thunderbolt of a half volley that was spectacularly turned over the bar by McCarthy.
Having almost gone two goals up Ives suddenly found themselves pegged back to level again as the corner was cleared to Grant wide on the left. He delivered a deep cross to the edge of the box where home skipper Wayne Carter rose unchallenged and headed the ball down for Kevin Warner to fire a crisp low shot into Brown’s bottom left hand corner past the despairing dive of the keeper.
It could have, and probably should have, got even worse for the Ives on 66 minutes as an almost identical free kick to that which lead to the opening goal was delivered into the box from the left by Dave Thomas. This time it was Carter who found space to get on the end of the in-swinger unchallenged. But somehow he managed to steer his free header from eight yards past the post.
It was at this point that manager Marheineke decided to shuffle his cards and start to introduce some of the returning players from the bench. Phil Draycott was the first of these replacing the tiring Vieira. Seven minutes later Danny Watson was introduced at the expense of Rogers, quickly followed by Luke Knight replacing Cunniff.
With all his cards now played Marheineke got the result he hoped for as the Ives won two corners in quick succession with ten minutes to go. The second of these was delivered deep beyond the far post by Seymour-Shove. Knight rose highest to powerfully head the ball back across goal with his first touch of the game. Higgs was onto the falling ball in a flash and showed perfect technique to powerfully volley the ball into the roof of the net from 12 yards.
The game was settled three minutes later as Higgs again won a tackle in midfield and fed the ball out to Seymour-Shove on the right. He got to the bye line and laid the ball back across goal where Draycott seized on to it to fire in a low shot from 15 yards. He did not get hold of it quite how he might have liked, but keeper McCarthy was slow to get down and the ball went under his body and into the net.
Draycott was by now looking back to somewhere near his best as two minutes later he took on and beat two defenders down the left before driving in a powerful cross that was only inches to high for Seymour-Shove arriving in the middle.
Draycott was again involved with three minutes to go as this time it was the ever willing Phillips who rode two lunging tackles down the left before laying the ball into Draycott. He in turn picked out Watson on the edge of the box, he skilfully turned Dennison and fired in an effort that McCarthy just managed to keep out with his feet.
Brown had had a reasonably quite second period, but was called upon once more in the dying seconds of the game as he had to make an excellent reaction save to keep out a point blank header from Matty Woods after he had again found space in Ives box to get on the end of a ball delivered from the left by Thomas.
Ultimately this was a very entertaining game, perhaps a little more open than some of us might like. But it ended in another vital three points in the pursuit for a play-off place and with some others in the race dropping points it has consolidated our place in the top five.
Once again there were a lot of man of the match contenders, but for the second week in a row the vote from the supporters went to Jordan Jarrold for another confident performance keeping his winger at bay and again instigating a number of dangerous raids whenever he found the opportunity to roam forward. He was again pushed close by ever reliable Phillips and Higgs who is growing into his defensive duties whilst still finding time to spray passes around and also get a number of strikes on goal.
St Ives team : Brown, Sinclair, Jarrold, De’ath (capt), Moyes, Higgs, Seymour-Shove, Cunniff (Knight 78), Phillips, Rogers (Watson 73), Vieira (Draycott 66)
Unused subs : Gentle, Warwick
Goals : Moyes 5, Seymour-Shove 49, Higgs 79, Draycott 82
Man of the Match : Jordan Jarrold
Final Score : Uxbridge 2 St Ives Town 4
Attendance : 86