Richens takes the gloves as Ives fall to defeat

St Ives Town 1 v Stamford 4 

Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central  01-04-2024

Nigel Howlett reports

The problems for Ives relating to this game started 48 hours earlier when St Albans City keeper Michael Johnson picked up a knock against Braintree forcing the Saints to recall dual registered keeper Sam Bentley. This forced a series of frantic phone calls to the Southern League office to request that the club be allowed to sign an emergency keeper ahead of this Easter Monday fixture. But it being Easter Sunday the League office was closed so hence a lot of supporters arriving for the game found out that what they had assumed was the club’s April fools joke was in fact a reality, inspirational captain and central midfielder Michael Richens had donned the gloves and found himself between the sticks.

The other major item of note ahead of kick off was a first Ives start for 18 year old Cambridge United loanee striker Amaru Kaunda. The youngster almost had an instant impact bursting into the box before feeding the ball into the feet of Jonny Edwards inside 25 seconds. But try as he might Ives leading scorer was closely marked and could not get a shot away.

The early pressure was all coming from the hosts and in eleventh minute Daniels keeper Michael Duggan almost misjudged Myles Cowling’s free kick from the left. The stretching keeper just did enough to touch the ball off the head of Jordan Williams arriving at the back post.

Duggan did a lot better four minutes later as he threw himself across his goal line to palm away a close range effort from Kaunda as the striker again showed his promise inside the box pouncing on Edwards knock down from Josh Tomlinson’s deep cross from the right.

Ives pressure continued and Kaunda was again involved in 18th minute as he got away down the left before delivering an inviting low cross into the centre that was just taken off Cowling’s toe by Will Glennon at the expense of a corner.

Stand in keeper Richens had to make his first real save two minutes later and he had fortune on his side as he somehow managed to keep out James Blunden’s powerful header from eight yards with the assistance of the crossbar. The Daniels big centre back had got on the end of Rhys Hilton’s clip to the back post after a corner had been knocked back to him.

More slick passing and movement created another opportunity for Ives in 22nd minute. The move ending with Kanunda pulling the ball back to Ed Hottor on the edge of the box. His first time effort was well saved by Duggan plunging low to his left to deflect the ball around the post. The resulting Cowling corner to the back post was not dealt with by the Daniels as they missed a couple of chances to clear the ball before Jake Hutchings pounced to stab it home from close range and open his account for the club.

But the lead was very short lived as the visitors worked a move down the right that ended with Hilton laying a ball across the box for Lee Shaw to beat Richens comprehensively from ten yards to level the scores.

Now well and truly back in the game it only took the play off chasing visitors another five minutes to nudge in front. The initial break into Ives box coming from their skipper Rob Morgan who fed the ball on to Tendai Chitiza who unselfishly rolled it across goal for Jack Duffey to slam home at the back post.

But give them their due Ives heads did not drop and they came roaring back looking for an equaliser. Kaunda again went close as he spun brilliantly onto a knock down inside the box, his shot taking a big deflection off a defender and looping just over the bar with Duggan beaten. The resulting Cowling corner almost went straight in thanks to a clever step over from Tomlinson in front of the near post but the combination of keeper Duggan and Shaw did just enough to prevent the ball crossing the line.

Ives went even closer to what would have been a deserved equaliser seconds before the break. A long throw was knocked back to Aaron Smith wide left and he delivered the prefect ball into the centre where five Ives players were attacking the ball. Dan Barton got there first to force it home but the celebration was cut short by an assistant’s upraised flag.

The second half started just as the first had ended with Ives almost forcing an equaliser only to be denied by an offside flag. This time it was a slide rule Hottor pass that put Kaunda through the right channel. But the young striker had set off a split second to soon.

But that was the final jewel in Ives day as they started to tire and the powerful Daniels started to take control. Richens held on well to Hilton’s 50th minute drive from just outside the box. Chitiza should have made it three, two minutes later. Shaw and Hilton combined well on the right to feed Morgan into the box. The skipper’s initial shot was blocked by the covering Williams but the ball rebounded to Morgan who cleverly clipped it to the back post where the unmarked Chitiza blazed over from ten yards.

The Daniels pressure continued and Hottor presented them with a perfect opportunity to test Richens goal keeping abilities in 54th minute as he scythed down Harry Vince just outside the box. The visitor’s midfielder picked himself up and carefully lined up the kick. Although he got his low shot around Ives four man wall he failed to test the stand in keeper as the shot went a couple of metres wide.

Despite a lot of hard work Ives were unable to build any real second half pressure on the visitor’s goal. Danger man Edwards was being well shackled by Blunden who was helped out by a cluster of his team mates every time the ball went into the feet of Ives leading scorer. Both Edwards and Blunden picked up yellow cards for a spat on half way in 69th minute.

Defensively the hosts were protecting their cover keeper well as typified by Tomlinson’s excellent recovery block to deny Duffey after he had broken into Ives box in 73rd minute. But the resilience was waning and what had begun to look like an inevitable third goal arrived ten minutes from time as substitutes Michael Frew and Michael Armstrong combined well to work their way in from the right. The move ending with the latter beating Richens low to his left from just outside the box. This third goal prompted a flurry of unusual action from Ives. Wing back Paddy Casey became Ives eighth keeper of the season as he replaced Richens for the remaining time. Luke Harris also came on for Hottor at the same time.

Sadly the very positive moves from manager Ricky Marheineke did not bring the hoped for reward of a route back into the game and sure enough as an Ives attack broke down Duffey seized the opportunity to burst clear down the middle and beat Casey comprehensively to kill off the game. The fourth Daniels goal prompted a loud verbal reaction from Williams which referee Richard Wharton interpreted as an intimidatory action aimed at him and sufficient to earn the Ives centre back a straight red card.

With the game already over referee Wharton then found eight minutes to add. The only noteworthy action during that period was in the sixth of the added eight when Morgan pounced on a poor clearance from Casey and came within millimetres of adding insult to injury as his curled effort from fully forty yards bounced on the surface and just crept over the crossbar with Casey already beaten.

Final Score:  St Ives Town   1  Stamford   4


ST IVES: Hutchings 23

STAMFORD: Shaw 25, Duffey 31 & 90+1, Armstrong 80

Team Line Ups:

ST IVES: Richens (capt), Casey, Smith, Hottor (Harris 83), J. Williams, Hutchings, Barton (Alexandrou 73), Cowling, Edwards, Kaunda (Kaziboni 80), Tomlinson, Unused subs: none

STAMFORD: Duggan, Shaw, Glennon, Vince, Offler, Blunden, Chitiza (Armstrong 58), Morgan (capt), Siddons (Frew 63), Duffy, Hilton (Challinor 71), Unused subs: Wallis, Tsagium,

Cards:   Red: ST IVES: Williams (90+2)

              Yellow:  ST IVES:  Edwards (69), Harris (89)    STAMFORD: Offler (51), Blunden (69), Glennon (77), Shaw (90+3)


Attendance:  373