Alvechurch v St Ives Town
Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 18-02-2023
Ailing Ives were put to the sword by The Church in a one sided affair which saw the hosts in need of points to pull themselves away from the bottom four show no mercy to their visitors who were so decimated by illness and injury that they could only name two on the bench and had at least four players in the starting eleven still suffering badly from the virus which has laid low so many of the squad in recent weeks.
To add to Ives woes they had Nabil Shariff dismissed early in the second half by an over officious match official who deemed an innocuous tackle in the centre of the park worthy of showing the visitors striker a second yellow card. To give referee Liam Beames his due very few could have disagreed with the first card that Shariff had picked up for jumping into Ben Cassidy right in front of the home dugout just before half time but he was massively unlucky to pick up the second.
There was a little good news for Ives before the off as they welcomed back skipper Michael Richens from suspension and Ed Hottor was considered recovered enough to start, but to counter that Jonny Edwards and Tyrone Baker had both succumbed to the virus raging through the camp and had not travelled. They were added to the already missing Enoch Andoh, Myles Cowling and Callum Milne. With doubts over whether, or not, Jordan Williams, Ben Toseland, Hottor and Kellan Hickinson would last the course as they too were suffering.
The one thing that Ives needed to steady the ship was a solid start but they got anything but as Tom Edge’s attempted cross from the right struck the outstretched arm of Ben Toseland inside the box in only the second minute. Danny Waldon made no mistake sending James Dadge the wrong way with the resulting spot kick. Things went from bad to worse for the visitors ten minutes later. Edge and Ash Carter combined well just outside the box to present Waldron with another shooting opportunity. His shot is blocked by Williams but the ball ricochets to the unmarked Remi Walker who slots it home from ten yards to double the host’s lead.
Toseland was clearly suffering, but with only two on the bench an early change would be far from ideal. Another error from him in 23rd minute presented the Church with another good opportunity. The struggling centre back’s poor defensive header fell to Leo Brown just outside the box and Dadge did well to keep out his well struck effort plunging low to his left and hanging onto the shot.
Dadge was in action again in 29th minute as he leapt high to tip over a well directed header from Harry Williams. The chance had been carved out by a clever corner from the right by Edge who had picked out Ben Cassidy in space 25 yards out and his cross had in turn picked out Williams in the centre.
Ives then surprised their hosts by pulling a goal back in 34th minute. Johnny Herd delivered a long free kick into the box from the right. Keeper Dan Jezeph elected to come to try and claim it but under pressure from friend and foe alike he spilled it allowing Williams to direct an effort on goal. The initial shot was blocked but the ball ran out to the edge of the box where Hickinson unleashed a fierce drive that may, or may not, have been going in. Either way Ethan Johnston showed his predators touch by directing the ball just inside the post to put Ives back in the game.
Sadly that optimism lasted less than two minutes as Toesland was again caught out with Waldron powering past him down the right, cutting inside and beating Dadge emphatically low to his left from just inside the box to restore the host’s two goal advantage.
Shariff picked up his first yellow card for leading with an elbow as he jumped into a challenge with Church full back Cassidy three minutes before the break. He picked up his second to take Ives down to ten men eleven minutes later for what could be described as nothing more than a clumsy attempt to take the ball off Aurio Neto-Teixeira inside the centre circle. Referee Beames took plenty of time to consider his decision before eventually issuing the second yellow, followed by the red to the bemused Ives centre forward.
Manager Ricky Marheineke had already made one substitution at half time replacing Johnston with Kieran Higgs so with only one card left to play and that a defender in Charlie Johnson he had no real options to change things much to compensate for going down to ten men. The only real change was Greg Kaziboni being given a bit more licence to come inside from the right to try and fill that missing central striker role.
Three minutes after going down to ten men the visitors conceded another poor goal to allow Waldron to complete his hat trick. The struggling Toseland was again at fault as he allowed Walker to get the wrong side of him. The host’s number ten got to the bye line before picking out Edge with his pull back. The midfielder miss hit his shot across the face of goal, but the ever alert Waldron pounced on the loose ball to prod it home at the back post.
The ailing Toseland was replaced by Johnson immediately after the goal in an effort to put a little more solidity back into Ives back four. But it was the Church who continued to go in search of more goals. Brown was denied a goal by an assistants upraised flag on the hour after he had been fed clean through the centre by Walker. Three minutes later Edge had a shot blocked on the edge of the box and Walker slammed the loose ball inches wide of Dadge’s left hand post.
The ten men of St Ives had two noteworthy efforts in the second period and they came in a five minute spell starting with twenty minutes to go when Richens forced Jezeph to scramble across his goal as his thirty yard effort crept about one metre wide. The second effort in 75th minute was a genuine chance as Herd’s long throw from the left touchline fell to Johnson inside the box. But the substitute snatched at the chance and dragged his effort well wide.
The remainder of the game saw the hosts enjoying complete control and moving the ball around well against the tiring ten men. But to give them their due Ives continued to work hard to limit the chances for Church to add to their lead. Young striker Ben Beresford came close to opening his account for the club in 77th minute as he fired a ball fed in from the right by Neto-Tiexiera inches wide.
The last two chances both fell to the hard working Brown who looked desperate to claim his first goal since early November. In 86th minute he combined well with substitute Jed Abbey to get inside the box, but Williams did just enough to deflect his effort wide. The final opportunity for Brown to claim that elusive goal arrived two minutes into stoppage time as he cut inside from the right before firing in a powerful drive from just outside the box that was straight into the midriff of Dadge.
His never say die attitude earned the battling Ed Hottor the accolade as Ives man of the match from the small travelling contingent. However he blotted his copy book by picking up his ninth yellow card of the season in the closing minutes and he needs to somehow avoid picking up another before 12th March to evade a two game ban. The win moves Church three points clear of the drop zone with up to six games in hand on the teams around them and they look a certainty to stay up. Defeat sees Ives drop to thirteenth only six points ahead of the day’s victors and just nine points above the bottom four.
Final Score: Alvechurch 4 St Ives Town 1
ALVECHURCH: Waldron 3 (pen), 36 & 57, Walker 13
ST IVES: Johnston 34
Team Line Ups:
ALVECHURCH: Jezeph, Dugmore, Cassidy, Alabi, H. Williams, Carter (capt), Neto-Teixeira, Edge (Burton 65), Brown, Walker (Abbey 81), Waldron (Beresford 74), Unused subs:, Randle, Concannon
ST IVES: Dadge, Casey, Herd, Richens (capt), J. Williams, Toseland (Johnson 58), Kaziboni, Hottor, Johnston (Higgs 46), Hickinson, Shariff, Unused subs: none
Cards: Yellow: ALVECHURCH: Neto-Teixeira (20), Edge (45), ST IVES: Richens (61), Hottor (89)
Red: Shariff (54) (2 x yellows)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Ed Hottor
Report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Ollie Jones.