Banbury United v St Ives Town

Banbury United v St Ives Town  

Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central 25-09-2021

Ten man Ives took a real battering as the inform Puritans extended their unbeaten start to the season to ten matches in all competitions and moved up to second in the early season table. That headline only tells a small snippet of the story as bad luck continued to pile up on the sorry visitors. Not only did Ives fall a goal behind after only eleven minutes they also lost goalkeeper Paul White at the same time as the big stopper was knocked unconscious by the knee of George Wreh as he and the hosts centre forward collided in going for a low cross into the box. To pile insult onto injury they also lost Brett Solkhon to a second yellow card as the experienced centre back inexplicably used his arm to prevent Harry Reilly getting on the end of a corner from the left five minutes after the break. Blinded by the ball dipping out of the sun was the explanation given but I am not sure that excused raising the hand above his head!

With the hosts in such cracking form this was always going to be a tough place to visit and the good news of Michael Richens making his competitive debut for the club was tempered by the bad news that one of the stand out players from the season to date Ed Hottor had broken his toe in training and was going to miss out.

The game started in quite open fashion with both sides going close inside the first ten minutes. The hosts were first to have a go in sixth minute as Morgan Roberts curled a free kick from just outside the box over Ives four man wall but White was on his toes to get across his goal line and gather the ball in. Ives first opportunity three minutes later saw Nabil Shariff feed in Liam Cross who got to the bye line before clipping up a teasing cross towards Dylan Williams lurking at the far post but home keeper Jack Harding just managed to claim the ball one handed off the head of the Ives number ten.

Then came the incident that went a long way towards deciding the game. Roberts fed in Ben Acquaye down the left and as White dived in to try and claim his low, driven, cross Wreh came steaming in from the opposite direction. The impact left the Ives keeper prostrate on the deck and he knew nothing as Reilly slammed home the loose ball. Referee Neil Pratt deemed the situation a fifty, fifty challenge and he had no time to stop the game for the head injury between White being knocked cold and the ball ending up in the back of the net. After a lengthy period of treatment the Ives stopper was helped off to be replaced between the sticks by Ben Heath.

Now with their tails up the hosts continued to look dangerous going forward with Wreh causing particular problems with his power and ability to hold up the ball. He went close in 17th minute as he turned inside Cameron McWilliams and slammed in a shot from the corner of the box that looked like it was heading for the top corner until Solkhon bravely deflected it over the top with his head.

Richens was showing some good touches in the centre of the park and he did carve out a half chance for Cross in 22nd minute as he dinked a ball over the top, Cross ran onto it in the left channel but the young winger snatched at his effort and fired well over from a good position.

The hosts second on 37 minutes was something of a disaster for the Ives as their first corner of the game was cleared away at the near post and swiftly moved from one end of the pitch to the other before being comprehensively finished by overlapping full back Connor Roberts who fired the ball into the roof of the net from a narrow angle seemingly through the hands of Heath.

Ives had one golden opportunity to get back into the game deep into the five extra minutes at the end of the first period. Cross clipped in a teasing free kick from the right that somehow evaded everyone in the centre bouncing through the crowd and ending up at the feet of Callum Milne at the back post. But, like Cross before him, the centre back snatched at the chance and dragged his shot from eight yards into the side netting.

If Ives were going to find an unlikely route back into this game then an early goal was required at the start of the second period. All hope of that and indeed all possibility of any reward was gone only five minutes after the re-start as Solkhon’s raised hand right in front of referee Pratt ensured his early departure with his second yellow card following one picked up midway through the first period for pulling back Connor Roberts. Wreh duly despatched the resulting spot kick low to Heath’s right.

With Ives now in disarray the big centre forward helped himself to a second only two minutes later side-stepping Milne a little too easily before curling a shot past the outstretched hands of Heath from the right hand corner of the box.

Manager Ricky Marheineke quickly reacted to change things around replacing Milne and the tiring Nathan Hicks with Eniola Agemoh-Davies and Michael Harding respectively. He bravely changed things around with Josh Flanagan going into the centre of a back three and Harding joining Shariff as a front pair.

Despite the brave effort to get back into the game it was the hosts who continued to pour forward. Heath made an excellent brave block to deny Alexander Babos after the Puritans winger had exchanged passes with Morgan Roberts before getting clear through the right hand channel. The resulting corner from the right by Roberts was met powerfully by skipper Jack Westbrook but his header from eight yards was straight at Heath who spectacularly punched the ball away.

Home keeper Harding was called upon to make his first real save of the day in 78th minute as McWilliams pinged a cross field pass fully fifty yards to pick out Cross in a little bit of space. The Northampton loanee showed an excellent touch to take down the ball burst inside past Sam Brown and unleash a rising drive that was unfortunately straight at Harding who held on well.

The tiring Richens was caught out for the host’s fifth and final goal seven minutes from time as substitute Theo Rowe bust through his attempted covering tackle and strode through the centre before rolling the ball under the body of the exposed Heath.

There was still time for ex Puritan Shariff to keep up his record of scoring on every return visit to the Banbury Plant Hire Stadium. Michael Harding burst into the box and was needlessly taken down by Connor Roberts for what may have been called a soft penalty. Shariff made no mistake from the spot to claim what could never be more than a late consolation.

Whilst the hosts extend their unbeaten run, Ives run of poor form has now stretched to seven games without a win in all competitions and they drop to fifteenth four points above the drop zone. Manager Marheineke has the difficult task of lifting the squad for the vital game against one of the teams below them, Barwell, on Tuesday evening followed by an equally vital visit to Alvechurch next Saturday.

Final Score : Banbury United  5  St Ives Town  1      

Goals : 

BANBURY : Reilly 11, Roberts 36, Wreh 51 (pen) & 53, Rowe 83

ST IVES : Shariff 90+3 (pen)


BANBURY: J. Harding, C. Roberts, Brown, Reilly (Rowe 72), Langmead, Westbrook (capt), Babos, Rasulo, Wreh, M. Roberts (Johnston 73), Acquaye (Rowley 73), Unused subs : Taylor, Sharpe

ST IVES: White (Heath 14), McWilliams, Flanagan, Richens, Solkhon, Milne (Agemoh-Davies 58), Cross, Parker (capt), Shariff, Williams, Hicks (M. Harding 55) Unused subs : Toseland 

Ives Supporters man of the match : Liam Cross

Attendance : 513

Report by Nigel Howlett


Banbury United v St Ives Town

Banbury United v St Ives Town

BetVictor League Southern Premier Division Central 09-11-19

A much improved performance unfortunately brought no reward for Ives as they travelled to the third placed Puritans. Equally pleasing to the improved performance was the return to fitness of two more of the long term absentees as Ty Ward returned to the starting eleven for the first time since early October and George Bailey since picking up an injury at Rushall in mid-September.

The match was played throughout in a steady rain and this was on top of the considerable quantities of precipitation which had hit the Midlands in the week leading up to the fixture. It was thanks to the hard work of the Banbury ground staff and a very good draining pitch that the game was on at all.

The high flying hosts had a virtually fully fit squad and were keen to get their teeth into the apparently struggling Ives and they were almost gifted a goal in only the sixth minute as John Mills robbed Charlie Johnson deep in Ives half and exchanged passes with Claudio Dias on the edge of the box before being robbed himself just as he was about to shoot by an excellent recovery tackle by Johnson.

Dias was involved again two minutes later as he was played into space on the right by Eddie Odhiambo. The tricky number ten’s driven cross was palmed back into the danger zone by a full stretch Finley Iron who was perhaps a little fortunate that Jannai Gordon snatched at the chance and screwed his effort wide from a good position.

Ives picked up a free kick in a dangerous position in 11th minute and although it created their first effort at goal it also saw the injury hoodoo strike again. Robbie Parker hung up the free kick into the centre of the box where Jarvis Wilson came powering in and made good contact but steered his header wide of the post. Unfortunately Wilson’s head also made good contact with the head of Puritans skipper Jack Westbrook and whilst the hosts skipper was able to continue after treatment the Ives centre back had to be helped groggily from the field by physio Jess Guthrie. Wilson was replaced by Ben Seymour-Shove leading to a wholesale reshuffle that saw the substitute come on in his usual wide position, Bailey move into the centre of the park and Tom Wood slot in at centre back.

Both sides continued to play good possession football despite the conditions and although the hosts enjoyed the majority of possession and were always looking to use their out balls with Odhiambo and Kynan Isaac both sticking to the touch line right and left respectively Ives restricted their attacking threat well limiting them to a small number of incursions into their box. Good build up play down the right in 28th minute eventually saw the ball fed across the box to Pablo Haysham in a little bit of space but he was quickly closed down and his shot blocked away by Johnson.

A dangerous move down the left in 36th minute saw Giorgio Rasulo come within millimetres of putting the hosts in front. He received a pass inside from Isaac just outside the box and breezed past Cameron McWilliams and Wood before letting fly with a low drive that skimmed off the wet turf beating Iron low to his right before cannoning off the inside of the post then hitting the back of the diving keeper a ricocheting out for a corner.

Having survived that fortunate escape it looked like Ives might make it to the break on level terms but that was not to be as just two and half minutes before the interval another probing run down the left by Isaac saw him slot a ball into the well timed run of Mills who got to the bye line before drilling a low cross into the centre that picked out Gordon who side footed home from close range.

The visitors had one half chance to get back on terms in the remaining few minutes as the exuberant Bailey tried to get past Connor Roberts on the outside before letting fly with a rising drive from just inside the box that went about a metre wide of keeper Jack Harding’s right hand post.

Ives were very much still in the game at the start of the second half and with the bar shut for a function the whole of their travelling contingent of supporters were wedged in the small covered stand behind the goal they were attacking and trying to will them to an equaliser. They almost got their reward only three minutes after the re-start as patient build up down the right culminated in Bailey getting to the bye line before feeding the ball back to Joe Curtis who teed up Seymour-Shove for a effort that he curled just wide from the edge of the box. 

Bailey continued to cause problems for the Puritans defence and he was the protagonist that created the next opportunity in 56th minute as he took on Isaac on the right forcing the hosts wide man to bring him down in a dangerous position. Parker decided to try something different with the free kick drilling it low into the box where it sliced off the boot of Isaac straight into the hands of his grateful keeper who made a comfortable catch.

Both sides continued to use their possession well and each had opportunities around the hour mark. Firstly Dias combined well with Odhiambro down the right the latter delivering a cross to the back post where Haysham arriving late won the header above McWilliams but failed to hit the target from eight yards out.

Straight down the other end Bailey again took an opportunity to run at the hosts back line and worked his way to the edge of the box before side stepping his man and firing a right footed effort just wide.

Mills was perhaps unlucky not to increase the Puritans lead two minutes later as good build up play down the left involving Rasulo and Isaac ended with the latter feeding the ball inside to Mills who stepped inside before curling an effort over Iron from 20 yards that rebounded to safety off the crossbar much to the relief of Ives custodian.

But to in 71st minute it was Harding’s turn to thank his crossbar for saving his blushes as Seymour-Shove unleashed a rising snap shot from 20 yards that looked like it was going to be a comfortable save for the hosts keeper but the wet ball forced its way through his fingers and he was hugely relieved to see the ball land on the top of the crossbar and bounce over. The resulting corner came to nothing but going so close seemed to be a signal for Ives to step up the pace a little more and they began to pile the pressure on the creaking hosts back line.

McWilliams was sacrificed to bring on an extra midfielder in another of the injury returnees Dan Clifton and the tiring Bailey was replaced by Matt Foy but the Puritans have not got the best defensive record in the division for no reason and although there were moments of panic no more clear cut chances were carved out in the final fifteen minutes despite Ives spending most of it camped out in the hosts half. 

The game concluded with the hosts moving up into second place only one point behind lead leaders Tamworth and Ives still sitting just one point above the bottom three. But the chilly visiting supporters exited the small stand into the rain much more buoyed by the level of effort and performance from their heroes and more optimistic of the challenges to come.     

Final Score : Banbury United  1  St Ives Town  0       

Goals :  none 

Team : Iron, McWilliams (Clifton 74), Ward, Wood, Jackson, Jarvis Wilson (Seymour-Shove 14), Johnson, Parker (capt), Dylan Wilson, Bailey (Foy 74), Curtis,   

Unused subs : none

Supporters man of the match : George Bailey

Attendance : 318

Report by Nigel Howlett


Banbury United vs St Ives Town

Banbury United v St Ives Town

Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division Central – 23-02-19

A thoroughly professional all round performance saw the Ives inflict a carefully planned first home defeat since October on the Puritans to completely extinguish any lingering hopes the hosts may have had of making a late run towards the play-offs.

Another shuffle of the pack by manager Ricky Marheineke meant a change back to a flat back four with debutant Gavin Hoyte joining Jarvis Wilson in a formidable centre back pairing. This released Tom Wood forward into a defensive midfield role just in front of the back line where he put in a man of the match performance not only breaking up a lot of Banbury’s forward moves but also picking passes to create positive breaks for the Ives. Andrew Osei-Bonsu pushed Wood close for the accolade with a hard working performance at centre forward topped off by another contender for goal of the season which put Ives in front after 15 minutes.

The Puritans mini version of Lionel Messi Ravi Shamsi has been a thorn in Ives side on a number of occasions in the past and he showed that he was very much up for the challenge in this game twice going close in the early stages. In fourth minute he robbed Wilson as the young defender struggled to deal with a bouncing ball on the edge of the box. Keeper Martin Conway closed him down quickly forcing the striker to hurry his attempted chip which just sailed over the crossbar. 

Shamsi went close again in tenth minute as Giogio Rasulo picked him out with a pass threaded through the right hand channel. The tricky winger jinked to go inside Hoyte before changing feet and darting past him on the outside and hammering a right foot effort over the angle of post and crossbar from just inside the box.

Having weathered this early storm Ives stunned the hosts by going in front in their first meaningful attack of the game after fifteen minutes and it all came from a Puritans attack that broke down on the edge of Ives box. Edmund Hottor and Amer Awadh combined well down the left only for the latter to be halted by a well timed tackle from Wood. The clearance down the park was completely misjudged by Charlie Wise who allowed the ball to bounce over his head. Osei-Bonsu was onto the loose ball in a flash but 30 yards from goal he still had an awful lot to do. He roamed forward a little further before drawing a covering defender to him and cleverly using that man as a shield curling the ball around him and into the far corner of the net well beyond the reach of the grasping fingers of the diving Jack Harding in the home goal.

Stung into action the hosts soon had Ives back under a degree of pressure as they passed the ball around well in front of the Ives solid formation. But in spite of their quantity of possession the Puritans struggled to make any clear cut chances. They managed to register an effort at goal in 19th minute as Lee Henderson rose highest to get on the end of a deep Shamsi corner from the right. But under pressure from Wilson the hosts centre back could only direct his header wide of the target.

Conway was called into meaningful action five minutes later as Shamsi continued to cause problems on the right. This time Ricky Johnson managed to get across in front of Conway to get the feintest of flicks onto Shamsi’s in-swinging cross to the near post. But Conway reacted instantly to make an excellent save to his right and completed the save by bravely pouncing onto the loose ball before anyone else could react.

Ives second goal arrived six minutes before the break and again Wood was the catalyst as he broke up a Puritans attack deep inside visitor’s territory and fed the ball down the park. Osei-Bonsu challenged Wise for the ball just outside the hosts box and it fell to Ben Seymour-Shove on the right hand corner of the box. He instantly pivoted and fired off a left foot effort that looked like it lacked the power to beat Harding but the keeper had been caught on his heels and struggled to move his feet eventually being beaten low to his right as the ball crept just inside the post.

Two in front at the break we all expected the Ives to take a battering in the early stages of the second half but how wrong we were as it was the visitors who came out and once more took the game to their hosts and were hugely unlucky not to grab a third goal in the opening ten minutes. The half was only three minutes old when Seymour-Shove chased a lost cause to keep the ball in by the corner flag. He picked out Munashe Sundire on the corner of the box with his pull back. The Ives midfield man had time to take a touch before curling a right foot effort that beat the despairing dive of Harding but went agonisingly inches the wrong side of the post.

Only five minutes later Osei-Bonsu and Seymour-Shove combined well down the right to get to the bye line again. Seymour-Shove’s teasing little chip into the centre was met powerfully by the late arriving Robbie Parker but he was unable to keep his free header down and the effort flashed a couple of feet over the crossbar.

Having failed to kill the game off Ives found themselves pegged back as the hosts pulled a goal back only two minutes later and no surprise it was Shamsi that provided the finish. The little maestro arrived in the box at pace to ram home Sean Whaler’s cross from the right giving Conway no chance from close range. To add to his pain the Ives keeper also picked himself up a yellow card as he tried to prevent the Puritans striker grabbing the ball out of the net to take it back to the half way line.

Only ninety seconds later it was almost 2-2 as Harry Whitehead and Whaler combine well down the right. The latter’s cross bouncing off Hoyte and falling to the lightning quick Shamsi who flashed his powerful effort from close range across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

After this second scare Ives stepped up their levels of effort yet another notch to ensure that the Puritans were unable to get up a head of steam and put any real pressure onto Ives goal. With Hoyte struggling with a groin injury picked up in the first half but essential to remain on the park for his aerial prowess his colleagues were rallying around to ensure that no gaps appeared in the ever rigid visitors back line even though the big man was struggling for pace.

With the clocking ticking down it was not until 82nd minute that either side created another decent chance and then both sides did it within 40 seconds of each other. Firstly Wilson rose highest at the back post to get on the end of a Jordan Patrick corner from the right but the under pressure youngster failed to keep his effort down. From the resulting quickly taken goal kick Johnson managed to beat the struggling Hoyte to a bouncing ball inside Ives box and screw his effort across goal into the danger zone only for Wood to once more pop up in the right place at the right time to head the ball to safety at the expense of a corner.

The Puritans were not giving up and continued to push forward in the hunt for an equaliser Henderson again got on the end of a deep Hottor corner in 87th minute but could only direct his header straight at Conway who held on well. 

The final opportunity for the hosts to glean something from the game came in the 90th minute as Awadh drove in a low cross from the left that the diving Conway struggled to hold onto at full stretch but young Wilson came to his keeper’s rescue showing excellent composure to get his body between the marauding Johnson and his keeper thus allowing the Ives custodian to bravely reclaim the loose ball.

An added six minutes was not what Ives wanted to hear but they had been quite effective in cleverly using every opportunity to slow up the game once they were in front and they were equally clinical in ensuring that no further scares occurred in the added time to allow them to claim their first ever victory over the Puritans at the sixth attempt. The result means the Ives remain twelfth in the table three places above their best finish to date in Southern League Premier Division.

Final Score : Banbury United  1  St Ives Town  2  

Goals :  Osei-Bonsu 15, Seymour-Shove 39

Team : Conway, Jackson, Coulson, Sundire, Hoyte, Jarvis Wilson, Seymour-Shove (Patrick 82), Parker (capt), Wood, Osei-Bonsu (Newman 88), Snaith (Bailey 61)

Unused subs : Ward, Baker

Supporters man of the match : Tom Wood

Attendance : 439  

Report by Nigel Howlett