Leamington v St Ives Town
Buildbase FA Trophy 2nd Round 15-12-20
The score line suggests a very one sided game but in truth it offers scant reward for Ives who for long periods belied the 26 places between the sides in the football pyramid. For the first half an hour the visitors were without doubt the better side. But having failed to take their chances they were then hit with a sucker punch of two goals in three minutes before the break. This gave the National League North play off chasing hosts just the cushion they required to take over in the second half and add three more without reply.
Manager Ricky Marheineke made just one change from the line up that won in spectacular fashion only five days earlier to get to this stage in the competition for the first time in the club’s history. Tough tackling Ed Hottor came in to offer a more solid look to the centre of midfield replacing Michael Harding who dropped to the bench.
Hottor was the first man to get a shot away in the game as he exchanged passes with Michael Gyasi in the centre of the park before trying his luck from 30 yards in eighth minute. His well struck effort took a deflection to win Ives the first corner of the evening. The resulting flag kick came to nothing as did a Dylan Williams free kick from 35 yards five minutes later.
The Brakes were offering little during this early period although they did win their first corner of the game in 18th minute. But that only lead to another chance for the visitors as Nathan Hicks picked up Brett Solkhon’s clearing header in midfield before feeding in Gyasi down the left. Ives speedy winger cut inside and unleashing a rising drive from the corner of the box that flew well over Jake Weaver’s crossbar with the keeper looking on.
Ives had the games first shot on target sixty seconds later when Hottor seized on a loose ball 30 yards from goal before taking a touch and firing straight into the grateful arms of Weaver. The keeper was however called upon to make a much better save in 23rd minute. Gyasi took on Josh Martin for pace and got around the outside of him before cutting in on goal and firing in a fierce right footed effort that brought the best out of Weaver as he plunged to his right to palm the ball away.
Up until 26th minute Ives keeper Martin Conway had been enjoying a fairy quiet evening but he was called upon to make his first excellent save of the game to deny Sam Osborne after the Brakes winger had got past Ben Toseland and cut inside before hitting the target with an effort that Conway did well to keep out low to his left.
Osborne’s effort seemed to lift his team mates to get themselves more into the game and the hosts went close twice more in the next ninety seconds. The first saw full back Stephan Morley spray an excellent cross field pass that picked out Osborne in space on the right he took the ball in his stride before letting go with a screamer that flashed across the face of Conway’s goal to safety. The resulting goal kick came straight back towards Ives goal as it was knocked wide to Danny Waldron who curled in a teasing in-swinger from the left that centre forward Lance Smith hurled himself at just failing to make contact in the centre of the goal eight yards out.
Having survived those two scares Ives once more tried to probe forward in search of the all important opener but they were the architects of their own demise just after the half hour. Gyasi lost possession in the centre of the Brakes half as he tried to weave his way through and in his frustration took down Joe Clarke to earn himself the games first yellow card. But much greater punishment was to follow as Ives defenders made a complete hash of Weaver’s long free kick into the box leaving the ball to each other to allow Waldron to accept the reward as the ball fell invitingly to his feet six yards out.
Before the visitors could regroup they found themselves two goals down as three minutes later Smith showed how to attack an in-swinging cross at the near post. The chance came from Toseland fouling Simeon Maye wide on the right. Osborne’s initial free kick was blocked but the ball was fed back to him and his second attempt was met perfectly by Smith at the near post giving Conway no chance from close range.
It almost got worse for Ives five minutes before the break as Waldron got down the left before hanging up a teasing cross to the back post where an unmarked Osborne should have scored but only managed to direct his free header against the post with Conway struggling to get across to him.
Ives desperately needed to get a goal back before the break to give themselves a foothold in the game and lift their belief. They would have done just that but for more heroics from Weaver. Williams cleverly fed in Marc Richards on the left edge of the box. The big striker got his powerful shot away, Weaver hurled himself to his left to parry the ball away and rode his luck a little as the loose ball just evaded Gyasi following up.
To their credit Ives gave it a go in the early stages of the second half. In 51st minute Williams jinked his way to the bye line from the right and picked out Richards with his pull back. The centre forward’s well struck shot took the combined efforts of Kyle Morrison and Jack Lane to deflect it wide. Williams resulting corner was somehow allowed to land in the six yard box but was scrambled away by Lane.
The visitor’s final opportunity to get back into the game came just before the hour when a long Liam Bateman free kick evaded the Brakes back line and landed in the box. But unlike Waldron in the first half neither Gyasi nor Richards was able to get the necessary touch to turn the ball home.
Five minutes later the hosts grabbed the decisive third goal to effectively kill off the game and it arrived in almost identical fashion to the second. Osborne was given a bit to much time and space on the right to pick his option with his cross and he picked out the near post run of Smith who dived in to flick the ball past the exposed Conway from point blank range.
The third goal was the signal for the hosts to relax and start to enjoy themselves. Two minutes later Morley fed in Waldron who went for an audacious chip over Conway from the edge of the box and only just failed to get it right the ball landing on the top of the net. Waldron should have got his second in 68th minute as substitutes Dan Meredith and Kaiman Anderson combined on the right before the latter delivered a low cross to the back post where Waldron got the ball stuck between his feet allowing Bateman to recover and get it away.
Ives had another lucky escape only seconds later as Anderson cut in from the right and got away a low shot that bobbled through the crowd in the box past the unsighted Conway and hit the foot of the post. Fortunately the keeper was first to react and pounced on the loose ball just ahead of Smith.
Waldron eventually managed to double his personal tally and increase the Brakes lead to four in 78th minute as he ran onto a Smith flick before unleashing a screamer from twelve yards that Conway got both hands to but could not prevent from going over the line.
With both Waldron and Smith on two goals apiece the pair seemed to be battling it out to see who could be first to a hat trick. Waldron was first to go close in 82nd minute as let fly a stinging drive from 25 yards that Conway did well to push away at full stretch to his left. Moments later the same player headed an Anderson cross from the right over the top.
It was however Smith who grabbed the games final goal to complete his hat trick two minutes from time. Meredith delivered a telling cross into the box where Anderson headed it down for Smith to slam home from ten yards.
There was still time for Weaver to earn his clean sheet bonus as he plunged low to his right to keep out Williams last minute attempt to grab a consolation goal.
So ended Ives first foray into the FA Trophy competition proper it is the Brakes who can look forward to a trip to North Wales to meet Wrexham in the next round in four days time, we wish them every success.
Two games in grounds without supporters present have been strange but it has not affected the level of entertainment on offer at either game and some fans have enjoyed the unusual opportunity of watching their team in the comfort of their own home via live streaming of the games. With Covid-19 numbers rising again in the country and another lockdown likely it may be well into 2021 before we can return to a level of normality.
Final Score : Leamington 5 St Ives Town 0
Goals : none
Team : Conway, Bateman, Toseland, Gyasi (Seymour-Shove 71), Jackson, Solkhon, Hottor, Howell, Richards (Boxer 88), Williams, Hicks (Harding 74)
Unused subs : Mitkov
Supporters man of the match : Ed Hottor
Attendance : 0
Report by Nigel Howlett.