Stourbridge v St Ives Town
Pitching-In Southern League Premier Central 11-03-2023
A very hard earned point on the road in awful conditions at a tough ground to visit, but it could have easily been so much more for battling Ives. New loan signings from Peterborough United, Ashton Fox and Luke Harris both came straight into the starting line up and had an immediate impact in raising the energy level from what had looked a tired Ives performance at Basford last Saturday.
The higher intensity approach from Ives showed straight from the off and they shocked their hosts by going in front inside the first three minutes. The high press saw Enoch Andoh rob a dallying Alex Prosser deep inside his own half. The Ives winger then fed the ball across the pitch to Johnny Herd on the left edge of the Glassboys box and his perfectly placed right foot chip deceived keeper Charlie Price and nestled in the bottom corner of the net.
Falling behind that early sparked a reaction from the hosts and they hit the woodwork in their first meaningful attack two minutes later. Overlapping full back Demico Burton got down the left and hung up a cross to the back post where Reece Styche outjumped Ben Toseland but his header back across the face of goal glanced wide of the outside of the post with keeper James Goff beaten.
The small home crowd, all sensibly sheltering from the driving rain and biting wind, were stunned to silence for a second time in 13th minute as Ives deservedly doubled their advantage. A clip down the left found Kieran Higgs somehow on the wrong side of his marker, Lee Vaughan. The Glassboys skipper was unable to get a challenge in on the Ives man as Higgs drove into the box before picking out Jonny Edwards six yards out in the centre of goal and Ives leading scorer did the rest.
Now two goals to the good and with their tails up Ives continued to dominate these early exchanges and twice went close to further increasing their advantage. In 21st minute Paddy Casey got past Obinna Anaebonam down the right before delivering a teasing cross that beat the outstretched fingers of Price but rebounded to safety off the top of the crossbar. Two minutes later Edwards fed in Andoh through the right channel but the tricky winger was forced wide and a well positioned Price made his first save of the day to block the shot.
Goff was forced into his first meaningful save at the other end two minutes later as he reacted brilliantly to keep out a fierce close range volley from Styche, a teasing cross into the box by Burton had bounced up into the air off the head of a stretching Ashton Fox and fell to the host’s number ten who struck it cleanly only to be left with his head in his hands as Goff kept the effort out..
Back at the clubhouse end Ives spurned a great opportunity to make it 3-0 only moments later as Higgs was fed through the centre completely clear but failed to beat Price who closed him quickly and spread himself well to bravely block the shot with his body at point blank range.
That proved to be a turning point in the game as the hosts wrestled control and started to look for a route back into the contest. Goff pulled off another excellent save to deny them in 32nd minute. The very mobile James Cowley got around the outside of Jordan Williams to get to the bye line and picked out Anaebonam by the penalty spot with his pull back. The Glassboys number eleven struck his shot well but Goff was equal to it getting down smartly to his right to keep the ball out.
But the Ives stopper had no chance to keep out the goal that got the hosts back into the game six minutes before the break. Vaughan delivered a cross from the right that Ives struggled to deal with and the ball dropped to the feet of Cowley who crashed it home from eight yards to halve the arrears.
The hosts had one opportunity to get level before the break as the all action Luke Harris took down Reece King as the midfielder tried to surge through the heart of Ives back line. Anaebonam took the responsibility with the free kick 25 yards out but although he got it over Ives four man wall he could not get it back down to hit the target.
Ives probably expected an onslaught from their hosts at the start of the second half, but it was they who went close to increasing their lead only three minutes after the re-start. A Herd long throw was flicked on by Williams and Fox forced himself between defenders to knock the ball goalwards but Price got down smartly to his left to make the save.
The host’s first threatening attack on Ives goal in the second period did not arrive until eight minutes later when Vaughan and Callum Rowe combined well on the right. The latter delivered a cross to the near post where Styche battled Ives defenders and the ball dropped to the striker but he snatched at the chance a screwed horribly wide from a good position.
The following 15 minutes were fairly even with neither side creating a clear cut opportunity. The next half chance fell to Edwards with twenty minutes to go but he did little better than Styche as he fired high and wide from just inside the box having been fed in by Higgs.
The game began to open up as the heavy pitch started to take its toll and chances started to appear at both ends as the game entered the final fifteen minutes. The busy Cowley battled his way to the bye line on the right before delivering a cross to the back post where Styche leapt highest but could not keep his header down.
Edwards should really have sewn the game up for Ives in 78th minute. Substitute Tyrone Baker battled hard to get the ball and fed in Edwards clear inside the box with only Price to beat, but as in the first half the big stopper did well quickly closing the striker and blocking his attempt to lift the ball over him with an outstretched palm.
With the clock ticking down the hosts began to show more urgency in their quest for an equaliser. A long cross from the left by substitute Darryl Knights picked out King who directed his headers goalwards but straight at Goff who held on well. A mistake by Toseland let in King for a run at goal in 88th minute and the covering Fox was forced to bring him down 30 yards from goal. Prosser delivered the free kick into the danger zone where Ives just managed to scramble it clear but a clash of heads between Toseland and Cowley left both players on the deck and requiring lengthy treatment leading to an added eight minutes going up on the board.
This lifted the hosts to double their efforts and sure enough an equaliser came in the fourth added minute when Knights wriggled his way to the bye line before picking out Joe Hull with his pull back. The Glassboys centre back showed good composure to pick his spot and beat Goff low to his right to level things up.
Even then the nervy hosts could have been caught out as Baked ran clear onto a flick through the right channel and could probably have gone for goal but tried to pick out his fellow substitute Nabil Shariff with a square ball that the lunging Hull just manged to cut out.
On the negative side this was a seventh game without a win, But there were more positives than negatives from this game as the battling point keeps Ives six points clear of the drop zone with seven games to go and the level of effort and endeavour shown in this game if repeated in the remaining games should see them keep their noses above water. The return in the double header with the Glassboys takes place at quattro tech Westwood Road next Saturday afternoon and it is another vital game in the quest for survival at step three.
Final Score: Stourbridge 2 St Ives Town 2
STOURBRIDGE: Cowley 39, Hull 90+4
ST IVES: Herd 3, Edwards 13
Team Line Ups:
STOURBRIDGE: Price, L. Vaughan (capt), Burton, Prosser, Kettle, Hull, Rowe, King, Cowley, Styche, Anaebonam Unused subs: Worley, Gittings, E. Vaughan,
ST IVES: Goff, Casey, Herd (Johnson 88), Richens (capt), J. Williams, Fox, Andoh (Baker 68), Harris, Edwards, Higgs (Shariff 78), Toseland, Unused subs: Johnston, Kaziboni
Cards: Yellow: STOURBRIDGE: King (27), Vaughan (61) ST IVES: Higgs (17), Andoh (37), Herd (81), Harris (86), Toseland (88)
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Luke Harris
Report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Ollie Jones.