Celebrations for St Ives Town as they mark their Southern League bow with a win
- Credit: Archant
THE celebrations that met the final whistle at Westwood Road on Saturday said it all: St Ives had won their first game in the Southern League and they were off the mark in their first ever season in Step 4 football.
Coming from behind to beat Chertsey Town from Surrey, St Ives grew in confidence in the second half of a game they deserved to win and did so confidently, cancelling out a 1-0 half time deficit with second half goals from man of the match Jon Stead and lively debutant striker Dubi Ogbonna.
“It felt like an FA Vase game this morning, I had proper nerves,” said joint manager Jez Hall. “The team was nervous in the first half and it was quite quiet but I thought we were the better side but we let the goal in. It just goes to show that if you don’t take your chances you will get punished in this league.
“In the second half we showed great character to get the early goal. We said to them, because they were playing such a high line they were crying out for us to get in behind them. In the second half the lads went out there and did that and to be fair we should have probably been more than 2-1 up.
“It is always a sweat at the end when you have a big side like that with dead balls and the wind behind them. It’s always a panic but I felt that we thoroughly deserved the win and it was a really good performance.”
Striker Karl Gibbs was at his brother’s wedding on Saturday so the winger David Cobb began up front with Ogbonna, while defender Jamie Alsop failed a pre-match fitness test.
Despite the nervy start, St Ives did have several chances early on with Jared Cunniff going close after some good work from Ogbonna, while Tom O’Regan shot over with Chertsey’s first opportunity. Moments later Cunniff was forced from the pitch following a knock and a nosebleed and was replaced by Dan Bannister.
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Stead hit a 25th minute free kick straight at the visiting goalkeeper Stu Norman with Enol Ordonez, in the St Ives goal, making a brilliant double save on the half hour to preserve the balance. Ogbonna had another chance but hit the ball wide on the turn.
Chertsey’s goal came in the 40th minute. The visitors had a penalty appeal turned down after St Ives on-loan goalkeeper lunged at the feet of an attacker. The ball went out for a corner, Ordonez mis-judged the high cross into the box, and the ball fell at the feet of Alex Jeffers at the back post; he couldn’t miss.
Only a minute of the second half had been played when Stead scored the equaliser; the ball falling to him on the edge of the box to hit sweetly on the half volley. It flew into the corner of the net.
Obgonna took the ball around Norman soon after but dallied before shooting and allowed defenders to get into position. In the end, he aimed for the far top corner and missed by inches.
In the 65th minute, Stead found Ogbonna with the pass of the match – a delightful cross field ball which found the former Wisbech Town striker free and ahead of his marker. Ogbonna’s first shot was blocked by the goalkeeper but he managed to scramble home the rebound.
Lee Ellison blasted a free kick into the wall, Ogbonna – after a sweet one-two with Bannister – beat the goalkeeper but was offside and had another shot saved, before Bannister went too high with a shot.
Meanwhile, the St Ives defence of Jason King, Jordan Lambert, Dan Newman and Scott Everdell were excellent and held firm.
Job done. Good day.