Southern League Premier Division Central
Stephen Towers 6, Tim Berridge43, Billy Kee 60
St Ives Town
Management shake-up at St Ives Town but high-flying Coalville prove too tough
- Credit: NEIL METCALFE
This proved to be the expected and routine 3-0 win for second-placed Coalville Town but there were undoubted green shoots for St Ives Town and signs of hope.
A new arrangement in the management and coaching staff has seen ex-Banbury United boss Mike Ford join Ricky Marheineke as joint manager, while Ford's number two in Oxfordshire, Anton Sambrook, also joins.
With Michael Richens and Dylan Williams both serving one match bans for clocking up five yellow cards there were opportunities for other players to earn themselves a spot in the side and both Jason Dwumfuo and Fabrice Mbola impressed on their first starts.
The visitors showed early intent and Mbola could have earned a name for himself with the visiting fans after only four minutes as he got on the end of Ben Toseland’s free kick from the left by the penalty spot but he could not keep his powerful header down.
The opportunity to deliver the ball into the danger zone had been won by Nabil Shariff who was bundled over in a wide position by Jake Eggleton.
But the hosts are not at the top end of the table for no reason and Camron McWilliams soon discovered that it was going to be a tough afternoon for him as Tom McGlinchey fed Alex Dean through on an overlap down the right.
The full-back got to the byline before picking out Tim Berridge with his pull back and it took a spectacular diving save from Paul White in the Ives goal to keep out the strikers first-time effort.
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The keeper was, however, beaten from the resulting Elliot Putman corner which was flicked on at the near post and eventually bundled home at the back post by Stephen Towers after Berridge had been denied at close range by White and Billy Kee had also had an effort blocked on the line.
McWilliams tough afternoon continued as he picked up a yellow card for clumsily bringing down McGlinchey 25 yards from goal in 10th minute.
Putman fired the resulting free-kick over Ives four man wall but White was alert to the effort plunging full length to his left to turn the ball around the post.
Unlike recent games where Ives have capitulated after falling behind to a good side this did not happen on this occasion as they began to show a little more steel in their backbone with Mbola and skipper Brett Solkhon just about keeping the lively pair of Berridge and Kee at bay.
The visitors slowly worked their way back into the game too with Eniola Agemoh-Davies working well with Dwumfuo on the right they began to create half chances.
In the 18th minute Dwufuo fed in Agemoh-Davies on the overlap. The young full-back flashed a low cross into the six-yard box that somehow evaded everyone but was kept alive by McWilliams wide on the left.
His low ball back into the danger zone was knocked back to Ed Hottor who took on the shot first time but fired his 20 yarder well wide.
The next opportunity went the way of the hosts who almost doubled their advantage in 32nd minute.
The speedy Berridge outpaced Mbola onto a long ball out of defence and bore down on White’s goal. The keeper came to meet him and the centre forward thought that he had scored as he clipped the ball past the exposed stopper but to his great credit Mbola had not stopped and managed to get around to hook the goal bound effort off the line.
Still in the game it was Ives turn to go close to an equaliser three minutes later. Solkhon pinged a long ball out of defence to pick out McWilliams wide left. The full back showed an excellent touch to bring the ball down and feed it inside to Jack Snelus, who in turn slipped it on to Shariff.
He picked out Dwumfuo cutting in from the right. The winger stepped inside Putman and fired in a left footed effort from the edge of the box that forced a save low to his left out of home keeper Tomasz Bukowski.
It looked like Ives were going to head into the break only one goal in arrears but very much in the game only for them to be undone by a moments lapse in concentration only 90 seconds from the whistle.
Luke Shaw picked up the ball on the half way line where he appeared to pose little danger but no one closed him down allowing the midfielder the opportunity to stride forward into the heart of Ives defence which he seized with both hands ghosting past three attempted tackles before unleashing a rising drive from just outside the box.
White got right behind the effort but failed to hold onto it and Berridge showed his poachers instincts as he pounced on the loose ball to ram home from close range before White or any of his defenders could react.
Ives resolve again showed through in the early stages of the second period as they went in pursuit of a route back into the game. The second half was only three minutes old when Dwumfuo went very close to pulling one back.
McWilliams fought his way to the byline on the left and his low driven cross beat Bukowski at his near post. Dwumfuo got on the end of it but tried to take a touch and his eventual shot lacked power allowing Chris Robertson to hack the effort away from the goal line with the out of position keeper well beaten.
Two minutes later play swung to the other end where the Ravens strike duo of Kee and Berridge combined to set up a shooting opportunity for Shaw deep inside the box but again White was equal to the effort bravely blocking the shot at close range with Mbola on hand to scramble the loose ball away.
Mbola enjoyed a bit of action at the opposite end of the pitch in 58th minute as he found space to stride forward from inside his own half before unleashing a dipping effort from fully 35 yards that skipped up off the turf and beat the diving Bukowski but flashed inches wide of his right hand upright.
Having gone so close to reducing the arrears Ives then found the game taken out of their reach by the hosts on the hour. Shaw played a perfectly weighted pass through the left channel where Kee had timed his run to perfection. He had time to take a touch before firing home past the exposed White from close range.
The third goal effectively killed the game allowing the hosts to rest both of their strike pair substituting them for Kyle Jardine and Connor Smith respectively.
Ives similarly made changes replacing Sami Nabi with Nathan Hicks and Jack Snelus with ex Aldershot Town debutant KJ Osu.
The final Ives substitution in 83rd minute saw Dwumfuo go off to much applause from the small group of travelling fans being replaced by Urijah Gordon-Douglas.
White pulled off good late saves to prevent Jardine and Smith from adding gloss to the hosts score but overall the Ravens will see this as a very good afternoon's work.