Proper planning prevents poor performance for impressive St Ives Town

St Ives Town earned a great win away to Nuneaton Borough.

St Ives Town earned a great win away to Nuneaton Borough. - Credit: ST IVES TOWN FC

St Ives Town moved up to 11th in the Southern League Premier Division Central after a massive three points on the road at Nuneaton Borough.

The 2-1 win came courtesy of a perfect game-plan which enabled the visitors to control long periods against their struggling hosts.

There were a number of changes after the defeat to AFC Rushden & Diamonds on New Year's Day. Ben Toseland dropped to the bench and there was a welcome return from Northampton Town for Josh Flanagan in his spot at left-back.

Nathan Hicks also missed out with Ed Hottor returning on the left side of midfield and Dylan Williams moving inside to a more central position.

This put Hottor and Flanagan as the barrier to the well known threat of Ives former flying full back Camron McWilliams who had departed Westwood Road to join the Boro’ only a few weeks previously.

Ives started on the front foot as Nuneaton showed the nervousness caused by their precarious position in the drop zone.

The first shot of the evening after six minutes was a dipping 25 yarder from Williams that just went over the top.

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Tyrone Baker was also causing problems with his direct running style and six minutes later he burst past Jaden Charles into the box before firing off a shot that deflected off a defender and ricocheted to Nabil Shariff by the penalty spot.

But he did not make clean contact and home keeper Tony Breeden made a comfortable save.

All the careful planning that Ives had put in pre-game was almost undone in 15th minute. Skipper Brett Solkhon had limped off with a knee injury to be replaced by Toseland but before the visitors could settle a quick Boro’ throw led to the ball arriving in the centre where Kyle Perry was initially denied by a brilliant reaction save from Lewis Patching.

The big Boro striker was first to the loose ball and forced it home only to spot the linesman’s upraised flag to cut short his celebration.

Another break from an Ives corner three minutes later saw the hosts go close again. McWilliams broke at pace and managed to scamper 60 yards before feeding in Perry.

Toseland slipped as he tried to block the striker’s path to goal but still did enough to force him wide and stop the shot.

Patching was again in action in 31st minute as he plunged low to his left to keep out a well struck effort from the edge of the box by Charlie Dowd.

That proved to be the host’s last shot on target for a long time as Ives took control of the centre of the park and the game.

Chances started to come their way too, Ethan Johnston's flick was saved by Breeden before another effort was deflected wide by the outstretched leg of Liam Daly.

Callum Milne had the last effort of the half but again Breeden managed to knock it away.

The same pattern continued in the second half with Ives well on top and probing hard for the all important opening goal.

When it finally arrived six minutes after the restart it came in somewhat comical fashion.

Toseland took a free kick just outside the box and although he did not strike it well, it somehow wriggled it’s way through the hosts four-man wall taking a big deflection off Perry on the way and rolling past the wrong-footed keeper.

Five minutes later they doubled their advantage, Shariff pouncing on a loose ball in the box to make it 2-0.

The visitors continued to dominate, looking very comfortable in possession and creating more chances that should really have been converted.

Baker and Shariff combined to set up a shooting opportunity for Johnston on the edge of the box but his effort lacked power.

Johnston and Shariff then both fired efforts wide from good positions while a Michael Richens free-kick was straight at Breeden.

But Nuneaton somehow found their way back into the game from a needlessly conceded corner, Anthony Dwyer one of the 10 home players in the box getting the final touch.

With their tails now up and sensing a much-needed point, Nuneaton went after their visitors.

But the resolute back line of Ives proved impregnable and only a late free-kick threatened to deprive them of a fully-deserved win.