St Ives game is as big as they come!

This Saturday St Ives Town will take on Gresley at Westwood Road in a bid to reach the last eight of the FA Vase. Will you be there?

ST Ives Town have been drawn away at either Staveley Miners Welfare or Oadby Town in the quarter-finals of the FA Vase – but they still have to get past Gresley in the last-16.

Last Saturday the Saints were due to play Midlands Football Alliance side Gresley at Westwood Road but the tie was called off because of the snow. This Saturday’s forecast is more �promising.

“There’s a chance it will go ahead but no guarantee,” said Saints joint-manager Jez Hall. “The forecast looks better and there is a lot of time for the snow and ice to melt – but water can take a while to drain away on our pitch because of the clay.”

A large crowd is expected when the match goes ahead – and the cold weather is unlikely to dampen the home fans’ spirits with a place in that Wembley final just three wins away.

“The fans will be our 12th man,” said Hall. “They will get behind us, that’s for sure.

“But we know Gresley are a very good team at this level. They have beaten King’s Lynn in the competition already this season and both Long Buckby and Deeping Rangers from the United Counties Premier in the last couple of seasons. “But St Neots put them out of the competition last year and we beat St Neots in the Hunts Senior Cup last month – it’s all about us getting it right and clicking on the day.”

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Despite none of the competition’s last-16 games being played at the weekend, St Ives avoided the remaining big-hitters when the draw was made on Monday – and will travel to either Derbyshire or Leicestershire to meet Staveley or Oadby if they get they get past Gresley. “It’s an away game but I think it’s a decent draw,” said Hall. “They are obviously both good sides but we avoided the Northern League sides. If it had been a home draw it would have been perfect.”

Steveley and Oadby are hoping to play their tie on Wednesday, while St Ives’ home United Counties Premier Division game against Boston Town, scheduled for Tuesday night, was postponed.

THERE is little to separate St Ives Town and Gresley if you take a look at where they are in their divisions. Lump them together in a fictional two-team table and St Ives are only top because they have scored more goals than Saturday’s opponents.

St Ives have lost two more matches than Gresley, who are third in the Midland Football Alliance, compared to St Ives, who are fourth in the Premier Division of the United Counties League. Both teams have played 24 games and have won 50 points.

There is no history between these two clubs however. ‘Gresley’ have only been a going concern for three seasons. The previous club – ‘Gresley Rovers’ – went to the wall at the end of their disastrous 2008-09 campaign and the new Gresley was formed from the ashes of the former.

Placed in the East Midlands Counties League for the start of the 2009-10 season, Gresley – under the management of Gary Norton – finished second to Dunkirk and narrowly missed out on promotion. However, they reached the quarter finals of the Vase beating Spennymoor, Long Buckby and Dawlish Town before losing to Whitehawk.

They eventually won promotion at the end of last season.

GRESLEY’S danger man is Marc Goodfellow, the 30-year-old winger who has turned out for, among others, Stoke and Bristol City in the Football League.

Like St Ives’ very own Junior McDougald, who played for Brighton and Millwall before dropping into non-league football, Goodfellow is a formidable player at this level and will be a handful on Saturday.

Up front the club has two prolific goalscorers, Richard Hanslow and Royce Turville, but the recent addition of another striker, Matt Gardner from Bedworth Town, who is likely to start this one, has strengthened their options up front even further.

“We have recently had a problem in putting our chances away and Matt could certainly help us in this regard,” said manager Gary Norton. “We have some very good forward options at the club already and while we do have other players in the squad who can play up front, Matt has a proven goalscoring record at this level.

“He demonstrated this last season when he finished top scorer for Coalville and also the season before when he won the Midland Alliance Golden Boot. We tried to sign Matt in pre-season but in the end he wanted to try his luck at a higher level.”

It was then that the striker signed for Bedworth, who play in the same division in the Southern League as St Neots Town.

Norton added: “He said at the time that he would get in touch if things didn’t work out and he has been true to his word in contacting us.”

Of course, Norton will have done his homework and will know all about St Ives’ danger man Conor Washington.

The 19-year-old striker has been in brilliant form this season and scored a hat trick in the second round of the competition when the Saints beat Long Eaton United 3-0 in November. No disrespect to any of his teammates, but Washington is currently key man at the club.

But Norton will need to be wary of Stuart Cobb too – it was his cross that was bundled home by an unfortunate defender when the Saints won 2-1 in the last minute at Peacehaven & Telscombe, and Cobb was the goalscorer in the last round when they beat Tunbridge Wells 1-0 in Kent.

There are goals in St Ives’ squad!

WHILE St Ives have had to take to the road for their three FA Vase games so far, Gresley have been drawn at home in the competition ... until now.

While Washington was scoring his hat trick in Ives’ 3-0 win over Long Eaton in Derbyshire, Gresley were beating King’s Lynn Town 2-0 at their Moat ground. Ives have played King’s Lynn twice this season. They lost both games.

When the Saints made their long trip down to Sussex for their 2-1 win over Peacehaven & Telescombe, Gornal Athletic were Gresley’s visitors, and they were beaten 4-2.

In the last round, with a trip to Kent and Tunbridge Wells, the Saints had their third away game on the trot, while Crawley-based side Three Bridges went to Gresley and drew 2-2.

For the first time in the competition then Gresley were forced onto the road and they once again drew 2-2 with Three Bridges in the replay before beating the Sussex County side 7-6 in a penalty shoot-out.