Marc Richards marks debut with only goal as St Ives Town beat Biggleswade Town

St Ives Town hosted Biggleswade Town at Westwood Road on the opening day of the Southern League seas

St Ives Town hosted Biggleswade Town at Westwood Road on the opening day of the Southern League season. - Credit: Archant

A debut goal from Marc Richards proved enough to give St Ives Town all three points against Biggleswade Town on the opening day of the Southern League Premier Division Central season.

The former Port Vale, Northampton Town and Barnsley striker found himself in space with 17 minutes to go and was able to put a header into the corner.

It decided what had been a fairly even contest up until that point.

The first-half was physical and very open when the players allowed it to be and both had chances.

Biggleswade had the first of them, Shane Bush catching a half-volley superbly and forcing Martin Conway to need a big palm to push it over the top.

St Ives had pressure but didn’t test the keeper until a free-kick from Dylan Williams beat him but hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced out.

Kyle Forster did have to make a save though seconds later when the ball was played into the middle and Michael Gyasi had a point-blank header turned over.

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The same player met the corner but guided it wide as did Bush shortly after when he scuffed a good cross from the right.

Kyle Lincoln was the next player that failed to connect with a cross, glancing his own header wide.

The final chance fell to Biggleswade and like Williams, Scott Davies saw a free-kick clip the woodwork, the post this time and head behind for a goal-kick.

Most of the half though was punctuated by clashes around the park and shouts from the players for infringements.

The final act of the half saw Forster come off worse gathering a through ball and he didn’t make it back into the dressing room for close to 10 minutes and with his left calf heavily bandaged.

He did make it out for the second half though, although that meant contending staring into an ever-descending sun.

And his team did their very best to protect him, using the old adage of attack is the best form of defence.

They had more of the play and Conway needed to hang on to one shot before Joe Neal put another shot wide, all in the 10 minutes after the restart.

Slowly St Ives did get their foot on the ball and further up the pitch and Williams again showed his shooting prowess, creating space before unleashing a drive that was only just over.

That shot was watched over by Forster whose dive showed any problems with his agility had gone.

There weren’t many chances though in this period so the goal came very much out of the blue.

And it will be one of the most innocuous of Richards’ long career.

The ball was lifted back into the area towards the striker who had taken up station at the back post and about six yards or so out.

He was unmarked with the Biggleswade defence shouting for an offside that never came and from there the header crawled inside the opposite post.

Chris Nunn, the Waders manager, instantly brought on Sam Squire and Conrad Lucan to get a response and six minutes later Bradley Bell was on too.

It did put them on the front foot but the two real chances that came their way, another free-kick from Davies and a shot from James Peter were straight at Conway who gathered both gratefully.

A long throw caused a bit of mayhem but after a couple of flicks the ball ran harmlessly wide and the last chances were headed off the line from Kyle Lincoln and onto the roof of the net.

St Ives Town: Conway, J.Wilson, Toseland, Gyasi, Jackson, Lincoln, Seymour-Shove (Patrick 89), Parker, Richards (Amu 89), Williams, Hicks.

Subs (not used): Baker, D.Wilson, Mills.

Goals: Richards 73

Booked: Toseland 19, Jackson 45

Biggleswade Town: Forster, Kerions, Ngathe, Peter, Short, Boxer (Bell 81), Charles (Squire 75), Davies, Neal (Lucan 75), Bush, Giles.

Subs (not used): Farrell, Reid.

Booked: Ngathe 5, Davies 47

HT: St Ives Town 0 Biggleswade Town 0

Attendance: 217

Referee: Alistair Wilson (Boston)