Tuesday night replay for St Ives Town after they draw with Wisbech Town in the FA Vase
ST Ives Town will go to Wisbech Town on Tuesday night for another try at their FA Vase second round tie after a dramatic game at Westwood Road ended in a 2-2 draw on Saturday.
The Saints took an early lead through Karl Gibbs, but were 2-1 down before Will Fordham smashed home the equaliser from the penalty spot in the second half.
There was even half an hour of extra time but neither side were able to find the net again and it will be all eyes on the Fenland Stadium on Tuesday evening for the 7.45pm kick off.
“I’m not disappointed to be going to Wisbech for a replay because we didn’t deserve to win,” said Saints joint manager Jez Hall. “We were second best to be fair.
“We played with a lot of heart but they had us under a lot of pressure. I’m quite happy that we have another chance with the replay.”
Light up front, Hall and his co-manager Warren Everdell were forced to play Gibbs on his own, despite the club signing two strikers in the run-up to the game.
From Holbeach United came Robbie Harris, but he was cup-tied, while Frenchman Marc Manga has joined on dual registration from Corby Town, but was in Paris.
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Struggling to get back to full fitness, Junior McDougald was a second half substitute on Saturday, while, suspended for the game, Scott Fielding comes into the reckoning for the replay and may be called upon to play a part.
Wisbech boss Steve Appleby also has two players back from suspension, defenders Paul Cousins and Jon Fairweather. He was slightly critical of his team’s first-half performance, sayting: “We got into the lads at half time. We said a few home truths about what we do when things aren’t going for us and how we respond.
“We sulked for 10 minutes after their goal and we got our heads down. Second half I thought we were exceptional.”
The cut-up Westwood Road pitch did play its part as both sides struggled to settle. Deakan Napier, who gave Saints full back Jamie Alsop the run-around all afternoon, burst into the box but tricky striker Dubi Ogbonna could not convert his pass.
At the other end, Stacy Cartwright – who was booked in the fifth minute for an ugly lunge – had to put his body on the line to prevent the hosts from taking the lead.
But it was Wisbech who carried the main threat and much of it was coming from the pace of Ogbonna. The Fenmen’s top-scorer was denied three times in 15 minutes by the inspired Niall Conroy, who put in an impressive display against the side he made one appearance for on loan earlier in the season.
Napier also had a golden chance, which he blazed wide, before the Saints knocked the stuffing out of Wisbech on the counter attack.
Steven Reid was bullied off the ball by Jimmy Dean in midfield and St Ives’ powerful frontman Gibbs was on hand at the back post to nod home fromer Wisbech midfielder David Cobb’s looping cross to give his team the lead.
The goal sucked the tempo out of the game and the shell-shocked visitors struggled to carve out any more chances before the interval.
But, after those “home truths” from Appleby at half time, Wisbech began to find their feet again. Napier’s cross was fluffed by Conroy before the referee waved away Wisbech’s penalty claims after a massive appeal for handball.
Conroy tipped a trademark Bacon free-kick round the post but the pressure told in the 64th minute when the referee pointed to the spot.
Jordan Lambert hauled down Ogbonna and Bacon thumped the penalty past Conroy. The goal sparked wild celebrations - too wild in the eyes of the referee as Ogbonna was booked for celebrating with the Santa-hat-wearing Fenmen fans.
The goal also gave Wisbech fresh impetus and four minutes later the turnaround was complete as Matt Lunn raced clear and calmly slotted the ball home.
But the drama continued five minutes later when St Ives found a quickfire reply. The referee awarded the second penalty of the day, ruling that Reid had blocked Lee Ellison’s shot with his hands raised. Fordham hammered the spot kick into the top corner and the sides were level again.
Tension descended on Westwood Road as both teams decided whether to stick or twist. It was Wisbech who looked most likely to get a winner as Millson drew another save from Conroy and substitute Ollie Gale flashed a shot wide.
The Fenmen continued to apply the pressure as the tie went into extra time. Bacon and the supreme Spafford had headers cleared off the line but the ball would not go in for Appleby’s side.
St Ives found renewed energy in the second period of extra time but, despite a flurry of free-kicks and an impressive performance from David Cobb, they were also struggling to find a finish.
The final chance of the game fell to Ogbonna, who will no doubt wonder how he managed to play 120 minutes and not score.