Todayâ€™s opponents started the day in second place, a vast contrast to the Ducks fortunes at the bottom of the table, however it was a day when the form book went out of the window, as the Ducks matched their high flying opponents throughout. The match started on a pitch that resembled the Baseball Ground in the 1970s, more sand visible than grass in places, which certainly wasnâ€™t conducive to free flowing football. Both sides took their time to get settled, the opening exchanges being extremely scrappy, with neither goalkeeper being called into meaningful action until deep into the half. It was the home side which threatened first. Centre forward Andrew Phillips controlled the ball well and fed Ben Seymour-Shove on the right. However, his well struck low cross was cleared at the expense of a corner by Jack Wood. Two minutes later home skipper Luke Knight found Seymour-Shove whose cross was cleared this time by Alex Collard, but only as far as Danny Watson; his cross was then cleared to safety by Chris Crook. The first real chance for the Ducks fell to Tyrone Taylor; in the 31st minute good work by Jake Bewley and Sonny French down the left, saw the ball laid into the path of Taylor 30 yards out, however the striker couldnâ€™t direct his shot on target, missing high and wide of the home goal. The best chance of the half so far fell to the home sideâ€™s top scorer Danny Watson. Left back Jordan Jarrold threaded a fine pass through to the striker in the right channel. He advanced towards the penalty area but could only drag his shot across the face of Zaki Oualahâ€™s goal. Just 4 minutes later, Scott Sinclair took a free kick from the half way line which found Steve Gentle in the middle of the penalty area, but his header was well held by Oualah. As the half drew to an end, the best two chances of the first period came in added time and both fell to the Ducks. First Sonny French had a golden opportunity to put the Ducks in front. Taylor fed the ball into his path 25 yards out; he evaded the tackles of two home defenders and advanced into the area, but could only drag his shot wide of the far post. The last chance of the half fell to Bruno Brito, whose header at the near post from Frenchâ€™s cross was narrowly wide of the goal.
The hosts started the second period in a much more offensive spirit. Inside the first minute, left winger Declan Rogers and Watson combined to find the overlapping Jarrold in space down the left. Fortunately Jack Wood just managed to beat Phillips to his dangerous cross and cleared the ball. Five minutes later, a short corner routine saw Seymour-Shove cross into the six yard box where home skipper Knight couldnâ€™t get a meaningful header on the ball, and eventually gave away a free kick for hand ball in the ensuing scramble. It was far from one way traffic, as first Lea Coulter and then Brito had good opportunities to score, but the home defence held firm. In the 63rd minute a fine pass by Jack Wood found Taylor on the right. His cross to the back post was met by Brito, but his header was cleared for a corner by the covering Knight. A succession of substitutions midway through the half saw the injured Greg Williams and Alex Collard both replaced by Ollie Hogg and Ricky Brown. Brown was soon into the action, with home substitute Phil Draycott outpacing his man down the right, but like many before him, failing to find the target with his shot. In the 77th minute Watson found the lively Seymour-Shove wide on the right; his cross was half cleared by Brown as far as Draycott, this time his firm shot was well saved by Oualah at his near post.
As the game approached the end, and both sides seemed resigned to playing out a stalemate, substitute Reece Cameron did exceptionally well to win the ball wide on the right near the by-line. His cross to the far post was not dealt with by the defence and Brito was in the right place to slam the ball home from inside the 6 yard box to give the Ducks a precious lead. With memories of the recent late defeat against Chalfont still in the minds of the visiting supporters, it was a nervous end to the match, with the referee finding almost 8 minutes of added on time at the end of the match. The hosts had their opportunities to force a draw, but it was the Ducks who really should have scored a second. With the home team pushing up, Taylor and French combined to send Brito through on goal, however his shot lacked both direction and power and Trebes saved easily.
When the final whistle was eventually blown, the Ducks players and fans celebrated a famous win, one that couldnâ€™t really have been anticipated, but which was well earned and deserved against a St Ives team who will be deeply disappointed at the result. To put the result into context, this was St Ives first defeat since their Boxing Day match at Royston and only their 5th defeat of the season. In contrast, this was the first league win for the Ducks since the home match against Potters Bar on 28th Nov and the first away victory since the 4 - 2 win at North Greenford at the end of October and just their 5th league win of the season. A true coupon busting result!
The consequence of the win is that the Ducks move up a place in the league, above Leighton, and 5 points clear of bottom placed North Greenford. With matches to come against teams in the lower half of the league in the next few weeks, hopefully this performance and result will give the players confidence to continue in the same vein and carry on picking up points in the fight against relegation.
Match report courtesy of Ian Pluck
St Ives Town
Chalfont St. Peter
AFC Rushden & Diamonds
North Greenford United
Potters Bar Town