Ashby Ivanhoe maintain strong start to the season as they move joint top of the table

By Josh Kay

16th Aug 2023 | Local Sport

Will Robson - man of the match on the night - battles for the ball during Tuesday's win over Kimberley MW. Photo: Josh Kay
Will Robson - man of the match on the night - battles for the ball during Tuesday's win over Kimberley MW. Photo: Josh Kay

Ashby Ivanhoe 3 Kimberley Miners Welfare 0

A much improved second half saw Ashby Ivanhoe home against a Kimberley side who provided a sterner test than the scoreline suggested.

Returning to the starting 11, James Harrison proved to be the key man in front of goal, netting Ivanhoe's opener and assisting Sam Grouse to round off the scoring in added time.

Despite their strong finish, the first half saw a lack of chemistry between Harrison and Grouse, neither of whom had a clear sight of goal before the break.

At the opposite end, Kimberley saw multiple efforts saved by Taylor, most notably during a goalmouth scramble just before the break which miraculously stayed out.

Playing without the fluidity of Saturday in the first half, Ashby's second half performance was a closer resemblance to that of the first at Wisbech, as goalkeeper Thomas Smith was forced into multiple strong saves from distance before the hour mark.

On 65 minutes however, he was unable to prevent James Harrison's driven effort from finding the far corner. Harrison found the ball at his feet on the right of the penalty area and unleashed a right footed shot across Smith which arrowed in.

The strike came as a relief for manager Andy Gray who, at the time of the goal, was looking to make attacking changes.

Harrison could have been one of those replaced but would go onto play 90 minutes after scoring his second of the season.

Ashby seized control in the final 25 minutes, built momentum and looked to take the game out of Kimberley's reach. Part of this was the introduction of Liam Donaghy, and the tenacity shown by him, Will Robson and Ash Garner in midfield helped to tire out the visitors.

Man of the match on the night, Robson was once again excellent defensively when asked to cover Harry Stewart on the left flank. His most telling contribution though was to set up Joel Carta as Ivanhoe doubled their lead.

Driving down the left, he found Carta in space in a central area, Carta drilled the ball at pace past Smith with immense precision and found the same corner that Harrison had 15 minutes earlier.

From this point onwards, Kimberley's threat became less of a concern for supporters, needing two goals against an Ivanhoe defence with a strong record at home, the visitors challenge was all but over.

Despite this, they continued to probe and forced a good save from Taylor and sprung to his right and clawed a goal bound effort away from goal.

This began a devastating Ashby counter attack, with men thrown forward, Kimberley was unable to account for the pace of Harrison who burst down the right flank and with only one defender back, squared to Grouse who slotted home at the far post.

The result may have been harsh on the visitors, who were the better side for parts of a game which could have finished differently had they taken their chances before the break.

Ivanhoe, however, showed a ruthlessness which will make them a tough opponent, especially if they continue to remain so compact in defence.

The result puts them joint top of the United Counties League Premier Division North after four games.

They turn their attention back the FA Cup next as they welcome Rossington Main to the NFU.

Saturday's opponents from South Yorkshire also won promotion to Step 5 via the playoffs last season and will provide stiff opposition to Gray's team.


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