Holbeach United U18 v St Ives Town U18
Thurlow Nunn Youth League – Western Division 17-10-19
With this result achieved on a very heavy pitch the battling Tigers leapfrogged the Ives into top spot in what is proving to be a very open Western Division this season. Looking at the surrounding Fenland fields on the way to the ground there was serious doubt that the game would take place as a day of heavy rain had left huge puddles everywhere, but so eager were the full strength hosts to have a crack at the League leaders that they were willing to sacrifice their pitch to do so. Ives were also very close to full strength with only keeper Kia Bradley missing allowing young George Driver to make his debut between the sticks. If the pitch held up a cracking game was in prospect.
Ives started the game confidently and grabbed the lead in only the eleventh minute as high pressing forced an error from Charlie Parkes losing possession inside his own penalty area allowing Connor Gibbs to fire home the loose ball.
It could have been 2-0 three minutes later as a corner from the left arrived at the feet of Gibbs at the back post his low drive beat keeper Daniel Kimber but Parkes was in position to redeem himself clearing off the line to keep Ives advantage to just a single goal.
Debutant keeper Driver was called into meaningful action for the first time only sixty seconds later as play swung to the other end where James Clark picked out Jordan Elston on the left edge of the box. He stepped inside and unleashed a fierce rising drive that Driver was forced to parry away.
At this point in the first half both sides were looking to attack at every opportunity and chances were arriving at both ends of the park. In 17th minute Tom Wakley chased down a poor back pass from Tigers skipper Will Barnes, he beat Kimber to it but the big keeper spread himself well to block the toe poke with his body.
Back up the other end only two minutes later Barnes carved out an opening for himself and almost finished it as he picked up a loose ball in the centre of the park and let fly with a fierce drive from fully 35 yards that Driver was forced to tip over in spectacular fashion.
The 24th minute saw Ives carve out, but fail to finish, another good chance. The hard working Wakley held the ball up well 25 yards from goal and fed in Zac Hope cutting in from the right. Hope struck his shot cleanly but the well positioned Kimber deflected the ball behind with his legs.
As the half wore on both defences seemed to get a bit more of a grip of the opposition attackers and the game settled down into more of a midfield battle which was being fought out in the heaviest part of the pitch where it was becoming more a survival of the fittest. Each side carved out one more opportunity before the break. Barnes tried his luck from distance again in 40th minute but his effort from 25 yards was always rising and did not trouble Driver on its way over the crossbar. Ives went closer to doubling their advantage with their chance as Wakley flicked on a long ball to put early substitute Ben Smith in on Kimber. He rounded the keeper on the edge of the box but Jake Gadsden covering around behind his keeper did just enough to dispossess the Ives man before he could get his shot away.
Ives had one more opportunity to increase their lead early in the second period before the strength sapping surface and some determined opponents began to wrestle control away from them. That chance came in 51st minute as Wakley got on the end of a long Driver free kick and knocked it down to Hope just inside the box but he rather snatched at his shot and fired wide from a good position.
The equaliser arrived four minutes later in a way that will disappoint the Ives management crew as Jack Forster lost his man to arrive unmarked at the back post and head home a Barnes corner from the right.
From this point the hosts started to get on top although it took until 72nd minute before they went close to going in front. Tricky winger Elston had changed across to the right where he used his speed to cut inside before firing in a stinging low drive that Driver did well to hang onto at his near post.
Impressive centre back Leon Quinsee limped out of the action only a minute later to be replaced by Connor Paine and the unfortunate Paine had only been on the field a couple of minutes when he was involved in the incident that lead to the Tigers winner. Josh Balding fed substitute Luke Scampion into the box on the left. Scampion’s attempted cross struck the arm of Paine and referee James Marsden instantly pointed to the spot. Parkes sent Driver the wrong way with the resulting penalty to turn the game around.
Barnes continued to run the game in the centre of the park and in 81st minute he laid a ball into the feet of Elston on the edge of the box, an excellent touch and a clever turn saw the winger create just enough space for the shot which he fired inches wide of Driver’s right hand upright.
Ives continued to battle and carved out one opportunity to get something from the game in 85th minute when young substitute Oliver Daniel picked out the run of Hope cutting in from the left. The Ives winger hit his shot well, but Kimber was again in the right place and blocked with his legs.
The final action of the game two minutes later saw young Driver again show his agility as he plunged full length to his right to keep out a well hit shot from the edge of the box by Elston. Skipper Karl Frans helped out his keeper by sliding to knock the loose ball away before Scampion could force it home.
The result justified the Tigers pre-match efforts to get the game on as it saw the hosts leapfrog the Ives to return to the top of the table but with six team all separated by three points and Deeping and Peterborough Sports both with games in hand sat just behind them this division looks likely to go all the way before a likely winner materialises this season.
Final Score : Holbeach United U18 2 St Ives Town U18 1
Goals : Gibbs 11
St Ives team : Driver, Frans (capt), Darnell, O’Donovan, Quinsee (Paine 73), Young, Hope (Mitkov 65), McDougald (Smith 33), Wakley, Gibbs (Squire 65), Cobb (Daniel 73)
Other subs used roll on roll off : Hope for Mitkov 83
Unused Subs : none
Attendance : Approx 55
Report by Nigel Howlett
|October 17, 2019||19:45||Thurlow Nunn Youth League West Division||2019-20||90'|
|Holbeach United U18||2|
|St Ives Town U18||1|