St Ives Town U18 v Wisbech St Mary U18
Thurlow Nunn Youth League – Western Division 07-10-19
Two well taken Ben Smith goals ensured that Ives claimed the three points despite a strangely low key performance during which they never seemed to get out of second gear. Apart from the goals the highlights could almost be summed up as very promising debuts for young central midfielders Oliver Daniel and Jack Squire and one highly controversial moment six minutes from time when Wisbech were convinced that they had snatched a route back into the game only to be denied by an apparent hole in the net.
The game started well for the hosts as they took the lead in tenth minute. Good high pressing from the youngsters saw Connor Gibbs seize upon a poor pass from Josh Gear 25 yards from goal. He grabbed his opportunity to get his shot away forcing keeper Alex Bishop into a diving save low to his right. The resulting corner was only half cleared to Daniel just outside the box his crisp low drive may have been on its way into the net anyway but Smith reacted in the way of a true striker and deflected it home from point blank range to claim the goal.
It was all Ives in these early exchanges and they went close twice more in the next few minutes. The lively Smith continued to trouble the visitors defence and his hard work carved out a good opportunity for Zac Hope in 16th minute as he used his pace to burst past two defenders on the right and get to the bye line. His pull back picked out Hope on the edge of the box in space but the usually clinical wide man seemed to snatch at the chance and fired high and wide.
Two minutes later centre back Ewan Young tried to show him how it should be done as he picked up a loose ball in the centre of the park before striding forward and unleashing a screamer from 35 yards that was to hot for Bishop to hang onto but the athletic keeper was alert and brave enough to plunge onto the loose ball just ahead of Hope and Smith who both closed quickly to try and prod it home.
After that early excitement the game seemed to enter a long lull period where Ives seemed content to knock the ball around as if to try and tire their opponents but to their credit Wisbech kept up their work rate all over the park to ensure that the service was not getting through to pick out the runs of Smith, Hope or Joe Cobb.
So effective were the visitors in their efforts that the next noteworthy effort on goal from either side did not arrive until three minutes before the break when Connor O’Donovan and Cobb combined well on the left before the latter threaded a pass into the feet of Smith on the left corner of the box. He cleverly side stepped his marker and curled in a right footed effort that may well have been on its way into the far corner of the net but deflected just over the top off the shoulder of Ben Porter.
The final effort of the first half came ninety seconds later when O’Donovan showed a good touch to tee up Gibbs who slammed in a rising drive from 25 yards that Bishop did well to hang onto.
The game livened up a little in the early stages of the second half and Smith was perhaps a little unlucky not to double Ives lead in 51st minute as he bravely went in with keeper Bishop to get a flick onto Seb Darnell’s cross from the left. The flick was enough to beat the keeper who clattered into Smith a split second later but unfortunately for the Ives striker the ball roll agonisingly the wrong side of the post.
Kai Bradley in Ives goal was called upon to make his first save of the game two minutes later but it was very much a routine one. Wisbech substitute Billy Barnes was upended by a combination of Young and Darnell just outside the box and picked himself up to take the free kick. He cleverly fired it under the leaping Ives wall but Bradley had read it well and gathered the ball comfortably.
Gibbs and Smith were probably the two outstanding players on the park all evening and the pair combined to double Ives lead just before the hour. Gibbs winning a tackle in the centre of the park before surging forward and feeding the ball into the run of Smith who showed enough strength and composure to hold off Harry Paul before curling a shot around Bishop with the outside of his right boot from just inside the box.
Now two in front and looking very comfortable Ives seemed to go back into their shell returning to their passing game without really showing much further threat. The battling Wisbech boys never gave up and continued to defend solidly and harry their hosts at every opportunity but thanks to the discipline and concentration of Young and centre back partner Leon Quinsee they were unable to create any real threat on Bradley’s goal.
There were occasional moments when that concentration lapsed a little and Quinsee was almost caught out by a long ball down the centre fifteen minutes from time as Willis Wright out muscled him to get a shot in from 25 yards but it did not trouble Bradley as the shot flew well over the top.
Substitutions rolled on and off for both sides as the game seemed to be drifting towards the inevitable conclusion when the moment of high drama and controversy arrived with six minutes to go. A harmless looking ball bouncing around in Ives half was seized upon by Jaden Carter who slammed in a low skimming drive from fully 25 yards that beat the despairing dive of Bradley and appeared to creep in the bottom corner but unbelievably the ball found a hole in the net and skimmed on into the boards. Referee Shaun Gray was instantly surrounded by Wisbech players but even after examining the net and holding a brief discussion with his assistant he decided that the ball had glanced the outside of the post on its way through and awarded a goal kick much to the bemusement of all in the ground.
It could have been a very different last few minutes if the “goal” had stood but as it was Ives were able to coast through that remaining period with only one further scare when Quinsee was almost caught out on an under hit back pass which Wright looked like he had managed to get onto but the telescopic leg of Ives centre back did just enough to curl around the ball and nick it back off the Wisbech striker.
The win jumped Ives to the top of the early season table in what looks like a very open division but if the boys want to stay in that position they are going to need to up their game for the tougher challenges that are looming.
St Ives Town U18 2 Wisbech St Mary U18 0
Goals : Smith 10 & 59
St Ives team : Bradley, Frans (capt), Darnell, O’Donovan (Bond 89), Quinsee, Young, Hope (Stork 70), Daniel (Squire 62), Smith, Gibbs (McDougald 90), Cobb (Mitkov 80)
Other subs used roll on roll off : none
Unused Subs : none
Attendance : 45
Report by Nigel Howlett
|October 7, 2019||19:45||Thurlow Nunn Youth League West Division||2019-20||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town U18||1||2|
|Wisbech St Mary U18||0||0|