St Ives Town U18 v Deeping Rangers U18
Thurlow Nunn Youth League – Western Division 01-04-19
With the County Cup final only four days away manager Lloyd Groves fielded probably the youngest Under 18 side that Ives are ever likely to have put out for a competitive fixture with only three second year scholars in the squad. This was a brave move as their opponents were a Deeping side who had completely blown away an on paper much stronger Ives side earlier in the season. Although their starting eleven had only three changes from the early season encounter with little to play for except third place Deeping failed to live up to their billing and although the visitors took the three points courtesy of a scrappy late goal Ives can consider themselves unlucky to pick up no reward from the match.
The visitors set off looking for a start similar to that which they had made at the Haydon Whitham Stadium back in September and the game was only 50 seconds old when Ibrahim Sankare sped around the outside of Karl Frans on the left before delivering a dangerous low cross that evaded everyone in the centre and was bundled behind for a corner by Mihayl Mitkov at the back post.
The game was halted for almost five minutes in seventh minute when a ball over the top lead to a sickening collision between Ives keeper Shay Griffiths and Rangers Jacob Large as the pair both went for the same high bouncing ball 25 yards from goal. Griffiths managed to resume after treatment but the luckless Large was taken off with suspected concussion. This incident took the sting out of the game for a while and although Rangers were enjoying a lot of possession Frans had managed to put a clamp on the dangerous Sankare which seemed to limit their options.
The opening goal for the visitors arrived in 20th minute with Rangers tricky left winger heavily involved. Towering centre forward Kever Spindari roamed out to the left before feeding a ball inside into the run of Sankare. The winger spanked his shot first time from 15 yards but it was straight at Griffiths who will be a little disappointed that he did not hold onto it. Harrison Dee reacted first to prod home the loose ball from close range.
The visitors only managed to hold onto their lead for five minutes as Zac Hope came up with a wonderful solo goal to level things up. The Ives wide man collected a ball down the line from Frans by the right hand corner flag and there appeared little danger as he was hemmed in by two defenders. But he turned back onto his left foot getting past one defender before outpacing Jared Carver and unleashing a fierce low left footer from the corner of the box that beat the despairing dive of Fabio D’Agnano in Rangers goal and nestled in the corner of the net.
The goal lifted Ives confidence and it became a much more even game with both sides creating chances to get their noses in front before the break. In 36th minute a Sam Green free kick from the right bounced off an Ives defender at the back post and fell to Dee who should probably have done better but blazed over from eight yards.
Spindari was not getting a lot of change out of Ives budding centre back pairing of Connor Paine and Ewan Young and was forced to drop back into midfield to get more involved. His pass to overlapping full back Carver in 41st minute allowed the defender to get in a dangerous driven cross that flashed across the face of goal just evading substitute Christian Hillah coming in at the back post.
Harry Sargent was playing his usual lone role through the centre for Ives but as ever he was proving a handful for the opposition centre backs. He created an excellent opportunity two minutes before the break as he battled through three defenders to get to the bye line and managed to pick out Connor Gibbs in the centre but the Ives midfielder fluffed the golden opportunity miskicking his close range effort straight into the body of the grateful D’Agnano.
With plenty of added time due to the early stoppage there was still time for Hope to try and repeat his scoring move just before the break. But this time D’Agnano was equal to the effort plunging to his right to tip Hope’s powerful low drive around the post.
The second half started with Rangers exerting some early pressure and an excellent 50th minute through ball from Hillah put Spindari clear into the box but Griffiths was quickly out to narrow the angle and block his shot at point blank range. The resulting corner was cleared down the park and it took a sharp sprint from his line by D’Agnano to prevent Hope getting clear.
Tom Crowson’s long throw on the hour caused some confusion in Ives box the ball eventually falling to Sankare who saw his side footed effort from ten yards blocked in the six yard box and hacked away by a well positioned Frans.
The most worrying sign of the evening for Ives came only seconds later as leading scorer Sargent went down holding his hamstring and was forced to limp out of the action making him a big doubt for Friday’s County Cup final. This prompted a wholesale change by Groves with more first years and under 16’s being introduced in order to rest others likely to be involved on Friday.
The game degenerated into a scrappy affair with chances at a premium. Young did fail to hit the target with a good chance for Ives in 65th minute as Rangers struggled to clear a free kick into their box and the ball fell kindly to him on the edge of the box.
With the game entering it’s final ten minutes Rangers greater experience began to show as they pressed for a winner. Ives again struggled to clear a Crowson long throw into their box in 84th minute. A real scramble ensued but no one was able to force the ball home and Louis Bald was eventually on hand to clear the danger.
Only ninety seconds later the best move of the second half was finished as Dee teed up Kai Haggett-King on the edge of the box. The Rangers midfielder had time and space but snatched at the opportunity and blazed the ball well over the top into the gardens behind the Green Leys end of the ground.
The very fortunate Rangers winner came with less than three minutes of the ninety to go as Spindari battled to get on the end of a ball over the top but Young again showed his strength and composure timing his tackle perfectly to take the ball off the toe of the gangly striker just as he shaped to shoot. There were claims for a penalty as the striker went down but these were waved away, however Ives defenders seemed to stop just for a split second. That fatal delay was just enough as the loose ball fell to Hillah following up, he scuffed his shot but Ives substitute keeper Kai Bradley was unsighted and did not react as the ball bobbled just inside his near post.
There was still time for Bradley to redeem himself and show us a little more of what we can expect next season as he thwarted Spindari in second minute of added time. The big striker had been put clean through and rather than shoot tried to go around Bradley who timed his dive to perfection to plunge in and nick the ball off him cleanly.
The final result of only a single goal defeat for such an inexperienced Ives side against one of the best teams in the division bodes very well for next season when these boys will form the nucleus of the Thurlow Nunn side that we all hope will be very competitive. They have three League games left to continue to show their development and those that fought their way into Friday’s Cup Final squad on this performance will have rightly earnt their places.
Final Score : St Ives Town U18 1 Deeping Rangers U18 2
Goals : Hope 25
St Ives team : Griffiths (capt) (Bradley 63), Frans, Mitkov (Rudd 63), Purse (Darnell 63), Paine, Young, Hope, Bald, Sargent (O’Donovan 61), Gibbs (Lee 73), Wakley,
Unused Subs : none
Attendance : 50
Report by Nigel Howlett.
|April 1, 2019||19:45||Thurlow Nunn Youth League West Division||2018-19|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town U18||1||1|
|Deeping Rangers U18’s||1||2|