St Ives Town U18 v Peterborough Sports U18
Thurlow Nunn Youth League – Western Division 11-03-19
For the second time in two weeks Ives met one of the title contenders at Westwood Road, but unlike last week’s tilt at King’s Lynn the visit of Sports saw a depleted hosts missing seven likely starters from their squad. Their opponents very much trying to play catch up with their League fixtures after very impressive runs in the FA Youth Cup and Northants County Cup came into this game on the back of three impressive wins with the combined scoring record of 19-0. It was not going to be easy!.
Contrary to all the statistics and the expectations it was Ives who started best and they let two golden opportunities pass them by in the first fifteen minutes. In twelfth minute a long Shay Griffiths free kick was misjudged by Henry Nkobi as he allowed the ball to skim off the top of his head. Adam Laker had done what all good strikers do he had gambled and he got on the end of it. Keeper Dylan Veni reacted well and closed him down quickly forcing the Ives wide man to take his shot on first time. Veni came off best as the close-range shot cannoned off his legs to safety.
Thomas Wakley was replacing the injured Harry Sargent down the centre and it was his sheer persistence that won him the next opportunity only two minutes later. He harried Nkobi as the big centre back tried to deal with a bobbling ball just outside the box, nicked the ball off him and prodded it past the advancing Veni only to see the shot bobble inches the wrong side of the post as all looked on.
Ives continued to press and stunned their visitors by taking the lead midway through the first half. The goal came in somewhat controversial circumstances as Sports were convinced they had been awarded a free kick in the centre of the park as Wakley appeared to foul Matt Jones-Molineux but referee Cliff Mills deemed that Jones-Molineux had been the offender. George Cawte delivered the resulting free kick into the box where the still disgruntled Sports defenders were slow to react allowing Jordan Locke to bring the ball down and flick it over the advancing Veni from a narrow angle. Laker bravely went in with much taller defenders at the back post and it was he who got the decisive touch to force the ball home.
Going one behind seemed to spark the visitors into a reaction and in 24th minute Ayman Trabelsi and Alfie Ferguson combined well down the right the move ending with the latter getting to the bye line before driving a powerful cross into the six yard box where the ball deflected towards goal off Mitchell Pillin. The Ives centre back was saved by the sharp reactions of his keeper as Griffiths pulled off an excellent save.
Griffiths was called into more spectacular action three minutes later when a Eunis Lievins free kick fell to Ryan Pratt on the edge of the box. The big striker took the effort on first time on the volley but Griffiths was equal to it leaping high to his right to tip the shot around the post.
Sports were now well on top and Ives best hope was to try and hold out until the break. All that changed with two goals in three minutes. The equaliser came in 37th minute as Ferguson tried to get dribble his way through a group of Ives defenders on the right hand side of the box. He almost made it only to be taken down by the outstretched leg of Mihayl Mitkov to give Mr Mills one of the easier penalty decisions he has made in his career. Ferguson picked himself up and emphatically despatched the spot kick high to Griffiths left as the keeper went the other way.
What proved to be the winner arrived only three minutes later in equally emphatic style but there will be a few Ives defenders looking at each other for not doing more to stop it. Lievins picked up the ball just inside his own half on the left hand side and cut infield without being challenged, or even really closed down. The marauding left back then decided to try his luck from fully thirty yards and caught it sweet as a nut the ball whistling past Griffiths and billowing the net although the keeper may also be a little disappointed as he appeared a little slow to react.
Now in control of the game Sports came out for the second half determined to not let it slip again. The tiring Ives with few options on the bench continued to work hard but only managed to carve out one opportunity for an equaliser and that came on the hour. Conor O’Donovan battled to win the ball off Lievins just outside Sports box. Billy Garlick latched onto the loose ball and slammed in a rising drive from the right hand corner of the box that beat the struggling Veni but curled inches over the angle of crossbar and post.
From that point on it was all Sports but to their credit Ives did not wilt but continued to battle all the way and although the visitors did create chances at regular intervals Griffiths and those in front of him denied the otherwise prolific scorers any further reward. In 61st minute Sports substitute Oliver Foster cut in from the right and fed the ball inside to Ethan Atkins who thudded a 25 yarder into the boards just to the left of Griffiths goal.
Three minutes later a cracking effort from full back Brad Hughes from wide right beat the scrambling Griffiths but cannoned back into play off the inside of the post. The Ives keeper showed fantastic reactions and agility to regain his composure and tip over the follow up header from inside the six yard box by Ferguson.
Big centre forward Pratt and his strike partner Ferguson were proving a handful and the pair combined to carve out another chance in 72nd minute. Ferguson robbed Mitkov just outside the box and slid a ball through into the well timed run of Pratt but the big striker did have a weakness as when a left foot finish was clearly on to slide the ball past the exposed Griffiths he instead tried to go with his right and got it horribly wrong instead firing the ball away from goal.
Griffiths best save of a busy night came fifteen minutes from the end when Nkobi rose unchallenged at the back post to meet a Ferguson corner from the left. The big centre back planted a powerful downward header just inside the post but Griffiths was equal to it plunging to his left to parry the effort with his team mates completing the clearance by hacking away the loose ball.
The final opportunity of the evening also went the way of the visitors and was perhaps a strange one when they should have probably been playing out time with five minutes to go. Lievins took a quick free kick to put centre half Nkobi away down the left wing. His cross to the centre was met eight yards out by the unmarked Trabelsi but the Sports winger failed to keep his header down.
At the final whistle Ives can be proud of their efforts and perhaps a little unfortunate not to get anything from the game if they look back at those two early opportunities. Those with longer memories can also reflect that Ives are still the only side to take points off Sports this season following their 1-1 draw in their visit to Lincoln Road in September. On the other hand the Sports management team could be heard throughout the Clubhouse dishing out a real dressing down to their players who they clearly felt had only just done enough. I would not want to be in that dressing room when they do lose one!.
Final Score : St Ives Town U18 1 Peterborough Sports U18 2
Goals : Laker 21
St Ives team : Griffiths, Frans, Mitkov, Purse, Locke (capt) (Ramsaran 70), Pillin, Laker (Darnell 77), Cawte, Wakley, Garlick, O’Donovan (Katz 84)
Unused Subs : Sargent
Attendance : 40
Report by Nigel Howlett
|March 11, 2019||19:45||Thurlow Nunn Youth League West Division||2018-19||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town U18||1||1|
|Peterborough Sports U18’s||2||2|