St Ives Town U18 v St Neots Town U18
Huntingdonshire FA U18 County Cup – Final @ Eynesbury Rovers FC 05-04-19
Conceding inside the first 30 seconds gave Ives a mountain to climb in this game. To their huge credit they settled themselves, battled hard to get back into the game, scored a cracking equaliser before the break, got on top in the second half only to have all of their endeavours undone by a late, late winner from the Saints.
Having won the Cambridge Division in Thurlow Nunn League with two games to go St Neots came into the game as hot favourites against the mid table Ives who were also missing their injured talisman Harry Sargent. The Saints lived up to their billing straight from the kick off as the ball was instantly fed down the right where Rief Clarke found a bit of space and delivered a testing cross that a nervous Ewan Young misjudged allowing the ball to fall to towering centre forward Joseph Rider. He took a touch before steering the ball into the bottom left hand corner of the net past a bemused Shay Griffiths.
Griffiths did a lot better in twelfth minute as he spread himself well to keep out a close range effort from Jacob Joseph after a corner from the right had dropped to the feet of the tricky Saints winger on the edge of the six yard box.
Ives were slowly working their way into the game and their first opportunity of a shot on goal came two minutes later as Billy Mobbs managed to get on the end of a clip over the top. He tried the difficult skill of taking the shot on first time as the ball dropped over his shoulder but although he got the effort on target it lacked sufficient power to test Ash Brewer in Saints goal.
As the half passed its midway point it had become a much more even game with the probing runs of Zac Hope causing problems for Saints defence on the right. In 23rd minute the pacey winger sped his way past Jake Wood before being taken down clumsily by Owen Dunnett just outside the right hand corner of the box. Dunnett was perhaps lucky to escape further punishment from referee Cliff Mills given the cynical nature of the foul. His action was proved right from a Saints point of view though as Billy Garlick’s free kick was easily cleared.
The equaliser just after the half hour came from the move of the evening as Mobbs picked up a ball deep inside his own half before speeding through the centre leaving a couple of defenders in his wake. The ball he rolled into the run of Tom Wakley just said spank me and that is exactly what the Ives striker did with his right foot the rasping drive from 20 yards arrowing into the top corner of the net giving Brewer no chance.
Four minutes later Ives almost went in front as Mitchell Pillin climbed above keeper Brewer to get on the end of a Louis Bald free kick from the half way line. Unfortunately the Ives centre back got a little to much contact on the ball and directed his header just over the vacant net.
In 41st minute another quick break out of defence saw Wakley and Hope combine well down the right. The move finishing with the latter unleashing a powerful low drive from a narrow angle that Brewer did well to cling onto.
Brewer’s opposite number Griffiths was also called into more action three minutes later as Joseph curled a free kick from 25 yards over the three man Ives wall with pace and dip. The Ives keeper only just managed to hold on at the second attempt just ahead of the fast closing Rider.
The final effort of the first half in the second added minute came as Mobbs lost possession inside his own half allowing Rider to get away down the right his pull back was just behind Joseph but the youngster swivelled well on the ball and forced an excellent save out of Griffiths as the well positioned stopper blocked the effort with his legs.
Ives came out with much more purpose at the start of the second half but the only early chance came ten minutes after the re-start when a poor clearance from Bald fell to Joseph 20 yards out. The Saints front man took a touch before firing in a rising drive that a full stretch Griffiths just managed to tip over the crossbar.
As the half wore on Ives began to get on top but try as they might they could not find a way through the resolute Saints back line although the Saints composure and belief was certainly beginning to slip at times as Ives applied the pressure a verbal rant from Saints skipper Leon Fulianty aimed at one of his own team mates Tom Leagas who had rather needlessly chopped down Jordan Locke in 62nd minute gave a big clue that this game was proving much tougher than Saints had anticipated it would be.
But try as they might Ives could not find a way through and as Hope began to tire and drift out of the game the Saints slowly began to exert a bit of pressure on Ives back line which had looked equally resolute until the game entered the final ten minutes. In 86th minute a ball inside from Joseph picked out substitute Markel Cousins he in turn got his head up and spotted that Rider had dropped off his marker to find a bit of space at the back post. A clever ball floated over the last Ives defender found Rider who looked like he must score but Griffiths spread himself well to block the effort at close range and Pillin was on hand to complete the clearance.
The goal that broke Ives hearts arrived in spectacular fashion in the final minute of ninety as the earlier beleaguered Leagas found space on the right and delivered a teasing cross that Rider attacked but missed in the centre. The centre forwards movement was enough to bring other players into the ball creating a little space for Clarke who had just re-entered the field of play as a roll on substitute to come powering in and hurl himself at the ball full length to head it home past the exposed Griffiths from ten yards. The little winger picked himself up a yellow card for peeling off his shirt as he raced away to celebrate but he did not care he had just won the cup for his team.
It was a cruel way to lose for the gallant Ives who gave it their all only to get minimal reward when the opportunity of a penalty shoot out that was only moments away was the least they deserved. Strangely enough this game mirrored the final from two years ago between these same two teams when early and late goals from Saints had ensured Ives left with that same what might have been feeling.
Final Score : St Ives Town U18 1 St Neots Town U18 2
Goals : Wakley 31
St Ives team : Griffiths, Locke (capt), Bald (Darnell 64), Purse, Young, Pillin, Mobbs, Cawte, Wakley, Garlick (Gibbs 67), Hope (Paine 88)
Other subs roll on roll off : Hope for Young 90
Unused Subs : Frans, Sargent
Attendance : 232
Report by Nigel Howlett
|April 5, 2019||19:45||Hunts County U18 Cup||2018-19|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town U18||1||1|
|St Neots Town U18||1||2|