Yaxley v St Ives Town
Huntingdonshire FA Senior Cup Semi Final 01-02-2022
A clinical performance saw Ives sweep aside an understrength Cuckoos as they recorded their largest victory in a long time to advance to the final of the Hunts FA Senior Cup where they will meet surprise opponents in Godmanchester Rovers on a date yet to be decided.
The direction of the fixture was somewhat predictable even before the kick off with the higher level visitors making only a single enforced change in their starting eleven from Saturdays excellent point at Royston. The in-form hosts with their focus on securing safety at step four for another season made seven changes from the team that had thumped Histon at Leading Drove four days earlier.
The game quickly settled into a predictable pattern with Ives showing their undoubted class as they got the ball down and moved it around on the 3G surface in their now familiar style whilst their opponents who have had the use of this very good surface for much longer than the visitors somewhat surprisingly tried to go long at almost every opportunity they had.
The pace and movement of Ives front players was causing the Cuckoos defenders problems right from the off and Ethan Johnston, Nabil Shariff and Tyrone Baker had already gone close before home keeper Will Larkin pulled off a brilliant save low to his left to deny Johnston with a little help from his left hand upright in 21st minute. The inevitable opening goal arrived in the simplest fashion from the resulting corner. A short corner routine saw the ball returned to Ben Toseland who delivered to the near post where Josh Flanagan knocked it home from close range.
With Ives front men now looking rampant a second arrived six minutes later despite some heroic efforts from Larkin to prevent it. Shariff’s initial shot from just inside the box was well saved to his left by the home keeper but the ball rebounded to Johnston. Larkin’s reaction save to keep out the Ives striker’s follow up effort was even better than his first save but he got absolutely no assistance from his defence who merely looked on in admiration like the rest of us whilst the ever alert Victor Aiyelabola nipped in to roll home the loose ball.
The one way traffic continued with Baker and Aiyelabola causing all sorts of problems down both flanks and both full backs getting constantly forward in support of their wingers to heighten the pressure on the struggling hosts. Johnston should have increased the lead in 35th minute as Baker once more broke at pace before feeding the overlapping Josh Flanagan who had time to pick out Johnston in space on the edge of the box. He had time for a touch but failed to hit the target with his rising effort.
Yaxley’s first attempt on goal of the evening, their only one in the first 45 minutes, came two minutes later as Florian Tsaguim fired a powerful 25 yarder over the top to end one of the hosts sporadic attacks. It looked like the Cuckoos were going to make it to the break only two goals in arrears but they switched off again one minute into added time as they allowed Michael Richens to stride forward from midfield. The Ives skipper unleashed a long range effort that took a couple of deflections on its way through. That took the sting out of it, but it proved to be Yaxley’s undoing as once again no one had noticed Aiyelabola ghosting in from the left. He was completely on his own eight yards out when the ball arrived at his feet and gleefully claimed his fourth goal in his last three games side footing past Larkin who looked as surprised to see him as everyone else.
The closest Yaxley came to getting what even at that point would only have been a consolation goal came five minutes after the restart. An Archie Elmore free kick from inside the D was blocked by Ives wall but the ball rebounded to ex Ives man, and the hosts skipper for the evening John-Paul Duncliffe his rising drive from 25 yards flashed across the face of James Goff’s goal and went inches wide of the post.
Normal service soon returned as Aiyelabola went in search of his hat trick wriggling past three Cuckoos defenders down the left before cutting in along the bye line. His low drive across the six yard box would have been turned home by the lurking Shariff but for the intervention of unfortunate home defender Bradley Gothard who stuck out a leg to knock the ball past his own keeper from point blank range.
Immediately after that Aiyelabola departed but if the hosts thought they were going to get respite down the left they were sadly mistaken as his replacement Liam Cross showed very quickly, timing his run to perfection to get clear onto a Shariff flick before drawing keeper Larkin and slotting the ball past him less than ninety seconds after entering the fray.
Shariff was the lynch pin of Ives front line and the provider for a host of the goals on the evening. The sixth arrived courtesy of another of his assists in 75th minute. He picked up the ball 25 yards out and ran at the retreating Cuckoos back line before feeding in the run of Baker arriving at pace his powerful first time finish from just inside the box beat Larkin comprehensively and was probably the pick of the evenings goals.
Shariff richly deserved a goal on the evening and that should really have arrived in 81st minute when Johnston put him clear. He drew Larkin to him and knocked the ball past the exposed keeper but it rolled agonisingly the wrong side of the post. Cross pulled another spectacular save out of the Larkin two minutes later as the overworked keeper flung himself to his left to push away the substitutes curling effort from the edge of the box.
The reprieve was only momentary for the struggling hosts though as debutant Elliot Kettle opened his account for the visitors from the resulting corner. This time a deep one from Toseland that was kept alive beyond the back post by Callum Milne who laid the ball back to Kettle on the edge of the box. The American had time to look up and pick his spot carefully threading the ball through the crowd it crept inside Larkin’s left hand post with the unsighted keeper making no effort to keep it out.
There was still time for Ives to put the icing on the cake and claim their eighth of the evening again in very simple fashion. Once more Flanagan galloped away down the right overlapping substitute Fayed Rhaman who fed the ball on to him. Leaving his struggling marker in his wake the Ives full back strode on almost to the bye line before picking out Johnston arriving at pace at the near post. A trademark flick did the rest giving Larkin no chance from close range.
This comprehensive thumping of what on paper are at the moment the second best team in little Huntingdonshire again shows how far Ives have come in recent years. Fellow supporters, who have been with the club for many more years than I, were racking their brains to try and remember the last time the team racked up eight goals. That is a challenge that I leave to you all to try and identify. Obviously the priority must be to preserve our step three status for another season but the chance of a brief break to challenge for silverware in the closing stages of the season will be a welcome relief for all.
Final Score : Yaxley 0 St Ives Town 8
ST IVES: Flanagan 22, Aiyelabola 28 & 45+1, Gothard own goal 59, Cross 63, Baker 75, Kettle 84, Johnston 87
YAXLEY: Larkin, Duncliffe (capt), Rowell, Buccerio (Hamill 56), Tinkler, Gothard, Baughan, Nolan, Tsaguim, Elmore, Battersby (Sparrow 87), Unused subs: Cotton, Smith, Watson
ST IVES: Goff, Flanagan, Davison-Gordon, Richens (capt) (Kettle 64), Toseland, Milne, Baker (Fayed Rhaman 76), Aiyelabola (Cross 61), Shariff, Johnston, Williams, Unused subs : Hottor, Manangu
Ives Supporters man of the match : Nabil Shariff
Attendance : 112
Report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Dave Hook. Photos by Louise Thompson.
|February 1, 2022||19:45||Hunts Senior Cup||2021-22||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||3||8|