Eynesbury Rovers 0 v St Ives Town 3
Huntingdonshire FA Senior Cup Semi-Final 23-01-2024
Nigel Howlett reports from Hall Road
Second half goals from Greg Kaziboni, Khris Oti and Myles Cowling saw holders St Ives comfortably through to yet another County Senior Cup Final. Equally important was the chance to give some valuable pitch time to a few of the fringe players and some new signings. Only four of the starting eleven from Saturdays very impressive win at Mickleover were also in the starting line up for this game with keeper James Dadge, centre backs Jordan Williams and Paddy Casey and wing back Aaron Smith retaining their places. In for debuts were recent signings defender Tyler Donaldson and ex Aston Villa midfielder Kai Fifield.
With Storm Jocelyn howling a gale and driving rain straight down the pitch it was not going to be easy for either team. Ives started off with the elements in their faces. Despite that disadvantage it was the visitors who were enjoying the lion’s share of possession against their opponents almost fifty places below them in the football pyramid. Cowling had an early shot comfortably saved by home keeper Reece Lewis and Owen Dixon did well to recover and block Kaziboni’s 14th minute effort after the winger had been put through by the lively Fifield.
The early goal that would have set the Ives on their way should have arrived seconds later when Smith’s long throw was knocked down to Oti but the centre forward snatched at the chance and fired over from ten yards. As the half wore on the wind assisted hosts managed to create a few half chances without ever really testing Dadge. Just before the half hour Chris Khoo was brought down by Casey. Dixon fired the resulting free kick over the four man wall but straight into the midriff of Ives keeper. Five minutes later Cameron Saunders deep corner was diverted into the side netting by Dan Woolley who had ghosted in at the back post. Final half chance came seven minutes before the break when Dadge was quick off his line to hack away from Woolley after the winger had been put clear by Khoo.
Now playing with a strengthening breeze at their backs it took Ives less than three minutes to get their noses in front after the re-start. Kaziboni galloped clear onto a long ball out of defence, outpaced his marker and cooly lobbed the exposed Lewis to open the scoring.
Now it was all Ives piling forward. Ninety seconds later Fifield wriggled his way through the centre before unleashing a fierce shot from the edge of the box that Lewis tipped over at full stretch. It was Smith’s turn to go close on the hour as Oti held up the ball well before laying off to Kaziboni he in turn fed it on to Ives wing back who fired over from the left corner of the box. Oti again went close to scoring only seconds later fed in by Cowling he took the shot on early but fired wide of the post from just inside the box. The big centre forward kept plugging away and he went even closer in 64th minute. Fed in by Joyce his bobbling effort beat Lewis but clipped the outside of the post.
Ives kept pouring forward and a good move down the left involving Casey and a clever step over from Luke Harris set up a 67th minute shooting opportunity for Fifield but his rising drive from the edge of the box was straight at Lewis who held on well. Rovers made a triple change minutes later which oddly included replacing their apparently uninjured keeper but the changes made no difference to the flow of the game.
Ives were looking comfortable as time ticked down and their gallant opponents were beginning to run out of steam. The visitors twice went close to increasing their lead in 86th minute. Initially Dixon’s hurried clearance rebounded off Kaziboni straight to the feet of Oti eight yards out. The centre forward spun on it quickly and got his shot away but substitute keeper Caleb Chandler reacted well and blocked the shot at point blank range. Seconds later the keeper made a much more spectacular flying save high to his right to keep out a fierce drive from Fifield after the debutant had broke away down the left and let fly from just outside the box.
Additional Ives goals had looked inevitable throughout the second half and they finally arrived in the last few minutes. An 89th minute Smith long throw was half cleared straight back to the wing back who curled his cross to perfection to the back post where Oti arrived unmarked to finally claim his well earnt goal for the night. Seconds later it should have been three as Oti put Kaziboni clear. He drew Chandler to him before unselfishly knocking the ball sideways Fifield who rolled it into the empty net. But the Ives number seven had got in front of Kaziboni and the ball had gone forward meaning the flag went up and the “goal” was chalked off.
Not to be denied the visitors did grab a third deep in added time as a clever Harris flick put Oti clear through the right channel, his drilled cross picked out Cowling arriving at pace at the back post and the Ives midfielder did the rest to cement another cup final against historic local rivals St Neots Town.
Final Score: Eynesbury Rovers 0 St Ives Town 3
ST IVES: Kaziboni 48, Oti 89, Cowling 90+2
Team Line Ups:
EYNESBURY: Lewis (Chandler 68), Hickling, Saunders, Jonny Hall (capt), Carter, Dixon, Worboys, O’Hara (Wood 68), James Hall, Khoo (Hilsdon-Peart 68), Olive, Unused subs: Silver, Sugden
ST IVES: Dadge, Joyce, Smith, Harris, Williams (capt), Casey, Fifield, Cowling, Oti, Kaziboni, Donaldson (Richens 74), Unused subs: Mensah, Hottor, Edwards
Cards: Yellow: EYNESBURY: Khoo (12), O’Hara (43) ST IVES: none
IVES SUPPORTERS MAN OF THE MATCH: Myles Cowling