Deeping Rangers U18 v St Ives Town U18
Thurlow Nunn Youth League – Western Division 15-10-20
Outgang Road has for many years been a graveyard for the young Ives with some heavy pastings inflicted in the past almost inevitably in awful weather. The omens did not look good pre-match either with Rangers boasting an unbeaten run going into the game and coming into it off the back of a home victory over Peterborough Sports who had recently despatched the Ives.
One thing certainly came true to form as right on kick off the heavy rain swept in to add damp to what was already a cold evening with a North Easterly wind sweeping in all the way from the North sea.
The early stages did not bode well as in only third minute keeper George Driver was beaten to a long ball over the top that held up in the wind by Alton Strachan but the Rangers striker pulled his effort wide with the goal gaping.
A second chance came the way of the hosts in 14th minute as Jack Squire fouled Archie Richards on the corner of the box. Richards picked himself up and curled the resulting free kick to the back post where Mapalo Mwansa rose above the crowd but steered his header over the top from eight yards. Two minutes later full back Leo Brando broke away down the left before feeding in Aaron Ake who took his time but carefully curled his shot just wide of the far post from the corner of the box.
Ives were battling hard and no one harder than midfield dynamo Squire who won a crunching tackle in the centre of the park before clipping the ball over the top into the run of Ryley McDougald in 18th minute. The Ives centre forward tried to lob out of position keeper James Roberts from 25 yards but only succeeded in drifting his effort wide on the breeze.
By this point the game was evening up into an entertaining contest and the next chance came the way of the hosts as Will Howarth outmuscled Joe Cobb and battled his way into the box before unleashing a left footed effort that keeper Driver did well to block with his body before pouncing on the loose ball.
Back up the other end in 22nd minute Squire again fed in McDougald who did well to hurdle a desperate lunging challenge from Jamie Allen. Had he gone down he may well have won his team a spot kick but he stayed honest and slid his shot past the advancing Roberts but inches the wrong side of the post.
Driver came to his sides rescue twice in quick succession around the half hour as he initially saved the blushes of Fayed Rhaman whose poor square pass along the back line had been cut out by Richards. Driver quickly closed down the striker as he strode into the box and stayed big to block his shot at point blank range. Only seconds later Ake got away down the right and picked out Howarth at the near post. The centre forward struck his effort cleanly from eight yards but a well positioned Driver was equal to it not only blocking but holding the shot.
A clever Ives corner almost saw them get their noses in front in 36th minute. Zac Hope lost his man to get on the end of Faris Rhaman’s corner from the right but his near post effort rattled the upright and rebounded to safety.
Going that close lifted the visitors and they enjoyed a purple patch up to the break with keeper Roberts having to sprint from his line to just prevent Ben Smith getting on the end of a Hope through ball in 40th minute. The ball was almost instantly fed back deep into Rangers territory where Faris Rhaman showed his silky skills as he picked up the ball fully 35 yards out before ghosting past two defenders, drawing keeper Roberts to him but sliding his shot just the wrong side of the post.
Hope managed to hit the woodwork for the second time in ten minutes as the game entered added time striking a 30 yard free kick that dipped late completely deceiving Roberts who looked on as the ball cannoned off the face of his right hand upright and rebounded into play.
They were now playing against the strong breeze but Ives continued where they left off in the early stages of the second half. In 57th minute Smith got away down the right before driving in a cross that keeper Roberts just did enough with to prevent the late arriving Squire getting on the end of.
Ives went in front in classic fashion in the very next attack only ninety seconds later. McDougald wriggled his way out of two challenges on the left before hanging up the type of teasing cross that was crying out to be rammed in the net and Smith obliged in style as he hurled himself at the ball on the edge of the six yard box to emphatically ram the ball home.
It could so easily have been two six minutes later as Smith burst through down the right before cutting inside and trying his luck from a narrow angle but only firing straight at the keeper with Squire and Hope both unmarked and screaming for a pull back in the centre.
Having failed to kill off their opponents Ives found themselves pegged back with fifteen minutes to go. Richards latched onto a ball on the left but he was running away from goal when he was taken down just inside the box by a lunging tackle from O’Donovan. Substitute Jack Brumfield took the responsibility from the spot and sent Driver the wrong way to level things up.
An exciting last fifteen minutes was promised but as the two sides tired it began to look like a share of the spoils was looking inevitable until the final three minutes. In 87th minute Richards teed up his skipper Ben Baker for a fierce drive from 25 yards that Mihayl Mitkov bravely blocked with his body just outside the box.
Then with only one minute of the ninety remaining the young full back teamed up with Faris Rhaman to produce a goal worthy of winning a Premiership game let alone an under 18 fixture out in the windswept fens. Mitkov picked up the ball inside his own half and exchanged passes with Rhaman at least three times as they played their way through the bemused Rangers defence on the left hand side. The final ball inside from Mitkov put Rhaman into the box and he did the rest prodding the ball past Roberts low to his right to spark wild celebrations amongst the visitors and silence the noisy group of home supporters on the rails.
There were four added minutes and that was just time for Driver to earn his corn as he plunged low to his left to fingertip away a powerful drive from the edge of the box by Baker. The resulting corner was powerfully headed away by McDougald and the referees whistle blew on a very satisfactory performance and an excellent result for Ives.
Final Score : Deeping Rangers U18 1 St Ives Town U18 2
Goals : Smith 58, Faris Rhaman 89
St Ives team : Driver, Fayed Rhaman, Mitkov, Faris Rhaman, Quinsee, Cobb, Smith (Taylor 78), O’Donovan, McDougald, Squire, Hope (capt)
Other substitutions (roll on roll off) : none
Unused Subs : Sulman
Attendance : 86