Godmanchester Rovers U18 v St Ives Town U18
Thurlow Nunn Youth League – Western Division 24-04-19
After a fairly tepid first half in which Rovers were allowed to grab an early lead eventually cancelled out by a Harry Sargent penalty in added time at the end of the first period this game exploded into life in the second half as four more goals went in unfortunately three of them at the Ives end.
The opening goal on eight minutes was well taken by Harvey Gargulio but Ives defenders must take the blame as Mitchell Pillin allowed Fraser Kerr’s clip down the centre to drift over his head and no one had tracked the run of Gargulio allowing him to stoop and head past the exposed Shay Griffiths from ten yards. This goal came only seconds after Ives had a let off when Griffiths just managed to beat Gargulio to an almost identical chip through.
Falling behind in such a soft fashion seemed to knock the visitors and it took them a long time to get into the game and manage to create anything meaningful in attack although this was not helped by Sargent and his strike colleagues failing to work out Rovers very high defensive line and repeated getting caught offside.
It was not until eight minutes before the break that they created a decent opportunity in the Rovers box. Sargent battled his way down the left and delivered a low cross into that Tom Wakley looked favourite to get on the end of only to be bundled down by Jack Butler. It looked like a cast iron penalty but referee Paul Gale waved away the appeals and ended up booking Sargent for his protestations.
The apparent injustice seemed to spark Ives who piled on the pressure for the next few minutes. In 43rd minute the tricky Adam Laker fed a ball into the run of Sargent cutting in from the left, the big striker miss hit his shot but keeper Finn Cooper spilled it to gift the visitors a corner. The kick was fed back to George Cawte who delivered a ball to the back post that Wakely was attacking with venom only to have it flick off the head of Pillin just in front of him and go wide.
The final action of the half saw Ives awarded a spot kick in almost identical circumstances to the one which had been turned down a few minutes earlier. Cawte chased a high bouncing ball into the box and managed to take it off Butler and Bailey Baker only to be pulled back by Baker just as he was about to shoot. This time referee Gale pointed to the spot and Sargent stepped up to lash home the penalty low to Cooper’s right.
Ives made one change at the break replacing Ethan Rudd with Seb Darnell but more importantly they also had a change of formation going for a very positive looking 4-2-4 with Wakley joining Sargent in the centre and Mihayl Mitkov and Laker playing wide on left and right respectively. This almost had an instant reward as straight from the kick off Laker got on the end of a Cawte clip over the top. Unfortunately he failed to hit the target from a narrow angle.
It was now all Ives with Rovers defence at sixes and sevens. Two minutes later Laker found space on the right to cut inside and try his luck This time he hit the target but his left footed effort was straight at Cooper who held on well. The pressure continued to mount and only sixty seconds later Sargent put the visitors in front. He was given space fully 30 yards from goal and looked up before chipping the ball over the out of position Cooper and into the net off the far post.
Ives should have killed the game in the next ten minutes as they continued to rule the roost and created but could not take a series of chances. In 53rd minute Mitkov struck an excellent 30 yard free kick the dipped over the wall beat Cooper but rattled his left hand post and rebounded to safety.
Only one minute late Mitkov slid a pass through the left channel to put Sargent in but he struck his left foot effort to close to Cooper who made a good save to his left. In 56th minute Ewan Young rose unchallenged to get on the end of a Cawte free kick but steered his header from ten yards wide of the post. Jamie Stork came on to replace Sargent on the hour and he looked like he had set up Laker to double Ives lead with a clever back heel on the edge of the box. But the speedy Ives winger had gone just to soon and his celebrations were cut short by an assistant’s raised flag.
On such fine margins games are won and lost as instead of finding themselves 3-1 in front Ives found themselves pegged back to 2-2 only seconds later. A flowing Rovers move through the centre split apart the visitors back line the move finished as Jaden Rogers played in Gargulio for his second and he finished with aplomb slamming the ball into the top corner of the net from the edge of the box.
A strange incident occurred in 75th minute as Ives were awarded an indirect free kick inside the Rovers box for ungentlemanly conduct by Baker as the centre half went onto the deck to roll the ball back to his keeper with his head. Baker picked up a yellow card for the offence but he escaped further punishment as the ball was rolled back to Sargent but his stinging drive deflected off the massed ranks in the Rovers goal and went wide. Young again found space to get on the end of the resulting corner but again failed to hit the target with his header.
Ives defence were caught out again in 78th minute as Rovers went back in front. A long Butler ball down the centre was allowed to bounce a fatal mistake on such a hard, bumpy surface. Jayk Mullee darted between defenders and was onto it in a flash slamming home past the exposed Griffiths from the edge of the box.
To their credit Ives tried desperately to get back on terms Sargent had a powerful drive pushed away by Cooper in 84th minute. The same player managed to get to the bye line three minutes later and was unlucky to see his driven cross deflected away from team mates in the centre by the knee of defender. The resulting Karl Frans long throw fell to Pillin inside the box but his low shot lacked the power to beat Cooper.
The Ives frustrations were really showing and Sargent personified this as he foolishly earned himself a second yellow card of the evening for needlessly kicking out at Baker. The final seconds of the game are something Griffiths will want to forget quickly as he managed to get a back pass tangled up in his feet and found himself robbed by Rhys Humphreys who gleefully rolled the ball into the empty net to give Rovers the local bragging rights for this season.
It has not been a good 2019 so far for the Ives as they go into their final game of the season at Wisbech St Mary next week on a six game losing streak something they will surely be looking to put right against one of the divisions strugglers.
Final Score : Godmanchester Rovers U18 4 St Ives Town U18 2
Goals : Sargent 45+1 (pen) & 49
St Ives team : Griffiths, Frans, Mitkov (O’Donovan 59), Purse, Young, Pillin, Wakley, Rudd (Darnell 45), Sargent (Stork 59), Cawte, Laker
Other substitutions roll on roll off : Rudd for Cawte 68, Sargent for Laker 72, Mitkov for Wakley 82
Unused Subs : Mobbs
Attendance : approx. 40
Report by Nigel Howlett