St Ives Town Ladies met the biggest test since they were formed just over 3 years ago when they faced a trip to National League Div 1 side Cambridge United, and despite bowing out of the competition they were far from disgraced.
After winning the toss, St Ives elected to play up the hill at Mildenhall Town FC in the first half and soon found themselves under pressure as United piled forward from the first whistle. Ives tried to settle into the game, but were undone in the first 10 minutes by a set piece from the left after a foul by Katie Stancombe. The ball was floated in from the Ives right, and although they held a good line they didn’t track the runners allowing Mollie Coupar to steal in at the back post and finish an easy opportunity past Ives keeper Kira Markwell. Many teams facing opposition from 2 leagues higher would fold at an early setback like this, but as has often been the case over the last couple of seasons, they dug in to repel United. Opportunities for St Ives to get out of their own half were few and far between, but importantly they also restricted Cambridge to nothing more than half chances. And the longer the game went, the more comfortable the Saints began to look when having to defend. They did have a half chance themselves midway through the half when a through ball from Hannah Seymour-Shove found Tierney coulson just outside the box, but her early shot lacked power and only found the United keeper.
St Ives kicked off the second half and immediately got on the attack with Georgia Stancombe beating her player before firing in a low cross which Sav Smith in the Cambridge goal collected with ease. It was United that had the first good opportunity of the second half as a shot from the edge of the box hit the Ives post with Markwell beaten, before bouncing to safety. But arguably the best opportunity of the second half fell to St Ives when a free kick from the Ives left was floated into the area by Ruth Fox but rebounded off keeper Smith before Tierney Coulson got her shot away, only to be denied a goal by a goal line clearance. Cambridge had another good opportunity when Charlotte Crisp saw her shot from distance expertly pushed around the post by the outstanding Markwell. With time running out, St Ives pushed more players forward but just could not break down the resolute Cambridge United defence. So the game ended with a 1-0 defeat for St Ives, but in no way were they disgraced against their higher league opponents. Player of ther Match for the Ives was Ruth Fox. Now the Saints return to league action next week when they host Stevenage Res at Westwood Road, kick off at 2pm.
Match report by Darren Marjoram