AFC Dunstable U18 1 St Ives Town U18 0
FA Youth Cup – 2nd Qualifying Round – 05/10/17
Agony for the young Ives as they crashed out of the FA Youth Cup in the cruellest fashion falling to a goal 15 seconds before the end of normal time.
The evening had opened with a magnificent harvest moon and the first chilly evening of autumn giving some atmosphere to the otherwise soulless Creasy Park Stadium for this eagerly awaited clash between two previously unbeaten teams. Both sides were keen to fight for a place in the round before the Football League sides enter the competition.
As we anticipated the game started at a cracking pace with both sides very quick to close each other down and not give any player on the park time on the ball. The only effort on goal in the first half an hour was a Patrik Polhos prod wide of the near post as he got across in front of his man inside the box to get on the end of a low cross from the left by Martin Saunders in 11th minute.
The two sides then proceeded to cancel each other out until 32nd minute when the hosts went close to opening the scoring. The dangerous Kyle Ajayi found a little bit of space 30 yards from the Ives goal and let loose a fierce dipping shot that bounced just in front of keeper Tom Smith who did very well to keep it out plunging full length to his left. Teddy Daniels was following up, but could not quite get on the end of it as Smith parried it away from goal. Dylan Baker kept the loose ball alive and he turned it back into the centre where Daniels blazed over from a good position.
The OD’s were buoyed by going close and forced another save out of Smith five minutes later with Ajayi again involved in the build up. He picked out Baker on the right hand corner of the box. The young winger skilfully took the ball down and turned inside Mitchell Pillin before driving in a low left foot effort that Smith saved well low to his left.
The closest Ives came to opening their account in the first half was from their first corner of the game in 38th minute. Saunders delivered it to the near post where the ball fell to Gordan Torkornooo. But he got no power in his prod at goal from eight yards and Adam Hughes was on hand to block the ball on the line and hack it away.
The hosts enjoyed a good last few minutes to the first period going close on three occasions. In 42nd minute Ben Andrews picked out Luis Brooker beyond the back post and his well struck first time volley ruffled the side netting.
One minute before the break Ajayi picked out Baker again on the right and he once more cut inside on his left foot to give himself a good site of goal. Smith made an excellent save to his right to keep out Baker’s well struck effort and fortunately for Ives Andrews slipped as he tried to force home the rebound letting Dawid Kwiatowski head the loose ball to safety.
The final chance of the first period came in added time as a wind assisted free kick went up in the air off the head of Jordan Locke. It looked like dropping to Andrews inside the box, but he and Connor Heath got in each other’s way and between them only succeeded in knocking the ball wide.
The second half was much more even, but with clear cut chances still very much at a premium. Polhos tried his luck with a clever effort from 35 yards in 53rd minute. Seeing keeper Dan Gould off his line he tried chipping the host’s custodian, but the keeper was quick to move his feet and made a comfortable save.
At the other end the ODs had three quick corners in succession and came close with the third of them. The initial corner was cleared back to Baker who delivered the ball deep to the far post where Jamie Short did just enough to prevent a late arriving Ajayi getting a clean contact and the ball rebounded into the grateful hands of Smith.
Ives went close from a flag kick of their own in 62nd minute. Saunders delivered the ball onto the six yard line in a central position. Keeper Gould came into the melee to try and punch it clear, but was always struggling. The ball was knocked down to Torkornoo whose well struck effort was blocked by a defender. Short picked up the rebound just outside the box and curled his effort inches over the top with Gould struggling to make up his ground.
Keeper Gould was called into action again five minutes later as Short went even closer. He got on the end of another Saunders corner from the right and powered in a header that the keeper did well to tip over.
The visitors purple patch continued and it took an excellent save from Gould to deny them fifteen minutes from time Billy Mobbs and Saunders combined well down the left the move finishing with Mobbs playing in Saunders inside the box. He unleashed a powerful drive from twelve yards that Gould did well to block with his body as he spread himself in front of the Ives striker.
Ives final opportunity to grab the crucial goal came six minutes from time as Short played a clip over the top to pick out a perfectly timed run from substitute Sam Bond. Bond was forced wide, but he managed to pull the ball back picking out Saunders whose low shot from just inside the box was well saved by Gould low to his left.
With time running out we were all preparing for extra time as the hosts launched one final attack. Substitute Guilain Lusambya ran at the tiring Ives back line and slipped a pass out to Daniels just inside the box. He went outside Pillin and dragged the ball back along the six yard line perfectly picking out Heath in space at the back post and the young full back sent the Dunstable supporters into raptures as he side footed home.
There was just time for the game to restart before the referee called time on the contest to send a deflated Ives side home with nothing. But the whole side can hold their heads high as they matched their opponents throughout this encounter and thoroughly deserved the chance to take the game into extra time. On another day with a little luck they could equally have nicked it 1-0. But unfortunately it was not their day and we wish our conquerors AFC Dunstable every success in the rest of the competition.
St Ives Team : Smith, Kwiatowski, Pillin, Short (capt), Locke, Torkornoo, Vaz, Polhos, Richardson (Bond 72), Mobbs (Thomas 85), Saunders
Unused subs : Makeham, Morris, King
Goals : none
Attendance : 47
Report by Nigel Howlett