St Ives Town 4 Huntingdon Town 2
Huntingdonshire FA Senior Cup – Quarter Final – 07/11/17
Ives made the expected progress to the semi-finals of the County Senior Cup, but their opponents from three levels lower in the football pyramid can be hugely proud of their efforts on the night as they pushed their illustrious opposition very hard for 75 minutes before running out of steam. They even had the audacity to take the lead just after the hour with only their second meaningful shot of the game.
After a weekend off Ives were pleased to welcome back a few of their previous absentees with Lewis Ferrell making the starting line up and James Hall and the evergreen Dan Moyes named on the bench. The game also fell just right to allow Brett Longden and Miles Smith to complete suspensions ahead of Saturday’s vital League clash with Dunstable.
It was no surprise that the visitors set up with a 5-4-1 formation and invited the Ives to break them down. This, and the remarkable work rate put in by the Town players, ensured that Ives, although enjoying 80% of the possession, were completely unable to threaten keeper Quincy Shorunmu’s goal throughout the entire first period.
The only noteworthy effort of that completely forgetful 45 minutes of football came two minutes before the break when Lloyd Groves making his home debut for the Ives, allowed the ball to bobble over his foot by the half way line. Town’s ever willing lone striker Corey Kingston was onto it in a flash and strode forward before unleashing a stinging drive from 35 yards that warmed the hands of home keeper James Goff and remarkably proved the only save made by either keeper before the break.
The second half started in similar fashion with Ives going close only four minutes in as Groves timed his run to get on the end of Ben Seymour-Shove’s corner to perfection. Unfortunately he powered his near post header inches wide from a good position.
All of Town’s hard work earned them an unexpected reward just after the hour as Kingston outpaced the Ives defence to get on the end of a long ball down the centre and finished clinically past Goff low to his right from the edge of the box to put the visitors in front.
Ives, ex Town, manager Ricky Marheineke was already making changes to give game time to more of his returning players and also preserve others for Saturdays vital clash. In 69th minute he replaced defensive midfield man Eugene Libertucci with striker James Hall. This instantly gave the hosts an extra willing runner in the front line and heaped pressure on the tiring Town defence.
The equaliser came three minutes after Hall’s arrival. Seymour-Shove got around the outside of his marker Callum Walter on the left. As he had done on a number of occasions already in the game wide man Chris Down got back to cover. But his challenge on Seymour-Shove inches inside the box was a tired, and probably unnecessary, one with the winger looking more likely to go out of play than cut in on goal. Either way the challenge was clumsy and took away the legs of the Ives man giving referee Shaun Gregory no option but to award the penalty. Hall stepped up and powerfully beat Shorunmu low to his left from the spot.
This was the point where the gallant Town began to really run out of steam and Ives front players started to take over moving the ball at pace and cutting through the blue ranks at ease. Chances, which had been at a premium all evening, suddenly started to arrive like buses. Ogbonna headed over from a good position three minutes later as he rose highest to get on the end of Ives ninth corner of the evening.
Seymour-Shove should have probably done better in 76th minute as Hall and Jimmy Hartley combined well on the right. Hartley’s cross picked out Seymour-Shove in space at the back post, he took a touch, but hammered his effort over the top from ten yards.
Ives pressure told again as they took the lead two minutes later. Hall strode through the tiring defence to get on the end of a long ball down the centre. Shorunmu was off his line quickly and bravely blocked the effort at point blank range. But Ogbonna was following up and gleefully slotted the loose ball home from six yards.
The one way traffic continued as Peter Clark squandered another golden opportunity in 80th minute. Ogbonna was the provider this time as he tricked his way past three Town defenders on the edge of the box before unselfishly teeing up Clark. The busy midfielder tried to pick his spot but only succeeded in curling the ball into the grateful arms of Shorunmu.
The third Ives goal arrived two minutes before the end of the ninety as Hall got on the end of Seymour-Shove’s clip into the box from the left. His flicked effort was well saved by Shorunmu, but the ball was channelled back out to Hartley on the corner of the box and he cleverly flighted a lob over the out of position keeper that found the top corner of the net in spite of the efforts of two covering defenders to keep it out.
The final two goals of the night both arrived in added time. Hall doubled his tally for the evening as he gratefully accepted a poor clearance from Shorunmu and fired past him into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
The final goal just seconds from time was a well taken second for the visitors that no one will begrudge them for their efforts on the evening. Christian Lee battled his way through the centre of the park before sliding a perfectly weighted ball into the run of substitute Ben Page and he finished low past Goff with a well struck first time effort from the edge of the box.
Ives march on into the semi-finals where they will host St Neots Town early in the New Year. But their biggest hope is that everyone got through this game unscathed to give manager Marheineke a few headaches over team selection for Saturday’s vital game. Town can leave this game with huge credit and their heads held high, after some very dark days at the club it is good to see that they have now got a group of people together that both on and off the pitch that are all pulling in the right direction and willing to battle for the cause we wish them every success for the rest of the season.
Final Score : St Ives Town 4 Huntingdon Town 2
Goals : Hall 72 (pen), 90+1 Ogbonna 78, Hartley 88
St Ives team : Goff, Sawyer, Jarrold, Libertucci (Hall 69), Goves, Ferrell (Moyes 60), Seymour-Shove, McGowan (capt), Ogbonna, Clark, Wright (Hartley 45)
Unused sub : Short
Supporters man of the match : Ben Seymour-Shove
Attendance : 106
Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo by Louise Thompson