St Ives Town U18 0 Deeping Rangers U18 0
Thurlow Nunn Youth League Western Division – 20/11/17
Having taken a six goal pasting at the hands of the Rangers only a month before it was going to take real character from the Ives boys to get something from this early return fixture and that was exactly what we got in abundance in this game.
Manager Jack Cassidy tried a change of formation with what he referred to as a rolling back four which at times when it needed to be became a back five with wide men Vitor Vaz and Martin Saunders acting as very effective wing backs. With the three centre backs very effectively keeping the shackles on their arch tormentor from the first game Rob Conyard. With Patrik Polhos and Gordan Torkornoo constantly disrupting the Rangers midfield this was a game for the purist with chances very much at a premium throughout.
The first chance of the game after twelve minutes actually proved to be the closest that either side came to breaking the deadlock. Conyard managed to find half a yard of space to get his head onto a long free kick into the box by Scott Walmsley and the ball beat keeper Sam Carter before rebounding off the inside of the upright and back into play. Mitchell Pillin was first to react hacking the loose ball to safety.
Ives first effort on goal arrived from a very well pre-rehearsed corner routine six minutes later. Billy Mobbs delivered a low corner to the edge of the box. Sam Bond cleverly stepped over the ball and Tiago Dias following up hammered in a low right foot drive that cannoned off a defender.
The hosts continued to look the more likely to score in the first period and it took an excellent block from keeper Max Fisher to keep out Mobbs well struck shot from just inside the box after Bond had battled his way down the left and seen his low cross to the near post deflected into the run of Mobbs.
The final opportunities before the break also came the way of Ives. Two minutes from the interval an attempt to break through the centre by Polhos saw the ball blocked into the feet of Dias 25 yards from goal. He cleverly turned inside onto his right foot and curled an effort that looked like it was heading for the bottom corner until Fisher hurled himself across his goal to palm the ball around the post. The resulting corner was kept alive at the back post by Saunders whose header back into the danger zone was knocked down the feet of Vaz by the opposite post. But he was quickly crowded out and fired his effort well over the top from a good position.
The visitors started to come more into the game in the second period and a speedy break out of defence almost caught Ives napping in 56th minute. The classy Harrison Dee had just entered the fray as a substitute but it was his pass that picked out Walmsley in space down the left. His teasing low cross into the centre looked like it was going to be turned home by Conyard, but Pillin was alert to the danger and just beat the big man to the ball at the expense of a corner.
Dee again showed his quality in 73rd minute as he went for goal with a viciously dipping free kick from 25 yards. But Carter was equal to the effort hurling himself across his goal to fingertip the ball over the top.
Rangers were enjoying a purple patch during this middle period of the second half but even though they won a series of free kicks and corners they were still struggling to penetrate the solid shape of the Ives well organised back line. The closest they came was nine minutes from time when substitute Alex Muroz delivered an inch perfect cross to the near post that Conyard just beat Carter to. But although his flick beat the keeper it also went over the top.
The final half chance came the way of Ives two minutes later as a through ball down the centre was missed by Jack Fryatt in the Rangers defence. Mobbs looked like he was going to get onto the ball for a clear run on goal, but Fisher was alert to the danger and sprinted from his goal line to hack the ball clear.
The final action of the game saw Ives win a corner deep in added time. As in the recent Sports game everyone including keeper Carter was pushed up into the opposition box. But this time there was no heroics as the ball was hacked away and the final whistle blew on an enthralling encounter that certainly did not lack effort and endeavour, but just that little bit of quality for either side to unlock the others solid formations.
Overall the result did neither side a favour, but it is certainly a score line that will have pleased League leaders Peterborough Sports as it makes things very difficult for either of these two sides to now overhaul the runaway leaders. For Ives it looks like their hopes of retaining the title are all but gone. However they must continue to show this level of commitment and go all out to win their remaining games in the hope that the other two will slip up.
St Ives Team : Carter, Kwiatkowski, Pillin, Polhos, Short (capt), Torkornoo, Vaz, Dias, Bond, Mobbs (Foster 67), Saunders
Additional sub roll on roll off : Mobbs for Kwiatkowski 81
Unused subs : Oldale, Makeham, Morris, Cawte
Goals : none
Attendance : 54
Report by Nigel Howlett