Match Report – St Ives Town U18 1 Peterborough Sports U18 1

St Ives Town U18  1  Peterborough Sports U18  1            

Thurlow Nunn Youth League Western Division – 06/11/17

Patrik Polhos was the goal scoring hero as Ives grabbed a late, late, equaliser deep into added time to claim a deserved point and keep themselves in the hunt for the Western division title.

These two teams had met only four days earlier in Peterborough where a display of flowing football had seen Ives inflict the first defeat of the season on the table topping Sports. With that in mind it was to be guaranteed that this game would be a frantic affair with the visitors keen to exact revenge on their rivals and Ives equally eager to further display their own title credentials.

Match winner in the original fixture Martin Saunders had tormented Sports on that evening and the visitors management team were eager to ensure that there was no repeat in this game as they rearranged their squad to ensure that Saunders was always going to be given no space. However this plan was almost unravelled in the first ten seconds of the game as the kick off was laid back to Polhos and he curved a perfect ball over the Sports back line catching them napping. Saunders was away, but Sports were saved by some brave and alert goalkeeping from Viktors Jansons as he sprinted from his line and plunged in to take the ball off the Ives man’s toes just inside the box.

After this very early scare for Sports the game settled into an even contest predominantly played out in midfield. The next keeper in action was Tom Smith in 11th minute as he sped from his line to hack away a ball over the top ahead of Sports lone striker Jack Eldridge. His clearance fell to Jamie Scott fully 40 yards from goal, but the Sports play maker was confident enough to go for goal. Fortunately for Ives Smith recovered his position well to make a comfortable catch of the on-target effort.

The hard working Eldridge was the next to threaten in 18th minute as he fought his way through a couple of Ives tackles on his way to the edge of the box. But having worked himself into a good position he snatched at the effort and sliced his effort well wide from a good position.

Play swung to the opposite end and only two minutes later Saunders managed to work himself some space on the left getting past both of his markers before delivering a low driven cross to the far post where a stretching Vitor Vaz only succeeded in hammering his close range effort against the underside of the crossbar. The ball was scrambled away before Tiago Dias could force it home.

Smith was alert to keep the scores level in 28th minute as Scott cleverly flicked on a good delivery into the box by Henry Nkobi and Eldridge pounced on the loose ball to fire in a well struck effort from just inside the box that Smith did well to palm away low to his left.

Jansons pulled off a similar save to deny Dias after Foster had been held the ball up well on the edge of Sports box before teeing up Ives silky midfield man who took a touch before firing in a low drive that the keeper kept out diving low to his right in 31st minute.

Ives continued to enjoy the majority of possession as the game headed towards the break, but they were unable to find a way through the uncompromising Sports back line. On a number of occasions the final ball was just not quite good enough to find the man trying to run into the gap and the pulsating game went into half time goalless.

Jansons made another good save six minutes after the break as he got down well to his right to hold onto a Dias free kick from 30 yards that bounced awkwardly just in front of him. Ash Morris was on hand should he have spilt it.

The solid display from Sports earned them an extra reward on 56 minutes as the ever willing Eldridge got on the end of a long ball down the park from Nkobi and skilfully took down the ball before bursting into the box and firing past Smith low to his right to put the visitors in front.

Ives responded well to this set back and Gordan Torkornoo pushing forward from left back drew another excellent save from Jansons only three minutes later as he got on the end of a Saunders free kick and fired in a powerful drive from 15 yards that the keeper did very well to parry one handed. He did even better to scramble the loose ball away from the feet of Morris who again the man following up.

Sports came close to grabbing a second to kill the game in 63rd minute as the hard working Scott found space down the left and cut in before firing in an effort from the edge of the box that took a deflection and looked like it was heading into the bottom corner until Smith’s outstretched left hand blocked it. Torkornoo was on hand to hack the loose ball away just ahead of Eldridge.

The game continued at break neck pace and as the players began to tire a few more gaps began to appear. Saunders exploited one of these in 75th minute when he got down the left and delivered a cross to the near post where Morris rose highest, but failed to hit the target with his flicked header that flashed across the face of goal to safety.

Sports last chance to sew the game up came three minutes later as Scott robbed Polhos on the half way line and bore down on goal with the Ives back line in his wake. A slightly heavy touch gave Smith chance to close him bravely and when the shot came the keeper had effectively got right on top of him and blocked the effort with his body to keep Ives in the contest.

That save was to prove crucial as Ives began to push more and more men forward in search of the vital equaliser. Sports defenders were putting their bodies on the line to block everything that their hosts could throw at them, but a number of them were struggling badly with cramp and with only one man on the bench their management team had little option but to leave them out there. Ives were unable to take advantage of one situation where two defenders were off the pitch having received treatment as the game entered added time.

It looked like time was going to run out as substitute Sam Bond was denied by keeper Jansons at the expense of a corner in the fourth of four added minutes. But thanks to a bit of time wasting by Sports in added time the referee found enough time for the corner to be taken and with all 22 players in the Sports box. The late run into the box by keeper Smith seemed to cause some panic in the visitors back line and as he pulled defenders to the front post Saunders hung up his corner by the back stick where Polhos somehow managed to get between two other Ives players to squeeze his header between the man on the line and the post he was holding. The entire Ives squad erupted from the dugout to join in the celebrations, two of them picking up bizarre bookings for their actions.

There was literally just time for the game to kick off before the final whistle which saw more celebrations on what felt like a win for the young Ives and must have felt like a defeat for the deflated Sports who had hung on for so long. The result opens up the League with both tonight’s protagonists and Deeping Rangers in the shake up. Sports are probably still favourites with points in the bag and either of the others needing to win all of their five games in hand to pass them.

St Ives Team : Smith, Kwiatowski, Torkornoo, Short (capt), Pillin, Polhos, Vaz, Morris (Bond 76), Mobbs (Foster 29), Dias, Saunders

Unused subs : Locke, Cawte, Thomas

Goals : Polhos 90+5

Attendance :  31

Report by Nigel Howlett. Photo Louise by Louise Thompson