St Ives Town U18 2 Peterborough Northern Star U18 0
Thurlow Nunn Youth League Western Division – 04/12/17
A goal in each half capped off a thoroughly professional performance from the developing young Ives side as they controlled this game throughout and but for a few missed chances could have won by a better margin. The side again contained predominantly first years but the experience was still there in the back line which was well marshalled throughout by captain Jamie Short, and performed well enough to ensure that keeper Tom Smith only had one real save to make in the entire 90 minutes. The young central midfield pairing of Owen King and George Cawte in spite of being out numbered in the middle of the park constantly took the game to their opposition. With the now experienced Billy Mobbs on one flank and the exciting prospect Louis Bald making his first start on the opposite side there was plenty of pace and trickery in the wide positions. All feeding a front two of Sam Bond and the ever willing Harry Sargent.
Considering that it was only the second Thurlow Nunn game that most of these players had started together Ives began the game well and were immediately in the ascendency. They went close in only 7th minute as a George Cawte free kick from just inside the Star half was only half cleared to Sargent 25 yards from goal. He took on the dropping ball and hit a dipping volley that pulled an excellent save from Star keeper Fabio D’Agnano who leapt high to his left to tip the ball onto the crossbar. Mobbs was following up and latched onto the loose ball, but hammered his effort well wide with the goal at his mercy.
The hosts continued to press forward and Mobbs went close again seven minutes later as he got onto the end of a ball threaded through the right channel by Owen King. Rather than go for power Mobbs decided to go for precision this time and tried lobbing D’Agnano from just inside the box, but his effort crept inches over the crossbar.
It continued to be all Ives, but they were struggling to find away through the resilient Star back line. Jordan Locke ventured up field for the next free kick delivered into the visitor’s box in 29th minute. He got on the end of a ball which was knocked down to him, but miskicked his effort allowing a Star defender to hack the ball away. But Bald was onto the loose ball in a flash and teed himself up for a volley from 25 yards that skimmed the crossbar with D’Agnano beaten.
The goal which had been threatening finally arrived seven minutes before the break from yet another Cawte free kick delivered into the danger zone. Two defenders got in each others way and only succeeded in knocking the ball down to the lurking Locke six yards from goal and this time he made no mistake slamming home the loose ball past the exposed keeper.
Star’s only threatening effort in the first period came three minutes later as Joe Carr curled a free kick from 30 yards just over the top. But Smith watched the effort confident in the knowledge that if needed he had it covered.
Ives should have doubled their advantage right on the break as Cawte slid a ball through into the perfectly timed run of Bond to put him through one on one with the keeper. But a slightly heavy first touch from the striker allowed D’Agnano to bravely slide in and block Bond’s effort with his body at point blank range.
Smith’s only real save of the night came in 58th minute as Segun Okunrinboye curled a 25 yard free kick around the Ives wall forcing Smith to plunge full length to his left and turn the effort around the post.
But the previous flow of the game soon resumed as Sargent got free on the right and tested D’Agnano again with a first time effort from the corner of the box that forced the keeper into another save low to his left.
Sargent was denied on that occasion, but his persistence paid off seven minutes later as he harried Ban Gale into a mistake robbing the defender just outside his own box. Sargent cut across the edge of the face of goal and as other defenders came to close him down he unleashed a low left foot drive that beat D’Agnano low to his right and went in the bottom corner of the net.
Sargent was giving Gale a tough time and again he robbed him in 71st minute and looked like he was clean through on goal. But to his credit the Star defender recovered on this occasion and came in with a perfectly timed tackle to take the ball off the Ives striker’s toe just as he shaped to shoot.
Ives continued to dominate and yet another Cawte free kick set up an opportunity in 75th minute. This time Short got on the end of it at the near post and got the perfect flick to the back post where the ball just evaded the late arriving Sargent.
Keeper Smith did get a bit more action twelve minutes from time as he sprinted from his line to just beat Star debutant Mamsaliu Cande to a ball over the top well outside his box. But he mishit his attempted clearance straight at Harry Catanach fully 30 yards from goal. Left with the dilemma of trying to retreat, or keeping going Smith went for the positive and was proved right as he successfully blocked Catanach’s effort with his body a long way from goal and his team mates came to his aid by hacking the loose ball to safety.
The referee had handed out some odd yellow cards during the evening, Liam Harper for Star, and Cawte for Ives, were both unfortunate recipients. However Adam Kelly earned himself an unlikely accolade as he picked up a deserved caution before he had even kicked a ball as he came on to replace the tiring Bald in 79th minute and picked up his card for clattering Catanach less than 30 seconds later.
Not surprisingly the final chance of the evening fell to the Ives with ten minutes to go as yet another Cawte free kick was flicked on by King and fell to the feet of Short at the back post. He struck his effort from eight yards well, but was denied by the legs of the well positioned D’Agnano.
Overall a good three points, but more importantly more game time together for these lads as the quest to build for next season continues by blooding more of the youngsters. Next up for the lads is a County Cup Quarter Final at St Neots and the way that these lads have performed will make it a very difficult decision for manager Jack Cassidy deciding the team that he puts out.
St Ives Team : Smith, Kwiatkowski, Pillin, Short (capt), Locke, King, Bald (Kelly 79), Cawte, Bond, Mobbs, Sargent
Unused subs : Oldale, Harvey
Goals : Locke 38, Sargent 67
Attendance : 27
Report by Nigel Howlett