St Neots Town U18 2 St Ives Town U18 1
Huntingdonshire FA County Under 18 Cup Quarter Final – 14/01/18
Ives went into this game seeking revenge for a very close defeat in last year’s final, and came out of it feeling robbed of at least the chance of a penalty shoot out against their fierce local rivals who now remain on course to retain their crown.
A slow start to the second half cost the visitors dear as they conceded two goals in a three minute spell immediately after the break. Substitute Sam Bond pulled a goal back with eighteen minutes to go, the same player then had a huge appeal for a penalty turned down as he was scythed down deep inside the box in added time. The only person in the ground who did not think that it was a spot kick was the referee. But by such fine margins are games decided and cups won.
Confident from their League win earlier in the week the Ives started the game on the front foot taking the game to their opposition and creating a couple of half chances in the first ten minutes without testing the home keeper.
The hosts first foray into visitor’s territory came in 9th minute as George Holman went a rampaging run straight into the heart of the Ives back line. He unleashed a fierce effort on goal from 25 yards that a well positioned Tom Smith made look a much more comfortable save than it might have been.
This seemed to boost the home sides confidence and Saints began to enjoy their best period of the game as they pushed Ives back. But in spite of enjoying the lion’s share of possession for the next twenty minutes they were unable to work Smith again as the visitor’s back line well marshalled by skipper Jamie Short held firm. Even losing powerful centre back Jordan Locke to an injury did not knock them as Matt Harvey slotted in well alongside Short.
The closest Saints came to breaching the Ives back line during this spell were in 24th minute when Aaron Hiscock managed to wriggle past Dawid Kwiatowski on the right and was taken down right on the edge of the box by the covering Billy Mobbs. Referee Chris Martin waved away Saints appeals for a penalty and surprisingly did not even give the hosts a free kick. Saints also carved out a half chance in 30th minute as the speedy Andre Williams got away down the right and hung up a deep cross to beyond the back post where Hiscock kept the ball alive knocking it back into the centre for Holman to head wide from a good position.
But as half time approached the flow of the game seemed to change again and the battling Kyrie Foster carved out two chances for himself as he battled his way through tackles to get to the edge of the box. But on both occasions he failed to test keeper Shaami Ahmed as he screwed his shots wide.
Foster also got on the end of Ives best opportunity of the first half which came just seconds before the break as Tiago Dias and Harry Sargent exchanged passes before the former slid the ball into the feet of Foster just inside the box. He had time to take a touch, but snatched at the chance blazing well over the top from a good position.
The game was won, and lost, in the first five minutes of the second half as the Ives started slowly, and the Saints seized the opportunity taring at them and grabbing what proved to be an unassailable two goal advantage.
The first goal arrived two minutes after the restart as Hiscock got to the bye line wide on the left and delivered a teasing cross that a stretching Smith just managed to claw away from the head of Kieran Waites. But the ball dropped to Williams who drove it back into the centre where Short did amazingly well to bravely hurl himself in front of a point blank shot from Waites. Unfortunately for Ives the ball fell to Sam Routs who fired it home from six yards.
The second arrived only three minutes later and again Hiscock was the provider as he broke away down the left outpacing Kwiatkowski and delivered a low cross to the near post where Holman managed to get in front of his marker and opened his body perfectly to side foot the ball past the exposed Smith from close range.
Having fallen two behind it was always going to be an uphill task to get back into the game. But to their credit Ives lifted the pace and began to push their hosts back with Gordan Torkornoo and Dias battling hard to wrest control in the centre of the park. The introduction of Sam Bond in 66th minute also provided a new spark to their front line.
It took Bond only six minutes to halve the arrears as he got on the end of a threaded through ball from Dias after the silky midfielder had exchanged passes with Foster in the centre of the park. Bond still had work to do, but he was brave as he just beat keeper Ahmed to the ball to slide it home from ten yards.
Ives had an opportunity to level things up whilst their opponents were still rocking as only three minutes later Sargent lost his marker to get on the end of Foster’s in-swinging free kick, but when it needed a flick, he got it all wrong and got to much on the ball knocking it away from goal.
With ten minutes to go manager Ben Seymour-Shove made the bold move of going three at the back and pushing an extra man forward as Mobbs returned to the fray replacing full back Kwiatkowski. Ives continued to press, but they were now leaving gaps at the back and Williams came within inches of sewing the game up three minutes from the end of the ninety. Saints substitute Ben Southwood fed the ball down the line into the run of Williams who was clear and clipped the ball past the exposed Smith only to be denied by a covering Short who did well to knock the ball off the goal line and past the post.
With time fast running out, Ives players, and almost everyone else in the ground, except the one that mattered, were convinced that they should have had a penalty. Martin Saunders battled down the left and clipped a cross into the box. Bond robbed Alfie Donkin as he tried to clear just inside the box, turned onto the loose ball and was just about to shoot as Jack Baker unceremoniously upended him. In spite of all of the protestations which continued well after the final whistle that swiftly followed the incident, referee Martin remained unmoved.
The Ives can continue to voice their complaints and a draw would probably had been a fair result from a very competitive and even game. However the match was really lost in those vital first five minutes after the re-start and anything that could have been gleaned from added time would have been considered a very lucky escape. But it was not to be and it is the holders that march on into the semi-finals and Ives wait to win the competition that they last won in 2004 goes on a little longer.
St Ives Team : Smith, Kwiatkowski, Pillin, Short (capt), Locke (Harvey 26), Torkornoo, Mobbs (Bond 66), Dias, Sargent, Foster, Mobbs, Saunders
Additional roll on roll off subs : Locke for Harvey 79, Mobbs for Kwiatkowsi 86
Unused subs : Oldale
Goals : Bond 72
Attendance : approx. 45
Report by Nigel Howlett