Match Report – St Ives U18 5 Downham Town U18 0

St Ives Town U18  5  Downham Town U18  0

Thurlow Nunn Youth League Western Division – 08/01/18

This game proved to be the perfect opportunity for the young Ives to work off any Christmas excess ahead of their County Cup Quarter Final against St Neots on Sunday. It took them a while to break down their visitor’s resilient defensive formation and they only went in one up at the break, but their superior fitness and technique showed through in the second period as the played some excellent flowing football in spite of the heavy conditions and blew away Town scoring four further goals without reply. The score line could have been even more emphatic but for an excellent goal keeping display from the visitor’s stopper Dan Clark.

Clark started his heroics as early as 4th minute when he sprinted from his line to quickly close down Martin Saunders after the Ives winger had been put through on goal by an excellent threaded pass from Billy Mobbs. The young keeper bravely blocked Saunders shot at point blank range.

The elegant George Cawte played a well flighted ball over the top only sixty seconds later. Mobbs chased it down collecting the ball as it came off a defender, but his effort from just inside the box was deflected wide of the post.

Four minutes later the ever willing Harry Sargent chased a hopeful ball through the left channel and just beat Clark to it, but was forced wide by the keeper. He unselfishly laid the ball back to the fast arriving Saunders who struck his shot well from just outside the box, but the gallant Clark had recovered his ground and plunged to his left to cling on to the effort.

Ives continued to knock on the Town door, but it remained firmly shut until 26th minute when Mobbs threaded a perfect ball between centre back and full back to pick out the run of Cobi Thomas cutting in from the right. Thomas finished well clipping the ball over the body of the exposed Clark as the keeper tried to close him down.

Home keeper Tom Smith had been a virtual spectator up to this point. But the battling Jesse Tierney who had been ploughing a lone furrow for the visitors was brought down by Mitchell Pillin on the right. Richard Mills curled in the free kick to the near post where Tierney managed to lose his marker and get across in front of Smith. But the keeper stayed alert and still managed to cling onto the ball in spite of being unsighted.

This sortie into home territory seemed to lift the visitors and they enjoyed their best spell of the game in next fifteen minutes. On the half hour Tierney exchanged passes with Sam Gosling the move ending with the latter being put clear in the box. But the young winger snatched at his chance and sliced his effort wide from a good position.

Town went close to grabbing an equaliser twice more before half time. Gosling was again involved in 42nd minute as he got on the end of a through ball from Fraser McManus. This time he struck his effort from just inside the box cleanly, but straight at Smith who held on well.

The last action of the half saw Joe Causton pick out the hard working Tierney in space on the right. But whether through tiredness, or a desire to catch Smith out of position, the striker took his shot on very early from fully 35 yards and Smith was happy to watch it float over the top.

It was not long after the break before Ives superior fitness began to tell in the heavy conditions. A probing run through the centre by Thomas created space for Sargent who was well picked out by the young winger. Sargent’s fierce left footed effort from the corner of the box was stopped by Clark, but he spilled the ball. Mobbs was on hand to knock it home only to be denied by an assistant’s flag as he had strayed into an offside position.

The visitors did carve out a chance just before the hour as McManus pounced on Dawid Kwiatkowsi’s attempted clearing header from Josh Ford’s cross. But the Town striker skied his effort well over from twelve yards.

Having failed to grab a leveller the visitors soon found themselves two behind. In 62nd minute Tiago Dias threaded a ball down the left to pick out Saunders who cut in and unleashed a low skimming drive from 20 yards that Clark did well to palm away low to his right. Saunders delivered the resulting corner into the mix where Jordan Locke knocked it on for Sargent to force the ball home at close range.

Kyrie Foster was introduced for Sargent immediately after the goal and he had an almost instant impact as only three minutes later Saunders and Mobbs combined well on the left. Mobbs cross was well taken down by Foster with his first touch inside the box, his second touch slotted the ball past the exposed Clark.

Smith was called upon to make his best save of the evening in 74th minute as he plunged to his left to push away a well struck 25 yarder from Gosling after the winger had cut inside and tried his luck.

Clark was still doing his best to keep the score down at the other end and he did well to hang onto a stinging drive from the edge of the box by Saunders as he got on the end of a threaded pass from the dangerous Foster only sixty seconds later.

Foster’s strength and speed continued to trouble the Town back line and it was no surprise when he added his second and Ives fourth in 78th minute. He timed his run perfectly to get on the end of Thomas’s clip over the top and finished well past the exposed Clark from just inside the box.

The final goal of the night was a second for Sargent as he received a pass from substitute Brandon Oldale on the edge of the box, stepped inside, looked up and picked his spot with a curling effort around two defenders that crept in the bottom corner past the unsighted Clark.

Overall verdict was another very good all round display that will have blown the cobwebs away and prepared the boys well for Sunday’s challenging encounter with their local rivals. The game, a repeat of last year’s final, will take place on St Neots Town Astro with a 10.30 kick off

St Ives Team : Smith, Kwiatkowski, Pillin, Short (capt), Locke (Harvey 69), Cawte, Thomas, Dias, Sargent (Foster 63), Mobbs, Saunders (Oldale 78)

Additional roll on roll off subs : Sargent for Mobbs 83

Goals : Thomas 26, Sargent 62 & 85, Foster 65 & 78

Attendance :  21

Report by Nigel Howlett