Tuesday 8th December 2015 – Thurlow Nunn Youth League West Division
Downham Town U18’s 1 St Ives Town Youth 3
The young Ives visited the picturesque Memorial Ground on a remarkably pleasant December evening and enjoyed their trip as they almost completely dominated this game played out on a bumpy pitch.
It took a little while for the visitors to settle and Downham had a couple of long range efforts which were well handled by debutant keeper Jacob Peel. However by the tenth minute the Ives were starting to get into their stride and play through the opposition with their quick passing style. Their first chance came in the eleventh minute as skipper Mark Lloyd got away down the right and played the ball into the near post where Sam Davidson got across his man, but was beaten by a bobble and failed to hit the target from close range.
The visitors first shot on target came three minutes later as George Reader fired a ball across the box from the left that arrived at the feet of Lloyd who took a touch and fired in a shot from 15 yards which was well gathered by the Downham keeper at his near post.
Ives should have gone in front on 22 minutes as the tricky Charlie McManus nicked a ball off the toe of a dallying defender and played in Davidson. The young striker shaped to slot the ball past the keeper, but was beaten by a bobble for the second time in the game and only succeeded in firing well wide.
The next good chance came on 33 minutes as Joseph Morgan-McDaid and Lloyd combined well down the right. Lloyd’s cross was a little to deep, but the ball was kept alive by Sam Bedwell-Byatt who laid it back into McManus on the edge of the box. He took the ball in his stride and side stepped his way past two defenders only to be denied by the keeper who bravely plunged in to take the ball off his feet.
Just as it was beginning to look like the Ives were going to show no reward for their total domination of this first period up popped Davidson with two very well taken individual goals in two minutes just before the break. On 42 minutes he picked up a ball in a central position on the edge of the centre circle and as the defenders backed off him he drove on through them at pace and suddenly found himself completely clear. He kept his composure and as the keeper came to meet him he slotted the ball in the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Two minutes later he repeated the feat, this time Bedwell-Byatt won the ball on the half way line and knocked it into Davidson’s feet in a position just ten yards into the opposition half on the left side. The young striker turned and drove powerfully through the Downham defence to once again find himself one on one with the keeper and finished in identical fashion to the previous goal.
Downham got back into the game in controversial circumstances only six minutes into the second period. Their only corner of the evening skipped up off the turf and appeared to hit the arm of an Ives defender in the box. The referee waved play on and the ball was transferred to the half way line with the visitors breaking in one of their signature fast counter attacks when the referee’s attention was called to his assistant on the near side who stood with his flag across his chest to signal a penalty. Without any further consultation with his assistant the referee called play back to award the spot kick. The Downham striker coolly sent Peel the wrong way with his kick.
Stung into action Ives immediately returned things to normal and proceeded to camp around the Downham box once more. Morgan-McDaid went close three minutes later firing a rasping drive from 25 yards inches over the top. McManus missed the next chance just after the hour as a corner was palmed down to him ten yards out, but he failed to hit the target with his first time effort as he was quickly closed down by defenders.
Sam Land fired a free kick from 25 yards under a jumping wall on 64 minutes and the Downham keeper did well to cling on at the second attempt just ahead of the inrushing Davidson.
Having failed to get the clinching goal Ives took their foot of the gas a little bit and allowed the home side a short period of possession around the 70 minute mark. During this brief flurry they picked up three free kicks around the box, but failed to trouble Peel with any of them. They also had a couple of long range efforts with similar results.
The clinching goal finally came with ten minutes to go as Lloyd delivered a deep cross from the right that was picked up by Davidson beyond the far post. He kept his composure and drove into the bye-line before selflessly pulling the ball back for substitute Kieran Thompson to fire home from close range.
There was still time for Davidson to come within inches of his hat trick as he picked up an Ives clearance on the half way line and put his foot on the accelerator to again burst clear of the home defence only to be denied his claim on the match ball by the width of an upright as his clip past the keeper rebounded to safety.
Overall this was an impressive performance from the young Ives the only disappointment being that this was not a much more comprehensive victory and a clean sheet. But the bumpy pitch and one, or two, questionable decisions from the match officials are more to blame than any perceived failings from the boys.
St Ives Team : Peel, Land, Smith, Shepherd, Eyles, Reader, Lloyd, Morgan-McDaid, Davidson, McManus, Bedwell-Byatt (Thompson 66)
Unused Subs : Parmenter, Hudson, Cooper, Wright