Monday 30th November 2015 – Thurlow Nunn Youth League West Division
Huntingdon Town U18’s 3 St Ives Town Youth 2
This was the young Ives first competitive game in almost a month and it was the usual Jubilee Park weather that greeted us as the wind blew and the rain swept almost horizontally across the ground.
Not surprisingly the game started slowly as both sides tried to come to grips with the conditions. The wind was blowing diagonally across the pitch almost corner flag to corner flag with it more favouring the Ives in the first period although it took them until the 16th minute to bring home keeper Sarunas Snitkas into the action as he came quickly off his line to thwart Bailey Pillin who had been put clear by Charlie McManus.
Snitkas was off his line quickly again two minutes later to dive at the feet of McManus, but the ball ran clear to Mark Lloyd just outside the box. He was forced onto his left foot by two covering defenders and failed to hit the goal from 20 yards.
Lloyd went even closer one minute later as he got ahead of his marker to get on the end of a deep cross from the left by McManus, his well struck effort from eight yards beat the diving Snitkas, but rebounded into play from an upright.
Having failed to take advantage of these good opportunities the Ives fell behind on 25 minutes as the home side grabbed the lead from their first chance. An out-swinging corner was delivered into the box by Jacob Williams, Callum Shepherd headed it away, but Alberto Tavares powerfully headed it back into the danger area and it was deflected home from close range by Luke Young.
The goal lifted the Town and they enjoyed a good period of possession where they probably should have added to their lead. An excellent reaction save from Jordan Mitchell kept out a close range effort by Leonardo Cachia and Bradley Bennett somehow headed over an open goal from six yards after Mitchell hand been deceived by a deep cross from Williams that held up on the wind. The powerful Tavares also found space to roam forward and rattled Mitchell’s crossbar with a powerful effort from fully 35 yards on 36 minutes.
But as the first half drew to conclusion the Ives started to gain more possession in the midfield and create a few more chances of their own. Snitkas twice denied Sam Bedwell-Byatt with good diving stops on 38 and 42 minutes before he was finally beaten on the stroke of half time. McManus closed him down quickly on a back pass and he miss kicked the ball straight to Lloyd who kept his composure and played the ball square to the unmarked Pillin who had the simple task of directing the ball into the empty net.
The second half started fairly evenly and Mitchell was required to make a couple of routine saves in the first ten minutes. However the first real chance of the half fell to the visitors on 55 minutes as Sam Land powered a header forward that was expertly brought down by McManus who laid the ball into the path of Pillin who strode into the box and powered a shot past Snitkas that rattled the right hand upright and bounced back into play.
The goal that put the home side back in front came on 57 minutes and had a lot to do with the conditions. Bennett was enjoying a lot of space wide on the right early in this second period and on this occasion he chose to take on Land on the outside and deliver a high cross into the box that caught on the breeze and in spite of Mitchell’s best back peddling efforts it floated over his head and went in off the far post.
We all thought that goal was a fluke but ten minutes later Bennett proved to us that perhaps he did mean it?, as he again picked up the ball in space wide right. This time he was given a little bit of space and strode forward a few yards before unleashing a powerful effort from fully 35 yards that flew unerringly in the top corner of the net giving the startled Mitchell no chance.
The Ives almost pulled a goal back only two minutes later as substitute Sam Davidson took an opportunity to take on the Town defence down the right. He drove on into the box and fired in a powerful effort that was denied by another excellent diving stop from Snitkas.
This very open and entertaining game continued for the remaining 15 minutes with both sides taking it in turn to create opportunities to add to the score. Jake McFarlane went close for the home side with a dipping volley from 25 yards that just cleared the crossbar on 76 minutes. Snitkas continued to be very quick off his line and he was out to deny Davidson again after it looked like he had been put clear by McManus on 80 minutes.
Home substitute Tyler Wilson went close with a curled effort from 20 yards two minutes later. This came at the end of an excellent interchange of passes between the sub and Young that finished with an exquisite back heel from Young to set up the opportunity.
Ives grabbed their second in the last minute of the ninety as Davidson went on another of his powerful runs, this time picking up the ball on the half way line and outpacing the Town defence down the middle before calmly slotting the ball past Snitkas to close the gap. But they were unable to really build up a head of steam to try and claim an equaliser in the two minutes of added time and the home side celebrated a hard earned win.
Overall this was an entertaining game, although not really one for the purists. The young Ives were again up against a bigger, stronger, side but equipped themselves well in patches and certainly had the chances to claim a few more goals, but then so did the home side. This team is still very much a work in progress and their lack of competitive game time recently showed at times during this game. But even though this was not one of their better performances this season they still pushed a Huntingdon side containing some very good players close and could easily have got something out of the game.
St Ives Team : Mitchell, Parmenter, Land, Shepherd, Eyles, Mead, Lloyd, Reader Pillin, McManus, Bedwell-Byatt
Subs (all used roll on/roll off) : Smith, Hudson, Thompson, Morgan-McDaid, Davidson