Thursday 1st October 2015 – Thurlow Nunn Youth League West Division
Peterborough Northern Star U18’s 1 St Ives Town Scholar’s 1
They say a week can be a long time in politics, well the same can apply in football. Only seven days ago PNS comfortably knocked the young Ives out of the FA Youth Cup. But on Thursday night the scholars went to the home of the League leaders who were averaging a shade off six goals per game and came away with an honourable and well deserved draw.
Whilst the home side made only a couple of changes from the previous game, Ives made five changes to the starting line up. The lads that came in grabbed their chance with both hands and whilst the defence, and in particular the centre back pairing of Callum Shepherd and Dalton Short, were outstanding the whole squad played their part in earning the battling draw against a very powerful Star side.
Not surprisingly the home team started confidently and carved out an early chance for Alex Slater who headed over from a good position in only the eighth minute. The Star continued to press and the powerful centre forward Bradlee Page fired a fierce effort wide from 25 yards on 16 minutes. Three minutes later Joe Kelly got to the bye line and picked out the late arriving Ian King with his cross, but the young winger hit his spectacular volley well over the top from eight yards.
The Ives weathered this early pressure and stunned the home side by going in front with their first raid into the Star box on 29 minutes. The ever willing Sam Davidson chased down a long ball out of defence and managed to outpace the home defence. He was being pushed wide, but Callum Pacey recklessly dived into a challenge and brought him down just inside the box. Referee Dan White was in perfect position and instantly awarded the penalty. With no one to sure who was going to take the kick Dalton Short marched up from the back confidently spotted the ball and fired it home sending keeper Trent Stanley the wrong way.
With something now to defend the visitor’s confidence began to visibly grow and the home side were struggling to find a way through the two banks of four defending their box. Just as it looked like the Ives were going to take a lead into half time the Star managed to grab an equaliser that said a lot for the power and desire of home striker Page as he picked up the ball in a deep position and surged forward before unleashing a powerful drive from 25 yards that flew into the bottom corner of the net past the despairing dive of Jordan Mitchell.
The home side came out expecting to go on and win this game in the second period, but the young Ives were determined not to give it away and were competing for every ball and making themselves very difficult to break down.
The Star did manage to create a couple of good chances as a swift interchange of passes between Page and Kelly on 55 minutes saw the latter get a shot away from just inside the box, but pressure from Shepherd ensure he hurried the effort and it went harmlessly wide.
On the hour a deep corner from Johnson picked out substitute Billy Max arriving late at the far post, but Mitchell did well to block his close range header and even better to smother his follow up effort.
Ives confidence was growing as the game wore on and they created a good chance of their own two minutes later as Kieran Thompson went down the right and delivered a cross into the box that Mark Lloyd teed up beautifully for Davidson. Unfortunately his first effort from the edge of the box was straight at keeper Stanley.
By now both sides were regularly rolling on and off substitutes and the next opportunity fell to home sub George Dowd on 72 minutes as fought his way down the right hand side and pulled the ball back to Page. His shot from 15 yards was blocked by Short, but the ball ran back into the path of Dowd who somehow failed to hit the target from close range.
Once again Ives went straight back down the other end and once more the home defence was almost caught out by a long ball out of defence which evaded the central defenders. Davidson ran on to it, but was forced wide by the alert Stanley who raced off his line to close him down. He managed to get past the keeper, but could only deliver his effort towards goal from a very narrow angle and covering defender Pacey managed to hack it away from goal.
The home side continued to press forward but the visitors defence held firm and Mitchell only had to make one save in the last 15 minutes as he dived smartly to his right to turn away a well struck effort from just inside the box from James Hill-Seekings.
This was a truly memorable performance from the Ives scholars who to a man battled all the way to upset the odds and grab this very hard earned point. A number of boys on the pitch enhanced their reputation greatly in this display which was a pleasure to watch.
St Ives Team : Mitchell, Smith, Parr, Shepherd, Short, Cooper, Thompson, Mead (capt), Davidson, Reader, Bedwell-Byatt
Subs (all three used roll on/roll off) : Lloyd, Eyles, Morgan-McDaid