Thursday 12th November 2015 – Hunts Youth U18 Cup
St Neots Town U18’s 1 St Ives Town Youth 4
The Ives scholars put on an impressive all round performance to progress to the third round of the Hunts County Cup at the expense of local rival St Neots Town on a windswept evening at Rowley Park. This game also allowed us to welcome back from long term injury the skilful and lightning quick Charlie McManus who got in a good sixty minutes and claimed a well taken goal to put the icing on the cake.
The game started in lightning fashion with two goals in the first five minutes. The Saints went in front on two minutes as Zac Rudman rose highest at the far post to power home a Dan Lewis corner. But just three minutes later excellent pressure from Matt Wright forced a mistake out of a Saints defender and he found himself clear with only home keeper Evan Jeckells to beat. Wright did not hit his shot well from the edge of the box, but the keeper failed to hold onto it and the ever willing Bailey Pillin was following up for a tap in to put Ives level.
Even though they were playing against a strong breeze the visitors began to take control of the game and were looking to move the ball around quickly at every opportunity. The goal that put them in front was a Sam Land special as he picked up a loose ball 35 yards from goal wide on the left, cut inside and unleashed an unstoppable drive that dipped and swerved on it’s way past the startled Jeckells.
The young Ives continued to look dangerous every time they went forward and Sam Davidson went close with a drive from the edge of the box after a corner had been half cleared to him on 28 minutes. As the half wore on the home side started to enjoy a little more of the possession, but they were struggling to break down a resolute Ives defence well marshalled by Reuben Eyles and Callum Sheppeard. They only went close once as Rudman again got on the end of a corner from the left, but this time Eyles was in position to block his goal bound effort on the line on 37 minutes.
Three minutes before the break Ives deservedly increased their lead as Mark Lloyd combined well with the returning McManus to put through Pillin who beat Jeckells on his near post to claim his second of the evening and send the visitors into the break on a high.
Coming out for the second half with the strengthening breeze at their backs and a two goal cushion the visitors effectively killed the game as they slowed it down and moved the ball around when in possession and quickly channelled back into shape when they lost the ball. The Saints were enjoying a good quantity of possession, but lacked penetration and the Ives back line dealt so comfortably with everything that was being thrown at them that Jordan Mitchell did not have to make a save throughout this period.
McManus went close with Ives first effort on goal in the second half on 77 minutes as he tried to pick his spot from 25 yards and was unlucky to see the ball curl inches over the top with keeper Jeckells looking on.
The goal that finally settled the tie came with ten minutes left and it was celebrated wildly by the Ives players, management team, and supporters because it marked the return to full fitness of the ebullient Charlie McManus. A long free kick was floated into the box by George Reader, Saints defence made a hash of trying to clear the ball and it fell to the feet of McManus ten yards out. True to form the young striker calmly picked his spot and side footed the ball home through a crowd of players past the unsighted Jeckells.
With the game now won Ives perhaps understandably dropped their high work rate a little and let the home side have a couple of late chances. Rudman rattled the crossbar with a powerful header from a corner with two minutes left and substitute Cassius fired over from a good position deep in added time.
This game again showed the strides the young Ives side are making as they produced a very disciplined display that restricted a good Saints side to very few chances. The flair players also did their bit to create, and finish, the opportunities that came their way and they also contributed their share to another excellent all round display.
Star man was taken by Reuben Eyles for a very controlled display in the centre of defence, alongside the powerful Callum Sheppeard. Between them they dealt with everything the home side threw at them and barely gave the Saints strikers a sniff of the ball throughout the game.
St Ives Team : Mitchell, Parmenter, Land, Eyles, Sheppeard, Reader, Davidson, Morgan-McDaid, Pillin, Wright, Lloyd (capt)
Subs (all used roll on/roll off) : Smith, Mead, Bedwell-Byatt, Thompson, McManus