Downham Town U18 3 St Ives Town U18 2
Thurlow Nunn Youth League – Western Division 15-10-18
Amongst a number of harsh lessons the young Ives learnt at the Memorial Field on this misty November evening in the fens the biggest one was to never underestimate your opposition. A poor start saw them fall to defeat against lowly Town who had previously only recorded one victory prior to this game. The hosts also came into this fixture off the back of a ten goal mauling from Peterborough Sports only seven days earlier. Lesson number two do not look at your oppositions previous results and think they are just going to roll over for you.
Had Ives shown the disciplined display required they would have ensured that they were switched on from the off. Unfortunately they were the complete opposite of what was required as they sleepwalked through the first thirty seconds of the game and instantly found themselves a goal behind as Jesse Tierney took advantage of an early opportunity to burst into the box and rifle a low drive into the bottom corner of keeper Kai Bradley’s net to ensure that the young stopper’s first touch was to pick the ball out of the back of the net.
To their credit Ives offered an instant response as Connor Gibbs pinged a ball out to Tom Wakley on the right. Wakley got past his man and delivered a low cross to the penalty spot where Harry Sargent swept the ball home to ensure that Town keeper Robbie Smith’s first touch of the game matched that of Bradley.
In spite of being pegged back the hosts had gained some confidence from these early exchanges and only five minutes later they won a corner on the right that Jamie Markham delivered to the near post where a still dozy Ives defence allowed Joe Causton space to run in and nod the ball home unchallenged from three yards out.
Seven minutes gone and already three goals on the board, but the score line was an unexpected one. Ives potential route back into the game looked like it might receive some assistance from the hosts as left back George Arnold took his own skipper out of the game as the pair both went to deal with a cross to the near post and ended up in a sickening clash of heads that saw skipper Dylan Short leave the field with a bloodied nose and mouth. Substitute Will Pocock came on to replace the unlucky Short.
Even this set back did not knock Town out of their strike and with their confidence buoyed by the early goals they continued to take the game to their visitors. It took a goal line clearance from Mitchell Pillin to prevent more pain being heaped on the Ives in 14th minute. Big centre forward Jacob Sim challenged Bradley for a high bouncing ball on the edge of the Ives box and won the battle forcing the ball goal wards. But for the timely intervention of the covering Pillin the ball would have rolled over the line.
But the respite for Ives was only short lived and in 21st minute Town increased their advantage with the goal of the game. Causton picked out Ben Garrett wide left and the winger got around the outside of Louis Bald before hanging up a perfect cross to the back post where Luke Venny got between static Ives defenders to power home a header from close range.
Amazingly the scoring for the evening was completed in 27th minute as for the first time on the night the speedy Zac Hope got an opportunity to run at his full back Markham and very quickly left the Town defender in his wake as he sped away down the left. His low cross from the bye line was inadvertently turned home at the near post by Fraser McManus as the young centre back tried to prevent Sargent getting on the end of it.
Once more we thought that this goal might be a signal for the anticipated flood gates to open. But Ives poor start had offered the hosts something to hang onto and they continued to match their opposition all over the park throughout the remainder of the first half. Each side carving out one more decent half chance. In 36th minute Wakley robbed a dallying Arnold by his own corner flag and picked out Sargent with his pull back but the powerful Ives centre forward struck his low drive straight at Smith who held on well.
Two minutes from the break Markham delivered a dangerous cross from the right that Jordan Locke misjudged allowing the ball to float over his head. Tierney was in an excellent position ten yards out in the centre of goal but his touch let him down and the opportunity was gone.
Although Ives had not played well in the first period we were all expecting Downham to tire but they still had something to defend and they were doing this quite effectively preventing the visitors from building up any real head of steam. The visitors first real opportunity to get back on terms did not arrive until 57th minute when substitute Jamie Stork was almost put clear by Sargent but the ball took a bobble on the bouncy pitch and just ran away from Stork far enough to let the alert Smith come and claim it.
Hope almost grabbed an equaliser out of nothing in 63rd minute as he harried McManus into a mistake and robbed the Town defender on the edge of the box. But Smith saved the blushes of his colleague as he was smartly off his line to narrow the angle and blocked the shot away with his legs.
Ives continued to huff and puff but the Town defence remained solid although there were a few narrow escapes. In 73rd minute Hope and Sargent combined well on the right with the formers low cross being met at the near post by Mihayl Mitkov up from the back. The full back looked likely to score but the ball took a wicked bounce off the turf and bounced over the top off the Ives man.
The visitors continued to press but it was just not their night. Hope hung a cross up to the back post that landed on the roof of the net with colleagues lurking in the hope of knocking it home. Stork did have the ball in the net in 75th minute only for the effort to be ruled out by an assistant’s flag. Three minutes later Wakley threaded a ball through into the run of Sargent who beat keeper Smith to the ball but slid it inches the wrong side of the post.
The game entered added time and with three added minutes already gone the inevitable looked likely to happen as with Ives throwing men forward Sim got away on the break bearing down on substitute keeper Shay Griffiths but the Ives stopper did not sell himself and stayed solid eventually forcing the centre forward into a close range shot that the Ives stopper kept out.
The Ives keeper became the closest man to grabbing visitors a point in the fifth of the five added minutes as he roamed forward for a free kick into the Town box and got on the end of it eight yards out but the effort seemed to come off his shoulder and lacked power giving Smith chance to block it and his defenders scrambled the loose ball away to spark deserved celebrations amongst the hosts and send Ives slinking back down the A10 with their tails between their legs.
Let us hope the pain of this defeat lives long in the memory of the Ives lads and that they do not make the same mistakes again. Remember Downham must be the cry to rally them before any game.
Final Score : Downham Town U18 3 St Ives Town U18 2
Goals : Sargent 2, own goal 27
St Ives team : Bradley (Griffiths 45), Bald, Brown (Mitkov 34), Purse, Locke (capt) (Paine 64), Pillin, Wakley, Katz (Stork 14), Sargent (Quinsee 49), Gibbs, Hope
Other subs roll on roll off : Katz for Gibbs 47, Sargent for Bald 67, Bald for Hope 87
Unused Subs : none
Attendance : approx 50
Report by Nigel Howlett