March Town United U18 0 St Ives Town U18 1
Thurlow Nunn Youth League – Western Division 20-09-18
The young Ives continued their development with an effective if somewhat uninspiring first victory of the season at March. The windswept encounter was decided by a powerful Mitchell Pillin header from a Mihayl Mitkov free kick right on the stroke of half time.
Aside from the goal the game was a generally tepid affair which the Ives controlled throughout but failed to turn their superiority into what should have been a much more comfortable success.
The other most noteworthy event of the evening was an off the ball scuffle in the 53rd minute which saw Ives skipper Jordan Locke and the Hares striker Alfie Asher both sent for an early bath.
With a hard bumpy surface and the beginnings of the first UK storm of the winter, storm Bronagh delivering a stiff breeze straight down the pitch it was never going to be an easy evening to play football. Ives started off with the breeze in their faces but they carved out the first opportunity of the evening in fourth minute as Thomas Wakley battled through a couple of tackles cutting in from the right and fired in a drive from the edge of the box that went straight into the arms of the well positioned Hares keeper Connor Farrell.
The following half an hour saw the two sides battle it out in the centre of the park with neither able to test the opposition’s keeper. Shay Griffith’s in the Ives goal was generally collecting overhit attempts to lift the ball over the top or watching long range shot fly high or wide. Most of Ives moves were breaking down due to a misplaced final pass, or a striker trying to break to soon and getting caught offside.
With half time approaching both sides suddenly began to create a few half chances. The hosts first attempt came in 33rd minute as a dangerous in-swinging corner from the right by Brandon Pearce deflected off Mitkov at the near post but flashed across the face of goal with no one able to get a touch.
Ives centre forward Harry Sargent got decent possession for the first time in 35th minute and he used the ball well playing in the pacey Zach Hope down the left. Hope turned inside his marker and curled an effort inches wide of the far post from the corner of the box.
Hope had another opportunity to open Ives account three minutes later as a Sargent shot from 25 yards was deflected into his path inside the box. The young striker took on the shot first time but leant back on the effort and fired his left foot effort over the top from a good position.
The Hares had an opportunity to load the box five minutes before the break as Jordon Smith delivered a free kick from the right. The wind assisted effort cleared everyone only just evading Kyle Liddy arriving late at the back post.
Right on half time Ives were given a similar opportunity as Sargent was pushed in the back by Smith just outside the right hand corner of the box. George Cawte looked favourite to take the free kick right footed, but Mitkov took the opportunity to deliver a telling left footed cross into the box where Pillin timed his run to perfection to power home his header from close range.
With the strengthening wind now at their backs and the fillip of a goal right on the break the expectant group of Ives supporters fully expected their players to take control of the game and push on for a comfortable win. That view was reinforced straight from the kick off as Sargent was instantly put clear through the right channel. Keeper Farrell came to meet the Ives striker and made a good block with his legs to keep his team in the game.
A game that had up to this point had shown plenty of endeavour but very little passion suddenly erupted in 53rd minute in the off the ball incident that saw Locke and Asher both dismissed. No one seemed sure what had sparked the incident that saw both players waving arms and pushing each other but suffice to say after a brief consultation with his assistant referee Peter Howard showed both players straight red cards.
Manager Lloyd Groves instantly sacrificed striker Jamie Stork replacing him with defensive midfielder Connor Gibbs leaving Sargent ploughing a lone furrow up front. That lone striker almost doubled Ives advantage on the hour as he chased down a lob over the top beating both Smith and keeper Farrell to the bouncing ball but his attempted lift over Farrell caught on the breeze and drifted wide.
From this point on Ives very effectively killed the game preventing the hosts building up any momentum at all. Substitutes continued to roll on and off but neither side could create even a half chance until 88th minute when the hard-working Sargent played Hope into the box. The wingers well struck shot from a narrow angle was pushed away by Farrell. A well worked short corner routine saw Billy Garlick swing in a dangerous cross that substitute Napeno Perreira got on the end of at the near post but he did not get quite enough on his header and the effort flash just wide of Farrell’s left hand upright.
Amazingly referee Howard found seven minutes to add and Ives survived this with only a single scare in 93rd minute as Kai Wales closed down Griffiths on a back pass hurrying him into a misplaced clearance that went straight to Smith 35 yards out. The Hares centre back tried his luck but the effort got caught on the breeze and drifted wide much to the relief of the out of position keeper.
During the added time Ives also picked up two unnecessary yellow cards. Wakley was probably a little unlucky as he mistimed a tackle on a Hares defender deep inside the hosts half but Sargent had little excuse as he went into referee Howard’s notebook simply for disagreeing with one of the officials decisions.
The match official eventually decided he had seen enough and blew the final whistle to bring the curtain down on Ives first three point return of the season.
Final Score : March Town United U18 0 St Ives Town U18 1
Goals : Pillin 45
St Ives team : Griffiths, Quinsee (Perreira 83), Mitkov, Cawte (Garlick 37), Locke, (capt), Pillin, Wakley, Bald (Paine 72), Sargent, Stork (Gibbs 55), Hope
Other subs roll on roll off : Bald for Wakley 90, Stork for Sargent 90+3
Unused Subs : Bradley
Attendance : approx 75
Match report by Nigel Howlett