Downham Town U18’s St Ives Town Youth Team
Date: Thursday 18th October 2016
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Competition: Thurlow Nunn Youth League West Division
It is not often that the team manager is obliged to have a go at his team after they have scored seven, but on this occasion Jack Cassidy was perfectly right to highlight some of the extremely naive defending by Ives in the second half of this match.
Things started well for the visitors to the picturesque Memorial Field and they should have gone in front in only 9th minute as skipper Mark Lloyd delivered an excellent ball into the feet of Tiago Dias in the box. Dias took the ball in well and turned his marker, but then screwed his shot wide from eight yards with the goal at his mercy.
They did not have to wait long to get their noses in front as Adam Parmenter put Sam Davidson away down the right only two minutes later. Matt Wright attacked his low cross into the box, but was denied the opener by a combination of goalkeeper and defender. However the ball popped up to give Lloyd the simple task of side footing home at the back post.
In recent weeks the Ives have looked a little vulnerable at defending corners and Tom Smith was forced to make a smart save at his near post as a Downham corner deflected off Patrik Polhos and nearly crept in on 18 minutes.
Smith was called into action again to preserve the lead four minutes later as a free kick was flicked on into the box and Daniel Murphy found space to strike a powerful volley on target that Smith did very well leaping high to his right to turn the ball away.
Ives were certainly up against the elements in the first half and when driving rain joined the already strengthen breeze in their faces it looked like things could get tough. But it looked like Ives and Wright in particular flourished in these conditions as the speedy striker grabbed a nine minute hat trick to seemingly settle the game.
His first came on 34 minutes as he outpaced the defence to get on the end of a clip through the middle by Polhos. He drew the keeper and calmly slotted it under him from just inside the box. His second only two minutes later saw he and Lloyd break together onto a through ball from the classy Dias. Lloyd drew the final defender and the keeper before unselfishly slipping the ball to Wright who rolled it into the empty net from ten yards.
Lloyd was also the provider for the hat trick two minutes before the break as his clip over the top held up perfectly on the breeze to fall into the path of the sprinting Wright who again steadied himself before slotting past the exposed keeper.
Cassidy made five changes in the twenty minutes after the break, including giving Thurlow Nunn lead debuts to Sam Bond, Martin Saunders and Kyrie Foster. The only other item of note during this period was one more excellent diving save from Smith to keep out a Tom Gilbert free kick that evaded everyone in the middle and nearly crept in at the far post on 54 minutes.
Bond had replaced Wright down the middle and he to looks like a very mobile striker with an eye for goal. He grabbed his first of the evening ten minutes after coming on as he sped onto a ball threaded through the middle by Polhos and was clipped from behind by a covering defender just as he was about to shoot. He picked himself up and emphatically despatched the resulting spot kick high to the keepers left.
With the game now apparently won Ives began to lose their shape and discipline as a number of them seemed to be more interested in seeking to add to the evenings tally rather than getting the basics right and ensuring that they did not give the home side even a sniff of getting back into the game. But they started to concede a series of needless free kick around their own box and generally lose their normally tight defensive shape.
Signs were beginning to show quite early after the fifth goal went in and Smith was called upon to make two routine saves in the next five minutes. However the real surprise came on 74 minutes as Gilbert was allowed to pick up the ball in midfield and stride forward before unleashing a powerful strike from fully 30 yards that dipped over the despairing arms of Smith and into the net off the underside of the crossbar.
This goal gave Downham a bit of belief and more poor defending allowed them to further cut the arrears five minutes later as Murphy was allowed to battle his way through three poor attempted tackles into the box and then slot the ball past Smith from close range.
Foster was showing some neat touches for the Ives and he restored the four goal cushion with a brilliant solo goal on 81 minutes. He danced his way into the box past a couple of despairing challenges before coolly dummying the keeper and simply side footing the ball into the empty net.
This should have been enough to derail the home side’s attempted recovery, but to their credit they again came battling back and halved the arrears with two goals in three minutes. The first on 83 minutes came from a well struck free kick by Gilbert from 30 yards that bounced in front of Smith and although he blocked it he was unable to hold onto the greasy ball. Murphy pounced on the loose ball and fired in a shot that Parmenter did very well to block on the line. But Murphy kept going and rammed the ball home.
The second, and Downham’s fourth on the night came from a goalmouth scramble as Ives struggled to clear the ball from their own box in spite of three attempts. The loose ball was finally pounced on by Louis Garrett who fired home from close range.
It looked like we could be in for a really grandstand finish if Downham could get one more there was a real prospect of Ives dropping points in a game they should of had sewn up long before this point. Fortunately normal service was resumed and the final goal of the night fell to the visitors as Saunders drove in a powerful free kick that dipped over the wall and skipped off the turf in front of the home keeper who blocked it, but could not hold on. Bond again showed his strikers instinct as he reacted first and rammed home the rebound from point blank range to make the final score an amazing 7 – 4 to the Ives.
Well having now witnessed 23 goals (16 scored, 7 conceded) in the last two Under 18 League fixtures I must say that we are the side to come and watch for entertainment. But knowing Jack as I do it will not be the attacking aspects of these two games he will be focusing on. I think the lads can expect a little bit of work on defensive shape and defending set plays in the near future and a certain demand for return to clean sheets in the next game!.
St Ives Team : Tom Smith, Parmenter, Land (Ewan Smith 66), Jamie Short, Sheppeard, Polhos, Davidson (Foster 66), McDaid, Wright (Bond 55), Dias (Eyles 61), Lloyd (capt) (Saunders 61)
Other substitutions roll on/roll off : Land for Ewan Smith 80
Goals : Lloyd 11, Wright 34, 36 & 43, Bond 65 (pen) & 90, Foster 81
Attendance : 45