Youth Team Result St Ives Town Youth 3 Corby Town U18’s 2

St Ives Town Youth Team 3 Corby Town U18’s 2

Date: Monday 19th September 2016
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Ground Address: Jubilee Park, Kings Ripton Road, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, PE28 2NR
Competition: The FA Youth Cup First Qualifying Round

The young Ives came from behind twice to progress to the Second Qualifying Round of FA Youth Cup in an epic encounter with a strong and powerful Corby side at a wet and windy Jubilee Park on Monday evening.

Both sides came into this encounter boasting unbeaten early season records in their respective competitions and on paper it looked likely to be a competitive affair. Unfortunately the weather kept away a number of potential casual supporters and those that stayed away missed a classic.

The visitors looked a big, strong, powerful and quick outfit and they put Ives under pressure from the off. An early free kick from skipper Charlie Checklacz was headed over by Costin Tanga-Gibson.

Checklacz again showed his ability on the ball on eleven minutes as he sprayed a pass out to Jason Smith wide on the right. The young full back did well to keep the ball in play to win the Steelmen a corner. The flag kick was delivered to the back post where the ball was knocked down to Sekou Kromah who fired a first time effort over the top from a good position.

Having weathered the visitors early storm the home side began to work their way into the game and probe the visitors defence which they were perhaps surprised to find looked a little fragile when put under pressure. Matt Wright managed to get clear onto a Tiago Dias through ball on 21 minutes and although pushed out wide he managed to get in a left foot effort which crept past the far post.

Just as they were beginning to get into the game Ives suddenly found themselves behind only one minute later as Kromah battled well on the left to win a corner. Checklacz delivered the in-swinging kick to the near post where Dennis Nkrymah met the ball perfectly with his head to flick it past home keeper Tom Smith from close range.

To their credit Ives did not flinch, but continued to battle well for every ball and to slowly get on top and begin to create a few opportunities of their own. The equaliser came five minutes before the break as Dias floated in a free kick from the right that Wright rose majestically to meet at the far post. He directed his powerful header past keeper Dan Smith, but the ball rattled the crossbar and bounced down into the goalmouth. Centre back Callum Sheppeard reacted first to force home the loose ball from close range.

With Ives now in the ascendency they came within millimetres of going in front right on the break as a scramble ensued in the Steelmen’s box. Shots from Dias and Wright were both blocked before the ball rebounded out to substitute Patrik Polhos who thumped in a rasping drive from 25 yards the just scraped the outside of Dan Smith’s post with the keeper well beaten.

Having ended the first half under pressure the visitors must have received a roasting from their management team at half time as they came out fired up for the second half and went back in front only five minutes after the interval. Midfielder Michael Ogilvie found space on the left to cut infield and curl and inch perfect effort from the corner of the box that beat the despairing dive of Tom Smith and nestled in the far corner of the net. With the visitors now well on top it took a smart save from Smith to deny Jaq Bennett and keep Ives in the game ten minutes later.

Manager Jack Cassidy had already been forced into an early change due to an injury to Reuben Eyles he then made a second tactical change replacing Mark Lloyd with Annoncio Anemou right on half time. He boldly played his final card early as he replaced midfielder Joseph McDaid with Sam Land on the hour. The half time change had allowed the Ives to push Sam Davidson up front alongside Wright and this final change allowed Ewan Smith to push further forward as well with Land filling in at left back.

The changes had an almost immediate effect as the pattern of play swung in Ives favour and again the visitors defence began to look a little ragged under pressure. Their fragile confidence was rocked by two Ives goals in a minute around the 65 minute mark. The first came from another of Cassidy’s well rehearsed training ground moves. The six yard box was crowded with players and Dias hung up a corner putting keeper Dan Smith under pressure. He went for a punch, but failed to get a good contact and the ball dropped into the crowded goalmouth where Ewan Smith gleefully hammered it home from close range.

The goal that settled the match came in comical fashion less than sixty seconds later. Dias played a ball down the centre that Davidson set off in pursuit of. He was always second favourite as centre back Obaro Edobar came across to cover. The giant centre back attempted to play a back pass to his keeper. But he had made the fatal mistake of not looking before he played the ball as keeper Smith was not at home having sprinted from his line to also try to cut out the through ball. As so often happens in these situations time seems to slow down as we all watch to see the final outcome. Smith slipped on the wet surface as he tried to make his turn which did not aid his cause. The ball continued on its inexorable course towards the goal and in spite of Smith’s gallant recovery effort it crept over the line to put Ives in front for the first time.

This unexpected setback rocked the visitors and it took them a while to get back into their stride. When they did finally create an opportunity with fifteen minutes to go it was the unfortunate Edobar that spurned the chance. He somehow found space in the box to get on the end of a Jason Smith cross from the right, but spooned his attempted volley over the top from a good position.

The hard working Jason Smith set up another good opportunity for an equaliser with another teasing cross delivered from the right three minutes later. This time he picked out substitute Ryan Richmond six yards from goal. But Richmond was as wasteful as his colleague failing to hit the target with his free header. The Corby onslaught continued as only one minute later another substitute Harry Freestone cut in from the right and fired in a fierce drive from 20 yards that keeper Smith held onto well.

The final, and best, opportunity the Steelmen had to take this game into extra time came with five minutes left as the covering Jamie Short was deemed to have brought down Freestone just outside the box. Checklecz spotted up the free kick and curled it over the wall. The ball was going into the top corner, but keeper Tom Smith hurled himself full length across goal to tip it onto the bar. The ball fell into the crowded goalmouth where it looked certain to be prodded home, but inexplicably the Corby foot that got to the ball first knocked it wide away from goal and the Ives had survived to march into the next round.

It would be impossible to pick a man of the match as all fourteen players that got onto the pitch played their hearts out to claim this victory. The whole squad fully deserved the ovation they got at the end from the faithful few. Manager Cassidy must also take credit for his astute moves to make the changes early and put pressure on the weaker part of the Corby team by pushing two up front.

Watch out for the draw for the next round and for this teams fixture’s on the website and in the programme as these boys are looking very competitive this season and they are well worth a look.

St Ives Team : Tom Smith, Parmenter, Ewan Smith, Jamie Short, Sheppeard, Eyles (Polhos 26), Davidson, McDaid (Land 60), Wright, Dias, Lloyd (capt) (Anemou 45)

Unused substitutes : Kwiatowski, Delgado Vaz

Goals : Sheppeard 40, Ewan Smith 64, Edobar (own goal) 65

Attendance :  56