The Ives scholars finished their first season with the Club in style, putting six past lowly Chatteris Town. This confirmed their fourth place finish in their first season in the Thurlow Nunn Western Division. However the part of the table which makes more interesting reading is the form table which shows that in the last two months of the season the young Ives are a clear second behind only Kings Lynn. Not bad for a side who are all, with one exception, playing a year up. It also shows the considerable improvement the team has made as the season has progressed.
Dalton Short, the only man who is now eighteen lead the team out for his last game as an Under 18 and it was good to see Reuben Eyles back in the squad after his return from suspension.
The young Ives started this game like a train and should have gone in front after only 30 seconds as Sam Davidson threaded a ball through the Lillies defence to put Charlie McManus clear. He cut inside but fired over from a good position. The first Ives corner of the game arrived only sixty seconds later and Mark Lloyd swung it into the six yard box from the left. Carl Munns in the Chatteris goal missed the in-swinger, but it also managed to elude two Ives strikers at the back post and bounce to safety.
The opening goal did arrive on ten minutes as Sam Davidson was brought down on the edge of the box by a clumsy tackle from Marcel Cherlin. McManus carefully placed the ball and curled it around the wall and into the top corner giving the keeper no chance.
But the lead was only short lived as a defensive mistake saw the ball delivered into the feet of Alex Kerse just inside the Ives half. He threaded the ball through to the Lillies skipper Josh Brittin who held off challenges from Callum Sheppeard and Adam Parr and rattled the ball in the bottom corner only four minutes later.
Ives could have gone back in front straight from the kick off as the ball was fed out to Sam Davison on the right. He went past Cherlin at pace and also side stepped a clumsy attempted challenge from covering defender Shay Clarke. But keeper Munns was quickly off his line and bravely blocked the talented winger’s effort at close range.
This game was rattling along at a high tempo in a more open fashion than is manager Jack Cassidy’s preferred style. Both attacks looked very dangerous every time they came forward, or perhaps it was that both defences were looking a little shaky at this stage.
It was the visitors turn to almost get their noses in front on 18 minutes as Brittin robbed Parr on the right and clipped the ball through to Ash Howlett down the centre. Howlett muscled his way between Sheppeard and Short but his close range effort was blocked by the legs of keeper Jordan Mitchell.
Play swung back to the other end and McManus used his pace to get on the end of a through ball from Jacob Texter. McManus selflessly fed the ball in to the feet of the fast arriving Davidson who got around the keeper, but his shot from a narrow angle was deflected wide by a covering defender.
An excellent flowing move through midfield led to the Ives regaining their advantage on 26 minutes as Sam Bedwell-Byatt won a challenge in midfield and then exchanged passes with McManus before putting the speedy striker clear. He drew the keeper and fired the ball under him from ten yards.
The visitors thought they had equalised again on 36 minutes as Brittin battled his way down the right and fed the ball back to substitute Will Grant who delivered a dangerous cross into the centre where Jack Rooney rose highest to powerfully head home off the cross bar. He was perhaps a little unlucky to see the effort ruled out by an assistant’s flag as he had wandered into an offside position.
The tiring Lillies defenders were now beginning to resort to strong arm tactics to slow the pacey Ives strikers and the final home chance of the half came from one of these fouls. Lloyd swung in the free kick from the left and McManus got in front of his marker at the near post, but only succeeded in directing his header inches wide.
The second half continued in the same open vein as the first with a further three goals arriving in the opening eleven minutes. Midfielder Adam Cooper got the ball rolling with a 25 yard thunderbolt in 48th minute. He picked up the ball in midfield strode forward and simply hit it, the ball dipping and swerving to deceive keeper Munns on its way into the roof of the net.
But having got a two goal cushion the Ives went to sleep at a corner only five minutes later. Brittin curled it in and Jacob Butler strode between the statuesque home defenders to power home a bullet like header from the edge of the six yard box.
Lloyd should have restored the Ives two goal lead as he was put through by substitute Reuben Eyles almost straight from the kick off. But having appeared to do everything right by drawing the keeper and slotting the ball past him low to his left he somehow managed to put the ball inches the wrong side of the post.
But Lloyd was the architect of the Ives fourth goal when it came only two minutes later. He was fouled wide on the left and picked himself up to deliver a dangerous free kick into the six yard box that the visiting defence failed to deal with. The ball ricochet around the box until it fell to the feet of Davidson six yards out and he gleefully fired home.
The visitors were very much tiring by this point and the introduction of three more Ives substitutes was probably the last thing they wanted to see. The speedy Matt Wright was always going to cause them problems and it was not long before he got himself on the score sheet. McManus won the ball in midfield and slotted it through the channel, Wright was away leaving the Lillies defence in his wake. He drove on and fired home from the edge of the box giving Munns no chance.
Keeper Munns was the winner of a similar race on 77 minutes after Bedwell-Byatt had put Wright clear again. But the pacey striker had the last laugh as he got clear again right on time and this time made no mistake rounding Munns to complete the rout. The classy Eyles had been the architect of this goal robbing a dallying Lillies midfielder and striding forward before putting through a slide rule pass into the path of Wright.
Jack will be delivering his end of season report to all of the boys, but my comments overall having now enjoyed a whole season with this very amenable bunch of lads are all positive. The players have all developed individually over the season, but it is the camaraderie and team ethic which has built up to make this side a formidable unit. It is no fluke that these lads are up the top of the form table for the second half of the season. We are all very much looking forward to next season and to any supporter reading this in the programme, or on the website, try to grab a chance to get along and watch this side next season they will be well worth a look.
St Ives Team : Mitchell, Hudson, Parr, Short (capt), Sheppeard, Texter, Davidson, Bedwell-Byatt, McManus, Cooper, Lloyd
Subs (used roll on/roll off) : Smith, Eyles, Land, Parmenter, Wright
Subs not used : none