THURLOW NUNN YOUTH LEAGUE CAMBRIDGE DIVISION
CHAMPIONS TROPHY PLAY OFF QUARTER FINAL
ST NEOTS TOWN U18 2 ST IVES TOWN U18 1
A dramatic added time goal deservedly propelled St Neots U18 side through a first round of play-off games to decide the ultimate outcome of the Thurlow Nunn Youth Champions Trophy. Whilst St Neots won the Cambridge Division St Ives were West Division Champions and this was the third meeting of the two sides with St Neots recent County Cup victory avenging an FA Youth Cup reverse earlier in the season. St Neots now progress to the next stage with a home tie against Sudbury Town U18 side who were the winners of the South Division.
In the first real action of the game after just five minutes the visitors took the lead when Tiago Dias sent a well-placed low shot under the diving body of Evan Jeckells to give his side an early lead. St Neots quickly rallied with Sam Piesse shooting narrowly wide and Jack Eldridge volleying beyond the far post. St Neots looked comfortably in control and visiting goalkeeper Tom Smith was in the right place to gather a close-range header by Zac Rudman but they were very unlucky not to level after 36 minutes when Shae Humphrey saw his shot rebound from the woodwork following a corner with the keeper beaten. A minute later St Ives should have doubled their lead when Matt Wright was played clear of the defence but Jeckells spread himself to save the shot with his feet and the visitors went to the break with just their one goal advantage intact.
It took St Neots ten minutes after the break to level the scores when defender Zac Rudman scored at the far post with a powerful header from an Eldridge corner. It was then a very open contest with both sides searching for a winner. After 65 minutes Harry Clark should have done better from a narrow angle after unselfish play by Ben Southwood and then Southwood miscued after creating a good opening. St Ives attacks were becoming sporadic with Jeckells saving comfortably from Wright and Dias and St Neots should have gone ahead when substitute Kieran Waites failed to convert after the visiting defence had been split. A second St Neots substitute Luke Taylor also might have settled home nerves with six minutes left from a Southwood cross but the winner arrived a minute into added time when Smith made a good save but the ball fell to Southwood who joyfully netted for the deserved winning goal.
St Neots: Jeckells, Collins, Piesse, Donkin, Rudman, Holman, Eldridge, Nurettin, Southwood, Humphrey, Clarke (H)
Subs used: Taylor (L), Beavis, Waites, Chambers and Gooderham
Goals: Rudman (55), Southwood (90 +1)
Referee: Matthew Newman (Dersingham)
(John Walker via Gary Wilson)