Huntingdon Town make light work of Senior Cup holders St Ives Town at Jubilee Park
WHEN Huntingdon Town met St Ives Town in the FA Cup earlier this season, it took a last-minute Craig Green goal to separate the sides. This time around, in their Hunts Senior Cup semi-final at Jubilee Park on Saturday, Huntingdon way outplayed their visitors, the holders, and there was no need to worry about late dramas.
A Stuart Eason hat-trick, and a goal each from the excellent Declan Rogers and Jamie Graham, had already done the damage, despite the sides being level at half-time.
“We were second best for the last 70 minutes,” said St Ives joint manager Jez Hall, who was missing his two regular centre backs, Will Fordham and Dan Newman, through suspension. “I know we had two key players out, but that’s no excuse for that performance,” he added.
Huntingdon manager Ricky Marheineke simply said: “We knew they were going to be there to be got at.”
Hall and his co-manager Warren Everdell played Scott Everdell and right back Jordan Lambert in place of Fordham and Newman, with Stuart Cobb at right back and Jamie Alsop on the left.
Up front, they began with Karl Gibbs and Aaron Last. New striker Robbie Harris was on the bench.
Huntingdon threw everything forward. “We played a formation that allowed us to play two centre forwards and three people attacking from narrow areas,” said Marheineke.
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“Ben Seymour-Shove – a St Ives lad playing against his home town – was absolutely brilliant, Declan Rogers, Jamie Graham, Daniel Drane and Stuart Eason as well. I thought those five were brilliant.
He added: “When you have the luxury of Ben Sawyer and Niks Savalneiks on the bench to bring on, it’s a really good position to be in.”
There were early scares for Huntingdon though. St Ives should have been 1-0 up in the eighth minute when Alsop found the back of the net from a free kick, but the goal was wrongly disallowed because the referee said the kick was indirect, despite Victor Torres’ foul on David Cobb. Minutes later, Karl Gibbs headed home the opener, but there was a hint of offside about that one.
St Ives didn’t lead for long, however: Eason pounced in box to score the equaliser in the 12th minute.
There were a few half chances in the remainder of the first half, plus a great chance for Jon Stead, which Torres blocked on the line, and in the early stages of the second half, the game became scrappy. Rogers, however, was picking out some great paces, and it was he who found Daniel Drane in the 53rd minute, only for the Huntingdon player to send his shot skyward.
The lively David Cobb had a cross-goal shot parried by Enol Ordonez on 60 minutes, and Gibbs headed the free ball over the bar, before another Gibbs header was easily saved by the Huntingdon goalkeeper.
But Eason ended a quality move involving Graham and Rogers for 2-1 in the 67th minute, and Rogers netted his goal in the 77th minute.
It was 4-1 when Graham scored, following a brilliant 40-yard cross-field ball from Rogers, and the fifth was Eason’s hat-trick goal, following another quality move involving Rogers.
St Ives, despite being above Huntingdon in the UCL Prem, were certainly second best. Marheineke had given Josh Crick the job of marking Gibbs – one the defender did well – and captain Ricky Dear was solid, allowing those around him to push forward.
“Ricky Dear in his holding role was excellent and Josh Crick and Victor Torres and the two full backs gave us a platform to go on and win,” said Marheineke. “I’m really pleased.”
Incredibly, it was Huntingdon’s first win in four games. But Marheineke wasn’t too worried after his side’s four UCL losses on the trot.
“December was very disappointing,” he said. “But I still stand by my statements that we played well in those games.
“I always felt that with the squad of players we have got, we have players that are going to score.”