Huntingdonshire Senior Cup Final (at the Premier Plus Stadium)
ST NEOTS TOWN 0 EYNESBURY ROVERS 1
Eynesbury Rovers crowned an excellent season making up for their disappointment of not sustaining a League title challenge by beating Step Three neighbors St Neots Town in the Huntingdonshire Senior Cup Final. It was the first time for 15 years that they had been County Champions and to do so they had beaten the other Step Three side reigning Trophy holders, St Ives Town, in the semi-final. After achieving their highest ever league finish Rovers were determined to finish their season in this fashion and on the night, they fully merited their victory. St Neots were without two of their injured stars – both strikers, Jevani Brown and Declan Rogers – who had scored almost a half of their sides’ goals between them this season but they never performed to their potential and Eynesbury goalkeeper Jamie Greygoose one of several ex-Saints in the Rovers side, had a very comfortable evening, seldom called upon. Overall it was a disappointing spectacle for the healthy sized crowd, that never produced the pulsating football expected of a cup final and what turned out to be the winning goal was the only really controversial moment in the 90 minutes. It came two minutes before half time when a Jack Warwick corner was not cleared and Jack Uttridge lifted the ball back into the area where Tom Coles challenged goalkeeper Alex Archer in the air. The ball finished up in the net as Archer was clattered to the ground with St Neots confidently expecting a free kick. However, Referee Hallum Cutmore after a glance across at his Assistant pointed back to the centre spot and the goal stood.
The match had almost seen a dramatic start when after just 26 seconds Jordan Brown threaded a pass between the St Neots centre backs and Tom Coles stretched to get a toe to the ball but saw it pass the wrong side of a post. The game then settled into a sort of cat and mouse affair with Rovers the more positive and constructive side and St Neots defending resolutely but failing to create chances of their own. Coles headed wide from a Warwick corner whilst at the other end Taylor Parr headed down a St Neots corner but no forward was able to capitalize. Ten minutes before the break Rovers had the best chance of the match when the St Neots defence was caught out of position and Alex Archer had to produce an outstanding triple save to block consecutive close range efforts from Jordan Brown and Warwick (twice). However, that was the sum-total of the first half excitement and the visiting side went to half time with that slender one goal advantage.
The second half was marginally better for the first twenty minutes with Rovers still in the ascendancy and St Neots solitary effort a volley from Tom Wood that sailed over the bar. The industrious Micky Hyem then brought his only significant save from Greygoose with a low snap shot pushed for a corner and there was a clutch of yellow cards as the two sides signaled their determination not to succumb. Eynesbury clearly settled for their narrow advantage as the half wore on and St Neots utilized all three available substitutes to little effect and it was not until added time at the end of the game that another goal looked probable. Then Eynesbury substitute Allan Owen was presented with an unexpected opening in a breakaway attack but he lifted his effort high over the bar and then at the other end Greygoose was perfectly placed to save a header from Lewis Wilson. St Neots were left to reflect on their major feat of retaining their Step Three status but having been beaten in three of their four Cup competitions by lower graded opposition they must work under the heading ‘must do better’ next season!
St Neots: Archer, Butler, Herd, Clarke, Wood, Parr, Norman, Bell-Toxtle, Wilson, Hyem, Tricks
Subs: Knowles (for Norman 46 mins), Partridge (for Butler 69 mins), Nurettin (for Tricks 83 minutes), Williams and Dean.
Cards: Hyem (Y – 26), Clarke (Y – 55), Knowles (Y – 82)
Eynesbury: Greygoose, Moyes, Uttridge, Woodend, Duckett (J), Duckett (R), Brown, Warwick, Bream, Coles, Smith.
Subs: Owen (for Smith 46 mins), Thorpe, Mason, Walton, Mackrell.
Cards: Smith (Y – 45+3), Brown (Y – 63), Woodend (Y – 80), Greygoose (Y – 82)
Goal: Coles (43 mins)
Referee: Hallum Cutmore
THURLOW NUNN CAMBRIDGE DIVISION
ST NEOTS TOWN U18 3 ELY CITY U18 2
St Neots displayed their true championship credentials as they overturned a two goals deficit to snatch the most dramatic victory by the odd goal in five with a goal two minutes into added time. The result rounded off an outstanding season for the side that had won both League and County Cup and preserved an unbeaten home record with eight wins and a draw in their nine matches. Ely City arrived at the Premier Plus Stadium needing three points from their last two games to finish as runners-up in the league and they looked well on the way to achieving that objective when they led 2-0 after just 39 minutes. Skilful use of their substitutes and a steely determination saw St Neots recover to record a victory that will put them in good heart for their ‘Champions League’ play off next week with St Ives Town who are champions of the Western Division of the Thurlow Nunn Youth League.
Ely began in fine fettle and dominated much of the first 45 minutes with the home side looking unbalanced and ragged and rarely threatening the visiting goal. From an early corner for the visitors Sean Calvey wasted a good chance heading over the bar and Dan Maund had a net-bound shot blocked. Ely took the lead after20 minutes from a Charlie Tunnell free kick firmly headed past Evan Jeckells by visiting skipper Joe Brannon. The visitors continued to dominate and six minutes before the break they doubled their lead with Ronan Kerr left unmarked at the far post taking full advantage. St Neots’ best effort to that point had been an off-target effort by Ben Southwood but a minute before half time a corner was not cleared and Shae Humphrey forced the ball home in a goalmouth scramble.
St Neots had to improve and compete better in the second half and the transformation came as four substitutes were introduced after the break. Ely still created openings with Tom Thurlborn firing wide and Maund putting a free shot over the bar. Gradually St Neots began to compete and skipper Erhan Nurettin shot wide when well placed. The real turning point came when a 30 yards’ effort by Alfie Donkin was brilliantly tipped onto a post by visiting keeper Jake Alsop but this just boosted St Neots confidence and a Zac Rudman header from a corner just passed the wrong side of a post. Substitute Kieran Waites saw a shot deflected just wide but St Neots persistence paid off with six minutes to go when Shae Humphrey levelled the scores with his second goal of the match from a Waites corner. The winner came two minutes into added time when Waites took full advantage of an Ely defensive error to win the match.
St Neots: Jeckells, Chambers, Piesse, Donkin, Rudman, Riley, Humphrey, Nurettin, Southwood, Gooderham, Holman
Subs used: Taylor (L), Clarke (H), Beavis, Waites and Fulianty
Goals: Humphrey 2 (44 and 84 mins), Waites (90 +2)
Southern League Premier Division
CAMBRIDGE CITY 3 ST NEOTS TOWN 0
It was perhaps fortunate that the outcome of this final match in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division match wasn’t to determine the future of St Neots at Step Three as it did their hosts. As a result of the heroics of the six-point Easter weekend when St Neots secured their survival they had three key players pick up injuries that confined them to the bench for this significant deciding match. Skipper Micky Hyem, leading scorer Jevani Brown and Lee Clarke were all sidelined although the latter made a brief substitute appearance. Into their place, Manager Matt Clements drafted in striker James Tricks and two inexperienced youngsters Erhan Nurettin and Saul Williams, each for their first senior start and both did well but the overall level of experience in the side showed to St Neots’ detriment. Unlucky Cambridge did all they could have done to further their cause staying undefeated in their six final matches and deservedly winning this contest by three goals to nil but elsewhere three points for Kings Langley and one for Dorchester kept those two sides safely above the drop zone. So, St Neots survive at this level, despite having the second worst defensive record in the Division, and picking up the same number of points (48) as last season.
St Neots lined up with three at the back as they had in recent games but they came up against early pressure when after six minutes Lee Stevenson intelligently saw St Neots slow to group to defend a free kick and he quickly released Norman Wabo to open the scoring from a narrow angle. St Neots tried hard to get back into the game but despite enjoying the better possession their finishing was inconclusive. A close-range effort by Lewis Wilson was deflected over the crossbar and winning five corners in the first twenty minutes they were unable to capitalize with the best effort a Jonny Butler header that flew harmlessly wide. Erhan Nurettin picked out Taylor Parr with a free kick but he failed to test home keeper Dean Snedker and then Saul Williams fired over the bar. The half ended with James Tricks also wide of the target after more impressive play by Nurettin.
Although Cambridge had been unimpressive in the first half never looking like increasing their advantage they looked a different side after the break. Full back Ben Robinson up in support of his attack looked to have doubled the lead with a shot that beat Alex Archer but Taylor Parr got back to clear off the line and then from a Lee Stevenson corner, former St Neots defender Jordan Gent was left unmarked at the far post but he headed wide. Now Cambridge was dominating and Salim Relizani sent in a dangerous low shot that was deflected for a corner. Then on the hour from another Stevenson cross Jordan Gent was again left with too much room at the far post and this time his finish was accurate to make it 2-0. St Neots attacking was sporadic and not very convincing although Jonny Herd saw a net bound shot blocked but after 74 minutes the outcome was effectively decided as some very slack defending let in Norman Wabo for his second goal of the match. Substitutions followed and Cambridge clearly settled for what they had achieved and the match might have fizzled out but for a late controversial incident. With his back to goal Dan Walker went down under a challenge from Parr and having awarded a soft free kick the Referee changed his mind and dramatically pointed to the penalty spot to St Neots’ disbelief. Wabo was given the chance to complete his first City hat trick but Archer parried his kick and also the follow up attempt. Then came the news that City’s victory was insufficient to save them from relegation. St Neots wind up their season on Wednesday evening in the Huntingdonshire Senior Cup Final against UCL neighbors Eynesbury Rovers at the Premier Plus Stadium (kick off 1945 hrs)
St Neots: Archer, Norman, Herd, Butler, Wood, Parr, Nurettin, Bell-Toxtle, Wilson, Tricks, Williams (S)
Subs: Clarke (for Williams 74 mins), Hyem, Brown Partridge and Dean.
Cambridge: Snedker, Robinson, Cooper, Paterson, Gent, Williams (J), Snaith, Stevenson,Walker, Wabo, Relizani
Subs: Foy (for Snaith 74 mins), Sharman (for Paterson 82 mins), Foxley (for Wabo 87 mins), Osei and Norman.
Cards: Robinson (Y – 47)
Goals: Wabo 2 (6 & 74 mins), Gent (60 mins)
Referee: Dean Appleby (Bourne)
Southern League Premier Division
ST NEOTS TOWN 2 DUNSTABLE TOWN 0
St Neots secured their place at Step Three in the National League system next season with this workmanlike victory over visitors Dunstable Town. A goal in each half was enough against a side that offered little in terms of attacking play and had the woodwork not saved the visitors twice, the victory would have been even more convincing. Dunstable had little to play for with their berth at this level assured but St Neots knew that three points would be sufficient regardless of results elsewhere. They now go into their final league match at St Ives with lodgers Cambridge City who must win to stay up and that would be dependent on the results of Kings Langley (away at relegated Cirencester) and Dorchester (away at Stratford). St Neots had paved the way for their survival with that unexpected but deserved victory over League champions Chippenham forty-eight hours earlier so this result just rounded off a significant finish to the season with this being only their third clean sheet in the league this season. Manager Matt Clements was able to name an unchanged starting line up with James Tricks returning from suspension on the substitutes bench.
The visitors began well as St Neots struggled to find an early rhythm. In the first twenty minutes, all St Neots had to offer was a Jevani Brown volley that sailed harmlessly over the crossbar but Dunstable might have scored through Claudio Diaz who sent a free kick in a dangerous position wide of target and then Bradley Hewitt won a corner in the air but put his effort over the crossbar. Gradually St Neots seemed to shed their nerves with Brown leading the way picking up a Declan Rogers cross to shoot just over. Then Rogers hit a 30 yards’ free kick past the keeper only to see the ball rebound from a post and Brown followed up to force a full length save by Jack Smith. Now St Neots were well in control and skipper Micky Hyem saw a volley blocked and Lewis Wilson saw a volley rebound from the woodwork. The important breakthrough came on 34 minutes when a teasing Rogers free kick was won in the air by Lee Clarke who powered home a header for only his second goal of the season. Dunstable replied with a rather untidy attack that saw Tom Wood clear off the line but St Neots fully deserved their slender half time advantage.
As in the first half Dunstable made a determined start after the break. Alex Archer who had been largely untested in the first 45 minutes did well two minutes after half time to paw away a cross from Diaz with players lined up at the far post and then from a Harry Bean cross, Josh Oynisan won the ball in the air but headed over. St Neots then began to regain their control with Tom Knowles on for the limping Rogers after 59 minutes and he was straight into the action picking out Lewis Wilson whose cross was put over the bar by Fernando Bell-Toxtle. Archer did have to save at full stretch from substitute Adam Moussi and the hard-working Bell-Toxtle had another opening which he directed into the side netting. St Neots then saw out the final ten minutes in relative comfort with Brown being brought down in the area by the goalkeeper with six minutes left. The goalkeeper deservedly picked up a caution at Brown tucked away the penalty – his nineteenth goal in twenty matches – to clinch the points and St Neots survival.
St Neots: Archer, Norman, Butler, Clarke, Wood, Parr, Rogers, Bell-Toxtle, Wilson, Hyem, Brown
Subs: Knowles (for Rogers 59 mins), Tricks (for Wilson 65 mins), Partridge (for Bell-Toxtle 86 minutes), Williams and Dean.
Cards: Hyem (Y – 22)
Goals: Clarke (34 mins), Brown – pen (84 mins)
Dunstable: Smith, Reynolds, Bean, Longe-King, Hewitt, Pepera, Verney, Diaz, Oyinsan, Green (J), Olukanmi
Subs: Moussa (for Verney 63 mins), Odofin (for Diaz 65 mins), Esso (for Olukanmi (81 mins), Green (D) and Fontonelle.
Cards: Smith (Y – 84), Oyinsan (Y – 88), Reynolds (Y – 45+3)
Referee: Tom Donnelan (Leighton Buzzard)
Southern League Premier Division
CHIPPENHAM TOWN 1 ST NEOTS TOWN 2
The Biggleswade victory over Leamington on Good Friday had handed Chippenham the Southern League Premier Division Championship and a place in the National League South next season and so St Neots were supposed to play the supporting role as the home side and their huge crowd celebrated their first ever place at Step Two in the football pyramid. However, the visitors had issues of their own with their place in the Premier Division next season still at stake and so they produced a gargantuan display to return home from Wiltshire labelled as party-poopers. So, with three of the four teams below then all winning over the weekend St Neots remain four points above the drop with just two matches remaining. It was an all-round team performance with goal ace Jevani Brown again producing the goals to take his personal tally to eighteen in just nineteen matches but each player put in a valuable shift on the day to earn the three priceless points against a side unbeaten in their last twenty-three matches. The one team change saw Jonny Butler come in at full back for the unavailable Jonny Herd.
The St Neots players formed a guard of honor to welcome their hosts onto the pitch at the start of the match but that is where the hospitality finished. Lining up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation St Neots took the game to the Bluebirds from the start and had much the better of the first half. After Alex Archer had to save at the feet of David Pratt in the first attack of the game St Neots settled quickly to their game plan and reward came early after just ten minutes when Taylor Parr headed a long clearance from goalkeeper Darren Chitty back over the heads of the defence and with a burst of speed Jevani Brown won the ball to lob over the advancing goalkeeper. St Neots then took over as Lee Clarke did his best to find his way onto the score sheet heading wide before bringing a good save from Chitty with a clever lob, and then rifling a low shot through the defence just the wrong side of a post. The only real threat from Chippenham came from set pieces with Jamie Andrews testing Archer from a free kick and Will Richards heading over from a corner by Matt Smith. Just past the half hour Chitty had to dive full length to push away a well-directed effort by Brown and Lewis Wilson shot wide. The half ended with Archer saving comfortably from Matt Smith and St Neots went to the break well deserving of their advantage.
Within 35 seconds of the restart there was high drama as Jevani Brown was brought down by Chitty in the penalty area and after receiving lengthy treatment the keeper looked very lucky only to receive a yellow card but Brown calmly slotted home the resultant spot kick to double St Neots’ lead. Chippenham were then clearly a side on a mission as they threw on two attacking substitutes and clearly went for goal. Now St Neots defence was tested but with Tom Wood and Taylor Parr in superb ariel control St Neots weathered the storm for around 25 vital minutes. On the break, St Neots almost scored again when Brown was played clear by Wilson but Chitty saved with his legs. Matt Smith headed over the bar after Archer had misjudged a cross and after 71 minutes the Bluebirds were back in the game when after a further spell of pressure and three successive corners Alex Ferguson was perfectly placed to crash home after a great run by Pratt. Less than a minute later Pratt again eluded defenders to go clear but Archer left his line to block at his feet. Declan Rogers had a shot blocked at the other end and Chitty made up for his earlier error by producing a full length save from Wilson. In the last five minutes plus no less than eight minutes added time St Neots began to look more comfortable and created two late chances with Clarke having his shot blocked and Brown setting up Hyem whose shot was pushed away by Chitty. And then the celebrations for both sides began - St Neots for their victory – Chippenham for their title.
St Neots: Archer, Norman, Butler, Clarke, Wood, Parr, Rogers, Bell-Toxtle, Wilson, Hyem, Brown
Subs: Partridge (for Rogers 83 mins), Knowles, Williams and Dean.
Cards: Hyem (Y – 81)
Goals: Brown 2 (10 & 46 mins – pen)
Chippenham: Chitty, Bowman, Felix, Baggridge, Tindle, Richards, Ferguson, Smith, Pratt, Andrews, Guthrie
Subs: Jones (for Felix 55 mins), Horgan (for Baggridge 55 mins), Pook (for Bowman 73 mins), Beeden and Allen
Cards: Chitty (Y – 46)
Goal: Ferguson (71 mins)
Referee: Stephen Oakey (Cheltenham)
THURLOW NUNN YOUTH CHALLENGE CUP
ST NEOTS TOWN U18 0 PETERBOROUGH NORTHERN STAR U18 0
(St Neots won 4-3 on penalties)
Goalkeeper Evan Jeckells was the hero as he saved two penalty kicks in the sudden death shoot-out to propel St Neots U18 side into the next round of the Thurlow Nunn Youth Cup. The evenly contested match had failed to produce a goal and so the penalties option was required to decide the winners and the keeper saved the second and fourth spot kicks to present Shae Humphrey with the opportunity to keep his nerve and fire home the final kick. At one stage, it looked as if St Neots’ third big game in the space of eight days would be a test too far with four of Friday’s Cup winning side injured as they struggled in the early stages to find any real rhythm but in a solid second half they produced the bulk of the goal scoring chances and they thoroughly deserved their victory.
St Neots did have an early chance when Jack Eldridge fired wide but the visitors hit back with Kian Meadows bringing a good save from Jeckells before Harry Catenach squandered a clear opening, firing wide after being set up by Jamie Scott. Finishing seemed to be an issue for both sides as chances continued to sail wide of their target but it was the visiting side that finished the first half the better. After 33 minutes Scott rounded his marker to fire in a low shot from an angle but Jeckells saved well and two minutes later the keeper was again in action fielding a rising shot from Niall Burnage.
After the break, St Neots looked more composed and confident with a couple of substitutes introduced and in midfield Alfie Donkin began to dictate play for the home side. Andre Williams showing plenty of pace on the right twice shot across the face of goal and visiting keeper Trent Stanley got down well to block an effort by Eldridge. St Neots looked well in control as Erhan Nurettin shot narrowly over the bar and substitute Luke Taylor looked to be fouled in the area but the Referee waved away penalty appeals. Stanley saved well from Ben Southwood whilst Owen Bevan and Williams had chances to put St Neots ahead. They almost paid the price for missed chances when Jamie Scott was played clear of the St Neots defence by substitute Jordan Giddings but he shot wildly over the bar. Both sides rang the changes towards the end with their substitutes but the match finished goalless.
The drama of the penalty shoot-out followed with Scott netting for the visitors and Andre Williams levelling. Jeckells then saved from Bradlee Page and then successful conversions followed by Southwood (St Neots) and Catenach (PNS). Stanley then saved Nurettin’s effort to level at 2-2. Ellwood (PNS) and Luke Taylor (St Neots) scored and so it went down to the final two attempts. When Jeckells guessed right to keep out a penalty by his opposite number Shae Humphrey blasted home the tenth penalty to win the game.
St Neots: Jeckells, Chambers, Beavis, Waites, Rudman, Humphrey, Williams. Nurettin, Southwood, Eldridge, Bevan
Subs used: Taylor (L), Taylor (C), Clarke (H), Mason and Donkin
Referee: Mark Newman
Southern League Premier Division
ST NEOTS TOWN 2 MERTHYR TOWN 3
St Neots suffered their tenth home defeat of the season as they were searching for points to ensure their survival at Step Three. However, it should have been a totally different outcome after they had led 2-1 with just eight minutes remaining. Clearly Merthyr, looking to preserve their play-off bid, did not know when they were beaten and they broke home hearts with two goals in six minutes at the death. Manager Matt Clements admitted to being ‘gutted’ by the result and agreed that had his side taken a reasonable percentage of the chances they created all three points were there for the taking. There was just a single team change with Fernando Bell-Toxtle coming in for Shane Hill who reported sick on the day and he performed extremely well adding pace and determination to St Neots’ midfield. There was also a birthday goal for Declan Rogers who last league goal was scored on 19th December. Now a trip to likely League champions Chippenham Town next Saturday is looking a very tall order.
St Neots began in generous mode gifting their visitors with a second minute opener when Taylor Parr stretching to reach an Ian Traylor cross only succeeded in turning the ball past his own goalkeeper. To their credit, St Neots refused to be fazed by this setback and they set about retrieving the damage in some fashion. It took just 14 minutes for them to be back on terms as Jevani Brown spotted Fernando Toxtle’s late run into the area and picked him out for him to find Declan Rogers who finished well. Merthyr looked stunned and were relieved when Jarred Wright cleared a Taylor Parr header off the goal line with his goalkeeper well beaten. Skipper Micky Hyem then looped in a narrow-angled shot which Oliver Davies stretched to tip on to the bar whilst at the other end two long range efforts by Corey Jenkins were both off target. The Referee then missed a clear handball in the Merthyr penalty area to St Neots dismay but the home side kept up their pressure and were rewarded after 33 minutes when Lee Clarke met a lengthy Jonny Herd throw to head past Davies for his first goal of the season. St Neots were now well in control with Lewis Wilson bringing a save from Davies and Jevani Brown just failing to reach a long Herd cross.
St Neots’ half time instructions were clearly ‘more of the same’ but they failed to find the rhythm that had made them so dominant prior to the break. However, they still created chances with Rogers sending a snap shot just the wrong side of a post, and Jevani Brown being cynically brought down by the keeper when he looked like adding to the lead. To the surprise of most, the Referee only brandished a yellow card at the lucky custodian and the free kick was cleared. After an hour Merthyr decided they needed to regenerate their attack sending on all three permitted substitutes and adopting a positive attacking approach. To some extent this paid off as St Neots were forced back on the defensive and St Neots only real chance of increasing their lead fell to Rogers whose volley was brilliantly turned away by Davies at full stretch. With just eight minutes remaining Merthyr won two successive corners and from the second floated in by Scott Barrow, defender Jarred Wright got the vital touch from close range to level the scores. Now the initiative was firmly with the visiting side and they set up further late attacks with both Keyon Reffell and substitute Kyle Copp bringing saves from Alex Archer. However, with two minutes left Merthyr poached the winning goal as a long throw by Barrow was only cleared as far as Ian Traylor on the edge of the penalty area and he fired a low shot through a crowd of players for the winning goal.
St Neots: Archer, Norman, Herd, Clarke, Wood, Parr, Rogers, Bell-Toxtle, Wilson, Hyem, Brown
Subs: Knowles (for Wilson 86 mins), Partridge Williams and Butler
Cards: Parr (Y – 72)
Goals: Rogers (14 mins), Clarke (33 mins)
Merthyr: Davies (O), Davies (A), Barrow, Evans, Wright, Tancock, Jenkins, Richards, Prosser, Reffells, Traylor
Subs: Patton (for Prosser 60 mins), Copp (for Jenkins 60 mins), Bull (for Tancock 60 mins), Harris and Bowen
Cards: Davies (O) (Y – 59)
Goals: Taylor Parr OG (2 minutes), Jarred Wright (82 mins), Ian Traylor (88 mins)
Referee: Paul Forrester (Luton)
HUNTINGDONSHIRE YOUTH (GAYTON CUP) CUP FINAL (at Eynesbury Rovers FC)
ST NEOTS TOWN U18 2 ST IVES TOWN U18 1
St Neots’ Academy side picked up the Hunts Youth Cup for the first time since 2013 beating neighbours St Ives in a tightly fought Final. Aiming to add this Trophy to their recently acquired Thurlow Nunn West Division title this was St Ives’ third time as runners-up since lifting the Trophy in 2004. Still aiming for their domestic treble, St Neots need to win their last match to lift the Thurlow Nunn Cambridge Division title and they are still in the latter stages of the League Cup.
The opening phase of the match was nervy with neither side showing much penetration but what the game lacked in attacking quality it more than compensated for with passion and commitment. Erhan Nurettin saw the first goal bound effort deflected and Shae Humphrey sent a header wide from a corner but St Ives replied as Matt Wright broke clear only to be denied as Evan Jeckells dived bravely at his feet to smother. The best first half move saw Andre Williams free Sam Piesse on the right but his angled shot was cleared off the line by Jamie Short with his keeper beaten. Towards the end of the first half Andre Williams brought a good save from Tom Smith but put a second effort wide of the target.
The second half was a more feisty affair with Jack Eldridge hooking over the bar after good work by Ben Southwood and after some sustained pressure St Neots took the lead on the hour as Alfie Donkin won the ball well in midfield to send Eldridge away on the left and his clever pull back found Ben Southwood at the far post and he rifled home. This seemed to galvanise St Ives and they were unlucky not to level two minutes later when Tiago Dias beat Evan Jeckells dive but saw the ball clip the outside of the far post to be cleared. After their best spell of the match St Ives levelled the scores twelve minutes from time when Wright was upended as he made for goal and from the resultant penalty award Tiago Dias sent the keeper the wrong way. Now both sides went all out for a winner and this arrived just four minutes later when substitute Luke Taylor’s shot was blocked by a defender and Owen Bevan followed up to smash the ball into the roof of the net. In the melee that followed the St Ives keeper appeared to push Bevan to the ground and the St Neots players’ retaliation earned him a red card with the keeper seeing yellow. Down to ten men St Neots continued to look the better side and in added time Ben Southwood ballooned a good chance over the bar from a Williams cross and then took on the last two defenders before again shooting off target.
St Neots: Jeckells, Collins, Piesse, Donkin, Clarke (I), Humphrey, Williams. Nurettin, Southwood, Bevan, Eldridge
Subs used: Taylor (L), Waites (not used) Chambers, Clarke (H) and Taylor (C)
Cards: Bevan (RED – 83), Eldridge (Y – 63), Humphrey (Y – 78), Clarke (Y – 80)
Goals: Southwood (60), Bevan (82)
St Ives: Smith (T), Smith (E), Zoric, Short, Sheppeard, Polhos, Davidson, Lloyd, Wright, Dias, Anenou
Subs used: Saunders (not used) Kwiatowski, McFarlane, McDaid and Vaz
Cards: Dias (Y – 65), Saunders (Y – 66)
Goals: Dias – pen – (78)
Andy Davies steps down as Academy Manager
Andy Davies has notified the club that he intends to stand down as Academy Manger at the end of the season. Andy has been instrumental in bringing the Academy set up together over the last three years and as such, we would like to go on record and thank Andy for all the hard work, time and energy he has put in.
Andy will remain as lead coach on the Football Scholarship Programme
We are currently in discussions with a number of possible candidates that we believe will help to take the Academy forward for next season and beyond.
Thurlow Nunn Cambridge Division
HISTON U18 0 ST NEOTS TOWN U18 4
This was St Neots’ first league match since December having completed all but two of their games prior to Christmas. However, it was a vital win over mid-table Histon because a victory in their last match at home to Ely on 25th April will guarantee them the League Championship for the first time. If St Neots lose, then after other results only Newmarket can overhaul the young Saints but to do so they must win all four of their remaining matches.
This match was effectively won in the first fifteen minutes because the visitors produced a blistering start and were 3-0 up in that period. After he had put his first effort on the roof of the net two minutes earlier Ben Southwood opened the scoring after five minutes when he met an Andre Williams cross at the far post. Two minutes later the roles were reversed as Southwood fed Williams and his delightful lob over advancing home keeper Owen Peck doubled the lead. Rampant St Neots then made it 3-0 following a Sam Piesse corner that was not cleared, Shae Humphrey netted through a packed penalty area. After that the first half became a little scrappy with Histon defending well and St Neots struggling to find real quality in their approach. The home side almost replied after 21 minutes but Evan Jeckells produced a fine save to deny Luke Sargent.
With a County Cup Final on their agenda just four days hence and a League Cup quarter Final next week, St Neots can be forgiven for taking their collective foot off the gas in the second half. However, they continued to dominate possession after the break and a combination of careless finishing a good goalkeeping denied further goals for Southwood, Williams and Owen Bevan who shot over the bar from five yards. Seven minutes from time the fourth goal came from a Williams right wing cross sliced past his goalkeeper by a Histon defender.
So now it is onward to potential Cup glory for the youngsters.
St Neots: Jeckells, Riley, Piesse, Donkin, Clarke, Holloman, Williams. Nurettin, Southwood, Bevan, Humphrey
Subs used: Taylor, Eldridge, Collins and Chambers.
Cards: Southwood (Y – 44)
Goals: Southwood, Williams,Humphrey and OG