SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

Alvechurch       3          St Neots Town     2          

Having scored just twice in their last four league and cup matches, St Neots Manager Matt Clements had called for his side to rediscover their goalscoring touch as they now returned to their league programme.    In their first ever meeting with Alvechurch they disappointingly fell behind early in the game before two late first half goals afforded them a 2-1 half time lead.   Surely that would be sufficient to earn at least a valuable point – but no.   Sloppy defending after the break gifted their hosts with two goals and all three points, and St Neots slipped a further place in the league table to nineteenth, now only three points above the relegation zone.   It was a multi-changed line up for this match with two enforced absentees – Luke Knight and Dylan Williams – both sitting out a one match ban, and the Manager chose to reshape his attack leaving Dion Sembie-Ferris and Claudio Ofosu on the bench.   Into the side came Johnny Herd (after suspension), Dan Olaniran, Gary Wharton and loanee Lee Watkins.   The side looked to have good shape but two defenders – Russell Short and Devante Stanley both departed injured and the side then seemed to suffer a loss of confidence and despite a late show of determined pressure they were unable to retrieve their single goal deficit.

From the first whistle it was a high tempo contest with chances at both ends of the field.   St Neots with a 3-4-3 shape saw Tom Wood test home keeper Charlie Price from distance after five minutes and then a minute later the home side delivered sucker punch as Kieran Cook flicked home a Mitch Botfield cross at the near post.   St Neots responded with Nabil Shariff seeing his shot deflected for a corner, but play returned to the other end where Yusifu Ceesay saw his effort smothered by a defender, and Botfield robbed a defender but overran the ball as he bore down on goal.    As the half wore on St Neots began to dictate the pattern of play and Taylor Parr’s neat back-header from a Johnny Herd throw was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Price.   In a quick break by Alvechurch, Dave Bellis tried his luck from distance only to see his effort beat Harry Reynolds but rebound from a post.   However, the spirited reply from the visitors deservedly had its reward when a neat square lay off by Gary Wharton set up man-of-the- match Tom Wood for his first league goal of the season.   Price then saved well at the feet of Nabil Shariff after good work by Devante Stanley and Wood then almost scored again only to see his header from a corner, cleared off the line by Jamie Willetts.   However five minutes before the break the industrious Gary Wharton took full advantage of home defensive hesitation to round the keeper and score from a narrow angle to afford St Neots a deserved half time advantage.

The second half began badly for the visitors as just two minutes poor cover in the defence allowed Kieran Cook too much space and he scored, also from an oblique angle to level the scores for a second time.   St Neots had lost Russell Short at the break following a first half injury and after 57 minutes Devante Stanley was helped off the field after a collision had left him prone on the ground.   With the versatile Tom Wood now switched into defence St Neots set about restoring their influence on the match but they were under pressure again when a Botfield free kick required the under-pressure Reynolds to punch away.  Then from a Tom Turton cross the defensive marking was wanting, allowing tall defender Kyle Morrison a free header to give Alvechurch that 3-2 advantage.   St Neots were stunned by this setback and mounted a series of counter attacks with Matt Miles firing over the bar and Dion Sembie-Ferris also off target after neat work by Lee Watkins.   Alvechurch on a counter then saw Turton get the ball in the net following a corner but an Assistant Referee flagged one of his colleague offside and it was left to Claudio Ofosu in the dying minutes to fire across the face of goal and leave St Neots their journey home wondering what might have been.

St Neots:  Reynolds, Stanley, Herd, Olaniran, Short, Parr, Miles, Wood, Shariff, Wharton, Watkins

Subs:  Sembie-Ferris (for Short 46 mins), Ofosu (for Stanley 62 mins) and Douglas.

Cards:  Short (Y – 34 mins)

Goals:  Wood (30 mins), Wharton (40 mins)

 

Alvechurch:  Price, Ezewele, Foster, Turton, Morrison, Willetts, Bellis, Botfield, Lloyd, Ceesay, Cook

Subs:  March (for Cook 62 mins), Landell (for Lloyd 62 mins), Carter (for Botfield 83 mins), Evans and O’Callaghan

Cards:  Turton (Y – 32 mins), Botfield (Y – 45 mins)

Goals:  Cook 2 (6 & 47 mins), Morrison (68 mins)

 

Referee:  Richie Watkins (Nuneaton)

Attendance:  239

 

John Walker

 

UPCOMING MATCHES PREVIEW

After the disappointing exit from our second National competition last weekend it is back to our league programme and we are off to Worcestershire on Saturday for our first ever visit to Alvechurch.   Alvechurch were promoted from Step Four in the Evo-Stik League South at the end of last season via the end of season play-offs after finishing runners-up.   This season they have made an excellent start with a current fifth position in the table in the play-off zone.   Out of the FA Trophy in the first-round qualifying, last week they took full advantage with a narrow 2-1 away victory at Rushall Olympic.   They are newcomers to this level after some 15 years in the Midland Football Alliance and Midland Football League but this season they have already recorded home victories over St Ives, Needham Market and Redditch.   Historically they were briefly a Southern League club having gained entry into the Southern League for the 1978/79 season and at that time as the only true village club playing in the league they finished in a creditable third position.

Next Tuesday sees the visit to the Town for the first time since 2003 of Needham Market.   It is to be another Southern League Premier Central fixture with our visitors one of a clutch of clubs transferred into the expanded Southern League this season.  Needham’s last visit was for an FA Vase First Round match which out lads won 3-1 with two goals from Steve Kuhne and the third from Ronnie Fortune.   We also met in the FA Vase five years later in Suffolk where our hosts beat us 4-3 in a real thriller with James Hall, Luigi Rocco and Ben Dyett scoring but with Manager Marvin Johnson observing ‘you cannot expect to win when you concede four goals!’   Needham will feature next Saturday in the third round qualifying of the FA Trophy where they have been given an away tie at Royston Town so at least the league is guaranteed one Divisional representative in the First-Round Proper next month.  At the time these notes were penned, Needham were thirteenth in the league table – just two points ahead of our lads.

 

John Walker

We have decided its safe enough to mention the C word!

We will be launching our new Saints online shop in time for the Christmas rush, with a new range of merchandise and gifts (including replica shirts) plus online ticketing for matches and events and a whole host more.
And watch this space as we will soon be selling merchandise from a base in St Neots town centre.

The Saints and Santa are coming!

 

THURLOW NUNN YOUTH LEAGUE CAMBRIDGE DIVISION

ST NEOTS TOWN U18       2         CAMBRIDGE CITY U18       2         

This was a pulsating encounter between the two best sides in the Division and it finished honours even.  Leaders St Neots retained their top berth and their unbeaten at home in the league record, whilst their visitors Cambridge City remain unbeaten this season.   It was a match that was played at a tremendous pace with a high degree of commitment from each side with both going in front before the points were shared after 90 minutes, so there was plenty to engross St Neots best home attendance of the season.   The visitors started in an explosive fashion dominating the early exchanges, but St Neots came back to enjoy a much greater share of the second half possession and thought they may have won until the late Cambridge equaliser.

St Neots weathered an early scare when goalkeeper Joe Burberry miskicked a clearance before pouncing on the ball in the opening minute, but the visitors were dictating play and went ahead on seven minutes when a swift attack on the left saw Jamie Judge cross to the far post for Robert Friel to force home.   Burberry then had to save well from Henry Hall and Friel as Cambridge maintained their impressive start, but St Neots replied with Jacob Joseph firing over the bar and Markel Cousins forcing a good save from Toby Moring.   Friel then shot over the bar when played clear by Jude White, but it was St Neots who finished the first half more strongly as Joseph volleyed over the bar after good work by Bradley Brown, and Cousins saw a shot blocked on the goal line following a Sammy Routs free kick.

 Cambridge did create two early second half openings with White shooting off target after a pacey run that took him past two defenders, and Aaron Hiscock attacked on the left but saw his shot blocked by a defender.   St Neots then took over with Routs having a shot deflected over the bar, and Nehemiah Goodridge going close with a shot from a corner.   Cambridge were now pushed back on the defensive and Moring despite being unsighted produced the save of the match to deny Cousins, pushing his low shot away at full stretch.  He also saved a narrow-angled Joe Rider shot with his feet but was eventually beaten after 72 minutes by a neat Joseph header from a cross by substitute Tom Leagas.   Six minutes later St Neots took the lead as the impressive Cousins fed leading scorer Joe Rider to make it 2-1.   However the lead was short-lived for two minutes later a rare Cambridge attack ended with the unmarked Aaron Hiscock heading Harvey Bullin cross past Burberry.   There was no easing of commitment as both sides strove for a winning goal but a draw was a fair result.

St Neots:  Burberry, Ferry, Goodridge, O’Hara, Rowland, Fulianty, Joseph, Brown (B), Rider, Routs, Cousins

Sub used:   Leagas.

Referee:  Paul Gale

 

 (John Walker)

 

Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire Mind (CPSL Mind) was delighted to receive £325 from local football club, St Neots Town FC. The club raised the money by holding a raffle and bucket collection at a recent match against Coalville Town FC.

Barry Cavilla, Chairman of the club said, “We are so pleased to support our local Mind as we know how important mental health is and about getting the right support when you need it.”

Zoe Doherty, fundraiser for CPSL Mind commented, We are really grateful to the fans for raising this money at such an important game for the club. The money raised will go towards helping local people in their recovery from mental health challenges. A huge thank you to the club and their supporters for this donation.”

 

Post 16 Sports Scholarship.

Keep an eye out for further Sports Scholarship opportunities including Cricket, Tennis, Golf......

Please also welcome Alex Cook onto our full time coaching Staff. Alex Cook joins Jamie Raynor and Alex Minall, who as well as coaching our scholars also all coach within our Scholarship partner Peterborough United's Academy

# developmentpartnership

FA TROPHY – SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING

St Neots Town      0          Barwell       1

This match was supposed to be about a football contest, but it turned out to be more about an over-zealous Referee.   The forgettable first half was dominated by the Referee who issued four yellow cards for offences not helped by the conditions thanks to a pre-match downpour, including two to visiting striker Massiah McDonald leaving his side to play for more than an hour with ten men.   Boston Referee Alastair Wilson also dismissed one of the Barwell Managerial staff from the dugout and in the second half issued a second yellow card to Dylan Williams ten minutes from time balancing up the two sides.   In addition to the two dismissals there were a further four yellow cards issued – three for the visitors – in a match that hardly boasted a single malicious challenge.    One time million-pound Wolverhampton Wanders striker, 32 years old Sylvan Ebanks-Blake came off the Barwell bench at half time to fire his side to an unlikely FA Trophy victory claiming the only goal in a scrappy match between these two Southern League Central opponents.   St Neots can have no real complaints because they had more than enough possession to make their numerical superiority count, but at present they are lacking quality in front of goal.   In eleven matches at the Premier Plus Stadium they have managed only thirteen goals whilst on foreign soil they have notched just a goal a game in league and cup.   Manager Matt Clements had to make two team changes bringing in utility man Matt Miles for the suspended Johnny Herd and with loanee Ben Worman unavailable he gave Claudio Ofosu a starting berth for only the second time in the last seven matches.

It was a bright enough start with both keepers in action in the first five minutes – Harry Reynolds saving well from Liam Canavan and Dion Sembie-Ferris seeing his effort pushed clear by Liam Castle.   A free kick by Dylan Williams following the first McDonald booking saw Tom Wood just inches from converting the low cross and then a second Sembie-Ferris effort was deflected for a corner.   Brady Hickey squandered the visitors best first half chance firing over the bar with the St Neots defence split, but further bookings saw the rhythm of the match deteriorate.   Castle did have to leave his line swiftly to save at the feet of Nabil Shariff and a snap shot by Russell Short was competently handled by the keeper.   Barwell could have taken a first half lead when they split the St Neots defence from a lengthy goalkeeper clearance six minutes before the break but Hickey volleyed wide when he should at least have tested the keeper.  The half ended with a good move at the other end when the pace of Sembie-Ferris took him around his marker but at the near post, Dylan Williams’ header was over the bar.

A bold approach by Barwell immediately after the break laid the foundation for this result.  Despite being a man down they sent on Ebanks-Blake taking off a defensive midfielder and taking the game to St Neots.  Jahvan Davidson-Miller outpaced the St Neots defence and drew Reynolds off his line but his clever chip towards goal was acrobatically cleared off the line by the covering Short.  As the visitors continued to press Reynolds produced a top notch save to deny Hickey but that was St Neots chance to counter-attack and Williams had a shot blocked and Shariff saw a looping header retrieved by the back-peddling Castle.    Tom Wood then set up Sembie-Ferris on the right and his rising shot was well saved by the keeper and two more visiting players were booked for clumsy challenges.   After 70 minutes Barwell sent on another attacking player and that proved to be the master stroke as within six minutes of his arrival substitute Nigel Julien won his way to the bye line to cross beyond the far post for Hickey to head back to Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to apply the lethal finishing touch.   St Neots responded with Luke Knight bringing a good save from Castle and in a long period of seven minutes added time St Neots failed to produce a significant shot to bother the keeper.   Now out of both National competitions St Neots must turn their attention to improving their precarious looking league position.

St Neots:  Reynolds, Stanley, Miles, Knight, Short, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Wood, Shariff, Williams (D), Ofosu

Subs:  Wharton (for Ofosu 65 mins), Douglas (for Sembie-Ferris 90 mins) and Olaniran

Cards:  Williams (RED – 2 x Y – 22 & 81 mins), Knight (Y – 18 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Barwell:  Castle, Percival, Putman, Desrosier, Gasgoine, Hildreth, Canavan, Tomkinson, McDonald, Hickey, Davidson-Miller

Subs:  Ebanks-Blake (for Hildreth 46 mins), Julien (for Davidson-Miller 70 mins), Taylor, Williams (K) and Rowe.

Cards:  McDonald (RED – 2 x Y – 6 & 28 mins), Davidson-Miller (Y – 64 mins), Canavan (Y – 69 mins), Gasgoine (Y – 88 mins) + member of Management Team (SENT OFF28 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Referee:  Alastair Wilson (Boston)

Attendance:  216

 

John Walker

 

UPCOMING MATCH PREVIEW

It is back to Cup football on Saturday with the second visit to the town of Barwell for our Second Round Qualifying tie in the FA Trophy.   Barwell based in Leicestershire reached this stage of the competition with an extra time replay victory away at Coalville whilst our lads saw off the challenge of Matlock Town here on 27 October.   Barwell’s previous trip to the town was on 24 November 2012 when goals from Stefan Moore and Ben Mackey gave our lads a 2-2 Southern League draw.   Later in the season our return match was memorable – a 3-2 victory for us after leading 3-0 at one stage – with the result confirming our survival at Step Three and robbing Barwell of the chance of a play-off place.   The Canaries have an excellent record away from home this season last defeated on foreign soil almost three months ago at Coalville on 27th August.   Since then their three league defeats were all at home and they unbeaten in all competitions since 6th October when they lost at home in the league to Alvechurch.   Both of our teams were defeated in the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy last season – our lads at home to Stourbridge and Barwell at home by lower graded Mildenhall Town.   For today’s winners the next round is scheduled for two weeks’ time – 24th November with the draw to be published on Monday.   Of course be shall be without full back Johnny Herd for this match as he sits out his one match suspension and Harry O’Malley will be unlikely to feature in the squad as he makes his recovery from injury.

 

John Walker

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

St Neots Town      0          Tamworth      0

St Neots Manager Matt Clements saw this result as two points lost rather than one gained after his side had finished strongly in a closely fought match with league newcomers Tamworth.   It was the return to the Premier Plus Stadium of visitors’ Manager Dennis Greene who oversaw St Neots progress from Step Five to Step Three in successive seasons, as well as a late cameo substitute appearance for former charismatic goalscoring hero Stefan Moore.   Sadly the result only served to underline St Neots lack of league goalscoring power for they have now only managed to score nine times in thirteen league outings despite having found the back of the net fifteen times in eight cup matches.   The match also featured the return to the defence of Taylor Parr after missing the last two matches with injury and there was a one hundredth senior appearance for utility player Tom Wood moved into midfield for this match to accommodate Parr, with Matt Miles left on the substitutes bench.    Tamworth relegated to this level from the National League at the end of last season cherish ambitions of a return to Step Two this season but on this showing, they are some way short of achieving that aim.

Although first half play was end to end neither side had the finishing to seriously test their opponents’ goal in the opening stages.   Aman Verma sent Tamworth’s first shot after eight minutes towards goal, but Harry Reynolds saved comfortably.   Tom Wood then headed wide from a Johnny Herd corner and the match was becoming competitive in midfield with two visiting players booked for fouls in the opening 25 minutes.   An ambitious overhead bicycle kick by Nabil Shariff flew over the bar whilst at the other end after 32 minutes, Gregg Smith did get the ball in the St Neots net, but the Referee had blown for an infringement.   Tamworth were enjoying the greater share of possession but St Neots back line looked confident and sound and goalkeeper Reynolds did not have a serious save to make.   His counterpart was also untroubled in the first half although Ben Worman saw a shot blocked and both Ryan Beswick and Tyrell Waite sent their efforts wide of target at the other end.

The visitors stated the second half well with Waite weaving his way past two defenders to test Reynolds at his near post and in a bid to boost his teams’ fortunes Dennis Greene made two early second half substitutions but to little effect.   Visiting keeper Jas Singh was then forced into a serious save to deny Dion Sembie-Ferris and St Neots also made a change with Claudio Ofosu replacing Worman.    Midway through the second half St Neots though they should have been awarded a penalty when Dylan Williams picked up a pass from Devante Stanley and burst into the penalty area to be upended but the Referee judged that the St Neots player had illegally dived, and he was booked for simulation.   Further substitutions followed as the sides sought late inspiration in a bid to find a winning goal and it was St Neots who came closest to breaking the deadlock.   With nine minutes left the best team move of the match saw Dion Sembie-Ferris and Nabil Shariff open up the visiting defence and when the latter went clear his shot beat the visiting keeper but narrowly skimmed the angle of bar and post.   Four minutes later substitute Ofosu beat his marker on the edge of the area to send Stanley clear on the right and his searching low cross from the bye line was only inches from conversion by Shariff.   After this burst of St Neots pressure it was left to Stanley to save the day in added time with a timely interception to rob Waite in front of an open goal.

St Neots:  Reynolds, Stanley, Herd, Knight, Short, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Wood, Shariff, Williams, Worman

Subs:  Ofosu (for Worman 65 mins), Miles (for Wood 76 mins), Olaniran, Watkins and Douglas.

Cards:  Williams (Y – 71 mins), Knight (Y – 75 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Tamworth:  Singh, Green, Gough, Beswick, Kettle, Jemson, Magunda, Verma, Smith, Lait, Waite

Subs:  Dunkley (for Lait 53 mins), Clement (for Beswick (56 mins), Moore (for Verma (80 mins) Jeynes and Johnson

Cards:  Jemson (Y – 19 mins), Gough (Y – 23 mins), Magunda (Y – 90 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Referee:  Jack Blaxham (Wheathampstead)

Attendance:  181

 

John Walker

 

UPCOMING MATCH PREVIEW

Tuesday evening football sees the first ever visit to the Premier Plus Stadium of Tamworth for a Southern League Premier Central tie.   It is a rearranged match postponed due to FA Cup involvement and it sees the return to the town of former St Neots Manager Dennis Greene.     He will have required no directions to get here for he was our Manager from 2nd February 2010 until 30th June 2012 taking over from Steve Lomas and going on to see his side win the United Counties League Premier Division Championship and the Southern League Central Division Championship in successive seasons.   Since then he has managed several clubs and spent some time scouting but earlier this season he took over at Tamworth.   Our Staffordshire visitors were relegated from the National League North at the end of last season and found themselves in the Southern League Central having previously won the Premier Division of that league to obtain promotion to Step Two in 2002/03.   Last Saturday Tamworth recorded a 2-0 home victory over Hitchin to go above our lads in the league table.

 

John Walker

 

 

 

 

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