UPCOMING MATCH PREVIEW

This week afforded St Neots’ Manager Marc Abbott and his coaching staff a breathing space as the first free midweek of the season.   He and his off-the-field team will be taking a close look at the team’s defensive organisation after conceding five goals in each of its first three home league matches this season.   It is ironic than in the early stages of the season the main concern seemed to be around goal scoring but now it is the other end of the field that is coming under scrutiny.   So, a week of planning is in view prior to the visit to Carlton Town in the preliminary round of the FA Trophy.   Carlton are based in Nottingham and have had a very impressive start to the season with six wins in their first seven league games although they did draw at home last Saturday with Sheffield FC.   However, they still top the South East Division of the Northern Premier League so will be extremely challenging opponents for St Neots next Saturday.   St Neots record in the Trophy is not very impressive reaching no further than the second qualifying round in the past four seasons.   In fact, the only time they got to the third qualifying round was in 2014/15 when they reached that round but lost in a replay at Sudbury.   Their full record in 15 seasons in the competition since 1969 is that they have never reached the competition proper having struggled in time in the qualifying rounds.

Up to now and the end of September, St Neots will have completed fifteen competitive matches this season (including the Premier Cup group matches) with only six of those in their league programme. However, a win at Carlton could prolong the number of Cup matches and earn them a sponsorship award.

John Walker

 

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

 

St Neots Town        2           AFC Dunstable       5

For the third time this season St Neots let in five goals in a home league match – and that was after taking the lead in 40 seconds of the start and dominating the second half!   Once again it was a tale of shoddy first half defending that left them chasing the game after the break at 4-1 behind, and although the improvement in the second half was significant, the deficit conceded in the first 45 minutes proved pivotal.   AFC Dunstable came to town as league leaders with only one defeat in their six completed matches and it will be little comfort to St Neots to know that they were able to compete on level terms when they were not conceding sloppy goals.   They must now take away the positives from the performance and improve their defending.   To rub salt into the wounds the first two Dunstable goals came from former St Neots players and two more were set up by another former Saint.   Prior to the match St Neots had the promising news that two of their senior players had recovered from injury to return to the side with Sam Goode and Jake Kerins returning for Panny Boxer and Jake Noble both of whom were on the bench.   St Neots now look forward to their first free midweek of the season so their will have a little time to prepare for the FA Trophy debut this season, next week away in Nottinghamshire.

Before all the later arriving spectators were in their seats, St Neots had taken the lead inside the first 40 seconds.   A loose defensive clearance reached Sam Bennett on the left and his early probing cross was forced home from close range by Prince Mutswunguma – his fifth goal of the current campaign.   However, the visitors took less than three minutes to respond as from their second corner of the match defender Ryan Frater (five goals in 79 appearance for St Neots) rose above the defence to head past James Philp and level the scores.   St Neots seemed to be unaffected by this setback as Sam Goode headed narrowly wide from a St Neots corner and then Mutswunguma brought a good low save from visiting keeper Dan Green.   Green then pushed two efforts over the bar from Bennett and Sam Gomersall but gradually the visitors were getting on top and for the final half hour of the first half they were in control.   After 26 minutes they forged into the lead as Nathan Frater joined his brother on the scoresheet cutting in from the right to curl a shot beyond the despairing dive of Philp.   Then in the five minutes before half time the St Neots defence endured a nightmare spell in which they conceded two further goals to effectively put the match beyond recovery.   After 40 minutes the usually reliable Philp spilled a cross from former Saint Martell Powell presenting striker Bernard Christie with a simple tap in finish and four minutes later Referee Daniel Todd wrongly awarded the visitors a free kick when Sam Goode clearly won a tackle on Christie, and from the cross by Powell Luke Abraham got in front of his marker to head past Philp to make it 4-1.

To their immense credit St Neots seemed to put the score line behind them after half time and they set about repairing the damage.   Mutswunguma shot wide after good work by Joe Sutton and after 52 minutes Sam Bennett gave them faint hope of a recovery when he collected a short pass from Mutswunguma to move inside and curl a shot into the roof of the net.   Philp kept their hopes alive with a smart save to deny Nathan Frater, but St Neots was making the running as first Gomersall and then Sutton tested the visiting keeper.   However, despite superior possession St Neots lacked inspiration in of goal despite the introduction of substitutes and adopting a more attacking approach.   A Sam Goode header from an Alfie Connor free kick was the closest they came to reduce the arrears but Green once again saved well.   Lee Watkins then spurned a golden chance by shooting wide of goal and the final blow came two minutes into added time.   St Neots were caught short pushing too far forward and Bernard Christie collected a long defensive clearance to skilfully lob Philp who was to far out of his goal and complete the 5-2 final score line.

St Neots Town:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Connor, Goode, Walker, Gomersal, Watkins, Mutswunguma, Bennett, Sutton

Subs:  N’Kala (for Mutswunguma 68 mins), Boxer (for Gomersall 71 mins), Noble and Rhiney.

Cards:  Watkins (Y – 19 mins), Gomersall (Y – 64 mins)

Goals:  Prince Mutswunguma (1 min), Sam Bennett (52 mins)

 

Dunstable:  Green, Baird, Ajayi, Frater (R), Abraham, McNulty, Powell, Tavernier, Christie, Frater (N), Crawley

Subs:  Elliott (for McNulty 56 mins), Rhiney (for Crawley 58 mins), Carney (for Powell 82 mins), Fryer and Hall

Cards:  Tavernier (Y – 45+2 mins)

Goals:  Bernard Christie 2 (40 mins & 90+2 mins), Ryan Frater (3 mins), Nathan Frater (26 mins) & Luke Abraham (44 mins)

 

Referee:  Daniel Todd (Milton Keynes)

Attendance:       148

 

John Walker

SOUTHERN LEAGUE LEAGUE CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND

Kempston Rovers       0            St Neots Town        1         

A dramatic injury time winning goal saw St Neots through to the next round of the League Cup in their delayed tie at Kempston.   Against expectation an understrength St Neots side progressed despite having to play with three of their usual back four injured.   By complete coincidence the late winner came from Aaron Smith – the only survivor of that back four.   It was a much-changed St Neots side that took the field but the adaptability of players to perform in other than normal roles has got to be a bonus for Manager Marc Abbott.   With Stevan Shaw and Mason Rhiney already on the injury list they were joined by experienced defenders Sam Goode and Jake Kerins and reshuffling his side with Panny Boxer at full back, the Manager brought in Jake Noble and Sam Gomersall as well as replacing Tim N’Kala with Prince Mutswunguma.   The two sides had met at Kempston three weeks earlier in a league match that had resulted in St Neots only three points haul so far this season.

There was a very bright start to the match with both sides playing positive attacking football.   St Neots created three openings in the first five minutes with the reinstated Prince Mutswunguma going clear of the defence  but seeing two early goal bound shots both blocked – first by keeper Carl Knox and then by defender Jordan Wright.   Three minutes later Joe Sutton sprinted past three home players only to see Wright block again.   Kempston replied swiftly winning two corners in succession both pushed away by under pressure visiting goalkeeper James Philp.   The game then settled with the home side having the edge for a period.   Back in defence Mutswunguma gave the ball away and Wright had a low effort well saved by Philp and a free kick in a good position twenty yards from goal was skied over the bar by Finlay Brennan.    The match was developing into a very tight contest with neither side able to break through despite some promising openings and in his unfamiliar full back role Penny Boxer advanced to set up Sam Bennett whose effort was narrowly over the bar.   Sam Gomersal making only his second league start was looking lively in attack and he shot just wide after clever work by Mutswunguma and then he lifted a cross onto the roof of the net with home keeper Knox out of position.   As half time arrived the final effort was also from Gomersal after good unselfish work by Sutton but once again Knox saved well.

The second half saw St Neots in control as they grew in confidence.   Gomersal saw an early effort blocked by a defender and Mutswunguma was again tormenting the home defence to set up Sutton whose first effort was blocked by the legs of Knox and his follow-up from a narrow angle flew across the face of goal.   Kempston looked dangerous on the break and from a corner by Brennan a towering header from Robbie Goodman brought the save of the match from Philp.   Sutton was then brought down on the edge of the box, but Alfie Connor’s free kick was off target and wasted.   Jake Noble was booked for a midfield foul after the Referee had played an excellent advantage for the home side that came to nothing but the St Neots player had to leave the field with an injury shortly afterwards with Jacob Joseph replacing him and Gomersal reverting to the vacant defensive position.   Mutswunguma then saw a shot deflected over the bar and in the final twenty minutes St Neots enjoyed the bulk of the attacking play but failed to break down the stubborn home defence.   As the ninety minutes drew to a close both sides sent on substitutes in preparation for the seemingly inevitable penalty shoot-out but two minutes into added time a St Neots attack on the right broke down and the ball ran loose to Aaron Smith whose first ever senior goal earned his side passage through to the next round and a visit to Yaxley.

St Neots:  Philp, Boxer, Smith, Connor, Noble, Walker, Gomersal, Watkins, Mutswunguma, Bennett, Sutton

Subs:  Joseph (for Noble 67 mins), N’Kala (for Mutswunguma 83 mins), Quigley (for Bennett 90+3 mins), Olive and Bartlett.

Cards:  Noble (Y – 63 mins)

Goals:  Smith (90+2 mins)

 

Kempston:  Knox, Goodman, Brennan, Wright, Powell, Sage, Boland, McGrath, Stratton, Dahie, Massaro

Subs:  Hunt (for McGrath 46 mins), Beldon (For Dahie 90+3 mins), Shortt, Andrews and Hudson.

Cards:  Powell (Y – 48 mins), Massaro (Y – 72 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Referee:  Sean Barry (Northampton)

Attendance:       89

 

John Walker

UPCOMING MATCHES PREVIEW

Tomorrow (Tuesday) sees St Neots back in action in the delayed League Cup Preliminary Round at Kempston Rovers.   With the rearrangement delayed by the FA Cup replay the two contestants already know that victory would afford them a First-Round tie in two weeks’ time (October 1st) at Yaxley.   The first meeting between the two for nine years, took place at Kempston in the League on Bank Holiday Monday and resulted in St Neots’ only league victory so far this season so a repeat performance would be the perfect outcome.   St Neots record in the League Cup is somewhat patchy but in their nine seasons in the Southern League they have only appeared in the Preliminary Round twice – the other time being last season when they beat Bedford Town at home in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

Then on Saturday the team are back at the Premier Plus Stadium for only their second league match in their last six starts with a first ever visit from AFC Dunstable.   The visitors ground share with Dunstable Town and have made a stunning start to the season with four victories in their first five matches.    Their one defeat came against unbeaten Corby Town (at Corby) at the end of last month.   The two teams have never met but Dunstable do have former St Neots players Ryan and Nathan Frater, Martell Powell and Drew Roberts on their books.

 

John Walker

 

 

 

BetVICTOR SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION ONE

Didcot Town       2            St Neots Town        1          

A disappointing second half performance saw St Neots drop to just one place off the bottom of the league table after their first ever visit to Didcot Town.   However, the defeat was only one significant factor in a very disappointing afternoon in Oxfordshire.   The flashpoint for the disturbance came twenty minutes from time with the scores level at one apiece.   Tim N’Kala seeking to break clear of the defence was wrestled crudely to the ground by home full back Liam Talboys and then forcibly held down as he tried to recover.   The Referee seemed slow to react and players from both sides piled in to wreak justice.   Amongst them was semi-fit St Neots substitute Stevan Shaw who had no right to intervene and he was issued with a red card – the first non-player to be so punished in living memory.   When the Referee and both Assistants sorted out the mayhem the two protagonists were booked, and the game continued with both sides still having eleven players on the pitch!   From that point St Neots seemed to lose their way and a late winning goal gave Didcot only their second league victory of the season.   St Neots Manager Marc Abbott had tweaked his starting line-up for the match.   With Shaw failing a pre-match fitness test Joe Walker filled in for his first Southern League start, Alfie Connor was preferred to Jake noble in midfield, and Joe Sutton returned after suspension in place of Prince Mutswunguma who was on the substitutes bench.

The pitch was more reminiscent of a beach, very hard and almost devoid of grass in places due to a water supply problem after the long dry spell, but both sides settled to the conditions which produced an irregular bounce of the ball.   Wide man George Reid was quickly a thorn in the St Neots defence being brought down after five minutes by Panny Boxer to earn the St Neots player the first booking of the match, and then having a deflected free kick well parried by James Philp.   Joe Sutton looked lively for St Neots shooting narrowly wide after an impressive pacey run, but then after twelve minutes he dispossessed home skipper Luke Carnell and cleverly rounded the home keeper to open the scoring.   St Neots seemed boosted by their lead and just before the twenty minutes mark Sam Bennett had two good chances to extend the score line, firstly shooting wide after neat play by Boxer and Sutton and then scorning an excellent opening, shooting high over the bar when clear.   Tim N’Kala then cut in, to fire over the bar and a lengthy effort by Lee Watkins was off target.   It was therefore against the run of play two minutes before the break when rather fortunately Didcot levelled.   A St Neots attack broke down and Reid produced pace to get forward, but his cross was deflected to the feet of Mark Francis who netted from close range.

St Neots had two early let offs after 55 minutes when their defence was caught short and attempting to rectify the position Sam Goode opted for a lofted back pass well wide of his keeper and the ball bounced off a post to concede a corner.   Didcot did get the ball in the net from that corner but fortunately the Referee had spotted some pushing in the penalty area.   Seven minutes later St Neots might have taken the lead but Jake Kerins’ first effort from a very narrow angle was blocked by the goalkeeper, and his follow-up volley in the same attack was acrobatically turned over the bar by Leigh Bedwell.   The game was now more open and a shot by Seth Humphries was deflected and fell to Luke Carnell whose shot was hacked off the line by a defender.    Mark Francis sent an acrobatic overhead kick inches too high but then that midfield altercation held up play for several minutes.   With nine minutes left full back Cameron McNeill made a swift attacking run down the flank and when his low shot was deflected Mark Francis was on hand to net from close range the winning goal – his second of the contest.   It could have been worse for in the last few minutes James Philp produced an outstanding full length save to deny substitute Connor Mattimore.   A day best forgotten!

St Neots:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Connor, Walker, Goode, Watkins, Boxer, N’Kala, Bennett, Sutton

Subs:  Gomersall (for Smith 67 mins), Mutswunguma (for Bennett 83 mins), Shaw and Abbott.

Cards:  Shaw (RED – 70 mins), Boxer (Y – 5 mins), N’Kala (Y – 70 mins), Goode (Y – 73 mins)

Goals:  Sutton (12 mins)

 

Didcot:  Bedwell, Talboys, McNeill,Hayden, Carnell, Gilmore, Dark, Nash, Francis, Humphries, Reid

Subs:  Pin (for Humphries 83 mins), Mattimore (for Dark 83 mins), Gardner, Heapy and Sampford.

Cards:  McNeill (Y – 21 mins), Talboys (Y – 70 mins)

Goals:  Francis 2 (43 and 81 mins)

 

Referee:  Tom Staten (Gloucester)

Attendance:       241

 

John Walker

EMIRATES FA CUP FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND REPLAY

Biggleswade Town       2            St Neots Town        0          

St Neots bowed out of the FA Cup in their midweek replay with Biggleswade Town producing an uninspiring performance as seniority prevailed.   The main difference between the sides was the almost faultless display by Solomon Sambou for the home side as he controlled midfield throughout the match and still found time to score a goal in each half to propel his side through to the next round and a home tie with Ware Town.   A measure of the difference between the sides was that St Neots failed to produce a shot on target in the first 45 minutes and then failed to seriously test home custodian Sam Donkin after the break.   The home side was dominant almost throughout with the need for St Neots to find a goalscoring striker again very apparent.   They could not be faulted for effort, but it is goals that win matches, and in this case the greater sponsorship reward.   Manager Marc Abbott opted for just a single change in his line-up giving a first senior start to recent signing Panny Boxer and leaving Alfie Connor on the bench, whilst the home side rested former Saints central defender Jordan Gent.

 

The Waders began confidently and after six minutes, Joe White cut in from the left to fire in a narrow-angled shot that James Philp blocked with his legs.   Seven minutes later down the same flank the lively Sean Lucien moved inside his marker, but his effort flew across the face of goal to be cleared.   The attacking play by the home side continued as St Neots found it difficult to get of their own half, and when Liam Brooks was tripped in full flight after 15 minutes, Matt Ball sent the free kick in a central position high over the bar.    Two minutes later the initial breakthrough arrived as Lucien lost possession, but the ball went loose to the feet of Solomon Sambou and he sent a sweetly struck shot into the roof of the net past the surprised Philp.    It was no less than the hosts deserved although St Neots did hit back quickly as former Saint defender Devante Stanley gave the ball away and presented with a surprise opening Sam Bennett sent his effort over the bar.   It could have been worse for St Neots when after 24 minutes Lucien’s blistering pace took him past his marker and his cross evaded the visiting defenders but at the far post Liam Brooks missed his kick and the chance went begging.   Home skipper Ball had a shot deflected, and at the other end Tim N’Kala failed to get a shot in after neat work by Panny Boxer and on the stroke of half time, Jake Kerins sent a free kick from the edge of the box over the crossbar.

 

St Neots were more competitive after the break, but the home side continued to create the bulk of the openings.   From a Ball free kick Sambau fluffed a good headed chance and Ball sent a free kick over the bar from a promising position.   St Neots did respond after good work by Jake Noble but Mutswunguma finished weakly and after 61 minutes a second home goal effectively ended St Neots hopes of victory.   It came after some defensive confusion and when defenders failed to clear the ball appeared to come back off a post for Solomon Sambau to net from close range.   St Neots began to look ragged and frustrated and they had three players booked for a variety of poor tackles.   However, they sent on two substitutes and one of them Jacob Joseph produced the nearest to a consolation goal when he sent in a shot that skimmed the crossbar ten minutes from time.   Underworked home keeper Sam Donkin did have to save a lengthy effort from Boxer, but the home side were never in real danger of conceding a goal.   The ineffectiveness of St Neots’ finishing was summed up by a late effort by Bennett that flew harmlessly over the crossbar.

 

St Neots:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Noble, Shaw, Goode, Watkins, Boxer, N’Kala, Bennett, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Joseph (for Mutswunguma 65 mins), Sutton (for Noble 65 mins), Logan, Walker, Connor and Bartlett.

Cards:  Shaw (Y – 58 mins), Mutswunguma (Y – 62 mins), Watkins (Y – 73 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Biggleswade:  Donkin, Stanley, Perry, Miles, Milenglie, Smith, Lucien, Sambou, White, Ball, Brookes

Subs:  Marsh-Brown (for Lucien 71 mins), James-Thompson (for Miles 81 mins), Soares (for White 86 mins), Allinson, Richardson, Gent and Bush.

Cards:James-Thompson (Y – 84 mins)

Goals:  Sambou 2 (17 & 61 mins)

 

Referee:  Stuart Kyle (High Wycombe)

Attendance:       289

 

John Walker

EMIRATES FA CUP FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND

St Neots Town        2           Biggleswade Town       2           

This pulsating cup tie between the two neighbours had everything, goals, passion and a steely determination not to be beaten – both teams led the match and the fact they have to do it all again is a fair outcome.    StNeots just about shaded the first halfand deserved their narrow half time advantage, but after the break the Waders roared back into contention and bossed proceedings for a spell scoring twice in four minutes to leave them in the ascendancy with half an hour to play.   The home side could have buckled at that point, but they are fast showing an increase in confidence and in the last quarter of an hour they took control and set about repairing the damage.   They left it late scoring their second and equalising goal right on time but Biggleswade can have no complaints.   The large crowd were well entertained and, like the two sides will be looking forward to the Wednesday evening return match at Langford Road.   For the first time this season Saints Manager Marc Abbott named an unchanged side.

It was end to end right from the first whistle.   St Neots created the first chance after four minutes when Prince Mutswunguma unselfishly set up Tim N’Kala on the left flank and from a narrow angle he rounded his marker to see his shot rebound from the outside of a goalpost.   At the other end after nine minutes, Joe White saw his effort blocked and ball went loose for Matt Ball whose cross found the head of former Saint Jordan Gent, but James Philp saved comfortably.   Sean Lucien using his pace on the left was proving a constant threat to the St Neots defence and in a five minutes spell he set up White who wastefully shot over the bar, he picked up a pass from Ball to see his effort rebound from a post, and then chipped just wide from distance.   Another former Saint Devante Stanley was tumbled in full flight earning Stevan Shaw a caution and after 27 minutes defender Gardie Milenglie got the ball in the net for the visitors but was ruled offside.   St Neots then had a good spell in the ten minutes before the break with Alfie Connor and Lee Watkins testing the visiting keeper and they were rewarded three minutes before the break when following a corner Sam Bennett crossed to the near post for Sam Goode to glance a header into the net.

Biggleswade came out with all guns blazing after half time taking the match to their hosts and in a spell of four minutes’ they turned the game on its head with two goals.   After 52 minutes the lively Sean Lucien beat his marker and cut in to fire a low shot past Philp at his near post to level the scores.   Before St Neots had time to recover, they conceded a second goal as a Lucien cross was only cleared as far as Solomon Sambou whose perfectly placed chip from 25 yards found Philp a yard or so off his line as it found the top corner of the net.   St Neots looked stunned, but they settled to repair the damage with some attacking moves to probe the visiting defence.    Sam Bennet saw an effort well blocked, but he then set up N’Kala whose drive was just the wrong side of a post.   St Neots then introduced teenage substitute Jacob Joseph to liven up their midfield and this was to prove a very significant move.   He was quickly in action testing visiting keeper Sam Donkin and further substitutions followed by both sides.   By now Biggleswade had settled to hang on to their narrow advantage and Devante Stanley was booked for blatant time wasting.   As the full-time whistle approached N’Kala was brought down on the edge of the box and St Neots continued their newly found momentum to carve out a deserved late equaliser.  It came as the clock passed 90 minutes when Jake Kerins crossed from the right, and Jacob Joseph netted at the near post with a brave diving header to send the home support wild and set up the replay.

St Neots Town:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Noble, Shaw, Goode, Watkins, Connor, N’Kala, Bennett, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Joseph (for Mutswunguma 71 mins), Boxer (for Connor 80 mins), Gomersall (for Bennett 90+1 mins) Logan, Walker and Crosby.

Cards:  Shaw (Y – 26 mins)

Goals:  Goode (43 mins), Joseph (90 mins)

 

Biggleswade Town:  Donkin, Stanley, Perry, Miles, Milenglie, Gent, Lucien, Sambou, White, Ball, Brookes

Subs:  Marsh-Brown (for Brooks 80 mins), Soares (for White 83 mins), Allinson, Thompson, Richardson, Smith and Bush.

Cards:Miles (Y – 57 mins), Ball (Y – 67 mins), Stanley (Y – 85 mins)

Goals:  Lucien (52 mins), Sambou (56 mins)

 

Referee:  Oliver Mackey (Leicester)

Attendance:       288

 

John Walker

EMIRATES FA CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND REPLAY

St Neots Town        3           Godmanchester Rovers       1           

Prince Mutswunguma produced a performance ‘fit for a King’ as his well taken hat trick propelled his side through to the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup and earned his club a financial reward of £2,890.   Recent form was forgotten as Godmanchester came into the match on the back of three consecutive league victories whilst St Neots had been crushed 5-1 at home just three days earlier.   It was a much better match that the original encounter full of end-to-end football and a huge commitment by both sides.   The difference in the final analysis was the finishing because for long periods possession was shared but the visitors’ attempts on goal were few and far between although it has to be noted that both goalkeepers made important saves.   St Neots made just one team change with Mutswunguma replacing Mason Rhiney who was on the bench whilst Godmanchester were without unavailable leading scorer James Hall.

The match got off to a lively start and three goals in seven minutes in an early first half spell kept the crowd well entertained.   The visitors had two early off target attempts on goal with Micky Hyem firing well over and Charlie Bowen heading a lengthy Chris Hyem throw wide of target.   The feast of goals started after twelve minutes when a poor defensive clearance fell to Prince Mutswunguma 25 yards from goal and his perfectly placed shot just under the bar left goalkeeper Niall Conroy rooted to the spot.   The visitors hit straight back with Austin Diaper miskicking in front of goal after neat play by Micky Hyem but five minutes after the opening goal the scores were levelled as a rare fumble by James Philp saw the ball go loose and Jack Chandler forced it home from close range.   However, parity only lasted ninety seconds and then Mutswunguma made his mark again with a delightful chip over the goalkeeper.   That seemed to deflate the visitors’ confidence and it was St Neots who went on to create further chances as the hard-working Alfie Connor skimmed the crossbar after neat work by Lee Watkins and then the same home player brought an important save from Conroy.   The first half ended at the other end with Philp spreading himself to push away a low effort by Diaper.

St Neots went on the offensive after the break and Charlie Bowen found his way into the Referee’s notebook for a late challenge on Jake Noble.   A Connor free kick then tested Conroy, but he pushed the shot for a corner which was successfully defended.   Tim N’Kala was testing the visiting defence with some pacey runs down the flanks but Godmanchester will rue an excellent chance to level the scores after 66 minutes when skipper Micky Hyem went clear, but James Philp left his line to narrow the shooting angle and save with his feet.   However, this was an isolated threat to the home defence whilst at the other end Sam Bennett fed Mutswunguma and only a fine save by Conroy delayed his hat-trick.   A corner from Jack Chandler stretched Philp but after 72 minutes another St Neots goal effectively settled the outcome.   Once again it was Mutswunguma who was the scourge of the visiting defence as following a lengthy throw from Aaron Smith the defence failed to clear and the hat trick was completed.    At that point Godmanchester sent on Harry McGregor and tried to adopt a more attacking approach but the St Neots back line looked confident and secure.   It could even have been better for St Neots had Conroy not produced the save of the match to turn a Jake Kerins dipping shot over his cross bar and then Sam Bennett broke clear of the defence but shot across the face of goal.   Even a late booking for Alfie Connor failed to dim the gloss on this satisfactory performance and result.    St Neots now have three days to prepare for the visit of Step Three Biggleswade Town in the next round.

St Neots Town:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Noble, Shaw, Goode, Watkins, Connor, N’Kala, Bennett, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Joseph (for N’Kala 82 mins), Rhiney (for Noble 89 mins), Logan, Walker and Abbott.

Cards:  Connor (Y – 45+2 mins)

Goals:  Mutswunguma 3 (12,19 &72 mins)

 

Godmanchester Rovers:  Conroy, King, Hall (Johnny), Spark, Bowen, Munro,Dawkin, Hyem (Chris), Diaper,Hyem (Micky), Chandler

Subs:  McGregor (for Bowen 73 mins), Hurst (for Spark 87 mins), White, Catonne and Gargulio.

Cards:Bowen (Y – 52 mins)

Goals:  Chandler (17 mins)

 

Referee:  Joe Woolmer (Northampton)

Attendance:       231

 

John Walker

BETVICTOR SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION ONE

St Neots Town        1       North Leigh        5

Before the match the league table showed little to choose between the two sides but once the game got under way the difference was stunning.  The visitors dominated throughout and scored goals almost at will, whilst a flat and uninspired St Neots could only chase shadows.   It was the second home match of the campaign and having seen his side ship in five goals on each occasion Manager Marc Abbott must make some decisions quickly.   Although the defence looked fragile, they were under almost constant pressure because of their inability to create chances at the other end so it is a rethink that is required bearing in mind that in their two away league matches St Neots have returned with a clean defensive sheet.   North Leigh were clearly a more experienced side and they bullied St Neots at times but there will be other sides like this to come later in the season.   St Neots made two changes in midfield bringing back Lee Watkins and Jake Noble for his league debut, replacing Joe Sutton and Jacob Joseph and in theory looked a more balanced unit but the side never really found a rhythm against visitors who were on song.

The opening phase of the game saw the visitors in control, but St Neots repelled their better efforts from Callum McNish and Joshua Dutton and in their most dangerous attack Stevan Shaw deflected Morgan Williams’ effort, and from the resulting corner an Adam Learoyd header was cleared off the line.   However, the pressure told after 21 minutes when the excellent Jorde Ngathe beat his marker on the outside to cross for George Seacole to send a delightful chip over the head over the out of position James Philp.   The home side should have conceded a second shortly afterwards when Shaw was too easily dispossessed but Seacole clear on goal skied his effort.   A second goal nine minutes before the break put the visitors firmly in control as from a Morgan Williams corner, Ben Brown got in front of his marker to head home.   Worse was to follow because seven minutes later St Neots were guilty of defensive suicide leaving Morgan Williams totally unmarked to knock in a cross from substitute Tyriq Hunte.

A swift response was required from the home side after the break if they were to hope for any reward and they made a positive move introducing Prince Mutswunguma for the out of form Mason Rhiney.   The substitute quickly made an impact setting up Sam Bennett who could only shoot the wrong side of a post.   North Leigh then had a stroke of luck after 54 minutes when a net bound effort from Lee Watkins was deflected into the arms of goalkeeper Edward Cavanagh who was on the wrong side of his goal.   Three minutes later substitute Hunte made his mark again as he pulled the ball back to Morgan Williams whose perfectly placed shot into the roof of the net left Philp helpless.   St Neots tried to respond with Alfie Connor firing wide and Jake Kerins shooting over the bar, but these were examples of token defiance against the dominant visiting side.   After 64 minutes it was 5-0 when a lengthy effort by Hunte rebounded from the crossbar giving Joshua Dutton the simple chance of tapping in from close range.    With almost half an hour remaining there could have been further goals, but St Neots refused to capitulate and with Dylan Logan on for Bennett they began to look more prominent.   Underworked visiting keeper Cavanagh produced an impressive full length save to deny Connor but after Mutswunguma had sent an effort just over the bar ALFIE CONNOR claimed a late consolation goal three minutes from time with a perfectly placed free kick.

St Neots Town:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Connor, Shaw, Goode, Watkins, Noble, N’Kala, Bennett, Rhiney

Subs:  Mutswunguma (for Rhiney 46 mins), Logan (for Bennett 68 mins), Walker (for Goode 82 mins),  and Abbott.

Cards:  Kerins (Y – 83 mins)

Goals: Connor (87 mins)

 

North Leigh: Cavanagh, Ngathe, Isaac, Grant, Brown, Learoyd, Dutton, McNish, Seacole, Williams (L), Williams (M)

Subs:  Hunte (for Seacole 32 mins), Elliott (for Williams (L) 65 mins), James (for Williams (M) 68 mins), Gunn and Alexis.

Cards:Ngathe (Y – 61 mins), Brown ( Y – 63 mins), McNish (Y – 70 mins)

Goals:  Morgan Williams 2 (43 & 57 mins), George Seacole (21 mins), Ben Brown (36 mins), & Joshua Dutton (64 mins)

 

Referee:  Luke Scott (Northampton)

Attendance:       172

 

John Walker

 

Cambs League Kershaw Premier Division

ST NEOTS RESERVES       0       COMBERTON UNITED       2

A second goal on the strike of full time for visitors Comberton gave a false impression to the match which had been the best performance by St Neots Reserves so far this season.   Their performance had deserved at least a draw against a side now sitting in second place in the league table and they should gain some confidence going forward.   It was an even contest throughout with the home defence looking assured, but the shortcoming was in attack where St Neots seldom tested the visiting keeper.   Recent signing Dylan Logan who had begun his St Neots career with a brief spell as a substitute for the senior side, looks to be a promising addition to the squad.

An early free kick by Calum Forster was deflected wide of the St Neots goal but then Logan was prominent on his team debut, crossing from the right for James Wills to head over the bar and then going it alone to bring a good save from visiting keeper Matt Dethridge.   For the visitors Sam Curtis headed wide from a Sam Kerley free kick and Dethridge was again in action saving at full length from Logan.   Dan Olive broke through only for his shot to rebound from the keeper’s legs and home keeper Jacob Crosby was twice in action late in the first half, saving bravely at the feet of Alex Bradford before making a full length save to push away a close range header from Calum Forster. The closest St Neots came to taking the lead was when skipper Bobby Shillinde joined the attack and crashed an effort against the foot of the post just before the half time whistle was blown.

If Comberton had shaded the first half it was a different story after the break.   St Neots adopted a more attacking approach but were caught on the break in the fourth minute after the restart when Sam Curtis opened the scoring.    Comberton seemed happy to defend their narrow advantage but from a 30 yards free kick Alex Bradford rattled the St Neots cross bar.    However, the balance of play had changed, and St Neots began to dominate possession but lacked that finishing touch in front of goal.  Even the introduction of substitutes failed to provide the added impetus and the best St Neots managed were lengthy efforts from Wills and Adrian O’Hara comfortably fielded by Dethridge.   Bobby Shillinde also tested the keeper, but the killer blow came right on time when some defensive hesitancy handed that late chance to the visitors and Giorgio Favarulo netted from close range.

 

Reserves: Crosby, Olive, Shillinde, O’Hara, Garlikowski, Fitzgerald, Logan, Minall, Wills, Rzeszutek, Clarke

Cautioned:  Olive, Fitzgerald

Subs: Fitzpatrick, Walsh, Ezeigbo and Grimes

 

Referee: Roger Coxhead

 

John Walker

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