BetVictor SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION ONE

Bedworth United        0           St Neots Town       0

A draw to this season opener between two of the relegated teams was a fair outcome but St Neots boss Marc Abbott probably finished the happier of the two Managers.   A clean sheet is always good for morale but both sides had their chances with neither goalkeeper being seriously tested.   Last season at Bedworth St Neots lost to an injury time single goal so this was an improvement, but Abbott will be pondering over where his sides’ goals are going to come from.   Defensively St Neots looked sound and had the luxury of loanee defender Mikkel Fosu spectating from the bench but in the first half they looked nervous and unsure despite having wind advantage which they failed to exploit.   However, they finished the game the stronger of the two sides but still lacked the cutting edge in attack that could have produced a deciding goal.

The first twenty minutes were largely uneventful with the two sides cancelling each other out in midfield.   Bedworth wide man Lewis Chester looked capable of breaking the deadlock with some searching runs down either flank, but the finish was missing.   St Neots were guilty of conceding too many free kicks inside their own half which put them under unnecessary pressure and after 26 minutes a breakthrough looked imminent when a delightful cross field pass by Luke Rowe played Chester clear and only a last ditch recovery by Stevan Shaw saved the day for the visitors.   Rowe was then left unmarked from a set piece but headed tamely wide and from a Richard Blythe cross, Alexander Troke had his shot comfortably saved by James Philp.   As half time approached St Neots began to look more assured and when Joe Sutton was brought down on the edge of his opponents’ penalty area, Alfie Conner’s free kick was well saved by home custodian Adam Harrison who also parried another set piece from the same St Neots player.    Lee Watkins then sent a fierce shot just the wrong side of a post and the half ended with Troke heading over when he should have at least tested the keeper.

If St Neots had finished the first half on top, the home side exploded into life upon the restart with the widely travelled Mitchell Piggon having two headed attempts, but both were off target.  Tim N’Kala having a quiet match for the visitors did set up Sam Bennett on the hour but Harrison dived at his feet to save and shortly afterwards an injury to Conner forced St Neots into their first change with Mason Rhiney substituting.   Sam Gomersall also came on for N’Kala and these changes led to a change in fortune with St Neots beginning to dictate the pattern of play.   Bedworth replied with two substitutes of their own, but St Neots were creating openings and Harrison had to produce the first significant save of the match as he turned an Aaron Smith shot over the bar at full stretch,   Bennett then headed wide and the game lost some of its momentum with Referee James Cox losing patience and booking several players for relatively minor misdemeanours.   Having a quiet second half Bedworth danger man Chester had their final chance to snatch victory after a swift team move, but he shot wide and at the other end St Neots lengthy efforts by Rhiney and Watkins were comfortably saved by the home keeper.   ‘It is always good to get a clean sheet and an away point to kick off the season’ commented St Neots Assistant boss Sean Greygoose.

 

St Neots:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Conner, Goode, Shaw, Watkins, Sutton, N’Kala, Bennett, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Gomersall (for N’Kala 63 mins), Rhiney (for Conner 63 mins), Fosu and Joseph.

Cards:  Mutswunguma (Y – 44 mins), Shaw (Y – 70 mins), Kerins (Y – 85 mins), Rhiney (Y – 90+2 mins)

Goals: none

 

Bedworth:  Harrison, Dudley, Steele, Parrott, Sharpe, Fitzharris, Chester, Blythe, Piggon, Troke, Rowe

Subs:  Blackmore (for Blythe 72 mins), Bailey-Nicholls (for Rowe 72 mins), Templeton, Anaele and McConnachie.

Cards:Sharpe (Y – 67 mins), Dudley (Y – 87 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Referee:  James Cox (Stourbridge)

Attendance:       211

 

John Walker

UPCOMING MATCHES PREVIEW

After what seems a remarkably short but busy start to the season the new look St Neots Town kick off their season at Step Four in a new Division of the Southern League – Division One Central. They begin with an away trip to Bedworth United who were one of the two other sides relegated with St Neots from the Premier Division at the end of last season. Bedworth could be dubbed the ‘yo-yo’ side for they have been relegated from and promoted back to Step Three with regularity. Then on Tuesday the team returns home to host their first match at Step Four since 2011/12 with their first opponents being County colleagues Yaxley. Last weekend saw the extra-preliminary Round of the FA Cup so our clubs involved in the league starts this weekend now know who they will be facing in their FA Cup Preliminary Round debut next weekend. We have a short trip through the local villages to face Godmanchester Rovers, Yaxley has to visit newly promoted Biggleswade FC and Bedworth are pitted at home against the other Southern League Central relegated side Halesowen Town. However, the focus is now on the start of the new league season and many of Marc Abbott’s side will face new opposition at the beginning of their journey in Step Four with the club.

 

John Walker

 

 

 

 

 

Cambs League Kershaw Premier Division

 

ST NEOTS TOWN RESERVES       0       LINTON GRANTA      4

 

St Neots Reserves kicked off the new season with a home defeat to Linton Granta who last season finished runners-up in the league. However, the score line fails to reflect a very encouraging start for Mark Gearing’s side. After 71 minutes of a competitive contest the game was still goalless but after the visitors had gone ahead, they ran riot scoring three further goals in the last seven minutes of the match.   Three of the four goals came from poorly defended set pieces, so the team knows where improvement is required.

In the first twenty minutes there was only a couple of noteworthy attempts on goal as defences dominated. Visiting keeper Rhys Davies saved well from James Wills and his opposite number Jake Crosby had to dash from his area to block at the feet of a forward who had gone clear. After 33 minutes St Neots were reduced to ten men for the statutory ten minutes period when Alex Minall found himself in the ‘sin bin’ for dissent – an incident copied when a visiting player suffered the same fate later in the half. The match was competitive with St Neots skipper Bobby Shillinde finding his way into the Referee’s notebook following a late challenge. St Neots had a late chance prior to the break when a rising shot from Wills was blocked by a defender.

The second period was more open with both sides creating chances and changes in formation with the introduction of substitutes. A lengthy effort by Nick Threadgold was well saved by Davies and Reif Clarke raced through the visiting defence to fire into the side netting.   Wills tested the keeper after good work by Marcel Rzeszutek, but the visitors were beginning to dominate and in one attack following a corner both Matthew Crawley and Chris McNicholas were close with headed efforts. The bulk of the goalmouth action came in the final 20 minutes. After 71 minutes Linton forged in front when from a searching Chris Palmer free kick Jacob Kitchiner opened the scoring. Then in the final seven minutes the inexperienced home side fell apart as Linton added three further goals. A defensive error let in Palmer for a simple finish and then it was a Palmer corner that was headed in at the far post by Lewis Russell.   The rout was completed a minute from time when a cross from substitute Benjamin De’Ath was deflected into the path of Dale Archer and he gave Crosby no chance from close range.

 

Reserves: Crosby, Olive, Shillinde, Minall, O’Hara, Threadgold, Clarke, Fitzpatrick, Wills, Rzeszutek, Hudson

Cautioned:  Shillinde

Subs: Okirie, Walsh, Ezeigbo, Grimes and Thompson

 

Referee: Stacey Fullicks

 

John Walker

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