Southern League Premier Division – Play Off FINAL

TRURO CITY    1 - 0   ST NEOTS TOWN                      

With a place in the Football Conference at stake for the winners this Southern League Play Off Final turned out to be a one man show, and it wasn't any of the players.

In front of a huge crowd oblivious to the rain the outcome of the match was decided by a controversial penalty kick awarded after 66 minutes – just one of the strange decisions made by Weston Super Mare Referee Adam Penwell.  

The action was in the St Neots penalty area as Adam Tann and home striker Isaac Vassell went down in a mass of arms and legs and as the visiting players and loyal followers expected a free kick in their favour the Referee dramatically pointed to the penalty spot.  

Even the Truro players were surprised by the decision and so it was down to goalkeeper Paul Bastock whose penalty save at Poole had clinched St Neots place in this Final to face Shane White but he kept his cool and sent the keeper the wrong way to score.  

That was just one of the collection of incidents in which St Neots were left thinking they were playing against twelve rather than eleven men because the match Referee booked no fewer than five St Neots players and just two of their opponents for a variety of alleged minor infringements in a match that never really saw a bad tackle. This culminated two minutes from time in St Neots boss David Batch being sent off after a frank exchange of views with the Official.  

There had been a massive surprise for the visiting fans when it was announced that Mat Mitchel-King badly injured at Poole six days before had passed a fitness test to play with 47 stitched still in his shin and to his great credit he was able to complete the full ninety minutes.   

With Jack Wilkinson and Nathan Frater still on the injured list St Neots had few selection options but in a match full of passion and commitment they could have asked no more from their players.

Truro began the better of the two sides and they almost went ahead after three minutes when a Matthew Wright cross over Paul Bastock surprised the visiting defence but Sam Harty got back to clear off the line. St Neots then conceded a free kick twenty yards from goal but Ed Palmer skied his effort over the bar but at the other end Lee Clarke saw his shot deflected for a corner and home custodian Tom McHale had to dive at the feet of Drew Roberts to smother the ball.  

Wright was proving a lively leader for the home side and after 13 minutes another clearance off the line – this time by Brett Longden – kept the St Neots goal intact.  

After these early skirmishes the match settled with the St Neots defence marshalled by skipper Ryan Frater and Tom Ward looking sound and confident and there were few serious attempts on goal in the remainder of a tightly contested first 45 minutes.

St Neots decided on a change of approach after the interval replacing Matt Spring with youngster Ebey Marango to test his speed against the home defence.  

Drew Roberts moved back into midfield with Lewis Hilliard alongside Clarke in attack and it almost paid dividends when Roberts charged down a clearance to free up Marango whose shot was cleared off the line by Dan Green.  

Around the hour mark St Neots enjoyed their best spell of the match with Roberts having a shot dropped by McHale before being hacked clear and then a Clarke shot from a Hilliard cross hit the bottom of the post..  

However the penalty incident put a different feel to the contest. St Neots went three at the back with Brett Longden an additional force in midfield and from a set piece Ryan Frater headed narrowly wide.  

The real drama came four minutes from time when Hilliard curled in a cross to the far post that finished up in the net but it had been inches beyond the reach of Clarke who had helped the ball over the line with his hand for which he received a yellow card.  

With emotions running high Wright unsportingly deliberately threw the ball into the crowd to waste time and David Batch was dismissed as the match ended in disappointment at the end of a very memorable season for St Neots.

St Neots: Bastock, Tann, Longden, Mitchel-King, Frater (R), Ward, Harty, Spring, Clarke, Roberts (D), Hilliard

Subs: Marango (for Spring 46), Ferrari (for Marango 85), Bickerstaff, Vieira and Greygoose.

Cards:  Batch (RED – 88), Longden (Y – 41), Hilliard (Y – 45), Mitchel-King (Y – 59), Clarke (Y – 86), Tann (Y – 90+2)

Goals:  none

Truro: McHale, White, Brett, Ash, Farkins, Palmer, Green, Krac, Wright, Vassell, Cooke

 Subs:  Afful (for Cooke 64), Duff (for Vassell 72), Hayles (for Wright 90), Pugh and Moore.

Cards:  Vassell (Y – 52), Wright (Y – 86)

Goals:  White – pen (66 mins)

Attendance: 1450

Referee: Adam Penwell (Weston Super Mare)

John Walker

Sit back and enjoy the Saints last home game of the 2014/2015 season.

 Full Highlights: SNTFC 3 v 0 Chippenham

Matt Mitchel-KIng Played for 43 minutes of the first against Poole Town with a huge gash down the inside of his leg. the injury happened in only the second minute of the game.

Matt not knowing just how serious the injury was played on until the end of the first half.

In the dressing room at half time matt took his sock off to see what was wrong where it was revealed that he had a serious gash down his leg. 

Matt was immediately taken to hospital where he had to have no less than 47 stitches to close the wound.

To play on in such pain was a credit to Matt and the way he goes about his game.

On behalf of everyone connected with the club we would like to wish Matt a speedy recovery and hopefully the players can come away from Truro with a win and dedicate that to Matt.

Top player and top bloke.

 

Club travel arrangements to Truro.

Firstly we would like to apologise to all of our very loyal away traveling supporters on not being able to accommodate them for the trip to truro.

After looking at all options including Air, Train and Road.

The players and team management will be traveling by coach to Truro on Sunday afternoon to stay in a hotel near Truro and then on to the match on Monday.

The management are weary that the players will need as much rest, comfort and coach space as we can give them, being two seats per person of which will take up the majority of the coach 48 out of 49 seats.

Therefore unfortunately there will be no room for any supporters on the team coach.

We have looked at hiring a separate coach but the costs would amount to around £40 per head based on a full coach.

We feel that the most economical way for supporters to travel would be by their own transport.

There are plenty of hotels in the area and one that has been suggested is the “Premier Inn” in Bodmin some 17 miles from Truro, Prices are we believe at approx. £45 per night for a twin room, we believe that you can get a better rate for a group booking.

Phone 0871 527 8112

For those wishing to travel then please could you please try and sort out with fellow supporters via the clubs forum.

Hopefully these arrangements will ensure that you all have a cost effective trip to Truro and stay at the same hotel.

Mike Green who usually looks after these matters is unfortunately away until this Saturday so maybe someone else can pick up the challenge.

We are very sorry for having to change our usual away travel arrangements but we think you will all agree that giving the players, as much comfort on the journey is the priority.

Lets get on that M5 in large numbers have a great Sunday evening and sing our team to victory on the Monday.

Thank you for your continued support.

 

 

Southern League Premier Division

POOLE TOWN  0-1   ST NEOTS TOWN

A magnificent penalty kick save by Paul (the cat) Bastock and a single goal a quarter of an hour from the end of a tense and closely contested match has left St Neots within just ninety minutes of a place in the Football Conference next season.   Cheered on by around a hundred travelling supporters St Neots did themselves proud in the face of a massive challenge as they lost midfield lynch pin Mat Mitchel-King at half time to a seven inch gash in his shin that required hospitalisation having already named a side with two key players (Jack Wilkinson and Nathan Frater) still sidelined by weekend injuries.  

Hosts Poole at one time five points ahead at the top of the table with two games in hand were odds on favourites for automatic promotion but having lost the championship to Corby Town in their final league match they started this semi-final play off as clear favourites but fell short for the second time in four days. 

St Neots had to reshape their starting line up and brought in Josh Bickerstaff and Brett Longden – the latter after his one match ban – and included Lorenzo Ferrari up front for his first start since mid-February.   Adam Tann also returned after injury with Sam Harty and Matt Spring both on the bench.

Poole began the better of the two sides and created two early openings with Carl Emmerson testing Paul Bastock with a well placed shot before Like Burbidge shot wildly over the bar when well placed.   

St Neots were finding it hard to get their passing game going and they almost fell behind after 18 minutes when a Joe Quigley header rebounded from the crossbar after clever play by Burbidge.  

The really significant incident of the first half came on 19 minutes when Steve Devlin was impeded by Bastock as he made for goal and the well placed Referee pointed to the penalty spot. Devlin’s well placed spot kick was perfectly anticipated by the diving keeper who pushed it away to safety.  

That seemed to boost St Neots’ confidence and they came more into the game as following a lengthy Mitchel-King throw after 21 minutes Lee Clark glanced his header wide of the far post and then a minute later from a Drew Roberts corner Mitchel-King won the ball in the air but home keeper Nick Hutchings saved well.  

Towards half time play became scrappy with Lewis Lindsay volleying Poole’s best chance over the bar from a Devlin corner and Drew Roberts working hard in an unfamiliar role wide on the right testing Hutchings with a long volley.

Mat Mitchel-King failed to appear after the break along with Josh Bickerstaff and they were replaced by a new midfield pairing of Sam Harty and Matt Spring.  

Clarke headed over the bar from a Lewis Hilliard cross and then saw a second effort deflected but Poole were still dangerous on the break and a Harrison Gilkes shot was blocked after good work by Quigley. A series of further substitutions by both sides seemed to break up the rhythm of play but St Neots were now looking the better side and fifteen minutes from time the all important goal arrived. 

Long throws have been a feature of St Neots’ attacking play recently but with the two best exponents of the art not on the field a long effort by Tom Ward was flicked on at the near post by skipper Ryan Frater and Lee Clarke headed in to break the deadlock.  

Poole now threw everything forward but with Ward and Frater supreme at the back they never managed a significant shot on goal in the remaining time.  

In fact St Neots might have finished with a more impressive final score line in their favour because with home goalkeeper Hutchings too far off his line in time added  Lewis Hilliard produced an audacious shot from fifty yards that went over the keeper’s head but rebounded to safety off the top of the crossbar.  

So the patched up St Neots squad are now off to Truro on Bank Holiday Monday for the final showdown with Conference football the prize for the winners.

 

St Neots: Bastock, Longden, Bickerstaff, Mitchel-King, Frater (R), Ward, Ferrari, Tann, Clarke, Roberts (D), Hilliard

Subs: Harty (for Mitchel-King 46), Spring (for Bickerstaff 46), Hobbs (for Ferrari 66), Vieira and Greygoose.

Cards:  Longden (Y – 70), Harty (Y – 87)

Goals:  Clarke (75 mins)

Poole: Hutchings, Lindsay, Spetch, Emmerson, Whisken, Pettefer, Burbidge, Devlin, Quigley, Butcher, Gilkes

Subs:  Walsh (for Gilkes 63), Roberts (L) (for Quigley 63), Whelan (for Butcher 83), Lowes and Davis.

Cards:  Quigley (Y – 62)

Goals:  none

Attendance: 841

Referee: Daniel Leach (Witney)

 

John Walker

Saints are looking forward to a trip to the south coast in their first ever play-off semi final in the Southern League this Tuesday night, to the delight of the clubs supporters. 

Long time league leaders Poole Town stuttered badly over the last two months of the campaign and after being way ahead of the chasing pack, finally succumbed to Corby in a winner takes all season finale, losing the title in dramatic fashion on the last day of the season.. 

Poole will be favourites, but Saints have an enviable record of having lost only two away league matches all season and go into the game with nothing to lose.

Added to that, Saints are on a 16 match unbeaten run and have had just one defeat ( away to Weymouth by a single goal on a very cold and wet january Tuesday night) since the appointment of the new management team on new years day, who have seen a 37 point return from their 20 games in charge.

Saints are yet to taste defeat since the introduction of David Batch's nine new signings at the end of January, so will be approaching the game with confidence. 

Our manager David Batch said,

'To lose a league which was in the palm of your hand for so long is bad enough, but to lose it at home to the team that was victorious on the day must have been all the more traumatic as they would have had to watch and listen to the joy of their victors whilst dealing with their own grief.

For that reason, you can't help but feel for everyone at Poole as those images will live with them for a long time'. 

'We played Poole a couple of months back and drew 0-0 at their place. We know we are capable of winning this game and they know that they are capable of losing it.

Our job is to make it as tricky for them as possible and see what reaction they have after their trauma on Saturday'.

 

Southern League Premier Division

FROME TOWN  1 - 1   ST NEOTS TOWN                     

Southern League Premier Division draw specialists St Neots recorded their seventh all square finish in their last ten league matches to earn the point they needed to confirm a fifth placed finish and a place in the midweek play off semi-finals.  

On Tuesday they must travel again to the south coast to take on long time championship favourites Poole Town who fell at the final hurdle losing at home to promoted Corby Town.  

It is a remarkable achievement for Manager David Batch and his team who are now just two matches away from achieving a place in the Football Conference.   

Mr Batch presided over the final twenty league matches after his New Year’s Day appointment and his side has gone on to record nine victories and ten draws under the new Manager recovering from a deduction of six points when Hereford withdrew from the league.   

During this period there was a steady climb up the table from tenth place and but for so many drawn matches the success would have been more spectacular. Team skipper Adam Tann was still not fit and with Brett Longden serving his one match ban the one team change saw Sam Harty included for his first start for the side in midfield after nine appearances as a substitute with Matt Spring moved back to fill the vacant full back berth.  

However the success of achieving that play off berth was dimmed by the loss to injury in the first half of both Nathan Frater (ankle tendons) and Jack Wilkinson (thigh strain) both of whom seem unlikely to be fit for the visit to Poole.

St Neots had a dream start to the match they could not afford to lose. After just three minutes a silky move tore open the home defence as Lee Clarke just inside the visitors’ half headed the ball forward to Drew Roberts who swept the ball wide to Lewis Hilliard who beat his marker and crossed to the far post for Roberts to stab past the stranded home keeper. 

 St Neots looked confident and in control and eight minutes later Nathan Frater beat his man on the bye line to cross with the ball just lacking a final touch in front of the gaping net and when the defence failed to clear Mat Mitchel-King saw a net bound shot blocked.  

The injury to Nathan Frater saw him limp off to be replaced by Luis Vieira who slotted in up front with Roberts moving wide right. Frome then rallied to create openings for themselves because they knew a point was required from the match to guarantee their Premier Division survival.  

A dangerous Matt Smith cross was cleared under pressure by Mitchel-King and then the same home player crossed again for Mark Cooper to head wide.   At the other end Clarke headed narrowly beyond the far post after good work by Roberts but Frome then had their best chance when Matt Spring was caught on the wrong side of Ollie Taylor who advanced on goal but saw his effort blocked by the onrushing Paul Bastock.   On the stroke of half time Wilkinson limped off to be replaced by Josh Bickerstaff.

Frome had two early second half efforts – Taylor heading wide from a probing Cooper cross and Hulbert just failing to reach a Matt Smith cross.  

Frome then made what proved to be a very significant substitution replacing Rhys Baggridge with Aaron Rodriguez after 57 minutes and with his first touch the substitute showed a neat pair of heels to Spring before picking out Ollie Taylor on the edge of the box. He controlled the ball and moved inside a defender to beat Bastock with a low shot to level the scores.  

That put both sides into the position where a point apiece achieved their ambitions and from that point on in the final twenty minutes there was little significant goalmouth action.  

The sides had the measure of each other and cancelled out the better efforts of their opponents.  

Before the final whistle news came through that Banbury had lost their final match at Chesham so Frome survived with a comfortable four points cushion and St Neots left to book their midweek transport to Dorset.

St Neots: Bastock, Spring, Wilkinson, Mitchel-King, Frater (R), Ward, Frater (N), Harty, Clarke, Roberts, Hilliard

Subs: Vieira (for Frater (N) 25), Bickerstaff (for Wilkinson 44), Tann, Hobbs and Ferrari.

Cards:  Mitchel-King (Y – 54)

Goals:  Roberts (3 mins)

Frome: Chitty, Cooper, Tonkin, Baggridge, Vallis, McGrath, Worlock, Smith, Taylor, Hulbert, Thompson

Subs:  Rodriguez (for Baggridge 59), Haldane, Minnis, Bonella and Vance

Cards:  none

Goals:  Taylor (57 mins)

Attendance: 350

Referee: Michael Webb (Aldershot)

John Walker

 

 

Congratulations to our Under 14's who overcame Priory Parkside after a penalty shoot-out to secure the Huntingdonshire Football Association County Cup.

In a pulsating final, played at Eynesbury Rovers' Hall Road ground on Friday evening in front of a very healthy sized crowd, the two sides, who share identical playing records in the Cambs Colts League Division A, could not be separated after the regulation seventy minutes elapsed, with the match ending in a 1-1 draw..

Saints took an early lead as Owen Dunnett powered home a thumping header from a corner and held the lead at half time. Priory Parkside, however, equalised in the second half after a low cross was diverted into his own net by a luckless Saints defender. With the game swinging from end to end, chances on target were at a premium and there were to be no further additions to the scoreline.

This meant the game was to go straight to penalties and the victorious Saints were to eventually run out winners in the shoot-out by four goals to two.

The Saints signed off their last home match with a decent win against Chippenham.

 Video: Post Match Reaction With David Batch

We have now loaded ALL of this seasons Matchday magazines onto our News stand feature.

Just click on the one you want to read and off you go.

Some very interesting articles in our Award winning magazine.