Southern League Premier Division
CIRENCESTER TOWN 2 ST NEOTS TOWN 1
St Neots squandered an excellent opportunity to cement their survival at Step Three next season as they served up a below par performance at Cirencester. Starting the day seven points behind the Saints, the home side knew this was a six-pointer they could ill-afford to lose and in the final analysis they were the better side on the day and deserved their reward. St Neots never got to grips either with the blustery conditions or the long ball tactics of their opponents and they tried unsuccessfully to beat them at their own game. Ironically all the sides below St Neots in the table (except Cirencester) were beaten on the day so that was both good news and bad at 5.00pm. Manager Matt Clements was confused by his sides’ performance particularly in the second half. ‘We had talked about our shortcomings at half time’ he said ‘and our players were told to slow the pace and play more from midfield to get behind their defenders but they just went out and repeated their first half shortcomings.’ Cirencester without a win in their last six games were there to be beaten but St Neots were nowhere near as effective as they had been in their previous match when they had drawn with Slough Town. There were two changes in the starting line-up with Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson and Declan Rogers restored to the line up in the place of Tom Knowles and Fernando Bell-Toxtle both of whom were on the bench.
From the start both asides looked incapable of harnessing the weather conditions to their style of play. There was a total lack of purpose and control in the first quarter of an hour but then the home side created an excellent chance from a Ben Brown free kick that played Kerry Morgan behind the St Neots defence but Alex Archer stuck out a leg at his near post to divert the ball for a corner. After 23 minutes in their first real attack St Neots went ahead when Lee Clarke broke up an attack and lofted the ball goalwards. It was not cleared and from just outside the area Jevani Brown maintained his rich run of goal scoring form with a well-placed shot from just outside the penalty area. The lead lasted just four minutes and then from a deep cross by Dan Demkiv, Alan Griffin slipped his marker to head past Archer. Archer then did well to turn a snap shot from James Mortimer-Jones over his cross bar with Cirencester looking well in control. Ten minutes before the break the home deservedly took the lead when from a Morgan corner Elliott Dunton blasted home through a packed penalty area. The half ended with an early substitution as Tom Knowles replaced the limping Fortnum-Tomlinson.
St Neots needed that different approach upon the restart but it never materialized. No sooner than Cirencester had kicked off they had created another good opening with Demkiv getting behind the St Neots defence to test Archer from a narrow angle but once again the keepers’ feet saved the day. The hard-working Griffin was testing the St Neots defence with his physical presence and arial power but he glanced a good chance wide after impressive work by Mortimer-Jones. St Neots introduced substitute Shane Hill after injury for Clarke to try to vary their approach but Cirencester continued to dominate the attacking play and Archer had to parry a close-range effort by Aidan Bennett. St Neots best spell came late in the game but was too little too late. A James Tricks shot was pushed for a corner by home keeper Glyn Garner and the keeper saved well from Jevani Brown. They kept going deep into injury time when Brown had a shot blocked and Declan Rogers saw his effort deflected for a corner. Sadly, it was a performance whilst not lacking in effort seemed to contain very little guile or invention and Manager Clements must instill a greater urgency in the remaining seven league matches.
St Neots: Archer, Partridge, Herd, Clarke, Wood, Parr, Fortnam-Tomlinson, Rogers, Tricks, Hyem, Brown (Jevani)
Subs: Knowles (for Fortnam-Tomlinson 42 mins), Hill (for Clarke 59 mins), Bell-Toxtle (for Tricks 87 mins), Butler and Norman.
Cards: Tricks (Y – 51)
Goal: Jevani Brown (23 mins)
Cirencester: Garner, Brown (Ben), Dunton, Mortimer-Jones, Coupe, Lidiard, Demkiv, Connolly, Griffin (Alan), Bennett, Morgan
Subs: Spalding (for Demkiv 68 mins), Diaz-Benitez (for Morgan 82 mins), Thompson, Elliott and Griffin (Charlie)
Cards: Mortimer-Jones (Y – 38)
Goal: Griffin (27 mins), Dunton (35 mins)
Referee: Simon Shaw (Bristol)