THURLOW NUNN YOUTH LEAGUE CHAMPIONS PLAY OFF SEMI-FINAL
ST NEOTS TOWN U18 0 AFC SUDBURY U18 4
St Neots U18 Scholars brought their season to a close with an honourable defeat in the semi-final of the Thurlow Nunn League Champions play-off. They were beaten by a skilful and well organised visiting Sudbury side – the South Division champions – that had only been beaten once this season. A measure of the quality of the opposition is that it was the first-time St Neots had conceded more than two goals in a home match since November 2015 and it was only the second time this season they had failed to score themselves in a home match. Before the opposition had scored St Neots, already missing the injured Shae Humphrey and suspended Owen Bevan, lost their inspirational skipper Isaac Clarke, carried off on a stretcher with a twisted knee and within sixty seconds of the restart of the match with St Neots reorganising their defence Sudbury claimed their first goal.
There was a very tight start to the match with both sides probing at the other defence with few clear chances. Andre Williams almost made an early breakthrough for St Neots after eight minutes when he pushed visiting keeper Curtis Child to a full length flying save whilst at the other end Evan Jeckells saved well at the foot of a post at the expense of a corner from Oliver Dunlop. The injury to Clarke brought on substitute Mason Collins slotted into a three-man defence and the opening goal after 27 minutes came from a lengthy clearance from Child. A moments’ hesitation in the St Neots defence let in Oliver Peters who chipped the advancing goalkeeper. A minute before the break a long throw by Callum Watson was met at the near post by Mekhi McKenzie who glanced a header past Jeckells.
A third goal just eight minutes after the restart effectively put the match beyond the home side when Dunlop was fouled on the edge of the penalty area and he picked himself up to send a free kick around the defensive wall to make it 3-0. If St Neots knew they were beaten they did not show it and they kept attacking the visiting defence with little success. It was whilst they were searching for a way back into the match when they were caught defensively short and McKenzie showed real skill to leave the last defender in his wake to seal the result. After that St Neots looked the more dangerous side with Ben Southwood firing over the bar after good work by Erhan Nurettin and Andre Williams forcing the save of the match from Child. So, St Neots finished as proud League and County Cup winners after a very successful season.
St Neots: Jeckells, Gooderham, Piesse, Donkin, Rudman, Holman, Williams, Clarke (I), Southwood, Nurettin, Eldridge
Subs used: Taylor (L), Waites, Chambers, Collins and Fulianty
Referee: Paul Gregory (Peterborough)