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Improved second half showing not enough as poor first half costs Saints dear

Monday, 28 August 2017 18:45

Southern League Premier Division     

KETTERING TOWN       3             ST NEOTS TOWN        0

For the second time in 48 hours – in successive Bank Holiday matches – St Neots found themselves trailing 3-0.   However, on this occasion all the goals came in the first 33 minutes and whilst that sort of setback might have ended the chances of most losing sides, St Neots rolled up their sleeves and gave as good as they got in the final hour.   It was little consolation picking up no reward for their efforts but at least the performance will have salvaged a modicum of pride for Matt Clements’ side.    The match was almost a repeat of the pattern of Saturday’s match with St Neots holding their own in the second half after trailing at the break but they must learn not to give away cheap goals early in the match.   Ambitious Kettering set this season on winning back National League status are the best side St Neots have faced so far this season but the visitors are still trying to decide their best line- up.   After good work by the backroom staff all three injured players were passed fit and the two changes in the line-up saw Luke Knight assume the captaincy making his first start in place of Ryan Horne and Danny Watson returned after illness with Dylan Williams dropping to the bench. 

On a sweltering afternoon both sides began optimistically with St Neots producing two early attacks in which Scott Sinclair saw a dipping volley well gathered by Paul White and a Dion Sembie-Ferris cross was deflected to Danny Watson whose mis-hit effort was easily saved. However, it did not take long for Kettering to impose themselves and begin to dominate the proceedings.   They opened the scoring after 16 minutes when Ben Milnes was allowed to outjump his marker to head wide of Mike Emery and two minutes later their advantage was doubled when Jack Bradshaw carelessly brought down Rhys Hoeness as he was running away from goal and from the resultant penalty kick Hoeness beat Emery.   A combination of pace and inventiveness kept Kettering well in control and after 33 minutes Ben Milnes floated a free kick to the far post where Rene Howe got the final touch to make it 3-0.   The industrious Luke Knight cleared an inswinging corner from Milnes off the goal line and Howe could have further tightened the screw but he headed wide when left unmarked at the far post.

The main half time instruction to St Neots was to tighten up their defence and they revised their approach with substitute Dylan Williams on for Wiltshire and Sembie-Ferris pushed more up front to partner Watson in a 4-4-2 formation.   Kettering still threatened with Brett Solkhon heading narrowly over from a James Brighton corner but St Neots were looking more positive with a Taylor Parr header cleared off the line from a lengthy throw by Johnny Herd.   Substitute Williams was hauled down in the area but penalty appeals were waved away whilst Kettering were now looking dangerous on the break and a Milnes free kick was scraped off the goal line by a combination of defenders.   St Neots introduced Tom Wood in midfield sporting a head bandana following his injury 24hours earlier and he set up Herd for a lob claimed well by the keeper.   In the last ten minutes’ the game slowed as the relentless heat took its toll and Kettering had more good openings.   In one attack both Taylor Parr and Luke Knight headed efforts off the goal line and Lindon Meikle freed Aaron O’Connor who went clear but Emery narrowed the shooting angle and saved with his legs.   A generally sporting match ended with a booking apiece for the two sides as players tired.  With Hitchin recording their first victory of the campaign St Neots dropped into the bottom four.        

St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Wiltshire, Watson, Sinclair, Clarke

Subs:  Williams (D) (for Wiltshire 46), Foy (for Watson 58), Wood (for Clarke 74), Horne and Hyem.

Cards:  Bradshaw (Y – 88 mins)


Goals:  none


Kettering:  White, Berry, Brighton, Solkhon, Mulligan, Richens, Hoeness, O’Connor, Howe, Milnes, Meikle


Subs:  Bateman (for Berry 46), Baker (for Hoenes 79), Sundire (for Milnes 79), Stevens and Stohrer.


Cards:   Brighton (Y – 88 mins)


Goals:   Milnes (16 mins), Hoeness – pen (18 mins), Howe (33 mins)


Attendance: 727

Referee:  Mathew Law (Leicester)



John Walker

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