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FA Cup dreams over for another year following lacklustre display at Cambridge City

Friday, 01 September 2017 21:04


FA Cup – First Qualifying Round    

 CAMBRIDGE CITY      3             ST NEOTS TOWN        1

With a £3,250 sponsorship reward for the winners and local pride at stake, St Neots chose a most unfortunate occasion to produce their worst performance of the season so far as they succumbed to neighbors Cambridge City.   Despite their status at a Step below their visitors, City thoroughly deserved their victory as they outfought a jaded and often clueless St Neots side that lacked confidence and ideas throughout the entire 90 minutes.   And to add insult to defeat it was former St Neots players who scored two of the goals and provided the third in this comprehensive defeat.   So, the City hoodoo continued because since their 5-0 victory in their opening Southern League fixture in 2012 at Milton Road, St Neots have now only one victory and two draws in ten league and cup encounters.   Manager Matt Clements once again shuffled his squad for the match making three changes recalling Micky Hyem, Ryan Horne and Tom Wood, with Johnny Herd, Danny Watson and Kyron Wiltshire left on the bench.

The visitors made a reasonable enough start creating two early openings with Taylor Parr heading over from a Jack Bradshaw corner and Scott Sinclair beating Niall Conroy from distance only for his effort to deflect from a post.  Cambridge then began to play with rhythm and purpose and after 14 minutes Salim Relizani wriggled free of his marker to see his shot deflected wide and from the resultant Tom Knowles corner, the defence failed to clear and Lewis Wilson bundled the ball in at the far post.   Dion Sembie-Ferris was just wide with a low swerving shot but after 32 minutes Cambridge cemented their hold on the match when Luke Knight clumsily upended Tom Knowles and from the penalty spot the on-loan Cambridge United man rapped home to make it 2-0.   A Micky Hyem shot was just the wrong side of a post but there was little constructive play from either side with too many balls thrown forward by defenders with little chance of creating any sort of opening.   Just before half time a heavy thunderstorm arrived – the only thing to really light up a poor first half!

St Neots needed to show composure and determination when the match recommenced after the break but both were in short supply.   City defended well with Jordan Gent outstanding in defence and in an early second half break another former Saint Ryan Sharman shot narrowly over the bar with Mike Emery back peddling.   In a bid to change his sides’ approach after 53 minutes Matt Clements sent on Dylan Williams for Hyem in midfield and Danny Watson up front for Lee Clarke.   Watson was quickly in action neatly setting up the overlapping Sinclair whose shot beat Conroy but rebounded from the underside of the crossbar to be cleared.   At the other end, a Knowles corner found the head of Gent but his effort was blocked on the goal line and from a 30 yards free kick a Relizani effort only just cleared the cross bar.   A third City goal after 64 minutes effectively sealed the contest.   Chief tormentor and man of the match Tom Knowles left two defenders for dead and crossed to find Salim Relizani who had lost his marker to fire into the roof of the net.   To their credit St Neots did not give up and nine minutes later Danny Watson chased a ball down the right flank and seeing Conroy off his line he lobbed the ball over his head and into the net for a consolation goal.   It was not until the last fifteen minutes that St Neots produced any real fire in their approach but efforts by Dylan Williams (just wide), Bradshaw (also wide) and Watson (blocked by keepers’ legs) can only be recorded as too little, too late.   Matt Clements must now redouble his efforts to arrest his sides’ worst start to a season since joining the Southern League.

St Neots Town:  Emery, Wood, Bradshaw, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Horne, Clarke, Hyem, Sinclair

Subs:  Williams (D) (for Hyem 53), Watson (for Clarke 53), Wiltshire (for Knight 64), Herd, O’Malley and Williams (A).

Cards:  Parr (Y – 48 mins), Sinclair (Y – 61 mins)

Goals:  Watson (73 mins)

Cambridge City:  Conroy, Robinson, Spence, Paterson, Gent, Miller, Relizani, Towner, Wilson, Sharman, Knowles

Subs:  King, Norman, Capel, Harradine, Coulson, Lowe and Snaith (none used).

Cards:   Paterson (Y – 18 mins)

Goals:   Wilson (14 mins), Knowles - pen (32 mins), Relizani (64 mins)

Attendance: 312


Referee:  Paul Burnham (Wymondham)

John Walker


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