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Dylan's delight cut short as Donnelly secures a point for the Canaries

Wednesday, 25 October 2017 09:22

Southern League Premier Division     

ST NEOTS TOWN        1       HITCHIN TOWN      1    

St Neots had only beaten Hitchin at home once in five previous league meetings but a solid performance gave them another league point to cement their position in the top half of the league table at the one-third point of the season.   It meant that Matt Clements side have only been beaten once in their last eight league outings and gave credence to his claim of steady but unspectacular improvement by his side in both confidence and performance.   Despite having three key squad members available after suspension and non-availability the Manager kept faith with the squad that had recorded that fine victory at Farnborough as he named an unchanged line-up for only the third time in eighteen matches this season.   Going forward his only concern is the injury to midfielder Ryan Horne that is taking some time to show recovery but the league programme takes second place this weekend as the side host Corby Town in the first Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy.

Just how evenly matched these two sides are was clearly shown for almost the whole of the opening half hour with neither keeper having a direct shot to field as the two defenses dominated with summer signing Liam McDevitt marshalling St Neots with great confidence.   Despite this, the match was never dull with play moving from end to end but the strong breeze was a factor with the ball constantly running away from well-intentioned passes.  The first moment of controversy arrived after 25 minutes when Dion Sembie-Ferris went past two defenders to be bowled over in the penalty area by a third but St Neots’ appeals for a penalty kick were waved away by a Referee from well behind play.  Four minutes later from a Charlie Smith corner the visitors produced the first serious shot of the match from Brett Donnelly that rebounded from a goalpost whilst at the other end in the St Neots counter-attack Tom Meechan had his close-range effort cleared off the line.  St Neots were now the more dominant force as Scott Sinclair sent a snap shot narrowly wide and from a Jack Bradshaw free kick Tom Wood brought the save of the match from visiting keeper Michael Johnson who tipped his effort over the bar.   Two more St Neots efforts before the break saw Sinclair fire wide again and Luke Knight shoot high over the bar after a clever set-piece short corner.

Sembie-Ferris should have done better with an effort sent over the target after clever play by Dylan Williams three minutes after the restart but sixty seconds later that was forgotten as a neat attacking move by the hosts saw Sembie-Ferris flick a Sinclair cross into the path of Dylan Williams who beat the keeper from a narrow angle with a sweet finish to put his side ahead.   This seemed to fire a greater determination from Hitchin who then had a fine spell of play creating chance after chance.  Donnelly headed over when left unmarked and Jonny McNamara brought a good save from Mike Emery as he shot from a narrow angle.   Jack Green weaved through the St Neots defence but shot over the bar and Elliott Bailey got the ball in the St Neots net but was foiled by an offside flag.   However, after 70 minutes Hitchin were rewarded for their efforts when full back Kevan Cotter overlapped on the right to cross and a close-range Brett Donnelly volley levelled the scores.  St Neots attempted to refresh their approach with substitutes Taylor Parr and Kyron Wiltshire introduced but now both sides had opted to concentrate on maintaining what they had achieved with the two defenses now looking tighter and chances limited to quick breakaway attacking.   Sinclair shot wide at one end and Ben Walster did the same at the other and the only real moment when a deciding goal looked likely was in added time when Sembie-Ferris was brought down in the area again, but the Referee saw no offence and the match ended all-square.

 

St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Marsh-Brown, Knight, Wood, McDevitt, Sembie-Ferris, O’Malley, Meechan, Williams (D), Sinclair

Subs:  Parr (for O’Malley 66 mins), Wiltshire (for Williams 73 mins), Bridges (for Meechan 85 mins), Herd and Butler.

Cards:  Williams (Y – 63)

 

Goals:  Williams (49 mins)

 

Hitchin Town:  Johnson, Cotter, Walster, Dowie, Webb, Bickerstaff, Green, Smith, Donnelly (B), Bailey, McNamara

 

Subs:  Vincent, Charles, Brooks, Syme and Donnelly (C) – none used

 

Cards:   none

 

Goals:   Donnelly (70 mins)

Attendance: 333

Referee:  Elliott Swallow (Derby)

 

 

John Walker

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