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Goals from Bridges and debut boy Shariff seals dogged win at Stortford

Sunday, 03 December 2017 09:37

 

Southern League Premier Division    

 

BISHOP’S STORTFORD        1        ST NEOTS TOWN        2         

 

Nabil Shariff the striker brought in to replace the departed Tom Meechan delivered the goods in dramatic debut style with a second half winning goal at Bishops Stortford to extend St Neots unbeaten League run to nine matches on their first competitive visit to Stortford for 45 years.   Back in 1972 they had lost 3-0 in an East Anglian Cup tie but since then the footballing paths of the two sides had not crossed.   Shariff transferred in from Northern Premier League side Alfreton Town was twinned up from with Northampton Town Academy youngster Lewis Irwin in place of Meechan and the injured Dylan Williams, and the two newcomers blended successfully with the other starting line up changes seeing Liam McDevitt return for Ronayne Marsh-Brown and Harry O’Malley and Ryan Horne start on the bench.   It was an entertaining contest with St Neots having the better of the first half but happy to hang on to their narrow advantage in the closing stages as the home side pressed for a late equalizer.   St Neots moved up to ninth in the table but host League leaders Kings Lynn in their next match.

The new look St Neots were quickly into action with Lewis Irwin setting up Dion Sembie-Ferris whose shot was deflected and then Kyron Wiltshire back from suspension brought a good save from Tyler McCarthy with a low snap shot after neat play by Nabil Shariff.  With the home side slow to settle they found themselves behind after just seven minutes when a reverse Sembie-Ferris cross found David Bridges on the edge of the penalty area and his low shot through a packed defence beat McCarthy to afford him a second league goal in consecutive matches.  It could have been 2-0 shortly afterwards when from a Jack Bradshaw corner, a shot by Liam McDevitt was diverted over his own cross bar by Jordan Westcott with his keeper stranded.   However, with Dipo Akinyemi leading fight back, Stortford began to get into the game as he saw a narrow-angled shot deflected across the face of goal and then Westcott made a midfield interception to set up Jason Williams but having made space for himself he shot wide.  After 28 minutes Wiltshire, clearly short of match fitness, limped off with an Achilles pull to be replaced by Ryan Horne.   Three minutes later Stortford levelled with a cleverly created goal as Akinyemi beat his marker to find Jordan Westcott just outside the penalty area and he scored with a well-placed shot.  Both the St Neots new men went close towards the end of the first half with Shariff firing narrowly over the bar after the Referee had played a good advantage with Sembie-Ferris clearly fouled and then Irwin saw a rising shot following a Bradshaw corner blocked by a defender.

St Neots began the second half as they had the first with a flurry of chances.   Johnny Herd joined the attack to shoot across the face of goal and then up for a corner Taylor Parr saw a shot blocked by a defender.   From another searching Bradshaw corner Irwin outjumped the defence but his header was just the wrong side of the bar.   The threatening Akinyemi, who once played for St Neots, then brought an important save from Mike Emery but then St Neots decided on a further change with Harry O’Malley introduced in midfield in place of Bridges.  What proved to be the winning goal came after 65 minutes when a long ball out of defence by Johnny Herd fed the well-timed run of Nabil Shariff through a square lying defence and his pace was enough to sidestep the onrushing McCarthy leaving him an unguarded net to breach.  Seven minutes later another top class save from Emery was key in this victory as he went full length to push away a Williams shot for a corner.   Dean Ager shot wide as the home side increased their pressure on the visiting defence and with ten minutes remaining St Neots decided to protect their narrow advantage sending on Tom Wood for Sembie-Ferris and adopting a 4-4-2 formation.   The home side promptly sent on two additional attacking players and the final minutes saw Stortford with the advantage but defensively St Neots looked sound with Taylor Parr and McDevitt confident and sound.

Claire Howes' Match Gallery can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/claire_howes/

 

St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Wiltshire, Bridges, Irwin, Shariff, Sembie-Ferris,  

Subs:  Horne (for Wiltshire 28 mins), O’Malley (for Bridges 62 mins), Wood (for Sembie-Ferris 80 mins), Butler and Marsh-Brown

Cards:  none

Goals:  Bridges (7 mins), Shariff (65 mins)

 

Bishop’s Stortford:  McCarthy, Casey, Foxley, Simpson, Ekpiteta, Rogers, Ager, Westcott, Williams, Moncur, Akinyemi

Subs:  Thomas (for Simpson 73 mins), Taylor (for Ager 85 mins), Mason (for Moncur (85 mins)

Cards:   none

Goals:   Westcott (31 mins)

 

Attendance: 307

Referee:  Jonathan Burridge (Godmanchester)

 

John Walker

 

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