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10 man Saints display determination and resilience to earned a deserved share of the spoils

Thursday, 11 January 2018 10:11

SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION

St Ives Town       1        St Neots Town      1        

For the second time in four days a Nabil Shariff goal late in the match saw a determined St Neots side recover to earn a valuable League point.   However, it was not just points at stake in this rearranged New Years’ Day fixture – it was local bragging rights and appropriately the match finished level with hostilities due to be resumed at Westwood Road next month in the County Senior Cup.     It could and perhaps should have been very different because the visitors had to play all but 24 minutes with ten men after full back Johnny Herd had been dismissed for picking up two first half cautions in a bid to stunt the pace of Tom Knowles.   Thereafter St Neots approach had to be more cautious but St Ives will be ruing the fact that they really should have made their numerical advantage count.  St Neots’ overall fitness and desire saw them through to the draw and deservedly so after the home side had looked the better in the early stages of the match.   St Neots Manager Matt Clements opted to name an unchanged side for the trip despite having a fit again Lewis Irwin on the bench, but he now loses previously suspended skipper Luke Knight and Herd in his sides’ upcoming fixtures.   In the final analysis it was a fair result bearing in mind the early dismissal and the boggy state of the pitch on which hampered the usual style of play of both sides.   It was eight points from their last four matches for an improving St Ives.  Dubbed ‘friends reunited’ St Ives included seven former St Neots players in their line up whilst the visitors had two former Westwood Road players in the starting line-up.

The attritional contest began with the hosts in the ascendancy and former St Neots striker Danny Watson should have done better with the first opening of the match after five minutes when he fired narrowly wide after being left unmarked in the centre and Rogan McGeorge brought a save from Mike Emery with a free kick.   The pivotal moment came after 24 minutes when Johnny Herd was dismissed for a clumsy challenge just 13 minutes after picking up a first yellow card.   Shortly after Watson had a second gilt edged chance after a mistake by Stefan Broccoli filling in at full back, but the striker fluffed his chance and was then lucky to stay on the pitch when receiving only a yellow card for a dangerous revengeful lunge after losing the ball.   Dylan Williams then hit the bar in a breakaway attack but had been flagged offside and Liam McDevitt had an effort from a corner hacked off the goal line, but these were isolated attacks with St Ives dominating possession with man of the match Tom Knowles tormenting the visiting defence.

Just three minutes after the break St Ives took the lead when an opportunistic 20 yards effort by Declan Rogers appeared to skid in the mud in front of Emery to bounce past him into the net.   St Neots responded swiftly sending on Lewis Irwin and Scott Sinclair to boost their attacking ambitions and rearranging their side with just three at the back.   Nabil Shariff fired wide from a Dion Sembie Ferris cross but Referee Thomas Hancock was being kept on his toes with the focus more on personal battles with McGeorge clashing with McDevitt and Watson with Luke Knight.   Occasional flashes of danger from Knowles failed to inspire St Ives to what might well have been a clinching goal and then eight minutes from time St Neots’ determination was rewarded when Sembie Ferris got past his marker and his cross eventually set up Nabil Shariff for the equalizing goal – appropriate reward for the striker to register St Neots 50th league goal of the season.

 

St Neots Town:  Emery, Wood, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Wiltshire, Shariff, Williams, Broccoli.

Subs:  Sinclair (for Williams 51 mins), Irwin (for Broccoli 51 mins), Bradshaw (for Wood 74 mins), and O’Malley

Cards:  Herd (RED – 2 x Y – 11 mins & 24 mins), Wood (Y – 47 mins), Sinclair (Y – 66 mins), Wiltshire (Y – 83 mins)

Goals:  Shariff (82 mins)

 

St Ives Town:  Trebes, Smith, Warner-Eley, McGeorge, Moyes, Kelly, Knowles, Clark, Snaith, Watson, Rogers

Subs:  Libertucci (for Clark 16 mins), Sawyer (for Rogers 80 mins), Jarrold & Groves.

Cards:  Watson (Y – 23 mins)

Goals:  Rogers (48 mins)

 

Referee:  Thomas Hancock (Ely)

Attendance:  236

 

John Walker

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