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Much improved second half performance not enough as early goals condemn Saints to defeat

Wednesday, 24 January 2018 18:39

SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION

Royston Town       2            St Neots Town      1

A much improved second half performance after an unimpressive first 45 minutes saw St Neots claw back some pride after their mauling by Frome in their previous outing.   However, the concession of two goals in the first sixteen minutes of the match was enough to earn hosts Royston their first Southern League victory over their visitors.   For the first half hour St Neots was tentative, lacking in confidence and purpose and a carry over from their poor weekend performance seemed to be dogging them.  No doubt the half time team talk highlighted their shortcomings and they looked a different team in the second 45 minutes.   Royston sit proudly just one point out of the play-off places in their first season at Step Three with matches in hand and this excellent start to their highest ever league placing is no accident.   Defensively they are solid and determined and they attack as a unit and despite their poor start the St Neots rearguard did well to limit them to just two first half goals.   St Neots renaissance after the break saw them enjoy the greater share of second half possession but they lacked finishing and are still searching to rekindle their self-belief.   With Harry O’Malley unavailable Manager Matt Clements made four team changes leaving Dylan Williams, Kyron Wiltshire and Ronayne Marsh-Brown on the bench and bringing back Johnny Herd in defence, Tom Wood and David Bridges in midfield and Lewis Irwin up front.

After David Bridges had set up Dion Sembie-Ferris for a shot punched clear by home keeper Josh Tibbets after five minutes it was all Royston and three minutes later there was the all too familiar sight of St Neots leaking an early goal.   A long clearance by Sam Gaughran was headed down by an off-balance defender and it fell to ace marksman John Frendo who powered home a left foot volley giving Mike Emery no chance.   After sixteen minutes the score was doubled as St Neots conceded a free kick wide on the right and full back Lee Chappell sent a dipping free kick towards goal, seemingly totally misjudged by Emery as it went over his head and inside the far post.   Three minutes later it could have been even worse when Adam Marriott was played clear by Scott Bridges, but he delayed his shot and the ball went wide.  A fierce volley by Ed Asafu-Adjaye tested Emery and Sam Corcoran volleyed wide as half time approached and the only notable attacks in the first 45 minutes by the visitors stemmed from long throws into the penalty area by Johnny Herd that were cut out by a combination of defenders and goalkeeper.

The second half saw a different pattern to the game.   Straight after the restart Tibbets twice saved well from Bridges and Sembie-Ferris and just before the hour St Neots sent on the lively Stefan Broccoli to replace Scott Sinclair.   Now St Neots were enjoying a much greater share of possession but despite some good approaches down the flanks by Sembie-Ferris and Broccoli they lacked the final ball and a cutting edge in front of goal.   Long before the end Royston had clearly settled to sit on their two goals advantage and soak up St Neots’ attacking and the visitors gained a glimmer of hope after 74 minutes when they pulled a goal back.  Wood and Sembie-Ferris worked the ball down the right flank and under pressure defender Asafu-Adjaye mistimed an attempted back pass towards his keeper and Lewis Irwin pounced to steal the ball and round the advancing keeper to score.   In the last ten minutes most of the play was towards the Royston goal but St Neots could not create a second goal but left in defeat with some pride restored.

 

St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Wood, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Bridges (D), Irwin, Shariff, Sinclair

Subs:  Broccoli (for Sinclair 56 mins), Wiltshire, Williams, Marsh-Brown and Ruggerio.

Cards:  Bridges (Y – 51 mins), Wood (Y – 71 mins)

Goals:  Irwin (74 mins)

 

Royston Town:  Tibbets, Asafu-Adjaye, Chappell, Bridges (S), Gaughran, Brathwaite, Gordon, Corcoran, Frendo, Thomas, Marriott

Subs:  Scott-Morriss (for Corcoran 56 mins), Hobbs (for Chappell 71 mins), Castiglione (for Gordon 71 mins), Powell and Oyinsan.

Cards:  Chappell (Y – 34 mins), Marriott (Y – 83 mins)

Goals:  Frendo (8 mins), Chappell (16 mins)

 

Referee:  Alex Rayment (Dunstable)

Attendance:  225

 

John Walker

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