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Saints ease into Senior Cup Final with a convincing win in derby game

Tuesday, 06 February 2018 21:47

HUNTS FA SENIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL

St Ives Town       0        St Neots Town      2        

St Neots eased into the Hunts Senior Cup Final with a very comfortable victory over their neighbours in a low-key encounter to make it three wins on the bounce.   The match had been in doubt until the day of the match because of the winter affected state of the Westwood Road pitch and that probably accounts for the very low attendance.   It was the heavily sanded pitch – only the second game to be staged on it since Christmas – that made football very difficult for both sides but in the final analysis St Neots took two of their chances well whilst St Ives never really got going and failed to test the visitors’ teenage goalkeeper.   St Neots will be delighted with their first clean sheet since 14th November and only their fourth in 37 league and cup games this season.   Manager Matt Clements took the Cup match as an opportunity to rotate his squad bringing into the side all five of his named substitutes in the league match just three days earlier and the performance showed just what an able squad he has mustered because despite the mass changes the overall performance did not suffer.   St Ives had several regulars ‘cup tied’ after their squad changes around the turn of the year but that should not be seen as a major factor in the result.

There was a cautious start by both sides as they sought to come to terms with the conditions.  The first serious attempt on goal did not arrive until the fifteenth minute when Luke Knight was fouled on the edge of the area and Dylan Williams’ free kick was comfortably saved by Lewis Todd.   St Ives suffered a setback when Eugene Libertucci limped off injured after just twenty minutes to be replaced by Ollie Snaith.   Against the run of play after 27 mins former St Neots midfielder Peter Clark hit a shot from outside the box that bounced off the far post into the grateful arms of Finlay Iron and that was about as close as St Ives were to get to scoring all evening.   Sixty seconds later St Neots came up with the perfect response as a superb 50 yards pass over the retreating home defence by skipper Luke Knight freed Scott Sinclair wide right and his early inch perfect cross fed Nabil Shariff to claim his first goal since scoring the equalizer at St Ives in the league meeting a month ago.   Todd saved a low Johnny Herd shot amongst a sea of boots and six minutes before the break Shariff should have extended the lead, but he shot weakly wide after great play by Williams.   Two minutes later another Shariff effort was deflected to earn a corner which was not cleared and from the edge of the area Dylan Williams hit a low shot past Todd with the aid of a slight deflection.   St Ives danger man Tom Knowles was being kept quiet by Herd and he sent two free kicks in dangerous positions into the visitors’ defensive wall.

St Ives needed a positive early response after the interval, but it never looked like materializing.  Sinclair went clear for St Neots forcing Todd into a brave save at his feet, but the St Neots man then suffered a hamstring pull and had to be replaced by Dion Sembie-Ferris.   The home side sent on substitute Phil Draycott in a bid to boost their attack but with Taylor Parr and Liam McDevitt in commanding form for St Neots, they made little progress.   Danny Watson spurned one chance after neat work by Rogan McGeorge and St Neots should have sealed the victory when Dylan Williams was brought down by a defender, but he sent the keeper the wrong way from the resultant penalty kick which hit the crossbar.  The game then petered out with no significant chances created by either side in the final twenty minutes.

 

St Neots Town:  Iron, O’Malley, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sinclair, Wood, Shariff, Wiltshire, Williams

Subs:  Sembie-Ferris (for Sinclair 55 mins), Irwin (for Wiltshire 80 mins), Bradshaw (for Shariff 88 mins) and Broccoli

Cards:  none

GoalsShariff (28 mins), Williams (41 mins)

 

St Ives Town:  Todd, Smith, Jarrold, Libertucci, Groves, Kelly, Knowles, McGeorge, Clark, Watson, Baker

Subs:  Snaith (for Libertucci 20 mins), Draycott (for Clark 60 mins), De’Ath (for Watson 74 mins), Moyes and Warner-Eley.

Cards:  McGeorge (Y – 47 mins), Smith (Y – 78 mins)

Goals:  none

Referee:  Joshua Crofts (Peterborough)

Attendance:  103

 

 

John Walker

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