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No opening day win as Saints slip to narrow defeat at Stratford Town

Sunday, 12 August 2018 12:26

SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION

Stratford Town       1         St Neots Town     0       

St Neots debut in the reformed Southern League Central Premier Division began in an all-too-familiar way with a defeat by their bogey side Stratford Town.   In seven league matches with their Warwickshire hosts St Neots have drawn four times but now been beaten in the other three.   Added to that St Neots opening day record in the Premier Division continues to look sad with just one victory and one draw in seven starts.   An injury two minutes after half time to the iconic Dylan Williams was the catalyst for St Neots defeat for after his enforced departure they seemed to lose their focus and rhythm and but for some smart saves by goalkeeper Finlay Iron they could have lost by a greater margin.   The three new faces in the side all performed well but the returning Claudio Ofosu is still searching for his best form.   Manager Matt Clements was justifiably unhappy with his sides’ disappointing performance because the side seemed to lack quality and desire against a reshaped home side that always looked well up for their challenge.   It now remains to see how the side will react in their opening home game of the season with Bedworth the visitors.

The match got off to a bright start with both sides showing a welcome attacking approach.   Edwin Ahenkorah one of Stratford’s few survivors from last season saw his early shot deflected wide and then at the other end Williams saw his shot blocked by home skipper James Fry.   Ofosu did get in one telling cross to find the head of Lewis Irwin but off-balance his effort was too high.   The lively Callum Powell who gave the St Neots defense a constant testing, then shot wide after beating two players but St Neots had their chances with Daniel Olaniran volleying over the bar following an uncleared corner.   St Neots best chance of the match came just past the half hour mark when a long throw by Johnny Herd found the head of Olaniran, but his header rebounded from the cross bar with another newcomer James Peters firing wide of a post with the follow-up.   Relishing his new role in the centre of the attack Dion Sembie-Ferris was brought down from behind by Jamie McAteer earning the defender the only yellow card of the match and the action continued with Wilson Carvalho getting behind the St Neots defence to force Iron into a smart save.   The half ended with home full back Kieran Westwood joining the attack only to see his shot deflected for a corner.

That unfortunate injury to Williams just two minutes after the restart was the result of a very bad tackle not spotted by the Referee and it resulted in a compulsory substitution which brought on recent signing Devante Stanley for his club debut.   However, St Neots were looking ragged and with three minutes of the substitution they conceded what turned out to be the match winning goal.   Former Saint Lewis Wilson dribbled his way to the bye line and when his cross-cum shot was turned away by Iron the ball fell to Will Grocott who sent a low shot into the corner of the net.   St Neots briefly rallied with Stanley seeing his low shot deflected for a corner but now Stratford were growing in confidence as Carvelho won his way to the bye line forcing Iron into a save at his feet, and then Powell wasted a great opportunity shooting wide with only the keeper to beat.   The same home player shot over the bar and then belatedly, perhaps, St Neots utilized their two remaining substitutes in a bid to retrieve something from the game.   With three at the back St Neots tried to push forwards and from their best opening Ofosu saw his shot saved after good work by substitute Harry O’Malley.   Deep into injury time Iron did well to save from Fry leaving St Neots to ponder on what had gone wrong.

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

 

St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Olaniran, Parr, Ofosu, Peters, Irwin, Sembie-Ferris, Williams

Subs:  Stanley (for Williams 48), O’Malley (for Herd 80), Wood (for Olaniran 80) and Keeble.

Cards:  none

Goals:  none

Stratford:  Vaughan, Cox, Westwood, Fry, Maslen-Jones, McAteer, Powell, Grocott, Ahenkorah, Carvalho, Wilson

Subs:  Isaac (for Wilson 66), Luckie (for Ahenkorah 80), Dias (for Powell 89)

Cards:  McAteer (Y – 34 mins)

Goals:  Grocott (50 mins)

 

Referee:  Ollie Williams (Kidderminster)

Attendance:  292

 

John Walker

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