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Perfect pens send the Saints through after a roller-coaster cup tie with Bedford

Tuesday, 04 September 2018 22:42

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CHALLENGE CUP

St Neots Town       2        Bedford Town       2                                                                                        

(St Neots win 4-1 on penalties)

After an indifferent first half performance when they were outplayed by their Step Four neighbors Bedford Town, St Neots recovered strongly after the break, to twice come back from behind before confidently winning a penalty shoot-out to progress to the second round of the league cup.    St Neots’ record in penalty shoot-outs in League and National Cup competition is very poor with four consecutive defeats prior to this match but that record was firmly laid to rest as four players produced unstoppable penalty kicks to supplement an outstanding save by Finley Iron to send Bedford on their way to defeat.  The result also ended a run of three defeats in the competition at the hands of lower graded clubs, but on this occasion Manager Matt Clements, looking for some consistency from his side, opted to name his strongest available line up and was rewarded with the victory.   The only change in the starting line-up saw the inclusion of Ben Worman – on loan from Cambridge United – in place of Gary Wharton who was on the substitutes bench.

There was a very scrappy start to the match with Bedford looking the more composed side.   Ashton Grant powered down the left riding two defensive tackles to cross for Dan Walker who headed wide despite being under no pressure.   Then after nine minutes out of nowhere Bedford went ahead as Connor Furlong picked up a casual clearance 25 yards from goal and hit an angled low shot under the despairing dive of Finley Iron.   St Neots tried to get back into the match and Claudio Ofosu found pace to go beyond visiting goalkeeper Niall Cooper, but defender Dean Dummett got back to smother his shot.   From a Ben Ford corner Ollie Swain was left unmarked but he header tamely over the bar and then Iron was forced into a good save from former Saint Ben Ford.   St Neots lack of accuracy in passing and their failure to produce ball retention was handing the initiative to their opponents, but towards half time the balance seemed to be tipping in St Neots’ favor as Worman had a narrow angled shot saved at the near post after 33 minutes, and following a Luke Knight free kick eight minutes later, James Peters volleyed in to side netting from a tight angle.

The match followed a much different pattern after the break with St Neots firmly in the ascendancy.   Two minutes after the restart a Johnny Herd free kick was mishandled by Cooper who had Dummett to thank as he cleared off the line.   Peters was injured and replaced by Kasey Douglas, but this did not hamper St Neots as Harry O’Malley fired over the bar and Cooper had to save bravely at the feet of Taylor Parr.   After 63 minutes Dion Sembie-Ferris saw his shot rebound from the foot of a post but the pressure on the Bedford goal was building and two minutes later Parr hooked a Matt Miles free kick back into the penalty area and Harry O’Malley scored his first goal for St Neots.   Ofosu then curled a shot inches wide of the far post but St Neots were pegged back again after 72 minutes when a ball over the top of the defense sent Dan Walker clear.   He looked a good five yards offside but was allowed to continue to shoot past Iron to put his side back in front.   Three minutes later parity was restored as a Sembie-Ferris shot rebounded from the woodwork and attempting to clear, Cade Stephen-Abbey turned the ball into his own net for a second St Neots equalizer.   Subsequently in the last 15 minutes St Neots were on top, but Warman hit the keeper’s legs with one effort and headed a second over the bar, so the match went to a penalty shoot-out.  Taylor Parr, Dion Sembie-Ferris and Johnny Herd all put their kicks away whilst Iron produced a full length save to deny Jermaine Hall and when Taylor Rhiney fired high over the bar. St Neots skipper Luke Knight made it four successful kicks in a row to win the tie.

 

St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Wood, Parr, Worman, O’Malley, Sembie-Ferris, Peters, Ofosu

Subs:  Douglas (for Wharton 50 mins), Keeble (for O’Malley 86 mins) Olaniran and Wharton.

Cards:  none

Goals:  O’Malley (65 mins), OG (75 mins)

Bedford:  Cooper, Stephen-Abbey, Jarrold, Grant, Dummett, Swain, Rhiney, Ford, Walker, Hall, Furlong

Subs:  Longden (for Stephen-Abbey 76 mins), Draycott (for Jarrold 76 mins), Watkins-Clark (for Ford 79 mins), Daniel and Roach.

Cards:  Grant (Y – 64 mins)

Goals:  Furlong (9 mins), (Walker 72 mins)

Referee:  Tim Donnellan (Leighton Buzzard)

Attendance:  179

 

John Walker

 

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