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10 man Saints defy the odds to progress into the next round with a display of grit and courage

Saturday, 08 September 2018 18:26


St Neots Town       2        Bishops Stortford       1                                                                                        

A ten-man St Neots side put up a tremendous performance against the odds to defeat Bishops Stortford and move into the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for only the second time in five seasons.   With the £6,000 Emirates sponsorship in the bank they now await the draw for the next round.   The outcome of the match probably depended most on a shockingly harsh decision by Braintree referee Anthony Pope to issue St Neots skipper Luke Knight a red card for what at worst was a clumsy challenge as he brought down Jordan Westcott after half an hour.   What seemed to contribute to the decision more than the tackle was the outrageous behavior of most of the visiting side who surrounded the official demanding Knight’s dismissal.   Had that decision been the standard for the match there would have been several more players sent for an early bath.   However, to St Neots lasting credit they rolled up their sleeves and worked non-stop to eliminate their numerical disadvantage and it must be said for more than an hour there was no sign that the visitors had the extra man.    There were enforced changes in the St Neots line-up with loan players Finley Iron (goalkeeper) and Ben Worman unable to play under their loan agreement and James Peters sitting out injured.   Into the side came goalkeeper Harry Reynolds for his debut along with Gary Wharton and Dylan Williams after injury.

St Neots looked the better in the opening stages displaying an obvious fitness advantage over their visitors and they were unlucky not to go ahead after just four minutes when Taylor Parr headed on a Johnny Herd lengthy throw and Harry O’Malley crashed a shot on the inside of a goalpost to be scrambled clear.  Dion Sembie-Ferris looked very lively in attack and he went clear of the defense but shot wide and then he moved smartly inside his marker to see a net-bound shot blocked by a defender.   For the visitors, Jake Cass saw an acrobatic overhead effort sail harmlessly over the bar and then from an Alfie Mason corner giant defender Lance Atkins rose above the defense but headed over the bar.    The sending off seemed to slow things down as St Neots regrouped but with seven minutes to go before the break Claudio Ofosu wriggled inside two defenders to be brought down by Johnville Renee resulting in a penalty kick which Dylan Williams tucked confidently ahead to put St Neots in front.

For a short spell the visitors seemed to be in the ascendancy after the break.   Following an Elliot Ronto corner the ball was forced into the net, but the Referee spotted a foul on Harry Reynolds and then Cass tested the keeper with a crisp from fifteen yards, but he saved well.   He then had to leave his line smartly to parry an Atkins narrow-angled volley, but St Neots replied with a Herd cross that found Sembie-Ferris at the far post but visiting keeper Calum Kitscha saved well.   It was now and end-to-end contest with chances created and in the same attack a Parr volley following a corner was deflected wide of goal, and then a Herd shot suffered the same fate.  Both sides sent on substitutes to freshen up their attack and it began to look that St Neots could hold to their slim advantage and even build on it as a Tom Wood volley sailed just wide and Sembie-Ferris was brought down on the edge of the area when clear surprisingly resulting only in a caution for Atkins.   Neither side could be faulted for effort as yellow cards were liberally shown but it was Stortford who made the break through as Jake Cass produced a well-placed shot to level the scores after 77 minutes.   St Neots sent on Kasey Douglas and within fifty seconds of his appearance he was perfectly placed to side foot home a Sembie-Ferris cross after a great through pass from Matt Miles.   Now again in front St Neots looked fairly secure although the Referee added on five extra minutes to be endured.   Substitute Chingdu Osaoebe was red-carded after the final whistle after an exchange of views with the Referee.


St Neots:  Reynolds, Miles, Herd, Knight, Wood, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, O’Malley, Wharton, Williams, Ofosu

Subs:  Stanley (for Williams 66 mins), Keeble (for O’Malley 72 mins), Douglas (for Ofosu 82 mins) and Olaniran.

Cards:  Knight (RED 30 mins), Ofosu (Y – 34 mins), Sembie-Ferris (Y – 70 mins), Keeble (Y – 88 mins), O’Malley (Y – 90+4 mins)

Goals:  Williams (38 mins - pen), Douglas (83 mins)

Stortford:  Kitscha, Renee, Greegan, Thomas, Atkins, Robbins, Mason, Westcott, Cass, Ronto, Charles

Subs:  Cureton (for Ronto 64 mins), Osaoebe (for Mason 69 mins), Olusanya (for Greegan 86 mins), Green, Adeyemi, Brassington and Oakman.

Cards:  Robinson – Asst Manager (RED – after match), Westcott (Y – 86 mins), Atkins (Y – 74 mins)

Goals:  Cass (77 mins)

Referee:  Anthony Pope (Braintree)

Attendance:  209


John Walker

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