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Saints break the Roms' hearts with an incredible FA Cup comeback

Saturday, 22 September 2018 20:08


St Neots Town       4        Romulus       3                                                                                        

It was akin to the script for ‘The Great Escape’.   St Neots 3-0 down after 17 minutes against visiting Romulus who ply their trade at Step Five – two below their hosts – but who have a good record with three victories in the competition this season.   At that stage St Neots looked to have let the £9,000 sponsorship prize for victory slip through their fingers with a shoddy defensive start to the match.  They recovered to pull a goal back before the break but left it mighty late to snatch a dramatic winning goal three minutes into added time.   So, they will now feature in the third round qualifying of the FA Cup for the first time in 40 years.   It was a performance of great character considering that six of their squad were unavailable due to a mixture of cup tying, injury and suspension and they lined up with four fresh faces from their previous match with Harry Reynolds, Taylor Parr, Harry O’Malley and Devante Stanley replacing Finley Iron, Dan Olaniran, Jack Worman and Dylan Williams.   For Parr it was a memorable 100th senior start for St Neots but he had to play second fiddle to man-of-the-match Dion Sembie-Ferris whose extravagant shirt shedding winning goal celebrations earned him a caution from the Referee.

The least said about the first seventeen minutes of the match the better from St Neots’ perspective. The visitors took the game straight to them and in the first meaningful attack after two minutes, Dimitri Dunkley crossed to find Mitch Piggon wide on the left and he moved smoothly inside Matt Miles’ despairing challenge to find the back of the net.   It was then a story of poor defending for five minutes later from a teasing Kris Taylor corner Mitch Piggon rose unmarked at the near post to glance the ball into the net.   That was bad but ten minutes after the second goal another Taylor corner – this time to the far post was headed firmly past Harry Reynolds by Luke Richards to install a 3-0 lead for the visitors.   Just before that third goal Reynolds had saved at full stretch from Josh Willis to present Romulus with their corner and during this spell St Neots had managed just one shot on goal at the other end with Claudio Ofosu’s effort sailing harmlessly wide.   Three minutes after the third Romulus goal, St Neots dragged themselves back into the match when Tom Wood headed home a Miles corner and that seemed to regenerate his side.   From that point on St Neots largely dominated possession with Sembie-Ferris unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when nudged off the ball by the visiting keeper, and then the same player struck a post with a rasping shot following another Miles corner.   Harry O’Malley shot wide and Devante Stanley making his senior debut, twice tested Tyrrell Belford – his second effort bringing the save of the match from the visiting keeper.

The second half saw more St Neots domination, but chances went begging.   Wood fired over from a lengthy Johnny Herd throw, Nabil Shariff had a close-range header deflected over the bar, Ofosu squandered a chance firing wide and a Sembie-Ferris effort was smothered.   With twenty minutes left St Neots sent on Dan Olaniran and reorganized with just three at the back but chances were hard to come by with the visiting defense well marshalled by Obaro Edobor and Kris Taylor.  Romulus might have reinstated a three-goal lead after 75 minutes when a 45 yards lob from Taylor Allen almost caught Reynolds off his line, but he recovered to push it away and three minutes later Dion Sembie-Ferris got on the end of a Johnny Herd through ball to reduce the deficit.  With five minutes left skipper Johnny  Herd was again the inspiration as he got on the end of a Miles cross to level at 3-3 and then in that grandstand finish three minutes into injury time Shariff went past two defenders to pick out Dion Sembie-Ferris on the far post and his finish was clinical to sent St Neots into the next round.


St Neots Town:  Reynolds, Miles, Herd, O’Malley, Wood, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Peters, Shariff, Stanley, Ofosu

Subs:  Douglas (for Peters 62 mins), Olaniran (for Ofosu 70 mins), and Hudson.

Cards:  Sembie-Ferris (Y – 90+3 mins)

Goals:  Sembie-Ferris 2 (78 & 90+3 mins), Wood (20 mins), Herd (85 mins)

Romulus:  Belford, Cross, Rowe, Edobor, Taylor, Willis, Dunkley, Richards, Piggon, Tweed, Hurst

Subs:  Collins (for Dunkley 60 mins), Allen (for Hurst 71 mins), Hague (for Richards 74 mins), Spink, Rolston, Barrow and Palmer.

Cards:  none

Goals:  Piggon 2 (2 & 7 mins), Richards (17 mins)

Referee:  Richard Eley (Derby)

Attendance:       325


John Walker

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