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Two spot kicks undo impressive Saints as a well oiled Poppies machine take the points

Saturday, 13 October 2018 21:22

SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION CENTRAL

St Neots Town      0         Kettering Town       3       

 

League leaders Kettering Town left The Premier Plus Stadium flattered by their haul of three points from this match that took them five point clear at the top of the Southern League Premier Central Division, principally courtesy of the award of two penalty kicks. However, the two clinching goals came in the last ten minutes, and St Neots can feel hard done by after shading the first half over their high-flying visitors.   With skipper Luke Knight still on the injured list, Matt Clements was able to name an unchanged starting line-up from the midweek match and the same four substitutes were on the bench.   With the visitors bringing many of their regular followers and it being non-league day there was a bumper crowd of 693 to witness this contest.   This was only St Neots second defeat in nine league and cup matches since 27th August – but six of those have been in cup competition.

After the excitement of their midweek FA Cup away triumph there was no sign of fatigue as the home side took the match to their visitors from the first whistle.   Most of the chances created in the first half hour were by the home side but they came up against a stubborn visiting defence.   The Poppies had just one early opening after 12 minutes when Michael Richens ghosted in behind the defence to collect a Rhys Hoeness cross, but he shot across the face of goal.   Meantime St Neots had around half a dozen chances at the other end notably a stunning 30 yards effort by Dylan Williams after 21 minutes that visiting keeper Paul White was relieved to tip over the crossbar.  Johnny Herd and Claudio Ofosu were both too high with the early efforts and Russell Short went close to his first St Neots goal with an acrobatic effort on the turn that was just wide.   Ten minutes before the break in a swift counter-attack Hoeness was only inches from connecting with a cross to the far post by Brett Solkhon and then Lindon Miekle volleyed well wide as the visitors staged a late first half rally.   The half ended with Richens picking up a yellow card for a cynical foul on Dion Sembie-Ferris who was in full flight towards goal.

St Neots began the second half well with Nabil Shariff seeing a close-range header well saved but after 57 minutes there was a controversial moment as Hoeness chased a long ball out of defence colliding with goalkeeper Harry Reynolds and with Referee Abi Marriott unsighted she took the controversial penalty decision from an Assistant.   Brett Solkhon gave Harry Reynolds no chance with a perfectly placed spot kick and that led to a booking for the protesting Harry O’Malley and it gave the visitors a questionably deserved lead.   That swiftly led to manager Clements rejigging his attack with Gary Wharton and Devante Stanley introduced for Short and Ofosu.   Psychologically it gave the league leaders a massive confidence boost and for a while St Neots seemed to struggle.    Taylor Parr was booked for a clumsy challenge and Reynolds was almost caught off his line by a lob from his own half by Solkhon.  Then with nine minutes left St Neots conceded a second penalty as Matt Miles scythed down substitute Andrea Borg, and this time there was no doubt about the decision.

It was Rhys Hoeness who netted from the spot and as St Neots became ragged there was no late come-back as Marcus Kelly was left unmarked at the far post four minutes from time and he gleefully applied the finishing touch to a third Kettering goal.

 

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

Subs:  Wharton (for Short 68 mins), Stanley (for Ofosu 68 mins), Olaniran and Douglas

Cards:  Parr (Y – 70 mins), Shariff (Y – 90 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Kettering:  White, Berry, Solkhon, Richens, Miekle, Milnes, Hoeness, Kelly-Evans, Kelly, Towers, Rowe-Turner

Subs:  Borg (for Solkhon 72 mins), Hotter (for Richens 88 mins), Toseland (for Kelly 88 mins), Graham and Elson

Cards:  Richens (Y – 42 mins)

Goals:  Solkhon (57 mins - pen), Hoeness (81 mins – pen), Kelly (86 mins)

 

Referee:  Abi Marriott (Mildenhall)

Attendance:  693

 

John Walker

 

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