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Disasterous opening half hour effectively ends The Saints FA Cup adventure at Alfreton Town

Saturday, 20 October 2018 21:39


Alfreton Town       4         St Neots Town      0        


St Neots’ FA Cup adventure for this season is over as they were soundly beaten by higher graded Alfreton Town.   Despite having the vocal backing of around 300 travelling fans they found this latest challenge a step too far.   However, they returned home with their heads held high after holding their National League hosts to a goalless second half to recoup some pride, but unfortunately, they had trailed 4-0 after a disastrous opening 27 minutes.  In that opening period, they looked defensively naïve conceding two converted penalty kicks (and that made it four in the last 64 minutes playing time!) and they never looked like producing the late comeback which had been a trademark of this seasons’ competition.   Alfreton were a bigger and stronger team and they used their physical attributes to good effect muscling out much of their visitors close passing football and their long ball swift moving attacking knocked St Neots out of their stride from the first whistle.   St Neots were still without injured club skipper Luke Knight but were otherwise at full strength with Matt Miles making a swift recovery from his midweek injury.  

It took Alfreton just five minutes to assert their superiority as a curled corner from the left by Curtis Bateson managed to find its way through a packed six yards box without anyone getting a touch.   St Neots found it difficult to get out of their own half as the hosts continued to press but a second goal after 17 minutes really set the tone for that wretched first half.  Richard Peniket twisted and turned his way into the penalty area but was impeded and the Referee right in this thick of the action pointed dramatically to the penalty spot to award a kick which James Clifton stoked inside the left-hand post.   Worse followed four minutes later as Peniket robbed a dithering visiting player to set up Curtis Bateson for his second goal of the match.   St Neots brief rally saw a Johnny Herd free kick force David Shiels to head over his own cross bar, but this was little reward and after 27 minutes it was game over as a clumsy challenge by Dion Sembie-Ferris earned the St Neots player a booking and Alfreton a second penalty, this time blasted down the centre of the goal by James Clifton.   Frustration was beginning to show as first the names of Harry O’Malley and then Matt Miles joined Sembie-Ferris in the Referee’s notebook as the first half progressed.   St Neots did show some defiance but Nabil Shariff heading for goal was cynically brought down by Josh Gowling who became the fourth player to be booked in that first half with furious St Neots’ players claiming that as he was the final defender the card should have been red in colour.   The final action of the half saw home keeper Sam Ramsbottom collect a Herd free kick off the head of Taylor Parr.

St Neots’ Manager Matt Clements sent on Gary Wharton after the break for Claudio Ofosu and this slight tactical change saw St Neots competing much better.   Home substitute Declan Bacon did see a header rebound from the cross bar, but it was the visitors who were now creating openings.  An injury to Harry O’Malley after 52 minutes forced another St Neots change with Dan Olaniran introduced into a three-man defence and shortly afterwards there was another positive move with substitute Devante Stanley added to the attack.   A Dylan Williams free kick brought the save of the match from Ramsbottom, and Shariff fired narrowly over the bar.   Tom Wood also brought a save at full stretch from the home keeper and then in a rather scrappy end to the match with Alfreton pushed back in defence, the Referee booked two further St Neots players whilst ignoring similar offences by home players.   The St Neots faithful kept singing but went home disappointed.

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

Subs:  Wharton (for Ofosu 46 mins), Olaniran (for O’Malley 52 mins), Stanley (for Miles 61 mins), Douglas and Fulianty

Cards:  Sembie-Ferris (Y – 27 mins), O’Malley (Y – 30 mins), Miles (Y – 35 mins), Wharton (Y – 85 mins), Stanley (Y – 89 mins)

Goals:  none


Alfreton: Ramsbottom, Clifton, Wilde, Hird, Gowling, Shiels, Bateson, Hotte, Clarke, Peniket, Johnson

Subs:  Bacon (for Gowling 46 mins), Riley (for Shiels 46 mins), Clackstone (for Clifton 90 + 1 mins), Nicholson, Chettle, Sinnott and Platt.

Cards:  Gowling (Y – 44 mins)

Goals:  Bateson 2 (5 & 21 mins), Clifton 2 – both pens – 17 & 27 mins)


Referee:  Michael Barlow (Bolton)

Attendance:  645


John Walker


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