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Super Saints progress in the FA Trophy thanks to an exquisite Shariff strike

Saturday, 27 October 2018 19:16

FA TROPHY – FIRST ROUND QUALIFYING

St Neots Town      1          Matlock Town       0        

 

St Neots maintained their record in the FA Trophy of having only lost once in the First Round Qualifying since joining the Southern League eight seasons ago.   However, this was a hard-fought game between two well-matched sides and St Neots only saw off the challenge of their visitors Matlock Town because of a determined second half performance.   It was suitable revenge for a Second Round Qualifying defeat at Matlock four years ago, and it was achieved despite being short of three first choice players due to injury.   Club skipper Luke Knight and Harry O’Malley had both missed the midweek trip to Lowestoft, and they were joined on the treatment table by defender Taylor Parr.   Into the side came full back Matty Miles into an unfamiliar midfield role alongside Tom Wood – also a defender – but it was another defender Russell Short who earned the plaudits for a faultless display at the heart of the home defence.  

St Neots created the first real opening after three minutes when Tom Wood headed on a Johnny Herd throw and Nabil Shariff was only inches away from reaching the ball in front of a gaping net.   Matlock then settled quickly looking stronger in midfield and Craig King headed across the face of goal from a Nathan Whitehead cross.   Jordan Chappell saw a well-placed shot comfortably saved by Harry Reynolds and Whitehead shot wide when left unmarked on the edge of the penalty area.   At the other end Shariff knocked down a cross to the feet of Russell Short but off-balance he fired over the bar and back came Matlock with King heading wide when well placed.   A defensive error by the visiting side let in Dion Sembie-Ferris but he volleyed over the bar and on the stroke of half time a Shariff shot was deflected over the bar by a retreating defender.

The heavy rain welcomed the players back after the break making ball control more difficult but St Neots were quickly into their stride and after 49 minutes a Sembie-Ferris cross found Gary Wharton eight yards from goal, but his shot rebounded to safety off the outside of a goalpost.  The visitors tried to vary their attack by sending on two attacking players but the St Neots back line was well able to deal with anything thrown at them.   Just past the hour visiting keeper Ross Durrant did well to block a close range shot from Shariff but the striker had to wait only three minutes to make up for that disappointment as Tom Wood won the ball and sent it over the retreating Matlock defence and Shariff went clear before cleverly chipping the ball over the advancing keeper for what proved to be the winning goal.   St Neots sent on Claudio Ofosu for Gary Wharton and the substitute was immediately involved twice having shots either blocked or well-saved.   Nathan Whitehead went close for the visitors having his effort deflected over the bar and Matlock’s recently acquired striker Luke Hinsley fired into the side-netting.   As the second half progressed St Neots looked the more comfortable team in possession and a full length save by Durrant prevented Ofosu from extending the lead.   In the final five minutes Matlock redoubled their efforts and Reynolds saved well from a Harry Vince free kick and on the break Shariff twice went close.   The nearest to an equaliser for the visitors came late in the game when defender Bradley Beatson saw his volley clip the crossbar and bounce to safety.

 

St Neots Town:  Reynolds, Stanley, Herd, Wood, Short, Olaniran, Sembie-Ferris, Miles, Shariff, Williams, Wharton

Subs:  Ofosu (for Wharton 65 mins), Mutswumguma and Fulianty.

Cards:  Stanley (Y – 86 mins)

Goals:  Shariff (64 mins)

 

Matlock Town:  Durrant, Lemon, Green, Whitehead (N), Beatson, Hall, Chappell, Taylor, Westcarr, Vince, King

Subs:  Hinsley (for Westcarr 57 mins), Jackson (for Chappell 57 mins), Whitehead (B) (for Lemon 77 mins, Knowles and Pierrepoint.

Cards:  Whitehead (N) (Y – 58 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Referee:  Callum Walchester (Lowestoft)

Attendance:  249

 

John Walker

 

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