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Strikes from Wood and Wharton not enough as Alvechurch take the points with second half comeback

Saturday, 17 November 2018 21:56

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

Alvechurch       3          St Neots Town     2          

Having scored just twice in their last four league and cup matches, St Neots Manager Matt Clements had called for his side to rediscover their goalscoring touch as they now returned to their league programme.    In their first ever meeting with Alvechurch they disappointingly fell behind early in the game before two late first half goals afforded them a 2-1 half time lead.   Surely that would be sufficient to earn at least a valuable point – but no.   Sloppy defending after the break gifted their hosts with two goals and all three points, and St Neots slipped a further place in the league table to nineteenth, now only three points above the relegation zone.   It was a multi-changed line up for this match with two enforced absentees – Luke Knight and Dylan Williams – both sitting out a one match ban, and the Manager chose to reshape his attack leaving Dion Sembie-Ferris and Claudio Ofosu on the bench.   Into the side came Johnny Herd (after suspension), Dan Olaniran, Gary Wharton and loanee Lee Watkins.   The side looked to have good shape but two defenders – Russell Short and Devante Stanley both departed injured and the side then seemed to suffer a loss of confidence and despite a late show of determined pressure they were unable to retrieve their single goal deficit.

From the first whistle it was a high tempo contest with chances at both ends of the field.   St Neots with a 3-4-3 shape saw Tom Wood test home keeper Charlie Price from distance after five minutes and then a minute later the home side delivered sucker punch as Kieran Cook flicked home a Mitch Botfield cross at the near post.   St Neots responded with Nabil Shariff seeing his shot deflected for a corner, but play returned to the other end where Yusifu Ceesay saw his effort smothered by a defender, and Botfield robbed a defender but overran the ball as he bore down on goal.    As the half wore on St Neots began to dictate the pattern of play and Taylor Parr’s neat back-header from a Johnny Herd throw was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Price.   In a quick break by Alvechurch, Dave Bellis tried his luck from distance only to see his effort beat Harry Reynolds but rebound from a post.   However, the spirited reply from the visitors deservedly had its reward when a neat square lay off by Gary Wharton set up man-of-the- match Tom Wood for his first league goal of the season.   Price then saved well at the feet of Nabil Shariff after good work by Devante Stanley and Wood then almost scored again only to see his header from a corner, cleared off the line by Jamie Willetts.   However five minutes before the break the industrious Gary Wharton took full advantage of home defensive hesitation to round the keeper and score from a narrow angle to afford St Neots a deserved half time advantage.

The second half began badly for the visitors as just two minutes poor cover in the defence allowed Kieran Cook too much space and he scored, also from an oblique angle to level the scores for a second time.   St Neots had lost Russell Short at the break following a first half injury and after 57 minutes Devante Stanley was helped off the field after a collision had left him prone on the ground.   With the versatile Tom Wood now switched into defence St Neots set about restoring their influence on the match but they were under pressure again when a Botfield free kick required the under-pressure Reynolds to punch away.  Then from a Tom Turton cross the defensive marking was wanting, allowing tall defender Kyle Morrison a free header to give Alvechurch that 3-2 advantage.   St Neots were stunned by this setback and mounted a series of counter attacks with Matt Miles firing over the bar and Dion Sembie-Ferris also off target after neat work by Lee Watkins.   Alvechurch on a counter then saw Turton get the ball in the net following a corner but an Assistant Referee flagged one of his colleague offside and it was left to Claudio Ofosu in the dying minutes to fire across the face of goal and leave St Neots their journey home wondering what might have been.

St Neots:  Reynolds, Stanley, Herd, Olaniran, Short, Parr, Miles, Wood, Shariff, Wharton, Watkins

Subs:  Sembie-Ferris (for Short 46 mins), Ofosu (for Stanley 62 mins) and Douglas.

Cards:  Short (Y – 34 mins)

Goals:  Wood (30 mins), Wharton (40 mins)

 

Alvechurch:  Price, Ezewele, Foster, Turton, Morrison, Willetts, Bellis, Botfield, Lloyd, Ceesay, Cook

Subs:  March (for Cook 62 mins), Landell (for Lloyd 62 mins), Carter (for Botfield 83 mins), Evans and O’Callaghan

Cards:  Turton (Y – 32 mins), Botfield (Y – 45 mins)

Goals:  Cook 2 (6 & 47 mins), Morrison (68 mins)

 

Referee:  Richie Watkins (Nuneaton)

Attendance:  239

 

John Walker

 

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