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The Ives take the glory in New Year's battle of the Saints

Wednesday, 02 January 2019 10:06

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

 

St Neots Town     0         St Ives Town       1 

St Neots Town were hoping for a new start to the New Year, but their in-form neighbours had used up all their goodwill and left with the three points to condemn their hosts to a fifth consecutive league defeat over the festive period, now seemingly doomed to a relegation battle in 2019.   Manager Matt Clements had brought in James Hall to lead his attack after a two years absence, following the defection of striker Nabil Shariff, but he received precious little service and was closely shadowed by the solid St Ives defence.   Hall has an excellent strike rate in St Neots colours with fifteen goals in 26 appearances but despite his efforts on the day he had just one significant shot on target.   With only one defeat in their last nine matches St Ives have climbed to half way in the table and they look compact and well-organised.   However it is perhaps significant that they fielded just three of the players in their starting line-up that had featured in the last meeting of the two sides whilst St Neots numbered six survivors.   With Johnny Herd unwell Clements made two team changes with Hall joined by Tom Wood returning in midfield and Matt Miles starting on the bench.

An enthusiastic local crowd saw a competitive start to the match, but it was St Neots who still had one seasonal gift to bestow as they preswented their visitors with a goal after twelve minutes.   Forced on to his left foot to clear a back pass, Finley Iron miskicked directly to the unmarked Robert Parker and although his effort was blocked by a defender, the ball fell at the feet of Jake Newman who guided it past the stranded Iron.   The game was then held up following a clash of heads but both players happily continued after treatment and St Ives began to dictate play with Newman close to adding a second goal.   He sped between the last two defenders but was brought down in full flight from behind by Ryan Hughes on the edge of the area.   The St Neots played looked fortunate only to be shown a yellow card, but the free kick was wasted.   The home side did produce a brighter period around the half hour when a Russell Short cross was plucked off the head of James Hall by Martin Conway and the keeper then save an important save to deny Dylan Williams.   Ben Seymour-Shove fired wide after neat play by Parker but the visitors finished off the first half with a flourish as from a Ben Baker cross, Kelly won the ball in the air but saw his effort rebound from the crossbar and then St Ives had a credible shout for a penalty when Parker appeared to be brought down in the area but Referee Alex Rayment, perfectly placed, waved play on.   However the first half had been an accurate reflection of the form and league positions of the two sides.

St Neots needed a positive response after the interval, but their only real early effort was a shot by Jack Daldy deflected for a corner.   At the other end Kelly had a shot blocked by a defender and although St Neots were beginning to enjoy a greater share of possession the visitors produced the perfect tactics in reply.   They filtered back playing confident containing football restricting the home side to opportunistic shooting from distance with goalkeeper Conway seldom in action.   In one rare opportunity for the home side the hard-working Tom Wood saw a header rebound from the bar, but St Ives always looked in control and were happy to protect their narrow advantage.    With just three at the back St Neots continued to dominate but failed to create genuine scoring opportunities despite introducing attacking substitutes.      Jordan Norville-Williams volleyed over the bar when well placed and substitute Scott Sinclair back for the first time this season, also shot well off target as St Neots’ frustration began to show.   It could have ended badly in added time when St Neots was caught short ion defence and substitute Ollie Snaith was allowed time and space, but he failed to test Iron who save comfortably.

St Neots:  Iron, Short, Norville-Williams, Knight, Hughes, Parr, Daldy, Wood, Hall, Williams, Wharton Subs:  Miles (for Wharton 57 mins), Rhiney (for Hughes 73 mins), Sinclair (for Norville-Williams 83 mins) and Gomes.

Cards:  Hughes (Y – 25 mins), Wood (Y – 45+1 mins)

Goals:  none

 

St Ives:  Conway, Jackson, Coulson, Sundrie, Cartwright, D’eath, Baker, Parker, Newman, Kelly, Seymour-Shove

Subs:  Snaith (for Seymour-Shove 63 mins), Bailey (for Newman 75 mins), Ward (for Sundrie 88 mins), Hood and Wallis.

Cards:  none

Goals:  Newman (12 mins)

 

Referee:  Alex Rayment (Dunstable)

Attendance:  428

 

John Walker

 

 

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