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Spot Kick Shootout Success Sends Saints Into County Cup Final

Wednesday, 16 January 2019 11:25

HUNTINGDONSHIRE SENIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL

Yaxley       2         St Neots Town       2

(St Neots won 3-2 on penalties)

With half of the standard ten penalties either missed or saved the outcome of this Hunts Senior Cup semi-final was until doubt until literally the last kick of the match.   The outcome of the match could and should have been decided by half time because St Neots dominated much of the first half and created chance after chance but lower graded Yaxley repelled their efforts with home keeper James Blake producing several good saves.   Then after the break Yaxley came back with a vengeance and the confidence seemed to be drained from the visiting side who, nevertheless, could have snatched a winning goal before the ultimate penalty shoot-out.   Yaxley are enjoying their first ever season at Step Four of the pyramid in the Southern League Division One Central and have made a good start presently sitting half way up the table with much the same squad as won their promotion from the UCL.   The last time the two clubs met was in the Senior Cup was three seasons ago – a quarter final tie won by the visitors 6-1 with Tom Meechan, Adam Tann, Luis Vieira, Claudio Ofosu, Tom Ward and Isaac Galliford their goal scorers.   Unsurprisingly St Neots no survivors from that team in the squad for that meeting.   Yaxley last lifted the Senior Cup in 2007/08 beating St Ives in a penalty shoot-out but have been beaten finalist twice since then.   St Neots Manager Matt Clements made several changes from the side that had lost at Leiston restoring Ryan Hughes and Tom Wood in defence and James Hall to lead the attack, as well as handing full debut to Mason Rhiney in midfield with Taylor Parr unavailable and Russell Short, Scott Sinclair and Gary Wharton on the substitutes bench.

The match got off to an explosive start with both sides scoring in their first credible attack.   St Neots were swiftly out of the blocks as Jordan Norville-Williams chased a long cross ball to the corner flag before skilfully turning his marker and crossing for James Hall to rise above the home defence to head home – his first goal since his return to the club on New Years Day.  Yaxley’s response was swift and effective as two minutes later the visiting defence failed to clear, and Dan Cotton returned the ball to the far post for Dalton Harris to level the scores.   St Neots then took over with Dylan Williams hauled down on the edge of the area and from Johnny Herd’s free kick, Ryan Hughes saw his shot rebound from a post into the grateful arms of home keeper James Blake after eleven minutes.  Three minutes later Williams saw an effort rebound from the crossbar and from a Luke Knight corner,

Norville-Williams had his shot cleared off the line by Sam Spencer.   However, the pressure paid off and after 18 minutes St Neots regained the lead when Jordan Norville-Williams unleashed a surprise shot from 25 yards to beat Blake’s desperate dive.   The tempo then dropped with St Neots continuing to dominate with Williams twice going close, Blake producing the save of ther match to deny Devante Stanley, and Herd slicing through the home defence to be upended by Kyle Nolan on the edge of the penalty area, earning the Yaxley player a rather fortunate yellow card when the home side might have been reduced to ten men.

If Yaxley had failed to test visiting keeper Finley Iron in the first half, they swiftly made amends after the break, with Matt Sparrow cutting in to see his low shot well saved and then Lewis Hook squandered an excellent chance firing wildly over the bar.   Fraser Sturgess also tested Iron and after 57 minutes a Cotton shot was blocked on the goal line.   St Neots seemed to regain their rhythm and they replied around the hour with a Knight shot that was deflected for a corner and Hall then set up the unmarked Williams ten yards from goal, but Blake bravely saved his point-blank effort.  Substitutions by both sides followed in a bid to grasp the initiative and one of the newcomers, Scott Sinclair burst through with a fierce shot just shy of the angle of post and bar.    The last ten minutes was phrenetic as both sides threw caution to the wind.   It was Yaxley who produced the decisive moment as a long cross by Cotton found substitute James Ward who levelled the scores with nine minutes remaining.   St Neots responded with Norville-Williams heading over the bar and Knight seeing a free kick well saved.   Yaxley will rue their missed late opportunities with substitute Tom Waumsley breaching the visiting defence but firing straight at Iron, and Sparrow shooting across the face of goal when left unmarked.   In time added Herd then cleared off the line to earn St Neots their penalty shoot- out.

Waumsley fired the first spot kick over the bar to hand the visitors the initiative and the goalkeepers both made two excellent saves to extend the drama but with Luke Knight and Dylan Williams scoring for St Neots and James Ward and Joe Butterworth successful for Yaxley it was left to Tom Wood to become the unlikely St Neots hero as he fired home the tenth spot kick.   Holders St Neots will now face either the Rovers of Eynesbury or Godmanchester in the end of season Cup Final.

 

Yaxley:  Blake, Duncliffe, Eagleton, Nolan, Spencer, Bettles, Sparrow, Hook, Harris, Cotton, Sturgess

Subs:  Waumsley (for Harris 56 mins), Ward (for Nolan 71 mins), Butterworth (for Sturgess 76 mins), Stebbing and Watson.

Cards: Hook (Y – 23 mins), Nolan (Y – 40 mins), Bettles (Y – 90+2 mins)

Goals:  Harris (8 mins), Ward (81 mins)

 

St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Hughes, Wood, Stanley, Rhiney, Hall, Williams, Norville-Williams

Subs:  Sinclair (for Rhiney 64 mins), Wharton (for Hall 80 mins) and Short

Cards:  none

Goals:  Hall (6 mins), Norville-Williams (18 mins)

 

Referee:  Jon Burridge (Papworth)

Attendance:  103

 

John Walker

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