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Plucky Saints Push Second Placed Stourbridge All The Way For The Three Points

Saturday, 16 February 2019 22:22

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

Stourbridge       1        St Neots Town        0

Sometimes there is no justice in football.  The youthful inexperienced St Neots side were up against second in the table Stourbridge and suffered the disappointment of conceding a third minute goal but could and should have gone on to rescue a point after an impressive fighting second half display.   Home officials were quick to concede that the visitors deserved a point, but luck was against them, clearly displayed in added time when substitute Joe Sutton just failed to reach a cross by the impressive Jordan Norville-Williams.   Manager Marc Abbott in charge for just the second time expressed pride at the performance of his side and believes the experienced gained by his charges will be of immense value despite the defeat.   His team selection saw Jacob Joseph, Leon Fulianty and Prince Mutswunguma dropped to the bench to be replaced by Gary Wharton returning from injury, and two new signings, defender Joe Hood and wide man Harry Beckley.   St Neots had been beaten at home by the odd goal in three earlier in the season by their Worcestershire hosts after they had led by a Dylan Williams goal at the break.

 

It was disappointing that the powerful home side went ahead after just three minutes in the first attack of the match.   Their attack down the left split the St Neots defence and having been involved in the break, Greg Mills then sprinted forward to turn an Aaron Forde cross past Finley Iron to score what proved to be the only goal of the match.   Robbie Thompson-Brown then shot narrowly over the bar and a feature of the early play was the ball retention of the home side as they waited patiently for an opening to present itself.   On the break St Neots carved out openings but Gary Wharton shot wide after good work by Scott Pollock and then Harry Beckley cut in from the left to shoot over the bar.   Stourbridge are the second highest goal scorers in the league and their potential was clearly displayed as striker Luke Benbow a former National League player with Solihull Moors, and Greg Mills late of Derby County terrorised the St Neots defence with the latter twice shooting wide when well placed.   Forde also ran at the defence shooting over the bar and putting a second effort wide so despite having a smaller share of possession, St Neots survived comfortably until the break.

 

Both sides made half time substitutions with Prince Mutswunguma replacing Mason Rhiney for the visitors and playing down the slope St Neots began to look more confident.   However the home side clearly decided to go for the kill and Iron had to produce two outstanding saves to keep his side in the game.   He first denied substitute Bilal Yafai pushing away his fierce shot and then added the save of the match after 52 minutes, acrobatically denying a Leon Broadhurst header from a Thompson-Brown cross.   Benbow then displayed great skill to take two defenders out of the game with a clever turn to set up Forde but his low shot rebounded from the inside of a post to be cleared.  Although the visitors were enjoying a much greater share of play, they created few significant chances, but the balance of play was switching and with a quarter of an hour remaining the home side seemed to go into defensive mode.   Second St Neots substitute Joe Sutton was looking lively up front and after shooting narrowly wide he was cynically tripped from behind by Broadhurst earning the home player the only yellow card of the match.   Norville-Williams took the free kick and from 25 yards beat the keeper but saw the ball land on the roof of the net.  Stourbridge were now quite blatantly time-wasting to preserve their narrow advantage and as the match moved into added time Sutton just failed to convert that cross mentioned earlier and the same player had a second late chance that was too high.  

The St Neots team were cheered off by the home crowd – a deserved measure of their performance.

 

Stourbridge:  Wren, Hayden, Brown, McCone, Christophorou, Forde, Birch, Broadhurst, Benbow, Thompson-Brown, Mills

Subs:  Yafai (for Birch 46 mins), Powell (for Thompson-Brown 60 mins), Anderson (for Benbow 72 mins), Pierpoint and Westlake.

Cards:  Broadhurst (Y – 84 mins)

Goals:  Mills (3 mins)

St Neots:  Iron, Hood, Norville-Williams, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Rhiney, Pollock, Wharton, Rider, Beckley

Subs:  Mutswunguma (for Rhiney 46 mins), Sutton (for Rider 60 mins), Joseph and Fulianty.

Cards:  none

Goals:  none

 

Referee:  Robbie Dadley (Coventry)

Attendance:  596

John Walker

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