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Season ends with entertaining draw in gale force conditions

Sunday, 28 April 2019 11:08

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

St Neots Town       1        Halesowen Town       1

Perhaps appropriately this ‘relegation party’ ended all square at 1-1 with these two sides now preparing for life at Step Four next season.   It was only St Neots Town’s second relegation in their proud 140 years of history so now for Manager Marc Abbott the work begins with his talented young squad for the new season due to start in just over three months.   With relegation for both sides confirmed prior to the match there may have been little to play for but this final match for  both was nonetheless competitive despite the gusting wind making conditions very difficult.  The visiting side, managed by former West Bromwich Albion player Lee Hughes, also featured some of their younger players and a share of the points was a fair outcome.   Marc Abbott had his skipper Matt Miles injured so changes were required so he left Jacob Joseph and Prince Mutswunguma on the bench bringing in Joe Rider, Joe Sutton and Aaron Hudson – the latter for his first start after a couple of substitute appearances.

St Neots made a bright start and were ahead after just four minutes.  Joe Rider received the ball with his back to goal and turned neatly to feed it through the defence for Dan Trendall to run on and net.   Seven minutes later the lead should have been doubled when Joe Sutton found himself clear of the defence in front of goal but shot across the face.   Halesowen were enjoying a fair share of possession but created little although Isai Marselia saw a fierce shot well blocked by Ryan Hughes.   Mason Rhiney saw his effort blocked at the other end and as St Neots continued to dominate the usually reliable Dan Trendall failed to capitalise on more good work by Joe Rider as he sent his free shot from ten yards high over the bar.   St Neots was almost made to pay for that miss five minutes before the break when Aaron Birch headed down a Kartel O’Neill-Martin free kick, but Samir Nabi blazed his shot high over the bar.   The match had been well controlled by Referee Wayne Chalmers but he unaccountably yellow-carded Aaron Hudson for kicking the ball away after awarding a free kick.

Both sides opted for a half time change with Jacob Joseph replacing Joe Sutton and Samuel Dallow coming on for Aaron Gilpin for the visitors.   On a break Hudson shot well wide after James Philp had saved well, but after 53 minutes the scores were levelled.   A defensive lapse in concentration by St Neots saw Marselia play Nabi clear on the right and when his effort rebounded off a post, Joe Hood rushing back to cover only succeeded in putting the ball into his own net after the ball lucklessly rebounded onto his knee.   At the other end, Trendall crossed from the left and Jacob Joseph was only inches away from the ball in front of a gaping net but the most significant moment of the second half was when Halesowen player/manager Lee Hughes opted to bring himself on to replace Marselia.   From that point onwards the visitors grew in confidence and put the home defence under constant pressure.   Hughes was in immediate action bringing the save of the match up to that point from James Philip with Nabi volleying the loose ball over the bar and the same visiting player squandered a further chance again shooting off target.   St Neots substitute Reif Clarke had a well-placed header deflected wide from a Trendall cross and Hughes could twice have scored for Halesowen.   However, St Neots finished strongly, and it took two outstanding saves from Platt to deny late efforts by St Neots substitutes Prince Mutswunguma and Clarke.    Honours even then but the two sides could meet again next season at Step Four.

St Neots Town:  Philp, Hood, Fulianty, Bradley, Hughes, Shaw, Sutton, Rhiney, Trendall, Rider, Hudson

Subs: Joseph (for Sutton 7 mins), Mutswunguma (for Rider 61 mins), Clarke (for Hudson 79 mins), McCormack and Abbott.

Cards:  Hudson (Y – 44 mins)

Goals: Trendall (4 mins)

 

Halesowen Town:  Platt, Ekongo, Kelly, Lawton, Morris, Mendez-Jones, Gilpin, Birch, Marselia, O-Neill- Martin, Nabi.

Subs:  Dallow (for Gilpin 46 mins), Hughes (for Marselia 76 mins), Charlton and Nickolds.

Cards:none

Goals:  Hood OG (53 mins)

 

Referee:  Wayne Chalmers (Northampton)  

Attendance:       132

John Walker

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