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Our first visit to Didcot ends with defeat and an unusual red card

Saturday, 14 September 2019 20:29


Didcot Town       2            St Neots Town        1          

A disappointing second half performance saw St Neots drop to just one place off the bottom of the league table after their first ever visit to Didcot Town.   However, the defeat was only one significant factor in a very disappointing afternoon in Oxfordshire.   The flashpoint for the disturbance came twenty minutes from time with the scores level at one apiece.   Tim N’Kala seeking to break clear of the defence was wrestled crudely to the ground by home full back Liam Talboys and then forcibly held down as he tried to recover.   The Referee seemed slow to react and players from both sides piled in to wreak justice.   Amongst them was semi-fit St Neots substitute Stevan Shaw who had no right to intervene and he was issued with a red card – the first non-player to be so punished in living memory.   When the Referee and both Assistants sorted out the mayhem the two protagonists were booked, and the game continued with both sides still having eleven players on the pitch!   From that point St Neots seemed to lose their way and a late winning goal gave Didcot only their second league victory of the season.   St Neots Manager Marc Abbott had tweaked his starting line-up for the match.   With Shaw failing a pre-match fitness test Joe Walker filled in for his first Southern League start, Alfie Connor was preferred to Jake noble in midfield, and Joe Sutton returned after suspension in place of Prince Mutswunguma who was on the substitutes bench.

The pitch was more reminiscent of a beach, very hard and almost devoid of grass in places due to a water supply problem after the long dry spell, but both sides settled to the conditions which produced an irregular bounce of the ball.   Wide man George Reid was quickly a thorn in the St Neots defence being brought down after five minutes by Panny Boxer to earn the St Neots player the first booking of the match, and then having a deflected free kick well parried by James Philp.   Joe Sutton looked lively for St Neots shooting narrowly wide after an impressive pacey run, but then after twelve minutes he dispossessed home skipper Luke Carnell and cleverly rounded the home keeper to open the scoring.   St Neots seemed boosted by their lead and just before the twenty minutes mark Sam Bennett had two good chances to extend the score line, firstly shooting wide after neat play by Boxer and Sutton and then scorning an excellent opening, shooting high over the bar when clear.   Tim N’Kala then cut in, to fire over the bar and a lengthy effort by Lee Watkins was off target.   It was therefore against the run of play two minutes before the break when rather fortunately Didcot levelled.   A St Neots attack broke down and Reid produced pace to get forward, but his cross was deflected to the feet of Mark Francis who netted from close range.

St Neots had two early let offs after 55 minutes when their defence was caught short and attempting to rectify the position Sam Goode opted for a lofted back pass well wide of his keeper and the ball bounced off a post to concede a corner.   Didcot did get the ball in the net from that corner but fortunately the Referee had spotted some pushing in the penalty area.   Seven minutes later St Neots might have taken the lead but Jake Kerins’ first effort from a very narrow angle was blocked by the goalkeeper, and his follow-up volley in the same attack was acrobatically turned over the bar by Leigh Bedwell.   The game was now more open and a shot by Seth Humphries was deflected and fell to Luke Carnell whose shot was hacked off the line by a defender.    Mark Francis sent an acrobatic overhead kick inches too high but then that midfield altercation held up play for several minutes.   With nine minutes left full back Cameron McNeill made a swift attacking run down the flank and when his low shot was deflected Mark Francis was on hand to net from close range the winning goal – his second of the contest.   It could have been worse for in the last few minutes James Philp produced an outstanding full length save to deny substitute Connor Mattimore.   A day best forgotten!

St Neots:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Connor, Walker, Goode, Watkins, Boxer, N’Kala, Bennett, Sutton

Subs:  Gomersall (for Smith 67 mins), Mutswunguma (for Bennett 83 mins), Shaw and Abbott.

Cards:  Shaw (RED – 70 mins), Boxer (Y – 5 mins), N’Kala (Y – 70 mins), Goode (Y – 73 mins)

Goals:  Sutton (12 mins)


Didcot:  Bedwell, Talboys, McNeill,Hayden, Carnell, Gilmore, Dark, Nash, Francis, Humphries, Reid

Subs:  Pin (for Humphries 83 mins), Mattimore (for Dark 83 mins), Gardner, Heapy and Sampford.

Cards:  McNeill (Y – 21 mins), Talboys (Y – 70 mins)

Goals:  Francis 2 (43 and 81 mins)


Referee:  Tom Staten (Gloucester)

Attendance:       241


John Walker

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