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Three set piece goals send Saints tumbling from FA Trophy despite spirited second half rally

Sunday, 29 September 2019 08:06

BuildBase FA Trophy – Extra Preliminary Round

Carlton Town       3          St Neots Town        1           

With just three minutes of normal time left and St Neots pushing hard for an equalizer that their second half performance had deserved with the potential reward of a replay, the outcome of this match was decided.   The home side broke away for a rare late attack and with St Neots caught short at the back, substitute Mason Rhiney tripped Mommoke Akaunu in the area and home skipper Tom Maddison despatched the spot kick to put St Neots late hopes beyond reach.   At half time trailing by a single goal to nil, St Neots looked lucky to be still in contention because they had been lacklustre and short of ideas in that first 45 minutes.   However, they responded well, and had they shown the newly discovered second half industry and commitment before the break the outcome of the match could have been very different.  

Carlton Town are currently leading the BetVictor Northern League (South East Division) with only a single league defeat so far in nine fixtures but they made surprisingly little progress against a visiting side that did not produce a single shot on goal in the first twenty-five minutes.   The visitors made two team changes preferring Panny Boxer to Joe Walker in defence and reinstating Tim N’Kala in midfield for Sam Gomersal who was unavailable, along with the injured Jacob Joseph and Jacob Noble and the suspended Stevan Shaw.   The one positive in defeat was the return to action as a substitute of former team skipper Ben Bradley whose lengthy rehabilitation from injury had seen him last in action on 27th April, and his half hour on the pitch suggested that he will push for a permanent place in the starting line-up.

In attacking terms, it was all Carlton in the opening 25 minutes.   At times St Neots struggled to get the ball out of their own half as Aaron Opoku shot straight at James Philp when clear, and the lively Oliver Clark had two shots blocked.   From a Niall Davie cross, Opoku headed tamely over the bar and then Tyler Blake brought a good save from Philp.   St Neots first shot arrived after 26 minutes from Price Mutswunguma but sadly it was too high, but St Neots were beginning to look competitive but lacked significant finish.   Seven minutes before the break, from a set piece Davie free kick Oliver Clark rose unchallenged at the far post to head firmly into the net to open the scoring and although St Neots tried to respond they made little progress.

The second half saw a different pattern to the play right from the first whistle.   St Neots adopted a more attacking approach and in the first minute skipper Lee Watkins shot narrowly wide.   However, it was self-destruct time for St Neots just three minutes later when with a repeat of his first half goal Oliver Clark produced another towering header – this time from a Davie corner – and St Neots found themselves chasing the game two goals in arrears.   To their credit they responded well with some deft changes to their line up that saw Ben Bradley and Mason Rhiney on for Sam Bennett and Alfie Connor.   They were almost gifted a goal when the hugely under-employed home goalkeeper Jack Steggles fluffed a clearance, but he was relieved when the ball ricocheted off Prince Mutswunguma onto the right hand post and off for a goal kick.   Prince had a shot blocked and Joe Sutton shot wide as St Neots applied pressure on the home defence, but Carlton still looked threatening on the break with Philp doing well to save from Opoku with his legs as he spread himself.   Then, after 71 minutes it was game on as from a Lee Watkins corner, our first in the game, central defender SAM GOODE (pictured right) claimed his third goal of the season scrambling the ball in from close range.   Watkins shot wide and then provided the corner for Panny Boxer to head narrowly over the crossbar and to show St Neots’ dominance the home side were openly wasting time to preserve their lead.   It was therefore against the run of play when three minutes from time Carlton broke swiftly from defence for substitute Akaunu to tumble in the area from a mistimed Mason Rhiney challenge and the successful Maddison spot kick earned his side their place in the next round.

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

Subs:  Bradley (for Bennett 56 mins), Rhiney (for Connor 56 mins), Walker, Abbott and Crosby.

Cards:  Kerins (Y – 40 mins), Watkins (Y – 74 mins)

Goals:  Goode (71 mins)


Carlton Town:  Steggles, Brown, Fletcher, Ball, Moore, Maddison, Elliot, Clark, Opoku, Blake, Davie

Subs:  Thomas (for Blake 66 mins), Akaunu (for Opoku 71 mins), Johal (for Davie 89mins), Robinson and Smithson.

Cards:  Maddison (Y – 65 mins)

Goals:  Clark 2  (38 & 49 mins), Maddison – pen (87 mins)


Referee:  Dan Woolley (Lincoln)

Attendance:       92


John Walker

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