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Early deflected goal enough to beat The Saints despite a spirited fightback.

Saturday, 09 November 2019 23:07

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

St Neots Town        0           Aylesbury United       1

A deflected first half goal condemned St Neots to an undeserved sixth league defeat in as many home starts this season.   Once again, the performance was improved overall, but there was still no reward.    In a defiant second half the home side did everything but score a goal, but they should reflect on the fact that dominance of possession does not automatically produce the quality of chances to break down a determined stubborn defence.   Manager Marc Abbott had senior players back from injury in his squad, but he kept faith with his players to opt for an unchanged starting line-up for only the second time this season.    With Kempston Rovers pulling off a surprise away victory over league leaders Corby Town, the gap between St Neots and the sides above them was extended to five points.

St Neots began well and created the first two chances of the match – the first after just 90 seconds when Joe Sutton darted between defenders to be upended on the edge of the penalty area but Prince Mutswunguma sent his free kick tamely over the crossbar.   Then Lee Watkins did well to get to the bye line, but his cross was headed wide of target by Sam Gomarsall.   James Philp then did well at full stretch to parry a shot from David Manu but to St Neots’ relief Jamie Jellis skied his effort over the bar.   However, after 14 minutes another cross by the lively Manu was only cleared as far as Sonny French and from around 25 yards, he sent in a snapshot that deflected off a defender to leave the St Neots custodian flat-footed.   At that point St Neots did not deserved to be behind but it did seem to boost the confidence of the visiting side and they could have capitalised on a free kick just outside the penalty area by Ollie Hogg that was deflected over the bar by the defensive wall.   However, St Neots were soon on the offensive again with Jonny Butler moving forward to fire over the bar, and then Alan Musoke went through the visiting defence but delayed his finish and a defender got back to smother the shot.   Little was seen of the visiting attack apart from a 34th minute effort by Jellis that Philp did well to push away one-handed under pressure from Ken Feyi.   The half ended with St Neots skipper Lee Watkins picking up his fifth yellow card of the campaign for a mistimed tackle meaning a one-match ban at the end of the month.

It was a resolute and determined unchanged St Neots line-up that reappeared after the break.   They adopted an attacking approach with Gomersal volleying over the bar when he should perhaps have done better, and then a Lee Watkins free kick only just cleared the crossbar with the visiting keeper looking beaten after Sutton had been brought down in full flight.   Gomarsall then made way, in a straight swap, for Ben Bradley who quickly featured in an attack that broke down on the edge of the penalty area.    Aylesbury seemed to have decided to sit on their narrow advantage pulling off their two most attacking players and filtering back to blunt the St Neots attack.   The match became very polarised with the visitors happy to depend on breakaway attacking moves and in one of these St Neots last defender Stevan Shaw was unjustly yellow carded when his opponent appeared to trip himself up!   With thirteen minutes left and the pressure firmly on the visiting defence Prince Mutswunguma slipped his marker but shot disappointingly across the face of goal, and then in successive attacks Aaron Smith shot wide and a rising shot from Bradley was parried by Jack Hopwood.   St Neots now had four players in attack, but their final pass was not incisive enough and they looked vulnerable to a counterattack, with Philp having to save bravely at the feet of Harry Jones.   Aylesbury tried successfully to ruin the clock down with some legitimate time wasting and they could have snatched a second goal deep into added time when Jellis broke clear and only a back breaking save by Philp at the expense of a corner foiled him.    It was a disappointing outcome, but the improvement must not be overlooked.

St Neots: Philp, Boxer, Smith, Butler, Shaw, Goode, Watkins, Gomersal, Musoke, Mutswunguma, Sutton

Subs:  Bentley (for Gomersal 54 mins), Foster (for Sutton 66 mins), Kerins (for Boxer 87 mins), Stokes and Badiani.

Cards:  Watkins (Y – 43 mins), Shaw (Y – 72 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Aylesbury:  Hopwood, Jones, Bewley, Wood, Jenkins, Riddick, Jellis, Hogg, Feyi, French, Manu.

Subs:  Seaton (for Manu 66 mins), Williams (for Feyi 66 mins), Rudd (for French 82 mins) and Deacon.

Cards:  Williams (Y – 74 mins), Jones (88 mins), Jellis (90+4 mins)

Goals:  Sonny French (14 mins)

 

Referee:  Luke Scott (Northampton)

Attendance:       216

 

John Walker

 

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