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Saints push the undefeated league leaders all the way in promising performance

Saturday, 16 November 2019 20:39

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

Berkhamsted        3          St Neots Town        1           

Twelve minutes from time with St Neots bossing the game and looking odds on to steal a goal to level the contest against their table topping hosts, an outrageous decision by Referee Grzegoorz Konasiewicz saw influential St Neots midfielder Jonny Butler pick up a totally undeserved second yellow card to reduce the visitors to ten men.   Butler won the ball in a 50/50 challenge that left the Berkhamsted player prone on the pitch and the Referee allowed play to continued for several seconds before stopping the game to get assistance for the home player.   Then to the amazement of all he issued Butler with his second caution – even though he had not awarded a free kick for the challenge.   Asked about his decision after the match the official replied, ‘I think I reacted too slowly’.  That forced a quick St Neots reshuffle and in time added for stoppages leading Berkhamsted scorer Lewis Toomey broke clear to plunder a second goal for himself and a third for his side to give the final score line an almost unrepresentative picture of the contest.   The home side started the day as league leaders not having lost any of their twelve league matches this season but St Neots’ second half performance was described by a home official as ‘our toughest test so far this season’.   No reward then for St Neots but it should do the team confidence no harm as they go into next weekend’s crucial test against bottom of the table Wantage Town at the Premier Plus Stadium.   There were two changes in the starting line-up for St Neots with Ben Bradley back to replace suspended skipper Lee Watkins, and recent signing Ben Stokes replaced Sam Gomarsall who was on the bench.

Both sides got off to a speedy start with home danger man Lewis Toomey lobbing narrowly wide with St Neots keeper James Philp stranded after just twenty seconds, and a minute later Prince Mutswunguma spotted home keeper Xavier Leon off his line but sent his lengthy effort over the bar.   Toomey was then impeded by a defender on the edge of the penalty area, but Jon Lacey sent his free kick high over the bar.   However, Berkhamsted then struck an early significant blow when after eight minutes a Lacy cross saw Lewis Toomey time his run to the near post perfectly as he flicked the ball past Philp.   St Neots responded with Ben Bradley bringing a good save from the home keeper, but the home side were showing just why they are promotion favourites with some clinical attacking play as Alex Taylor had a net bound shot deflected for a corner.   The match was competitive with Joe Sutton finding his way into the Referee’s notebook, before another lengthy effort by Aaron Smith tested the keeper.   Nine minutes before half time the home side stamped their first half superiority on the game as Jon Lacey got on the end of a Joshua Chamberlain cross to extend his sides’ lead.   Both Philp and Sam Goode blocked further home side efforts, but two minutes before half time an Alan Musoke cross picked out Prince Mutswunguma and his acrobatic overhead kick put St Neots back in the match at 2-1.

After the break St Neots bossed the contest although they failed to capitalise on superior possession because they lack a significant finish.   It was 24 minutes into the second half before Berkhamsted had a shot at the St Neots goal, and then Philp kept his side in the contest with a brilliant save to deny Lacey’s searching chip.   St Neots’ substitute Jake Kerins, on for Stokes, made an early impact having a shot cleared off the line by Ryan Kinnane, and as the second half reached a critical stage the dismissal of Butler had its effect.   After a six minutes delay whilst home skipper Ben Spaul received extensive treatment the match had lost much of its intensity, further slowed down by more substitutions.   With three minutes of normal time remaining, Toomey was denied a second goal when he went clear but failed to finish, but he only had to wait four more minutes before he was again at the near post to take advantage of some hesitancy to convert a Chamberlain cross to dash St Neots’ hopes.   Mutswunguma almost had the final word with an effort deep into added time that he sent wide of the far post.

 

St Neots Town: Philp, Boxer, Smith, Butler, Shaw, Goode, Sutton, Bradley, Musoke, Stokes, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Kerins (for Stokes 60 mins), Foster (for Bradley 84 mins), Gomarsall (for Musoke 84 mins) and Abbott

Cards:  Butler (RED – 2 x Y – 39 & 78 mins), Sutton (Y – 31 mins)

Goals:  Mutswunguma (42 mins)

 

Berkhamsted:  Leon, Taylor, Cooper, Amu, Kinnane, Farrelly, Summerfield, Spaul, Toomey, Lacey, Chamberlain

Subs:  Hercules (for Summerfield 60 mins), Witham (for Amu 72 mins), Sexton (for Spaul 84 mins), Murphy and Stobbs.

Cards:  none

Goals:  Toomey 2 (8 & 90+1 mins), Lacey (36 mins)

 

Referee:  Grzegoorz Konasiewicz (Oxford)

Attendance:       206

 

John Walker

 

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