SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

St Neots Town        1         Didcot Town       0        

Back to back wins without conceding a goal, for more than a year, earned three valuable points to take St Neots within one point of visitors Didcot as their gradual climb up the table continues, and will have boosted confidence as the newly assembled line-up progresses.   It was a hard fought but well-deserved victory with single goal from skipper Tom Boxer – his first for the club – enough to separate the sides.   Didcot proved to be hard-working and resilient opponents with their two tall central defenders Luke Carnell and Joe Green snuffing out the most promising St Neots attacks, but St Neots had their own excellent defenders in the two Tom’s – Boxer and Dickens as well as dependable shot stopper Fin Iron in goal. St Neots still have some weak points to work on with too many promising openings falling due to a poor final ball, and once again they made a very slow start to the match, taking far too long to find their rhythm. However, the second half improvement was impressive, and the narrow one goal advantage always looked likely to deliver the victory.   For the first time since September there were no changes to the starting line-up, and just one on the bench with Lee Watkins reinstated after suspension.

The first 45 minutes were uninspiring and pallid with neither sides producing much to warm their followers on a cold afternoon.   There was a general lack of intensity in the play with St Neots guilty of some careless passing when they were in possession.   An early typical snapshot from distance by Lewis Simper sailed agonisingly the wrong side of a post but Didcot were creating their own openings with Cameron McNeill heading tamely wide from a Humphries free kick and Jack Dark firing high over the bar after neat work by George Reid.   Visiting keeper Leigh Bedwell did well to parry a rising shot from Panny Boxer and he then claimed an Aaron Smith free kick amidst a crowd of players.   Jonny Butler needlessly picked up a caution pulling back an opponent and the first half looked to be a stalemate until the clock ticked over into the 45th minute.   Then a cross from the right was only cleared as far as home skipper Tom Boxer and he hit a low shot through the crowded penalty area to put his side ahead and claim his first goal for the club.

Thankfully, the second half proved far more entertaining and competitive.   It began with the substitution of Butler by former skipper Lee Watkins, who beefed up the midfield attacking options for the home side, and as a result St Neots began to manage the game in a more confident manner.   Just past the hour, Joe Sutton after a quiet first half, cut inside past two defenders and saw his rising shot pass across the face of goal, and then Tom Boxer broke up a Didcot attack to forge forward to set up Simper whose shot was well saved by Bedwell.   The keeper then had to be brave to leave his line to claim the ball at the feet of Watkins, but Didcot too had their moments with Finley Iron twice in action in the same attack, pushing away a Reid corner before saving a firm Luke Carnell header.   Sixteen minutes from time St Neots Manager Barry Corr withdrew hardworking striker Joe Neal who had received next to no service from his side, replacing him with Prince Mutswunguma who was only caught inches offside as he went clear from a Simper through pass.   Iron made a very significant save to deny Reid, who had been the pick of the visiting players, but play switched quickly to the other end where Simper brought the save of the match from Bedwell.   Simper then limped off to be replaced by Lewis Foster and St Neots thought they should have had a late penalty when Mutswunguma was upended but the Referee waved play on.

 

SAINTS SUPPORTERS' MAN OF THE MATCH - TOMMY BOXER (pictured right)

 

St Neots Town: Iron, Shaw, Smith, Butler, Dickens, Boxer (T), Gomarsall, Boxer (P), Neal, Simper, Sutton

Subs:  Watkins (for Butler 46 mins), Mutswunguma (for Neal 74 mins), Foster (for Simper 81 mins), Joseph and Goode.

Cards:  Butler  (Y – 32 mins), Simper (Y – 45+2 mins), Shaw (Y – 53 mins)

Goals:  Boxer (T) (45 mins)

 

Didcot Town:  Bedwell, Gilmore, McNeill, Hayden, Carnell, Green, Humphries, Talboys, Stanley, Dark, Reid

Subs:  Heapy and Murphy.

Cards: Green (Y – 61 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Referee:  Tom Danaher (Hitchin)

Attendance:       205

 

John Walker

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

St Neots Town        3         Coleshill Town       0        

St Neots took full advantage of their match in hand over Kempston Rovers as they clambered above them to the relative safety of 18th position with this impressive victory over visiting Coleshill Town.   It was the first ever meeting of the two sides and the victory lifted St Neots out of the bottom two for the first time since 11th September.   It was new Manager Barry Corr’s first league points and with three further consecutive home matches to follow, he will be looking for his side to capitalise on this confidence boost to move further away from the relegation zone.   Ironically the St Neots man-of-the-match was goalkeeper Finlay Iron who made a string of inspired saves, but this should not detract from what was a competent and well-deserved victory.    Coleshill arrived at St Neots in ninth place in the table and were looking to push on towards the play-off places but on the night, they were well beaten by a side gradually beginning to find an exciting rhythm in their play.   Corr opted for just one change to his previous line-up, with Jonny Butler recalled and Prince Mutswunguma rested after his trial with Watford the previous day.   Apart from Iron’s stellar display there were also excellent personal performances from Joe Neal whose two well-taken penalty goals opened his account at St Neots and Lewis Simper in midfield who was behind most of St Neots attacking moves.

The visitors made the better start taking the game to St Neots and shading early possession, but they threatened little with St Neots speedy on the break.   A low cross by Joe Sutton deflected off a defender requiring visiting keeper Paul Hathaway to make a smart save and Panny Boxer then had a net bound effort deflected for a corner.   After 23 minutes Tommy Boxer joined the home attack to have his searching cross cleared off the line by Shay Palmer but the ball was only returned to the St Neots defender and his second cross was forced in at the far post by fellow defender Thomas Dickens – his debut goal for St Neots.   Less than two minutes later in their next attack, St Neots doubled their lead as Lewis Simper was pulled down in the penalty area and Joe Neal confidently smashed the ball into the net from the spot for a 2-0 lead.   Lewis Rankin was proving the main threat to the St Neots defence, and from one of his inswinging corners, a Matthew Jackson header was well saved by Iron.   Rankin then was played clear of the defence, but the keeper held his nerve to block his shot when a goal looked inevitable.   At the other end a Joe Sutton corner was deflected wide and the first half ended with Joseph Smith being played clear wide on the right, but his finish was high and off target.

Coleshill began the second half in defiant mode sending on an additional striker, but this left a gap in defence that was quickly exploited just four minutes after the restart when the speedy Neal was cruelly upended as he went around Jackson.   The visiting player was booked, and Joe Neal got to his feet to confidently net his second penalty of the match.   After 65 minutes with Coleshill trying hard to get back into the match their hearts were broken when Iron produced the save of the match to deny Jordan Francis who was clear and should have scored, but this did not really deter the visitors and Iron had to produce a back breaking save to turn a Rankin free kick over the bar.   St Neots almost got a fourth goal when a 25 yards shot from Lewis Simper left the keeper motionless but rebounded from the crossbar and then substitute Prince Mutswunguma saw his shot cleared off the line from an Aaron Smith corner.   The high momentum of play never really ceased, and the one sour moment came seven minutes from time when visiting full back Shay Palmer was sent off after aiming a kick - off the ball at Joe Neal.   Reduced to ten men for the final few minutes Coleshill never gave up and still managed to test Iron in the closing minutes, but this was a match in which the youngster was determined to keep a clean sheet.

Saints Supporters' Man Of The Match - FINLEY IRON

Video highlights can be found here: https://youtu.be/ypVN12h4q6E

 

St Neots Town: Iron, Shaw, Smith, Butler, Dickens, Boxer (T), Gomersal, Boxer (P), Neal, Simper, Sutton

Subs:  Mutswunguma (for Shaw 67 mins), Goode (for Boxer (P) 74 mins), Clarke (for Neal 88 mins), Joseph and Foster.

Cards:  Butler  (Y – 34 mins)

Goals:  Neal 2 – both pens – (25 & 49 mins), Dickens (23 mins)

 

Coleshill Town:  Hathaway, Palmer, Webb, Jackson, Sinclair, Smith, Francis, Halsall, Molesworth, Rankin, Fitzharris

Subs:  Panzo-Antonio (for Webb 46 mins), Mannion (for Francis 67 mins), Clarke (J) (for Rankin (85 mins) and Williams.

Cards: Palmer (RED – 83 mins), Jackson (Y – 49 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Referee:  Thomas Hancock (Newmarket)

Attendance:       106

 

John Walker

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

AFC Dunstable       1          St Neots Town        0        

A penalty goal early in the second half, converted by former Saint Nathan Frater was sufficient to give the host side all three points in a closely fought match – the first away game in change for new St Neots boss Barry Corr.    It was Dunstable’s first win in ten matches although they have drawn three in that sequence, and for St Neots it was disappointment again after competing well but failing to find the back of the net.   Records show that it was the fifth time in their last seven league defeats that the margin of defeat has been just a single goal.   Delight then for the home club and particularly for striker Nathan Frater who has scored in both matches against his former club this season, and frustration for St Neots who were hoping to move out of the bottom two in the league table for the first time since 7th September last year, with a win, with Kempston’s match at Welwyn waterlogged.   Manager Corr made four changes to his first travelling line up, bringing in loanees Lewis Simper and Joe Neal from his ‘other’ club Cambridge United, and restoring back to the side the Boxer brothers Tom (after his one match ban) and Panny.   Giving way were Sam Goode, Jonny Butler and Jacob Joseph (all on the bench) and Joe Massaro.

The sides looked evenly matched early in the match on a very heavy pitch that had required a late inspection before it was declared fit for play.   It was competitive with three cautions issued by the Referee in the opening half hour, but there was little significant goalmouth action.   Tyler Fry had the first real chance for the home side after 12 minutes but his finish weak and easily covered by Finlay Iron.   The keeper then had to be on his toes 11 minutes later when the lively Nick Elliot went around a defender to send in a low angled shot that was well saved.   St Neots was sharing possession fairly evenly, but they never seemed to get players forward enough to seriously test the home defence and new striker Joe Neal was clearly lacking support.   Prince Mutswunguma threatened briefly but lacked the finish required to test the Dunstable back line and St Neots’ general approach was far too predictable.   The closest St Neots got to testing Dan Green in the home goal came ten minutes before the break when a three man move split the home defence to free Neal and he finished well putting the ball in the net, before being flagged offside.

Dunstable began the second half with a flourish and St Neots was quickly penned back in their own half of the field.   They paid the price for their dalliance when just seven minutes after the restart, Aaron Smith clumsily brought down Fry as he was heading away from goal and the Referee awarded a penalty kick that was efficiently despatched by Nathan Frater to give his side the lead.  That setback seemed to jerk St Neots into some positive reaction and after a powerful downward Ryan Frater header from a Newman Carney corner had been luckily deflected wide, St Neots began to look more confident.   Mutswunguma twice closed in on goal but both his efforts were wide of the target and then a Panny Boxer cross was well gathered by Green under pressure from two attacking St Neots players.   Dunstable seemed content to preserve their narrow advantage pulling players back behind the ball to defend as a Lewis Simper shot was deflected with the home keeper out of position.   Simper then honed-in on goal to be brought down earning the home player a caution, but St Neots wasted most of their possession by employing too many long ball attacking moves that were snuffed out by the tall home defenders.    St Neots tried to raise the tempo in the last ten minutes and following a corner a Sam Gomarsall volley from outside the area was pushed away at full stretch by Green and the same visiting player then sent another effort narrowly over the crossbar.   The home side were employing every timewasting tactic in the book as they clung on to their narrow lead as the six added minutes indicated, and during that additional period Green preserved his sides’ three points haul as he pushed a Joe Sutton volley over the crossbar.   St Neots now have four consecutive home matches and harvesting points from these is now a gathering priority.

Saints' Supporters' Man of the Match - TOM DICKENS

 

St Neots: Iron, Shaw, Smith, Boxer (P), Dickens, Boxer (T), Gomersal, Simper, Neal, Sutton, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Foster (for Boxer (P) 89 mins), Goode, Butler, Joseph and Clarke.

Cards:  Shaw  (Y – 31 mins)

Goals:  none

Dunstable:  Green, Powell, Silford, Frater (R), Carney, Tavernier, Fry, Ajayi, Christie, Elliot, Frater (N)

Subs:  Burnett (for Fry 70 mins), Crawley (for Powell 77 mins), Abraham, Rhiney and Igbanoi.

Cards: Frater (N) (Y – 17 mins), Elliot (Y – 27 mins), Ajayi (Y – 70 mins), Frater (R) (Y – 90 mins)

Goals:  Frater (N) – pen  (52 mins)

 

Referee:  Stuart Smith (Watford)

 

Attendance:       94

John Walker

 

 

 

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

St Neots Town        1         Bedworth United       2              

Sadly, for recently appointed St Neots Manager Barry Corr, his reign did not start well, as he watched his reshaped side beaten at home by the odd goal in three.   Having said that, the home produced overall a better performance than their previous at Yaxley, but goals win games and despite having the better share of play in both halves, St Neots were left without anything to show for themselves except disappointment.    Bedworth were reduced to ten men 25 minutes from time when Cal Templeton picked up a second yellow card with a desperately late tackle to break up a very promising St Neots attack, and that set the scene for the remainder of the match as the visitors pulled off their strikers who had contributed both goals, packed their defence and wasted as much time as possible, picking up four late cautions to their cost.   With both former St Neots’ skippers this season, Tam Boxer and Lee Watkins both suspended, the Manager made four team changes leaving out goalkeeper James Philp, Panny Boxer and the departing Fernando Bell-Toxtle and bringing in Cambridge United loanees Finley Iron and Thomas Dickens and recalling Jacob Joseph and Joe Massaro.   With other loan players set to join the squad, there is bound to be further changes as St Neots seek to move away from the wrong end of the league table.    The match was preceded by a minutes’ silence in memory of Club record scorer Francis Brand who had passed away earlier in the week.

St Neots began really brightly and dominated play for the opening 25 minutes.   Faster to the ball and able to push the visitors back in defence they created openings as Jacob Joseph’s telling cross found Sam Gomersall and only a brave block by Elliot Parrott prevented an early goal.   Joe Massaro then shot disappointingly over the bar after a good build up and then an off-balance Joseph screwed his shot wide.   However, after 17 minutes St Neots were deservedly ahead as Prince Mutswunguma ghosted into the area to head home Aaron Smith’s searching cross, claiming his eighth league goal of the campaign.    Prince then had a second effort cleared off the line by a defender, but St Neots were failing to find an end product to their possession, and the visitors grew in confidence.   Then after 28 minutes the home side failed to pick up Luke Keen who cut inside his marker to cross for Mitchell Piggon to send a low shot through a crowd of players past the unsighted goalkeeper – their first significant shot on target!    Confidence seemed to drain from the St Neots players who were now having to concentrate on defence as Bedworth looked rejuvenated.   It was then little surprise when the visitors scored a second goal three minutes before half time when Iron seemed to hesitate as tried to close down Luke Keen who was clear of the defence, but the visiting forward skilfully netted with an angled finish.  

Early in the second half St Neots introduced Panny Boxer to replace Joe Massaro to try to rediscover their early sparkle, and then the home side seemed to be handed a lifeline with the dismissal of Templeton but the variation in tactics by the visitors proved to be significant.   Now with their superiority in numbers, St Neots should have taken full advantage, but they lacked the guile and imagination to test the packed visiting defence.   A Prince effort was scraped off the line and the visitors seemed intent on stopping at nothing to preserve their narrow advantage.  Following a corner Sam Goode shot wide and St Neots best effort was when Stevan Shaw powered forward to take a return pass to breach the visiting defence, only for a defender to clear off the line with his goalkeeper beaten.   St Neots just failed to make their extra player pay and although they never stopped trying, the home defence seldom looked threatened.    Their final effort was a free kick within striking distance of goal, but Aaron Smith wasted the chance with an off-target finish.   No doubt Mr Corr will seek to improve both the confidence and finishing of his new charges.

 

SAINTS SUPPORTERS' MAN OF THE MATCH - STEVAN SHAW

 

St Neots: Iron, Shaw, Smith, Butler, Goode, Dickens, Joseph, Massaro, Gomersal, Sutton, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Boxer (P) (for Massaro 55 mins), Foster (for Joseph 84 mins), Badiani, Clarke and O’Hara.

Cards:  Boxer (P)  (Y – 77 mins)

Goals:  Mutswunguma (17 mins)

 

Bedworth:  Crane, Dudley, Rowe, Parrott, Templeton, Preston, Truslove, Mulders, Piggon, Keen, Blythe

Subs:  Troke (for Piggon 68 mins), King (for Keen 79 mins), Harrison, Blackmore and Punter.

Cards: Templeton (RED – 2xY – 55 & 66 mins), Rowe (Y – 68 mins) Mulders (Y – 76 mins), Troke (Y- 87 mins) + Assistant Manager Lenton (Y – 68 mins)

Goals:  Piggon (28 mins), Keen (42 mins(

 

Referee:  Sean Gregory (Peterborough)

Attendance:       205

 

John Walker

 

As part of our new partnership with Cambridge United, we a delighted to welcome four new loan signings this evening.

Goalkeeper FINLAY IRON, defender TOM DICKENS, midfielder LEWIS SIMPER and striker JOE NEAL all arrive at the Premier Plus Stadium and subject to the relevant paperwork being completed in time, will all be available for Saturday's visit of Bedworth United.

 

Please join us in welcoming the lads to the Club and we hope their time with us going forward is both enjoyable and rewarding for both parties.

St Neots Town Football Club would like to confirm that Barry Corr has today been named the New First Team Manager and he will his role with immediate effect.

Iain Parr - Director (St Neots Town Football Club) commented as follows:

"We are delighted to announce Barry Corr as our new 1st team manager. Barry will work closely with our current coaching staff - Sean Greygoose, Matty Joseph and Gary Dean and will have support behind the scenes from DOF Matt Clements.  We have always had a strong relationship with Cambridge United and the new partnership will see us add strength and depth to the club both on and off the pitch".

 

Below is the press release issued by Cambridge United today:

 

BARRY CORR APPOINTED ST NEOTS TOWN FC MANAGER AS CAMBRIDGE UNITED ANNOUNCE NEW STRATEGIC COLLABORATION

Cambridge United can today confirm that Barry Corr has joined St Neots Town as First Team Manager, as part of a new strategic collaboration between both Football Clubs.

Corr takes the helm at the Premier Plus Stadium with immediate effect whilst also continuing in his position as Development Coach at Cambridge United, where he remains responsible for managing the transition of the Club’s young professionals from youth team to senior football.

The appointment therefore marks what Cambridge United hopes is the beginning of a long term strategic partnership between the two Clubs, with Barry set to combine his roles for the benefit of both parties, and enabling young players progressing from the Club's Academy to benefit from an additional pathway of gaining crucial experience of men's football.

St Neots Town also gain the expertise and vast footballing experience that Barry himself will bring to the position, having played over 300 professional games through his playing career and also attained his UEFA A Licence and coaching qualifications in recent years.

Barry will be assisted by the existing St Neots Town coaching staff and the link will be closely overseen by Cambridge United Head of Football Ben Strang.

Strang commented: “We have observed a similar model between Colchester United and Maldon & Tiptree, and think that there is significant value to both clubs of working together. This link provides a further developmental pathway for our young players and exposes them to a senior football environment, with direction from Cambridge United.”

St Neots Town FC MD Lee Kearns added: “This presents a fantastic opportunity to work closer with Cambridge United and in particular Barry and Ben. St Neots Town FC view this as a long term project that will undoubtedly have huge benefits to both clubs."

Four Cambridge United young professionals will be joining St Neots on loan in the coming days and will be announced in due course. 

 

Please join us in welcoming Barry to St Neots Town Football Club and we look forward to seeing the benefits of what could be a great tie-up between both clubs.

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

Yaxley        3           St Neots Town        2              

 

Yaxley’s Christmas came a few days late as the visiting St Neots’ defence needlessly gifted them two first half goals and then added the bonus of a carelessly conceded penalty just before the hour.   It was totally unexplained how a side that had picked up six points in their two holiday matches could just three days later produce such an inept performance.   Yaxley had themselves been struggling with just on win in their last seven outings but they dominated the match for the first hour against a visiting side that had little method or challenge.   Beaten to almost all second balls and outmuscled in the tackles, St Neots were a pale shadow of their previous two performances, despite there being only one team change from the New Year’s Day thumping victory over Kempston.   That one change saw the predictable return of regular keeper James Philp to replace U18 custodian Jake Crosby, but the remaining line-up was unchanged.   However, the confidence had drained away and St Neots were a side without belief or ideas.   Then in an amazing turnaround having been reduced to ten men, with substitute Lee Watkins picking up a straight red card after a fourteen minutes substitute appearance, they roared back in the final fifteen minutes to score twice and lay siege to the Yaxley goal.   The final twist in the tale was in added time as defender Tom Boxer picked up his second yellow card to join Watkins in an early bath and both will face suspensions in the important January fixtures.

Neither side began well with little positive play in the first quarter of an hour except a booking for home defender Dalton Bettles for upending Joe Sutton.   Then a very naive display of defending gifted the first goal as Liam Hook lifted a 50 yards cross field ball over the St Neots defence to home skipper Dan Cotton in acres of space.   He skipped past flat-footed defender Stevan Shaw and beat James Philp with a low shot inside his near post that the keeper could only help into the net.   This buoyed Yaxley and in the next ten minutes both former St Neots player Sam Bennett and Cotton were left with time and space, but both directed their efforts over the cross bar.   St Neots had not managed a single shot on goal when after 23 minutes the host side doubled their lead.   It was another goal that should never have been conceded as Joe Butterworth floated in an inswinging corner that Philp totally misjudged, and the ball went over his head to the far post where the unmarked Dalton Bettles headed joyfully home.   Sam Gomersall tried to get St Neots moving but he lacked support when the ball was in the Yaxley half and the closest St Neots came to reduce the arrears was from a 37th minute Aaron Smith corner that was only cleared as far as Tom Boxer whose lob was mishandled by home keeper Aaron Butcher but a defender came to his aid to clear.

The second half saw an early lengthy effort by Aaron Smith comfortably saved but St Neots clearly had to up their game, so Manager Matt Clements made a positive move replacing defensive midfielder Johnny Butler with Lee Watkins to adopt a more attacking approach.   However, within three minutes of the change Tom Boxer clumsily brought down Dan Jarvis in the penalty area and from the spot home skipper Dan Cotton stoked the ball home for his second goal of the match and a 3-0 advantage for his side.   Sadly, Watkins’ period on the pitch lasted just fourteen minutes before a misjudged tackle earned him a sending off and reduced St Neots to ten men.   The final fifteen minutes saw the match turned on its head.   After 78 minutes St Neots pulled a goal back as from a Smith corner, Panny Boxer forced home from close range, and this sent the home defence into a panic.   Then with four minutes left the lively Sam Gomarsall converted a cross from the left to make it 3-2.   St Neots maintained the pressure for the limited remaining time but a flurry of late yellow cards including the dismissal of Tom Boxer saw play sporadic, leaving Yaxley relieved to have taken full points despite the surrender of the early domination.

 

St Neots: Philp, Shaw, Smith, Butler, Goode, Boxer (T), Gomersal, Bell-Toxtle, Mutswunguma, Boxer (P), Sutton

Subs:  Watkins (for Butler 53 mins), Foster (for Sutton 59 mins), Massaro, Clarke and O’Hara.

Cards:  Watkins (RED 69 mins), Boxer (T) (RED – 2 x Y – 59 & 90+3 mins), Boxer (P) (Y – 85 mins), Shaw (Y – 90 mins)

Goals:  Boxer (P) (77 mins), Gomersall (86 mins)

 

Yaxley:  Butcher, Duncliffe, Garner, Butterworth, Bettles, Salmon, Bennett, Hook, Earps, Cotton, Jarvis

Subs:  N’Kala (for Earps 78 mins), Watson, Waumsley and Nolan

Cards: Bettles (Y – 12 mins), Hook (Y – 90+1 mins)

Goals:  Cotton 2 (15 & 59 mins), Bettles (23 mins)

 

Referee:  Mark Tinsley (Nottingham)

Attendance:       175

 

John Walker

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

St Neots Town        5               Kempston Rovers        1                   

For the first time in a year St Neots recorded back to back league victories completing their first league ‘double’ of the season in the process.   The three points elevated them to within two points of their victims’ Kempston Rovers, with two matches in hand, and not even the news that bottom side Wantage had won for the first time this season, dented the ‘feel good’ warmth instilled by the three valuable league points, thanks to the influence of caretaker Manager Matt Clements.   Two first half goals put the host side well in control and they went on to score five times in a match for only the second time since December 2017.    Without regular goalkeeper James Philp unavailable for the first time this season, St Neots called upon U18 keeper Jacob Crosby who will be deservedly able to remember his senior debut with great pride.   He was one of two changes made in the starting line-up, with Johnny Butler returning in place of Lewis Foster.   Joe Sutton and Sam Gomarsall both contributed two goals apiece in what could prove to be a significant springboard towards a much improved second half of the season.

St Neots had the first chance with Panny Boxer just unable to reach an early cross in front of goal.   The visitors clearly keen to compete also had an early chance but Stefan Bailey up for a set piece shot over the bar.   The first half took some time to find rhythm with injuries causing unusually lengthy delays and no less than eight minutes added time prior to the break.   Visiting keeper Michael Hudson was lucky not to concede a goal when he mishandled but recovered but he was helpless and 29 minutes when Sam Gomarsall advanced om goal to unleash an unstoppable finish into the corner of the net to put St Neots deservedly ahead.   Nine minutes later the advantage was doubled when the impressive Fernando Bell-Toxtle sped down the left leaving two defenders in his wake, to cross to the near post for Joe Sutton to claim his second goal in successive holiday matches.   Gomarsall then volleyed high over the bar following a corner and St Neots ended the half in control although their young keeper had to produce an impressive added time save to deny Kempston’s leading scorer Jake Newman an unlikely reply.

After a tight start to the second half St Neots settled nerves with a well-conceived third goal – the produce of a sweet move, as Sam Gomarsall turned in a Sutton low cross for a 3-0 lead.   St Neots then made their first substitution introducing Lee Watkins for the limping Panny Boxer.   Kempston should have reduced the arrears on the hour when an uncharacteristic lapse in the St Neots defence saw Newman with the goal at his mercy and the home keeper stranded.   Fortunately for St Neots his lob passed the wrong side of the far post, and two minutes later the visitors were made to pay for this slip when Prince Mutswunguma darted into the penalty area to finish a clever move involving Bell-Toxtle and Sutton for a 3-0 lead.   Crosby then distinguished himself with a full length save to deny a Newman free kick, but the visiting player was not to be denied because on 72 minutes he netted from close range to pull back a consolation goal.   However, that did little to deny the inevitable because after 78 minutes St Neots’ four goals advantage was restored when the tenacious Joe Sutton claimed his second goal of the match directly from a corner.   Crosby continued to impress saving bravely at the feet of Sam Johnson and St Neots cruised to victory.

 

Saints Supporters' Man of the Match - JOE SUTTON

 

St Neots: Crosby, Shaw, Smith, Butler, Goode, Boxer (T), Gomersal, Bell-Toxtle, Mutswunguma, Boxer (P), Sutton

Subs:  Watkins (for Boxer (P) 58 mins), Clarke (for Mutswunguma 65 mins), Massaro (for Bell-Toxtle 83 mins), Foster and O’Hara.

Cards:  Boxer (T) (Y – 90+3 mins)

Goals:  Gomersall 2 (29 & 55 mins), Sutton 2 (38 & 78 mins),Mutswunguma (62 mins)

 

Kempston:  Hudson, Stratton, Brennan,Wright, Bailey, Sage,Goodman, Newman, McLeod, Baker 

Subs:  Hunt (for Stratton 45 mins), Birch (for Bailey 58 mins), Shortt (for Baker 72 mins), and Hyde.

Cards: Birch (Y – 90 mins), Wright (Y – 90+3 mins), Goodman (Y – 90+5 mins)

Goals:  Newman (72 mins)

 

Referee:  Tim Donnellan (Leighton Buzzard)

Attendance:       245

 

John Walker

 

 

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

Bedford Town        1            St Neots Town        2       

The long-suffering St Neots fans got their perfect Christmas present at Bedford on Boxing day when the reshaped visiting side recorded only their third league victory of the season.   Successive weather postponements had decreed that this was to mark caretaker Manager’s Matt Clements delayed return to the hot seat and he first had to select a side without two of the team’s most consistent performers – skipper Lee Watkins and Jonny Butler – both of whom were unavailable for this trip.   In all there were four team changes with the Boxer brothers restored – Tom having been unavailable for the previous Senior Cup tie, and Panny after his holiday.   Also included in the starting line-up were Prince Mutswunguma and recent re-signing Fernando Bell-Toxtle, replacing departed pair Ben Bradley and Alan Musoke.   This proved to be St Neots first away league victory since August Bank Holiday Monday and the three points lifted them to eleven points above the relegation zone with luckless Wantage losing again after leading 2-0 at Kidlington.   A goal in each half was sufficient to take the points, despite an added time goal for the hosts who had not been helped for a late show of frustration that saw them pick up six yellow cards.   This was a memorable victory for it was the first Boxing Day victory since St Neots attained Southern League status eight seasons ago.

 

St Neots looked confident from the start with Fernando Bell-Toxtle sparking an early attack which was cleared only as far as Prince Mutswunguma who fired in from the edge of the penalty area for Jamie Head to push away at full stretch.   Bedford replied with the lively Ryan Sellers going past two defender to cross to the far post where a Joe Steele header was well saved by James Philp.   Sam Gomarsall should have done better than finish weakly after good play by Bell-Toxtle and Joe Sutton and after 19 minutes St Neots deservedly forged ahead when a quick break on the left saw the speedy Prince Mutswunguma round the stranded goalkeeper to net from a narrow angle.   Gomarsall made up for his early effort with a shot well gathered by Head and after 26 minutes Bedford suffered a setback when the dangerous Sellers was injured and had to be replaced.   Towards the end of the first half Bedford came into the game and two former St Neots players combined to almost pay them for slack defending as a Ben Ford free kick found its way to Brett Longden whose close-range effort rebounded from a goalpost to be scrambled clear.   Mutswunguma scorned a chance to double the lead nine minutes before the break when he could only send a weak effort into the arms of Head, and the half finished with two cautions for home players for at best careless challenges as St Neots sought to extend their narrow advantage.

 

Although the second half was more even from the start with possession shared it was still St Neots that looked more likely to score.   Mutswunguma volleyed wide and a Tom Boxer free kick was too high.   In a bid  to increase their pressure Bedford sent on their two remaining permitted substitutes and tried to adopt a more attacking approach to the match.   St Neots took full advantage waiting for the opening which arrived after 66 minutes when a long ball out of defence saw Mutswunguma hugging the right touchline and he went around his marker to cross to the far post where Joe Sutton dived in to get the final close-range touch to double St Neots’ advantage.   In the next attack Sutton was injured and unable to continue, replaced by Adrian O’Hara one of the youth team players populating the substitutes bench.   Prince then had a shot blocked whilst the St Neots defence stood firm in the face of home attacks.   Still looking dangerous on the break St Neots finally saw their defences breached a minute into added time when Thomas Hitchcock took advantage of hesitancy to knock in a Longden free kick for a late consolation goal and in the remaining time two St Neots attacks were broken up earning further bookings for the frustrated home defenders.

St Neots: Philp, Shaw, Smith, Boxer (P), Goode, Boxer (T), Sutton, Bell-Toxtle, Foster, Gomarsall, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Massaro (for Foster 56 mins), O’Hara (for Sutton 74 mins), Clarke (for Mutswunguma 88 mins), Olive and Joseph

Cards:  Boxer (P) (Y – 35 mins), Mutswunguma (Y – 54 mins)

Goals:  Mutswunguma (19 mins), Sutton – (66 mins)

 

Bedford:  Head, Cotter, Sellers, Ford, Steele, Longden, Calcutt, Donnelly, Hitchcock, Tomlinson, Walker

Subs:  Hall (for Sellers 26 mins), Harriott (for Donnelly 56 mins), Green (for Cotter 59 mins), Phillips and Coulson.

Cards: Hitchcock (Y – 35 mins), Calcutt (Y – 40 mins), Donnelly (Y – 45 mins), Steele (Y – 78 mins), Longden (Y – 45+3 mins), Harriott (Y – 45 + 4 mins)

Goals:  Hitchcock (90+1 mins)

 

Referee:  Stuart Cheek (Rushden)

Attendance:       334

 

John Walker

 

HUNTINGDONSHIRE FA SENIOR CUP QUARTER FINAL

 

St Neots Town        3        Eynesbury Rovers     3

(Eynesbury won 4-1 on penalties)          

 

Three old boys came back to haunt St Neots as they were despatched out of the Hunts Senior Cup at the quarter final stage by neighbours Eynesbury Rovers.   Hero of the hour was goalkeeper Jamie Greygoose (2014/15) – brother of the St Neots Assistant Manager – who saved the first two penalty kicks in the shootout, Jordan Brown (2018/19) who scored Rovers’ second goal to put them in initial second half control, and Rukky Djemoah (U18 side 2013/14) who slotted home the deciding fourth Rovers penalty, also in the shootout.   St Neots must justifiably thought they had turned the game around coming from 3-1 down with 18 minutes remaining to earn the sudden death decider but their inability to beat the visiting keeper from the spot proved to be their downfall.   Rovers were delighted to avenge the defeat in their last Senior Cup visit to the Premier Plus Stadium when they had been thrashed 6-1 in the Senior Cup Final of 2017/18.   St Neots had to make two changes to the side that had lost at Halesowen because Tom Boxer and Joe Massaro were ineligible so back into the side came Aaron Smith with Sam Gomarsall slotting into the defence in an unfamiliar full back role. There was also a senior debut as a second half substitute for Reif Clarke, the leading scorer in the Saints U18 side.

The first half was largely a scrappy contest with neither side able to dominate play.   Rovers unsettled the St Neots defence with their long ball tactics and their threat at set pieces when the home defence failed to show aerial superiority and an inability to clear their lines, whilst the home side showed some neat approach work but little finish.   After a quarter an hour of not very threatening play Eynesbury won five corners in as many minutes and from the fifth, they took the lead.   With St Neots failing to clear Steve Gentle forced the ball home from close range in a goalmouth scramble after 21 minutes, but their advantage lasted just seven minutes before a scruffy goal at the other end brought parity as St Neots skipper Lee Watkins forced home a cross from the  left.   Eynesbury arguably then had the better of the final fifteen minutes of the half with Gentle finding the net again but penalised for a push, Daniels linking well with his attack for Jordan Brown to squander a good chance and Williams setting up Gentle for a close range effort that James Philp saved well.

The second half seemed to be very tightly fought until Eynesbury scored twice in as many minutes around the hour.   Looking suspiciously offside Jordan Brown outstripped the St Neots defence to finish confidently to reinstate Rovers’ advantage and before St Neots had time to recover Stevan Shaw upended Brown to concede a penalty, confidently dispatched by Ashley Fuller.   At 3-1 down St Neots needed to review their approach so they took off a defender and introduced Reif Clarke up from and Ben Stokes as an additional attacking midfielder and their rethink quickly paid dividends.  After 72 minutes Joe Sutton wove his way past two defenders to be brought down by a third and from the resultant penalty award Alan Musoke reduced the arrears.   Rovers seemed to opt to sit on their single goal advantage soaking up pressure from the home side but with eight minutes left St Neots introduced Prince Mutswunguma as their final substitute and with his first significant involvement he crossed the ball into the heart of the Rovers defence and the ball went in off a defender to send the match into the penalties decider.

Greygoose saved the first two St Neots kicks from Musoke and skipper Watkins – St Neots two scorers in the ninety minutes – and although Ben Bradley netted their third attempt successful conversions by Gentle, Jamie Cole, Fuller and Djemoah put Eynesbury in the Semi-Final.

St Neots: Philp, Gomersal, Smith, Butler, Shaw, Goode, Watkins, Bradley,  Musoke, Foster, Sutton

Subs:  Stokes (for Foster 66 mins), Clarke (for Shaw 67 mins), Mutswunguma (for Sutton 82 mins), Badiani and Hudson

Cards:  Butler (Y – 9 mins)

Goals:  Watkins (28 mins), Musoke – pen (72 mins), OG (86 mins)

Penalty: Bradley

 

Eynesbury:  Greygoose, Clark, Fuller, Daniels, Duckett (J), Utteridge, Lewis, Duckett (R), Gentle, Brown, Williams

Subs:  Djemoah (for Williams 53 mins), Cole (for Daniels 62 mins), Sinclair, Jarrold and Duckett (M).

Goals:  Gentle (21 mins), Brown (60 mins), Fuller – pen (62 mins)

Penalties: Gentle, Cole, Fuller and Djemoah.

 

Referee:  Ashley List (Papworth)

Attendance:       114

 

John Walker

 

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