UPCOMING MATCHES PREVIEW

Tomorrow (Tuesday) sees St Neots back in action in the delayed League Cup Preliminary Round at Kempston Rovers.   With the rearrangement delayed by the FA Cup replay the two contestants already know that victory would afford them a First-Round tie in two weeks’ time (October 1st) at Yaxley.   The first meeting between the two for nine years, took place at Kempston in the League on Bank Holiday Monday and resulted in St Neots’ only league victory so far this season so a repeat performance would be the perfect outcome.   St Neots record in the League Cup is somewhat patchy but in their nine seasons in the Southern League they have only appeared in the Preliminary Round twice – the other time being last season when they beat Bedford Town at home in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.

Then on Saturday the team are back at the Premier Plus Stadium for only their second league match in their last six starts with a first ever visit from AFC Dunstable.   The visitors ground share with Dunstable Town and have made a stunning start to the season with four victories in their first five matches.    Their one defeat came against unbeaten Corby Town (at Corby) at the end of last month.   The two teams have never met but Dunstable do have former St Neots players Ryan and Nathan Frater, Martell Powell and Drew Roberts on their books.

 

John Walker

 

 

 

BetVICTOR SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION ONE

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

EMIRATES FA CUP FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND REPLAY

Biggleswade Town       2            St Neots Town        0          

St Neots bowed out of the FA Cup in their midweek replay with Biggleswade Town producing an uninspiring performance as seniority prevailed.   The main difference between the sides was the almost faultless display by Solomon Sambou for the home side as he controlled midfield throughout the match and still found time to score a goal in each half to propel his side through to the next round and a home tie with Ware Town.   A measure of the difference between the sides was that St Neots failed to produce a shot on target in the first 45 minutes and then failed to seriously test home custodian Sam Donkin after the break.   The home side was dominant almost throughout with the need for St Neots to find a goalscoring striker again very apparent.   They could not be faulted for effort, but it is goals that win matches, and in this case the greater sponsorship reward.   Manager Marc Abbott opted for just a single change in his line-up giving a first senior start to recent signing Panny Boxer and leaving Alfie Connor on the bench, whilst the home side rested former Saints central defender Jordan Gent.

 

The Waders began confidently and after six minutes, Joe White cut in from the left to fire in a narrow-angled shot that James Philp blocked with his legs.   Seven minutes later down the same flank the lively Sean Lucien moved inside his marker, but his effort flew across the face of goal to be cleared.   The attacking play by the home side continued as St Neots found it difficult to get of their own half, and when Liam Brooks was tripped in full flight after 15 minutes, Matt Ball sent the free kick in a central position high over the bar.    Two minutes later the initial breakthrough arrived as Lucien lost possession, but the ball went loose to the feet of Solomon Sambou and he sent a sweetly struck shot into the roof of the net past the surprised Philp.    It was no less than the hosts deserved although St Neots did hit back quickly as former Saint defender Devante Stanley gave the ball away and presented with a surprise opening Sam Bennett sent his effort over the bar.   It could have been worse for St Neots when after 24 minutes Lucien’s blistering pace took him past his marker and his cross evaded the visiting defenders but at the far post Liam Brooks missed his kick and the chance went begging.   Home skipper Ball had a shot deflected, and at the other end Tim N’Kala failed to get a shot in after neat work by Panny Boxer and on the stroke of half time, Jake Kerins sent a free kick from the edge of the box over the crossbar.

 

St Neots were more competitive after the break, but the home side continued to create the bulk of the openings.   From a Ball free kick Sambau fluffed a good headed chance and Ball sent a free kick over the bar from a promising position.   St Neots did respond after good work by Jake Noble but Mutswunguma finished weakly and after 61 minutes a second home goal effectively ended St Neots hopes of victory.   It came after some defensive confusion and when defenders failed to clear the ball appeared to come back off a post for Solomon Sambau to net from close range.   St Neots began to look ragged and frustrated and they had three players booked for a variety of poor tackles.   However, they sent on two substitutes and one of them Jacob Joseph produced the nearest to a consolation goal when he sent in a shot that skimmed the crossbar ten minutes from time.   Underworked home keeper Sam Donkin did have to save a lengthy effort from Boxer, but the home side were never in real danger of conceding a goal.   The ineffectiveness of St Neots’ finishing was summed up by a late effort by Bennett that flew harmlessly over the crossbar.

 

St Neots:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Noble, Shaw, Goode, Watkins, Boxer, N’Kala, Bennett, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Joseph (for Mutswunguma 65 mins), Sutton (for Noble 65 mins), Logan, Walker, Connor and Bartlett.

Cards:  Shaw (Y – 58 mins), Mutswunguma (Y – 62 mins), Watkins (Y – 73 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Biggleswade:  Donkin, Stanley, Perry, Miles, Milenglie, Smith, Lucien, Sambou, White, Ball, Brookes

Subs:  Marsh-Brown (for Lucien 71 mins), James-Thompson (for Miles 81 mins), Soares (for White 86 mins), Allinson, Richardson, Gent and Bush.

Cards:James-Thompson (Y – 84 mins)

Goals:  Sambou 2 (17 & 61 mins)

 

Referee:  Stuart Kyle (High Wycombe)

Attendance:       289

 

John Walker

EMIRATES FA CUP FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND

St Neots Town        2           Biggleswade Town       2           

This pulsating cup tie between the two neighbours had everything, goals, passion and a steely determination not to be beaten – both teams led the match and the fact they have to do it all again is a fair outcome.    StNeots just about shaded the first halfand deserved their narrow half time advantage, but after the break the Waders roared back into contention and bossed proceedings for a spell scoring twice in four minutes to leave them in the ascendancy with half an hour to play.   The home side could have buckled at that point, but they are fast showing an increase in confidence and in the last quarter of an hour they took control and set about repairing the damage.   They left it late scoring their second and equalising goal right on time but Biggleswade can have no complaints.   The large crowd were well entertained and, like the two sides will be looking forward to the Wednesday evening return match at Langford Road.   For the first time this season Saints Manager Marc Abbott named an unchanged side.

It was end to end right from the first whistle.   St Neots created the first chance after four minutes when Prince Mutswunguma unselfishly set up Tim N’Kala on the left flank and from a narrow angle he rounded his marker to see his shot rebound from the outside of a goalpost.   At the other end after nine minutes, Joe White saw his effort blocked and ball went loose for Matt Ball whose cross found the head of former Saint Jordan Gent, but James Philp saved comfortably.   Sean Lucien using his pace on the left was proving a constant threat to the St Neots defence and in a five minutes spell he set up White who wastefully shot over the bar, he picked up a pass from Ball to see his effort rebound from a post, and then chipped just wide from distance.   Another former Saint Devante Stanley was tumbled in full flight earning Stevan Shaw a caution and after 27 minutes defender Gardie Milenglie got the ball in the net for the visitors but was ruled offside.   St Neots then had a good spell in the ten minutes before the break with Alfie Connor and Lee Watkins testing the visiting keeper and they were rewarded three minutes before the break when following a corner Sam Bennett crossed to the near post for Sam Goode to glance a header into the net.

Biggleswade came out with all guns blazing after half time taking the match to their hosts and in a spell of four minutes’ they turned the game on its head with two goals.   After 52 minutes the lively Sean Lucien beat his marker and cut in to fire a low shot past Philp at his near post to level the scores.   Before St Neots had time to recover, they conceded a second goal as a Lucien cross was only cleared as far as Solomon Sambou whose perfectly placed chip from 25 yards found Philp a yard or so off his line as it found the top corner of the net.   St Neots looked stunned, but they settled to repair the damage with some attacking moves to probe the visiting defence.    Sam Bennet saw an effort well blocked, but he then set up N’Kala whose drive was just the wrong side of a post.   St Neots then introduced teenage substitute Jacob Joseph to liven up their midfield and this was to prove a very significant move.   He was quickly in action testing visiting keeper Sam Donkin and further substitutions followed by both sides.   By now Biggleswade had settled to hang on to their narrow advantage and Devante Stanley was booked for blatant time wasting.   As the full-time whistle approached N’Kala was brought down on the edge of the box and St Neots continued their newly found momentum to carve out a deserved late equaliser.  It came as the clock passed 90 minutes when Jake Kerins crossed from the right, and Jacob Joseph netted at the near post with a brave diving header to send the home support wild and set up the replay.

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

Subs:  Joseph (for Mutswunguma 71 mins), Boxer (for Connor 80 mins), Gomersall (for Bennett 90+1 mins) Logan, Walker and Crosby.

Cards:  Shaw (Y – 26 mins)

Goals:  Goode (43 mins), Joseph (90 mins)

 

Biggleswade Town:  Donkin, Stanley, Perry, Miles, Milenglie, Gent, Lucien, Sambou, White, Ball, Brookes

Subs:  Marsh-Brown (for Brooks 80 mins), Soares (for White 83 mins), Allinson, Thompson, Richardson, Smith and Bush.

Cards:Miles (Y – 57 mins), Ball (Y – 67 mins), Stanley (Y – 85 mins)

Goals:  Lucien (52 mins), Sambou (56 mins)

 

Referee:  Oliver Mackey (Leicester)

Attendance:       288

 

John Walker

EMIRATES FA CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND REPLAY

St Neots Town        3           Godmanchester Rovers       1           

Prince Mutswunguma produced a performance ‘fit for a King’ as his well taken hat trick propelled his side through to the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup and earned his club a financial reward of £2,890.   Recent form was forgotten as Godmanchester came into the match on the back of three consecutive league victories whilst St Neots had been crushed 5-1 at home just three days earlier.   It was a much better match that the original encounter full of end-to-end football and a huge commitment by both sides.   The difference in the final analysis was the finishing because for long periods possession was shared but the visitors’ attempts on goal were few and far between although it has to be noted that both goalkeepers made important saves.   St Neots made just one team change with Mutswunguma replacing Mason Rhiney who was on the bench whilst Godmanchester were without unavailable leading scorer James Hall.

The match got off to a lively start and three goals in seven minutes in an early first half spell kept the crowd well entertained.   The visitors had two early off target attempts on goal with Micky Hyem firing well over and Charlie Bowen heading a lengthy Chris Hyem throw wide of target.   The feast of goals started after twelve minutes when a poor defensive clearance fell to Prince Mutswunguma 25 yards from goal and his perfectly placed shot just under the bar left goalkeeper Niall Conroy rooted to the spot.   The visitors hit straight back with Austin Diaper miskicking in front of goal after neat play by Micky Hyem but five minutes after the opening goal the scores were levelled as a rare fumble by James Philp saw the ball go loose and Jack Chandler forced it home from close range.   However, parity only lasted ninety seconds and then Mutswunguma made his mark again with a delightful chip over the goalkeeper.   That seemed to deflate the visitors’ confidence and it was St Neots who went on to create further chances as the hard-working Alfie Connor skimmed the crossbar after neat work by Lee Watkins and then the same home player brought an important save from Conroy.   The first half ended at the other end with Philp spreading himself to push away a low effort by Diaper.

St Neots went on the offensive after the break and Charlie Bowen found his way into the Referee’s notebook for a late challenge on Jake Noble.   A Connor free kick then tested Conroy, but he pushed the shot for a corner which was successfully defended.   Tim N’Kala was testing the visiting defence with some pacey runs down the flanks but Godmanchester will rue an excellent chance to level the scores after 66 minutes when skipper Micky Hyem went clear, but James Philp left his line to narrow the shooting angle and save with his feet.   However, this was an isolated threat to the home defence whilst at the other end Sam Bennett fed Mutswunguma and only a fine save by Conroy delayed his hat-trick.   A corner from Jack Chandler stretched Philp but after 72 minutes another St Neots goal effectively settled the outcome.   Once again it was Mutswunguma who was the scourge of the visiting defence as following a lengthy throw from Aaron Smith the defence failed to clear and the hat trick was completed.    At that point Godmanchester sent on Harry McGregor and tried to adopt a more attacking approach but the St Neots back line looked confident and secure.   It could even have been better for St Neots had Conroy not produced the save of the match to turn a Jake Kerins dipping shot over his cross bar and then Sam Bennett broke clear of the defence but shot across the face of goal.   Even a late booking for Alfie Connor failed to dim the gloss on this satisfactory performance and result.    St Neots now have three days to prepare for the visit of Step Three Biggleswade Town in the next round.

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

Subs:  Joseph (for N’Kala 82 mins), Rhiney (for Noble 89 mins), Logan, Walker and Abbott.

Cards:  Connor (Y – 45+2 mins)

Goals:  Mutswunguma 3 (12,19 &72 mins)

 

Godmanchester Rovers:  Conroy, King, Hall (Johnny), Spark, Bowen, Munro,Dawkin, Hyem (Chris), Diaper,Hyem (Micky), Chandler

Subs:  McGregor (for Bowen 73 mins), Hurst (for Spark 87 mins), White, Catonne and Gargulio.

Cards:Bowen (Y – 52 mins)

Goals:  Chandler (17 mins)

 

Referee:  Joe Woolmer (Northampton)

Attendance:       231

 

John Walker

BETVICTOR SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION ONE

St Neots Town        1       North Leigh        5

Before the match the league table showed little to choose between the two sides but once the game got under way the difference was stunning.  The visitors dominated throughout and scored goals almost at will, whilst a flat and uninspired St Neots could only chase shadows.   It was the second home match of the campaign and having seen his side ship in five goals on each occasion Manager Marc Abbott must make some decisions quickly.   Although the defence looked fragile, they were under almost constant pressure because of their inability to create chances at the other end so it is a rethink that is required bearing in mind that in their two away league matches St Neots have returned with a clean defensive sheet.   North Leigh were clearly a more experienced side and they bullied St Neots at times but there will be other sides like this to come later in the season.   St Neots made two changes in midfield bringing back Lee Watkins and Jake Noble for his league debut, replacing Joe Sutton and Jacob Joseph and in theory looked a more balanced unit but the side never really found a rhythm against visitors who were on song.

The opening phase of the game saw the visitors in control, but St Neots repelled their better efforts from Callum McNish and Joshua Dutton and in their most dangerous attack Stevan Shaw deflected Morgan Williams’ effort, and from the resulting corner an Adam Learoyd header was cleared off the line.   However, the pressure told after 21 minutes when the excellent Jorde Ngathe beat his marker on the outside to cross for George Seacole to send a delightful chip over the head over the out of position James Philp.   The home side should have conceded a second shortly afterwards when Shaw was too easily dispossessed but Seacole clear on goal skied his effort.   A second goal nine minutes before the break put the visitors firmly in control as from a Morgan Williams corner, Ben Brown got in front of his marker to head home.   Worse was to follow because seven minutes later St Neots were guilty of defensive suicide leaving Morgan Williams totally unmarked to knock in a cross from substitute Tyriq Hunte.

A swift response was required from the home side after the break if they were to hope for any reward and they made a positive move introducing Prince Mutswunguma for the out of form Mason Rhiney.   The substitute quickly made an impact setting up Sam Bennett who could only shoot the wrong side of a post.   North Leigh then had a stroke of luck after 54 minutes when a net bound effort from Lee Watkins was deflected into the arms of goalkeeper Edward Cavanagh who was on the wrong side of his goal.   Three minutes later substitute Hunte made his mark again as he pulled the ball back to Morgan Williams whose perfectly placed shot into the roof of the net left Philp helpless.   St Neots tried to respond with Alfie Connor firing wide and Jake Kerins shooting over the bar, but these were examples of token defiance against the dominant visiting side.   After 64 minutes it was 5-0 when a lengthy effort by Hunte rebounded from the crossbar giving Joshua Dutton the simple chance of tapping in from close range.    With almost half an hour remaining there could have been further goals, but St Neots refused to capitulate and with Dylan Logan on for Bennett they began to look more prominent.   Underworked visiting keeper Cavanagh produced an impressive full length save to deny Connor but after Mutswunguma had sent an effort just over the bar ALFIE CONNOR claimed a late consolation goal three minutes from time with a perfectly placed free kick.

St Neots Town:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Connor, Shaw, Goode, Watkins, Noble, N’Kala, Bennett, Rhiney

Subs:  Mutswunguma (for Rhiney 46 mins), Logan (for Bennett 68 mins), Walker (for Goode 82 mins),  and Abbott.

Cards:  Kerins (Y – 83 mins)

Goals: Connor (87 mins)

 

North Leigh: Cavanagh, Ngathe, Isaac, Grant, Brown, Learoyd, Dutton, McNish, Seacole, Williams (L), Williams (M)

Subs:  Hunte (for Seacole 32 mins), Elliott (for Williams (L) 65 mins), James (for Williams (M) 68 mins), Gunn and Alexis.

Cards:Ngathe (Y – 61 mins), Brown ( Y – 63 mins), McNish (Y – 70 mins)

Goals:  Morgan Williams 2 (43 & 57 mins), George Seacole (21 mins), Ben Brown (36 mins), & Joshua Dutton (64 mins)

 

Referee:  Luke Scott (Northampton)

Attendance:       172

 

John Walker

 

Cambs League Kershaw Premier Division

ST NEOTS RESERVES       0       COMBERTON UNITED       2

A second goal on the strike of full time for visitors Comberton gave a false impression to the match which had been the best performance by St Neots Reserves so far this season.   Their performance had deserved at least a draw against a side now sitting in second place in the league table and they should gain some confidence going forward.   It was an even contest throughout with the home defence looking assured, but the shortcoming was in attack where St Neots seldom tested the visiting keeper.   Recent signing Dylan Logan who had begun his St Neots career with a brief spell as a substitute for the senior side, looks to be a promising addition to the squad.

An early free kick by Calum Forster was deflected wide of the St Neots goal but then Logan was prominent on his team debut, crossing from the right for James Wills to head over the bar and then going it alone to bring a good save from visiting keeper Matt Dethridge.   For the visitors Sam Curtis headed wide from a Sam Kerley free kick and Dethridge was again in action saving at full length from Logan.   Dan Olive broke through only for his shot to rebound from the keeper’s legs and home keeper Jacob Crosby was twice in action late in the first half, saving bravely at the feet of Alex Bradford before making a full length save to push away a close range header from Calum Forster. The closest St Neots came to taking the lead was when skipper Bobby Shillinde joined the attack and crashed an effort against the foot of the post just before the half time whistle was blown.

If Comberton had shaded the first half it was a different story after the break.   St Neots adopted a more attacking approach but were caught on the break in the fourth minute after the restart when Sam Curtis opened the scoring.    Comberton seemed happy to defend their narrow advantage but from a 30 yards free kick Alex Bradford rattled the St Neots cross bar.    However, the balance of play had changed, and St Neots began to dominate possession but lacked that finishing touch in front of goal.  Even the introduction of substitutes failed to provide the added impetus and the best St Neots managed were lengthy efforts from Wills and Adrian O’Hara comfortably fielded by Dethridge.   Bobby Shillinde also tested the keeper, but the killer blow came right on time when some defensive hesitancy handed that late chance to the visitors and Giorgio Favarulo netted from close range.

 

Reserves: Crosby, Olive, Shillinde, O’Hara, Garlikowski, Fitzgerald, Logan, Minall, Wills, Rzeszutek, Clarke

Cautioned:  Olive, Fitzgerald

Subs: Fitzpatrick, Walsh, Ezeigbo and Grimes

 

Referee: Roger Coxhead

 

John Walker

BETVICTOR SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION ONE

 

Kempston Rovers        0            St Neots Town        2

St Neots recorded their first league victory of the season at Kempston making their first trip to the home of their Bedfordshire hosts for twelve years.   In stiflingly hot conditions the two sides did well to serve up some end-to-end football and the key to the victory was the soundness of the St Neots defence and goalkeeper that seldom looked like being breached.   Another clean sheet on the road delighted Manager Marc Abbott and the welcome three points was achieved despite their being three team changes with Lee Watkins unavailable, Jake Noble starting on the bench and Prince Mutswunguma injured.    With one win and one defeat in the league to date, Kempston had returned from the East coast on Saturday with an FA Cup victory at Gorleston but they were unable to breach the solid St Neots back line.

Much travelled ex-Football League striker Izale McLeod produced the first attempt on goal after nine minutes for the home side but James Philp was quickly down at his near post to push the ball for a corner.   At the other end Alfie Connor found Sam Bennett in the penalty area but his free header was too high, and then at the other end another free header by Jake Newman, this time from a Gareth Hunt corner, was bundled off the line by a defender.   However, after these two Kempston openings the match settled with St Neots looking comfortable in possession.   After 20 minutes Joe Sutton looped a header over the bar after a searching run by Jake Kerins, but two minutes later the same St Neots player was scythed down as he made for the bye line and a penalty kick was awarded confidently tucked away by Alfie Connor.   Home keeper Carl Knox then saved well from Sutton but Kempston came back just before the break with Ben Shepherd volleying wide following a Gareth Hunt corner and then a Hunt free kick was comfortably gathered by James Philp.   The half ended with a McLeod volley blocked on the line by Stevan Shaw and St Neots went to the break just about deserving their slender advantage.

Kempston tried to vary their approach after the break with two substitutes on and an extra player in attack.   However, the significant breakthrough came after 52 minutes when a quickly taken short corner by Connor found skipper Jake Kerins unmarked and he produced a superbly struck narrow angled shot into the roof of the net past the surprised home keeper to give St Neots their two goals advantage.   Briefly Kempston went on the offensive but limited to lengthy shots on goal, Shepherd and McLeod saw efforts comfortably handled.   St Neots sent on Jacob Noble and St Neots began to dominate centre field possession whilst N’Kala’s pace down the flanks kept the home defence busy.  The most significant second half incident came after 72 minutes when from a Hunt corner, Alfie Powell was given too much room and his powerful header produced a significant one-handed reaction save from Philp.   Had that gone in it would have handed the initiative to the home side but they began to flag in the heat and there few serious attempts on the St Neots goal in the last twenty minutes.    Meantime visiting substitutes, recent signing Dylan Logan and Jake Noble, both carved out chances that could have further increased the lead, but both efforts were narrowly off-target.

Video highlights courtesy of SNTtv can be found here: https://youtu.be/dV7ZGTVDQik

 

St Neots Town:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Connor, Goode, Shaw, Sutton, Rhiney, N’Kala, Bennett, Joseph

Subs:  Noble (for Rhiney 60 mins), Logan (for Bennett 79 mins), Walker (for Joseph 82 mins,  and Abbott.

Cards:  N’Kala (Y – 70 mins)

Goals: Connor – pen – (25 mins), Kerins (52 mins)

Kempston Rovers:  Knox, Goodman, Hyde, Wright, Powell, Jones, Boland, Shepherd, Newman, McLeod, Hunt

Subs:  Stratton (for Newman 46 mins), Beldon (for Jones 46 mins), Dahle (for Hyde 58 mins), McGrath and Shortt.

Cards:McLeod (Y – 78 mins), Beldon (Y – 85 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Referee:  Steven Parkinson (Watford)

Attendance:       143

John Walker

EMIRATES FA CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND

Godmanchester Rovers        1            St Neots Town        1

An heroic performance by ten man St Neots earned them a second FA Cup chance against Step Five neighbours Godmanchester Rovers after playing for an hour one man short.   That was because after 32 minutes Joe Sutton picked up a straight red card for kicking out at an opponent after he had been fouled.   Because of the upcoming Bank Holiday programme, the replay will be at the Premier Plus Stadium on Tuesday week (3rd September).   Played in oppressive heat the two teams tried to serve up a competitive performance, but they will be happy for the replay to be in cooler early evening conditions.   The early dismissal handed the impetus to the host side, but they failed to capitalise whilst the hard-working St Neots side probably deserved their second chance as recompense for their gritty determination.   There were memories of the previous meeting of the two clubs three months earlier when Godmanchester handed out a Cup Final thrashing to their opponents, but goals were always going to be at a premium in this contest.   St Neots recalled Tim N’Kala and the fit again Jake Noble for Mason Rhiney and Sam Gomersall who were both on the bench.

Godmanchester looked the more positive in the opening phase of the game and carved out some early chances.   After 12 minutes from a James Hall corner, defender Charlie Bowen blasted the ball high over the bar and in the next five minutes Josh Dawkin was twice prominent bringing a good save from James Philp and shooting wide when well-placed after neat work by Micky Hyem.   The first half suddenly saw a change in the pattern of play after Joe Sutton was dismissed.    St Neots took some time to reorganise and seemed happy to defend in numbers with Dawkin again breaking through the defence to shoot across the face of goal.   The first half ended in stalemate with neither side either able or willing to take the initiative.

The second period livelier and more competitive.   St Neots replaced Tim N’Kala with Sam Gomersall and took the weight off their defence by utilising long ball tactics.   However, the breakthrough came just five after the restart when Dawkin crossed from the left and former Saint James Hall was left enough space to side foot the ball inside the far post to put Godmanchester in front.   That could have signalled the incentive for them to take advantage of their numeric superiority, but it seemed to spur St Neots who had efforts by Jake Kerins and Sam Bennett just off target.   Johnny Hall moved forward to bring an important save from Philp and just past the hour in the same attack Dawkin saw his fierce effort parried and when the ball was not cleared James Hall saw his effort blocked by a defender.   St Neots sent on Alfie Connor and began to look more comfortable and using their front players wide they stretched the home defence.   There were just twelve minutes remaining when Sam Bennett rounded Johnny Hall and his pace took him clear to unleash a low shot under the dive of goalkeeper Niall Conroy to level the scores.   Seven minutes later St Neots could have stolen the victory when Gomersall sent a delightful pass inside the home defence and from a similar position to where he scored his goal, Sam Bennett put his free shot wide of the far post.

St Neots:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Noble, Goode, Shaw, Sutton, Watkins, N’Kala, Bennett, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Gomersall (for N’Kala 46 mins), Connor (for Mutswunguma 70 mins), Rhiney, Joseph, Walker and McCormick.

Cards:  Sutton (RED – 32 mins), Kerins (Y – 27 mins)

Goal: Bennett (78 mins)

 

Godmanchester:  Conroy, King, Hall (Johnny), Spark, Bowen, Munro,Dawkin, Diaper,Hall (James),Hyem (Micky), Chandler

Subs:  McGregor (for Chandler 77 mins), Hyem (Chris) (for Spark 87 mins), White, King (Reece) and Radwell

Cards:none

Goals:  James Hall (50 mins)

 

Referee:  Lewis Morgan (Lincoln)

Attendance:       180

John Walker

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL DIVISION ONE

St Neots Town       2         Yaxley        5

Yaxley deserved to win this first ever Step Four league meeting of these two Huntingdonshire sides but was flattered by the final score line.   However, this fact should not mask the fact that St Neots’ home debut performance this season was disappointing.   The match pattern was firmly set in the first twenty minutes when the visitors made a storming start to the contest scoring twice and leaving their hosts shell shocked and seemingly unable to respond.   St Neots recovered somewhat in the second period of the first half and even replied with a goal but Yaxley were always the dominant side after the break, and they gave their hosts a lesson in finishing.   Their precise and accurate passing movements always gave them the lions’ share of possession and they were able to respond each time St Neots looked like getting back into the game.   St Neots boss Mark Abbott made two team changes bringing in Mason Rhiney for the injured Alfie Conner and he preferred Sam Gomersall in attack to Tim N’Kala who started on the bench.

Spectators were still taking their seats when after six minutes Yaxley forged in front.   A Joe Butterworth free kick was knocked back from the far post and Tom Waumsley poked home from close range.   Dan Cotton saw a rising shot blocked six minutes later and the ball deflected for a corner which was headed home at the far post by Ross Watson to increase the visitors’ lead.   Yaxley’s ariel domination at set pieces was a problem for St Neots throughout the match  and they almost contributed further to their woes when a poor clearance by goalkeeper James Philp went straight to Waumsley and the keeper was greatful to be able to atone with a smart save.      After 25 minutes St Neots seemed to find some confidence as Sam Bennett saw his header from a Jake Kerins cross smartly saved by visiting keeper Aaron Butcher and then he made an outstanding save at full stretch to turn away a shot from Prince Mutswunguma that looked looking creeping under the bar at the far post.  However, St Neots’ efforts were rewarded ten minutes before the break when Mason Rhiney floated in a free kick and Sam Goode rose above the defence to pull back a goal.   St Neots’ continued to look good until half time with Bennett firing narrowly wide after good work by Joe Sutton and Lee Watkins.

Early in the second half another Goode header from a set piece was only just wide but after 52 minutes there was an unsightly melee after an injudicious challenge by Watkins.   When the officials had sorted out the only action taken was a yellow card for the St Neots skipper.   Four minutes later a free kick by Jon-Paul Duncliffe was missed by a home defender and at the far post Tom Waumsley gratefully increased the score to 3-1.   That two goals difference was only maintained for two minutes when the Yaxley defence got in a tangle allowing Prince Mutswunguma to reduce the deficit to a single goal again, and for a short time St Neots looked to be on the offensive.   However, the home defence always looked vulnerable and substitute Mikkel Fosu making his debut was caught wrong side of Charley Sanders but recovered to block his shot.   In a bid to maintain their attacking impetus, St Neots introduced Tim N’Kala to utilise his pace at the tiring Yaxley defence, but they responded by strengthening their back line.   St Neots downfall was to be self-inflicted because with twelve minutes remaining Dan Cotton got to the bye line only to be brought down by Mason Rhiney and from the penalty spot Cotton increased the score line to 4-2.   St Neots only hope was to go onto the attack and with three minutes left they were caught short in defence and from a free kick Ross Watson volleyed home his second goal of the match to complete the scoring.   In added time there was a late chance for a consolation goal for the home side but Joe Sutton’s shot was deflected for a corner.

St Neots:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Rhiney, Goode, Shaw, Watkins, Sutton, Mutswunguma, Bennett, Gomersall

Subs:  Fosu (for Shaw 59 mins), N’Kala (for Gomersall 66 mins), Joseph (for Rhiney 78 mins), Quigley and Walker

Cards:  Watkins (Y – 52 mins), Fosu (Y – 88 mins)

Goals: Goode (35 mins), Mutswunguma (58 mins)

 

Yaxley:  Butcher, Duncliffe, Garner, Butterworth, Watson, Bettles, Waumsley (T), Hook, Sanders, Cotton, Nolan

Subs:  Gow (for Nolan 69 mins), Williams (for Duncliffe 75 mins), Waumsley (S) (for Cotton 86 mins) Stebbing and Blake.

Cards:Garner (Y – 61 mins), Cotton (Y – 82 mins)

Goals:  Waumsley (T) 2 (6 and 56 mins), Watson 2 (12 and 87 mins), Cotton – pen – (78 mins)

 

Referee:  Alistair Wilson (Boston)

Attendance:       203

 

John Walker

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