SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

Bedworth United       1         St Neots Town     0      

This was a match that neither side could afford to lose.   Bedworth had failed to record a victory in their first 20 league matches whilst St Neots are being sucked into the relegation scrap, and they travelled knowing that victory would hand them a rare league double.  In the end it was decided by a single goal two minutes into added time scored by the oldest man on the field.   42 years old journeyman Iyseden Christie with several Football League clubs including Mansfield Town, Stevenage Borough and Coventry City on his CV plus around a dozen Southern League Clubs, came on as a second half substitute and was in the right place to sweep home a late goal through the tiring St Neots defence to earn Bedworth all three points.   Neither side were at their best and it was a rather scrappy encounter that had a goalless draw written all over it until the last few added seconds.   St Neots must now regroup and search for confidence as they kick off 2019 with three successive home fixtures.   Still in the three-side relegation area they were almost caught by the side below them as Halesowen recorded a surprise 2-0 victory over visiting Banbury.   With striker Nabil Shariff opting to return to Stratford where he had started the season, Manager Matt Clements installed Gary Wharton as his principle striker for his tenth start of the season, but he received little support but saw his best chance of glory ruined just four minutes before the winning goal, by the save of the match from home custodian Adam Harrison.  Also reinstated in the side was Johnny Herd, who replaced Tom Wood who was on the bench.

There was a pedestrian start to the match but after just ten minutes a hotly disputed free kick awarded twenty yards from goal saw Alexander Troke bend his effort around the wall to bring an outstanding save from Finley Iron at the expense of a corner.   Luke Rowe then volleyed over the bar following a second Bedworth corner, and St Neots first effort was a sixteenth minute lengthy shot from skipper Luke Knight that flew harmlessly wide.   For a spell there was very little goalmouth action as neither side were able to put together any penetrative attacking play but just past the half hour a cynical tackle on Jack Daldy earned Barry Fitzharris the first caution of the match.   Seven minutes before the break Wharton produced an impressive burst of speed to go clear of the home defence but Harrison advanced to the edge of his area to narrow the angle and parry the shot.   Just one minute later a volley by Daldy just cleared the Bedworth crossbar and the sides went to the half time break locked at stalemate.

St Neots looked the brighter side upon the resumption.   A well-constructed three man move involving Jordan Norville-Williams and Daldy ended with Matt Miles seeing his net-bound shot deflected for a corner and then Harrison saved well from a Daldy header.   After 69 minutes St Neots though they had broken through when Harrison dropped a cross from Norville-Williams, but an offside flag denied St Neots from capitalising.   After this spell of pressure Bedworth came more into the game and in one attack both Fitzharris and Rowe had shots blocked as the visiting defence did their job.   In the last fifteen minutes Bedworth looked the stronger side.   Montal Gibson was left unmarked on the left and he advanced on goal, but Iron saved well with his legs and from the resultant corner Fitzharris outjumped his marker but sent his headed effort wide of the far post.   With substitutes on both sides went for the winning goal in a hectic last eight minutes.   St Neots saw substitute Andrea Borg send a cross that was deflected, and the same player was skilfully set up by Wharton, but he shot wide.   The important late Harrison save from Wharton was St Neots final chance but they were completely deflated when Christie snatched the late, late winner.

Bedworth:  Harrison, Dudley, Rowe, Parrot, Albrighton, Sharpe, Hancocks, Fitzharris, Gibson, Troke, Blackmore

Subs:  Christie (for Fitzharris 66 mins), Story (for Gibson 81 mins), Tonge, Whitmore and Abraham

Cards:  Fitzharris (Y – 32 mins), Albrighton (Y – 88 mins)

Goals:  Christie (90+2 mins)

 

St Neots:  Iron, Short, Herd, Knight, Hughes, Parr, Daldy, Miles, Wharton, Williams, Norville-Williams

Subs:  Borg (for Norville-Williams 73 mins), Wood (for Daldy 83 mins) and Gomes

Cards:  Parr (Y – 76 mins), Knight (Y – 88 mins)

Goals:  none

 

Referee:  Andrew Ellis (Solihull)

Attendance:  Not Published

 

John Walker

 

EvoStik League South Premier Division Central

AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 St Neots Town 0

A Tom Lorraine brace for AFC Rushden & Diamonds proved to be the difference between the sides at Hayden Road on Boxing Day, with Saints playing more than half the match with only 10 men after Tom Wood was harshly dismissed before the break.  Whilst it was always going to be an uphill battle for St Neots after the sending off, coming as it did moments after they had fallen behind, it was still disappointing that they failed to force one save from home keeper Heath throughout the ninety minutes.

 

For the first twenty minutes the teams were evenly matched with very little goalmouth action.  Saints best goal bound effort came in the opening minute from Norville-Williams whose twenty five yard effort whistled over the bar, whilst Diamond had the best chance for the hosts but his header was well wide.  In what proved to be Saints best move of the match, Parr combined with Miles down the right in the twentieth minute and drove in a great cross that was met by Shariff but his header just cleared the bar.  Diamond then had another chance for the hosts as the game started to open up and should have done better with a free header from a Reynolds cross but he directed his effort straight in to the arms of Iron, whilst a free kick by Hicks sailed over..

 

It was a thirteen minute spell just before the break that proved to be pivotal in determining the outcome of the match.  Firstly two late challenges from Farrell saw the home midfielder booked in the twentieth eighth minute, and just six minutes later an even later challenge on Wood resulted in a free kick to Saints but surprisingly no further action was taken against the home player.  Williams put the resulting free kick just over the bar.  On Forty minutes the hosts took the lead when a corner from the left was met by Hopkins and although his header was cleared off the line, LORRAINE was on hand to tap home from close range.  Less than a minute later Saints were down to ten men when Wood was shown a straight red card for what the Referee adjudged to be a dangerous tackle even though he won the ball in a fifty -fifty challenge.

 

Despite their numerical advantage the home side failed to test Iron in the Saints goal in the early stages of the second half, although former Saints Declan Rogers was only denied by the woodwork when his twenty yard free kick looked goal bound.  It was the sixty ninth minute when Rushden & Diamonds doubled their advantage and effectively ended any hope that Saints might force an unlikely equaliser, and it was Tom LORRAINE that struck from close range yet again after Diamond met a Hicks cross and his blocked shot fell at the feet of the striker.  The home team had the ball in the net again four minutes later was Brown was adjudged to have pushed the Saints defender as he met a Rogers cross.  The final fifteen minutes was non -eventful, broken up by no less than five substitutions as Rushden & Diamonds seemed to settle for their two goal advantage and Saints, despite never giving up, lacked any creativity to open up the home defence.

 

 

AFC Rushden & Diamonds: Heath, Reynolds, Brown, Punter, Collard, Rogers, Hopkins, Farrell, Lorraine, Diamond, Hicks  Subs Berry-Hargreaves (for Farrell 46), Johnson (for Reynolds 75), Westbrook (for Hicks 81), unused Dean and  Curtis

Cautioned: Farrell (28), Berry-Hargreaves (90)

 

 

Saints: Iron, Hughes, Norville-Williams, Knight, Short, Parr, Miles, Wood, Shariff, Williams, Daldy  subs  Stanley (for Miles 62), Wharton (for Shariff 65), Borg (for Williams 74), unused Herd, Gomes

Cautioned: Stanley 77), Knight (89)

 

Sent Off: Wood (41)

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

St Neots Town     1       Stratford Town       2         

After their sixth home defeat in ten starts this season, St Neots go into 2019 now desperate for a change in their fortunes.   Manager Matt Clements claims that his squad is now not far from his hopes, and the addition of two more loan players – one in attack and the other in defence – seemed to achieve his initial objective.   However, for new players to gel within the team on their first outing is a tall order regardless of their individual ability and now St Neots must improve swiftly if they are not doomed to spending the next four months locked in a relegation dog fight.   The main problem is statistically obvious – a return of just seven goals in ten home outings speaks for itself – and although the side creates openings the finishing is not good enough.   The two latest squad additions were loan signings from Northampton Town and both were thrown in at the deep end, one of them striker Jack Daldy who looked promising but lacked service.   The other, Ryan Hughes a tall defender, slotted comfortably into a defensive back three as Clements shuffled his team tactics and he also recalled Tom Wood and Matt Miles in midfield with Devante Stanley, Jordan Norville-Williams, Andrea Borg and Lee Watkins making way.   The end result was an improvement on the team performance at Barwell in midweek, but the truth is that results are now more important than performances.   The match only went ahead after a very late pitch inspection with the heavy overnight rain making the centre of the pitch rather boggy.

St Neots began confidently enough and in their first attack an effort by skipper Luke Knight was deflected for a corner.   Russell Short then headed narrowly over from a second corner and Nabil Shariff set up Tom Wood for a 20 yards effort that was only inches over the bar with the visiting keeper beaten.   Stratford did get the ball in the St Neots net but only after an offside whistle, and little was seen of the visiting attack until the half hour when Finley Iron was first called into serious action to save a Shane Benjamin header from a William Grocott free kick.  Shariff attempted an acrobatic volley that flew over the bar and then Stratford set up the best chance of the first half when Grocott and Wilson Carvalho combined to set up Benjamin, but he shot wide when he should have at least tested the home keeper.   St Neots won several corner from one of which Russell Short was cautioned for a late challenge on the keeper and the half ended with Benjamin again shooting wide after good work by former St Neots player, Lewis Wilson.

After Dylan Williams had sprinted down the left immediately after the resumption to set up Jack Daldy for a shot comfortable saved by Natja Sarkic the game boiled over in an off-the-ball incident that produced three bookings and that seemed to ruin what rhythm there was in the contest.   For around fifteen minutes there was little progress for either side, but two free kicks conceded in as many minutes on the edge of the St Neots area proved significant.   The first was cleared by Ryan Hughes and the second by Russell Short but on this occasion the ball fell to Wilson Carvalho who was unmarked on the edge of the area and he produced a sublime curling shot into the roof of the net giving Finley Iron no chance.   St Neots tried to respond with Johnny Herd bringing two excellent saves from Sarkic – one from a dipping cross and the second from a well hit shot from 18 yards.   Williams also saw the keeper save comfortably and it became a keen contest with the visiting defence seeming happy to hang on to their narrow advantage.   Then out of nothing, a hopeful through pass found Stratford substitute Shawn Richards in space and he skilfully rounded the advancing Iron to double the visitors’ lead.   That wrapped up the result despite St Neots’ late surge that included a goal from Taylor Parr that was too little too late to have any effect on the outcome.   St Neots are deep in trouble in the relegation zone, but Stratford now up to eighth are only goal difference away from a play-off place.

 

 

St Neots:  Iron, Hughes, Herd, Knight, Short, Parr, Miles, Wood, Shariff, Williams (D), Daldy

Subs:  Stanley (for Herd 84 mins), Norville-Williams (for Miles 84 mins), Wharton (for Daldy 90 mins), Borg and Gomes

Cards:  Short (Y – 36 mins), Williams (Y – 56 mins), Knight (Y – 56 mins), Parr (Y – 67 mins), Wood (Y – 78 mins)

Goals:  Parr (90 mins)

 

Stratford:  Sarkic, Cox, Fisher, Fry, McAteer, Williams (J), Wilson, Oulton, Benjamin, Grocott, Carvalho

Subs:  Richards (for Benjamin 80 mins)

Cards:  Fry (Y – 56 mins), Oulton (Y – 88 mins), Richards (Y – 90+1 mins)

Goals:  Carvalho (68 mins), Richards (83 mins)

 

Referee:  Jeffrey Aldous (Bedford)

Attendance:  258

 

John Walker

 

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SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

 Barwell        6          St Neots Town     1                

 

St Neots slumped to their biggest ever away Southern League defeat in atrocious conditions in their rearranged match at Barwell.   A measure of the state of the pitch was that Wolverhampton Referee Greg Rolleson and the two skippers stood in a centre circle puddle for the pre-match toss up and the incessant rain never really stopped throughout the ninety minutes.   However the staunchest St Neots supporter (and a few made the trip) would be hard-pressed to find a genuine excuse for this very poor performance.   Too many key players were well below their best, from skipper Luke Knight whose normal midfield general’s role was never apparent to teenage goalkeeper Finlay Iron whose gifted the home side at least three of their goals.   St Neots normal neat short passing game was just not possible on this semi-waterlogged surface and they were either unwilling or unable to adopt to a long ball game.  Barwell, smarting from their weekend drubbing in the FA Trophy were focussed and determined to get back to league action and to compound St Neots misery Taylor Parr, celebrating his birthday, chipped in with an own goal!   There were two team changes with fit again Davante Stanley replacing Matt Miles at full back, and Lee Watkins in midfield for the unavailable Tom Wood.

Barwell laid the foundation of this victory with goals in the third minutes of each half. The first, in the first attacking move of the match, saw former Kettering defender Henry Eze rise above the St Neots defence to head in a Liam Canavan free kick, and they almost added a second when an angled shot by Elliot Percival beat Finlay Iron but drifted beyond the far post.   St Neots felt aggrieved after 16 minutes when Nabil Shariff was hauled down in the area, but St Neots penalty appeals were ignored.   However, St Neots overcame the disappointment of conceding the early goal and competed well with Dylan Williams curling a shot beyond both goalkeeper and far post after 26 minutes, and Taylor Parr heading a Johnny Herd corner wide of target.   A Luke Knight free kick was dropped by home keeper Liam Castle, but he managed to retrieve it at the feet of opponents whilst at the other end Iron saved from Eliot Putman and Canavan.  Jordan Norville-Williams was St Neots biggest threat for the home side and he twice carved his way through the home defence only to win corner kicks.   Just a single goal down, St Neots must have gone to the half time break looking to get back into the game.

However within three minutes they had a mountain to climb as a searching midfield cross from Jahvan Davidson-Miller picked out the unmarked Nial Julien on the right and his cross to the near post was powered in by Massiah McDonald under the diving body of Iron.   Five minutes later St Neots Manager Matt Clements reacted swiftly pulling off both full backs to go to three at the back and adopt a more aggressive approach but his plan fell flat when two minutes after the change,  

Massiah McDonald took full advantage of defensive hesitancy to add a third goal for the home side.   That seemed to snuff out St Neots confidence and for a spell the side was under constant pressure.   Penned back in defence they conceded a fourth goal after 67 minutes when Canavan set up Jamie Towers who arrived at the far post to net past a hesitant goalkeeper.   The pressure seemed to ease with Barwell sending on substitutes but with fifteen minutes remaining Davidson-Miller went past Knight and substitute Matt Miles to cross deep into the penalty area and with Iron deciding to stay on his line Taylor Parr could do nothing under pressure but head the ball into his own net.   Another self-imposed problem came when Knight was easily dispossessed and tackling back Andrea Borg was booked for a late challenge.   Worse was to follow for twelve minutes from time a free kick by Putman found its was to the unmarked substitute Rob Morgan whose tame-looking free kick straight at Iron was mishandled and it rolled almost apologetically over the line to give Barwell their sixth goal.  St Neots did have the last word in the 90th minute when substitute Gary Wharton was in the right place to rap home after excellent play by Norville-Williams.

St Neots:  Iron, Stanley, Herd, Knight, Short, Parr, Borg, Watkins, Shariff, Williams, Norville-Williams

Subs:  Miles (for Stanley 57 mins), Wharton (for Herd 57 mins), Gomes (for Williams 85 mins)

Cards:  Watkins (Y – 13 mins), Short (Y – 39 mins), Borg (Y – 77 mins)

Goals:  Wharton (90 mins)

 

Barwell:  Castle, Percival, Putman, Eze, Gascoigne, Canavan, Julien, Towers, McDonald, Hickey, Davidson-Miller

Subs:  Morgan (for Canavan 68 mins), Rowe (for Towers 70 mins), Albertus (for Hickey 77 mins), Desrosiers and Cross.

Cards:  Canavan (Y – 57 mins), Towers (Y – 63 mins), Hickey (Y – 69 mins)

Goals:  McDonald 2 (48 & 59 mins), Eze (3 mins), Towers (67 mins), Parr OG (75 mins), Morgan (78 mins)

 

Referee:  Greg Rolleson (Wolverhampton)

Attendance:  63

 

 

John Walker

 

UPCOMING MATCHES PREVIEW

Having had a second free Saturday this season last weekend, St Neots now look forward to their pre-Christmas arrangements.   On Tuesday they have the first of their rearranged league matches with a trip to Leicestershire to play Barwell.   The two sides met last month at the Premier Plus Stadium in the second qualifying round of the FA Trophy when a single second half goal by the visitors ended St Neots ambition in National competition this season.   The original date for this match was two weeks after that defeat bur of course Barwell were involved in the following round of the Trophy and last weekend they were again in that competition away at Spennymoor Town of the National League North.   The last league meeting of the two sides was on 13th April 2013 when St Neots won 3-2 at Barwell with Ryan Auger (2) and Jack Werndley scoring the visitors’ goals.   After that Barwell were transferred sideways to the Northern League pyramid.

On Saturday it is our popular Christmas Jumper Day (with prizes) and we entertain the in-form Stratford Town – one of only three other clubs from our league along with Barwell to feature in the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy.   Stratford had the stiffest test of the Southern League Central quartet, drawn away at National League side AFC Fylde who are some 54 places above them in the football pyramid.   St Neots travelled to Stratford on the opening day of the season narrowly beaten by a second half goal to nil.   Previous meeting of the two sides at the Premier Plus Stadium have seen three successive scoring draws prior to this season.

 

John Walker

 

 

 

 

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

St Neots Town     3       Redditch United       1         

St Neots clambered out of the relegation zone with their first home league victory since 14th August thanks to a double strike from Nabil Shariff and a smart header from Dylan Williams.   In difficult windy conditions both sides struggled to produce their best football, but in the end, justice was done because of St Neots grit and determination, the Saints moved up to 18th position.      

Less than two months ago Redditch were bottom but one in the league table, with two wins and eight defeats in their first ten matches, but they have turned things around in spectacular style with just one league defeat in their last six league outings and they had climbed five places to 16th and were no doubt looking to maintain that improvement in this match. However, St Neots know that it is no use playing well and losing and there were signs that the recently signed players are bedding in.   The latest addition to the squad is Jordan Norville-Williams, on loan from Cambridge United and he was making his second debut for the club have played eight games last season in a brief stay.   There were recalls for Taylor Parr and Russell Short who had completed their one-match bans and making way for this trio were Gary Wharton and Lee Watkins (both on the bench) and Dan Olaniran.

Conditions were far from ideal with the swirling wind on a wet surface making control difficult and neither side seemed to hit a rhythm in the early stages. St Neots received an early shock when, in their first notable attack, Redditch took the lead as Shaquille Leachman-Whittingham drifted down the left to cross to the far post where Richard Batchelor arrived late and unmarked to slide the ball past Finley Iron.   St Neots set about repairing the damage and a long thrown from Johnny Herd was flicked on by Taylor Parr and the ball ran across the area to deflect off the far post after a quarter of an hour. However, after 32 minutes the host side levelled, when a solo effort by Nabil Shariff saw his low shot across Daniel Crane find the corner of the net. Luke Knight shot over the bar and before the break, St Neots seemed to be getting on top with little seen of the Redditch attack, however, just before the break St Neots, were lucky to stay on terms when Matt Miles upended Mitchell Piggon on the edge of the area, but Robbie Burn’s free kick was pushed for a corner by Finley Iron.   Miles then limped off injured to be replaced by Devante Stanley who had missed the previous two matches through injury.

The second half followed a different pattern with St Neots well on top, dictating play from midfield where Tom Wood and Luke Knight were dominant.   Dylan Williams had an early effort blocked by Andrew Parsons and the match became feisty with three players booked in a five minutes spell.   St Neots’ pressure than paid off after 59 minutes when a long throw by Herd was flicked on at the near post and last season’s leading scorer Dylan Williams netted his fourth goal of the campaign with a neat header. Once in front, St Neots looked comfortable and they could have extended their lead as Knight had a shot blocked and Shariff brought a fine full length save from Crane. Norville-Williams also went close after good work by Tom Wood, seeing his shot deflected the wrong side of a goalpost. The result was made safe seven minutes from time when Nabil Shariff completed his third double haul of league goals this season finishing off searching free kick by Herd. In those last seven minutes plus added time, Redditch threw caution to the wind and went all out to try to salvage something from the match. There were waves of attacks towards the St Neots end, but Iron was never seriously stretched whilst at the other end, on the break, Shariff had two chances to complete a hat trick, but his first effort brought the save of the match from Crane, and his second was blocked by a defender.

To view Claire Howes' photo gallery of today's win, click here: flickr.com/photos/claire_howes/

 

St Neots Town:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Short, Parr, Borg, Wood, Shariff, Williams, Norville-Williams

Subs:  Stanley (for Miles 45+1 mins), Watkins (for Norville-Williams 79 mins), Wharton (for Borg (90+2 mins) and Gomes.

Cards:  Miles (Y – 42 mins), Knight (Y – 59 mins), Borg (Y – 83 mins), Short (Y – 87 mins)

Goals:  Shariff 2 (32 & 83 mins), Williams (59 mins)

 

Redditch:  Francis, Sinclair, Mills, Franklin, Parsons, Evans, Leachman-Whittingham, Bunn, Piggon, Reynolds, Batchelor

Subs:  Howards (for Reynolds 62 mins), Loveridge (for Bunn 62 mins), Nelson (for Leachman-Whittingham 74 mins, Tye and Butterfield.

Cards:  Sinclair (Y – 34 mins), Leachman-Whittingham (Y – 57 mins)

Goals:  Batchelor (7 mins)

 

Referee:  Stephen Bates (St Albans)

Attendance:  179

 

John Walker

 

 

It is with great excitement that we can announce a new additional to our ever expanding Sport Scholarship programme.  

In Partnership with Eaton Socon Cricket Club from Sept 2019 St Neots Learning and Sports Academy will open its sport scholarship programme to post 16 year old Students who wish to access Cricket as part of their 6th form enrichment. 

 

Iain Parr Director of St Neots Learning and Sports Academy said:

"Rob Ashwell and myself have been in discussions for quite some time now on how we can offer, in partnership with Eaton Socon Cricket Club, a Cricket Scholarship programme that can be accessed by all the talented Cricketers who play within St Neots and indeed the surrounding area.  This is a fantastic opportunity for post 16 girls and boys to get the very best educational at Longsands 6th form while at the same time access a Cricket scholarship programme,  a specific gym programme and game time under the watchful eye of our Cricketing Partners.  Cricket is now on the Longsands 6th form time table for Sept 2019!! "

 

 

Robert Ashwell Chairman ESCC added:

"Eaton Socon Cricket Club is very proud to be looking to run a Cricket scholarship in partnership with St Neots Learning and Sports Academy from  September 2019.

We believe it could be the first post 16 cricket scholarship within the UK .

The partnership will include using the facilities at both clubs and the programme will be cricket focused with fitness and gym work part of the course .

The scholarship will be run by ECB qualified coaches and with the potential to have training sessions at first class county .

On top of this we are looking at potential overseas cricket tours for the scholars and even taking in overseas scholars in the future"

 

ESCC - 

Cambs & Hunts Premier League Cricket 

Great facilities with new £35,000 nets in 2017 

Central location 

One of the best local junior cricket club set ups 

ECB qualified coaches 

Qualified county coaches for age group cricket 

 

 

Rob will be available on the Friday 21st December at St Neots Town FC, in the Gregory Suite

from 10.30am 

 

 

Open Training Day announced for potential scholars (September 2019 Intake)

Friday 21st December 2018 - 10.30am at the GESS 3G Arena

 

Follow the link below to fill in the scholarship form but please also email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to confirm your participation on the 21st December

 

https://goo.gl/forms/Z8TvrOlQZgGPlWjZ2

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

St Neots Town     1        Stourbridge       2          

After a tepid first half performance and a half-time deficit, comeback kings Stourbridge moved closer to league leaders Kettering with two second half goals in a four minutes spell.   St Neots seemed to be coping well before the break without their two suspended central defenders Taylor Parr and Russell Short, but after half time the strong visiting side moved fully into gear to show just why they are in the top two places in the table.   Based on previous performances this was a much-improved overall showing by St Neots and Manager Matt Clements will have been pleased the way that the versatile Tom Wood and occasionally selected Dan Olaniran coped with the potent Stourbridge attack that is the best in the league.   Clements also introduced loan player Andrea Borg from Peterborough United and he had a quiet debut.   Once again back in goal Finlay Iron made several good saves whilst at the other end St Neots carved out a host of half chances but once again, they were let down by their finishing.

After a quiet start with much of the play in midfield it was St Neots who made the important break through after 14 minutes.   Gary Wharton drifted from left to right to pick up a pass and his cross was knocked down by Stuart Pierpoint, but only to the edge of the area where Dylan Williams picked up the ball to score with a low crisp shot beyond the dive of visiting keeper James Wren.   Nabil Shariff then shot wide after neat play by Lee Watkins but Stourbridge created openings on the break and just before the half hour Finlay Iron at to dive bravely amongst flying boots to smother the ball after Luke Benbow had directed a Robbie Thompson-Brown free kick across goal.   St Neots should have extended their lead before the break as Williams sent an ambitious effort high over the bar, Andrea Borg saw his effort blocked and Gary Wharton should have done better than shoot wide after neat play by Johnny Herd.   However the visitors always looked sharp in attack when they did break forward and the lively Benbow forced an important save from Iron in time added at the end of the first 45 minutes.

It looked a different Stourbridge side that emerged after the break.  They looked full of the confidence they seemed to have lacked in the first half and the St Neots side were pushed back on the defensive.   Iron became the busiest man on the field saving efforts by Benbow and Callum Powell, but St Neots did show some counter-attacking tendencies with Williams firing wildly over the bar after visiting keeper James Wren had saved well from Nabil Shariff, and Gary Wharton being only inches from a Watkins cross in front of a gaping goal.   However, it was the visiting side who were beginning to boss the game and after 58 minutes following a quickly taken free kick Luke Benbow levelled the scores with a smart finish.   Then just four minutes later St Neots conceded a second goal from a set piece.   A Thompson-Brown free kick found the head of Pierpoint drawing a fingertip save over the bar by Iron but from the result corner Paul McCone rose above the defence to put his side ahead.   Iron then produced a full-length save from Powell to keep St Neots hopes alive, and St Neots thought they had created an equaliser following a Herd corner, as Dan Olaniran curled in a shot that beat the keeper but clipped the crossbar.   St Neots then sent on two substitutes to freshen up their attack, but the experienced Stourbridge defence funnelled back to stifle their best efforts and the home side looked unable to seriously threaten the visitors’ goal.

  

St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Wood, Olaniran, Borg, Watkins, Shariff, Williams, Wharton

Subs:  Douglas (for Wharton 74 mins), Ofosu (for Borg 74 mins), Gomes and Fulianty.

Cards:  Knight (Y – 59 mins)

Goals:  Williams (14 mins)

 

Stourbridge:  Wren, Hayden, Aris, McCone, Pierpoint, Forde, Powell, Birch, Benbow, Thompson-Brown, Mills.

Subs:  Broadhurst (for Birch 57 mins), Anderson (for Powell 74 mins), Steele, Tonks and Maher

Cards:  Mills (Y – 34 mins), Pierpoint (Y – 66 mins), Forde (Y – 81 mins)

Goals:  Benbow (58 mins), McCone (62 mins)

 

Referee:  Shaun Barry (Northampton)

Attendance:  188

 

John Walker

 

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