Sunday, 10 December 2017 10:09
  Southern League Premier Division       ST NEOTS TOWN        5      MERTHYR TOWN       2            In the end St Neots cruised to a predictable victory against a youthful visiting Merthyr side – but not until they had withstood a couple of nasty shocks.   The visitors led twice in the first half and the main after-match post mortem in the St Neots dressing room will have been more about shoddy first half defending rather than the very useful three points gained.   The home side was more than usefully assisted by a foolish sending off after just 28 minutes when Gavin Williams collected a second yellow card for dramatic simulation after he had lost control of the ball.   Condemned to play for the final hour of the match a man short the Welsh visitors did well to restrict the defeat to a reasonable proportion, but St Neots Manager Matt Clements will be disappointed that his side did not push home their numerical and territorial advantage with more goals in the second half.   Home keeper Mike Emery was almost unemployed for the whole of that second period with the visitors operating a damage limitation exercise and the match rather petered out once St Neots had scored their fifth goal.  The starting line-up was unchanged from that which had started the match the previous Saturday with Tom Wood, Harry O’Malley and Ryan Horne all starting on the bench after midweek appearances as other players returned from injury.   St Neots looked comfortable enough in the early exchanges with Nabil Shariff volleying over the bar from a Johnny Herd cross but he did then get the ball in the net, set up by Lewis Irwin only to be denied by an offside flag.  After 10 minutes the home supporters were silenced as Merthyr took the lead.  An attack down the right won them a corner and Ian Traylor’s inswinging corner was met deftly at the near post by the head of Kerry Morgan whose flick bamboozled the St Neots defence.  Three minutes later it was parity as a delightful through ball from David Bridges released Lewis Irwin who low shot across goal beat Cameron Clarke.   St Neots had learned nothing from their early setback and after 24 minutes some more sloppy defending saw defender Matt Harris given too much space at the back post from a Gavin Williams free kick and his header looped over Mike Emery to put the visitors ahead for a second time.   Williams was then dismissed and as Merthyr tried to reorganize they conceded a second goal as Johnny Herd crossed deep to the far post when Dion Sembie-Ferris netted from close range.   Then within sixty seconds St Neots went ahead as a Sembie-Ferris cross was only cleared as far as Luke Knight and he lashed the ball home to give St Neots a 3-2 advantage.  The remainder of the first half saw no more goals but Kyron Wiltshire shot wide of an open goal with the visiting keeper stranded twenty yards upfield and there were further misses with off-target shooting from Jack Bradshaw, Herd and Knight.   It was an eight minutes spell shortly after the restart that settled a predictable outcome to the match.   After Sembie-Ferris had ballooned a shot over the bar, he made amends by setting up Luke Knight who scored his sides’ fourth goal with a low shot from the edge of the area.  Before Merthyr had recovered from that shock St Neots struck again as Irwin collected his second goal of the match from a measured Knight cross.   The flood gates could have opened then, but Clarke dived bravely at the feet of Nabil Shariff after he had danced past his marker and Sembie-Ferris fired disappointingly wide after good work by Bridges.   In an attempt to maintain the momentum St Neots introduced all three permitted substitutes but Merthyr were now entrenched as a defensive unit soaking up the pressure and Horne fired over when he should have scored, and Clarke denied Bridges with a parried save to a blockbusting shot.   Late on Shariff had an acrobatic overhead attempt cleared off the line by Adam Davies but the three points lifted St Neots back to ninth in the table. Claire Howes' Photo Gallery can be found here: Claire Howes Photo Gallery SNTtv video highlights can be found here: https://youtu.be/EjNzH-yY0e0   St Neots:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Wiltshire, Bridges, Irwin, Shariff, Sembie-Ferris,   Subs:  Horne (for Wiltshire 63 mins), O’Malley (for Bradshaw 68 mins), Wood (for Knight 77 mins), Butler and Marsh-Brown Cards:  none Goals:  Irwin (2) (13 & 57 mins), Knight (2) (31 & 49 mins), Sembie-Ferris (30 mins)   Merthyr:  Clarke, Davies, Hanford, Jarvis, Harris, Martin, Dima, Reddy, Williams, Morgan, Traylo Subs:  Jones (for Jarvis 77 mins) Cards:   Williams (RED – 2 x Y – 16 & 28 mins) Goals:   Morgan (10 mins), Harris (24 mins)   Attendance: 237 Referee:  Peter Howard (Paddington)   John Walker
Tuesday, 05 December 2017 23:49
  Southern League Premier Division     ST NEOTS TOWN        0     KINGS LYNN TOWN       5          The outcome of this match was effectively determined two minutes before half time when St Neots defender Taylor Parr was sent off for a rash challenge on Cameron Norman.   At that point of the match trailing by a single goal St Neots were still competing well with the league leaders but the second half was a different story.   General opinion was that the challenge deserved only a caution but Bedfordshire Referee Tim Donnellan who booked four other players in the match seemed in no doubt.   The experienced Norfolk side utilized their extra player to maximum effectiveness playing ‘keep ball’ as St Neots chased around often in vain and then Lynn struck with four second half goals against a home side that became more ragged as the half wore on.   For Parr it was his first sending-off of the season, but he will now miss the Christmas matches and for St Neots it was their biggest defeat of the season and their heaviest since Boxing Day last year.   Injuries sustained at Bishops Stortford in the previous match saw Tom Wood come in for Liam McDevitt and Harry O’Malley for Kyron Wiltshire with Ryan Horne returned to the line-up for the unavailable David Bridges.   In attack there were home debuts for Lewis Irwin and Nabil Shariff, but they received little service as Lynn extended their lead at the top of the table to seven points. The start was end to end but the visitors made their initial break through after just ten minutes when the St Neots defence failed to cut out a cross from the right and Simon Lappin drilled home a low shot past Mike Emery who may have been unsighted.   St Neots went straight up the other end and Dion Sembie-Ferris had a stinging shot well saved by Alex Street as they adopted a 4-3-3 line up.   After 18 minutes a smart interchange of passes between Michael Gash and Lappin set up Craig Parker but he volleyed wide and two minutes later Gash brought a fine save from Emery as he acrobatically tipped the ball over the bar.   Lynn were now looking confident and Gash contrived to volley over the bar from around three yards, and then there was a glimmer of a chance for the home side as Irwin burst through, but he lost control and the ball ran away for a goal kick.   The dismissal was to become a defining moment in the match and St Neots went to the break trying to sort out how to contain their visitors with just ten men. Lynn stamped their authority within four minutes of the restart as a delightful move breached the St Neots defence with Lappin and Ryan Jarvis cutting past three defenders for Craig Parker to apply the finishing touch for their second goal.  St Neots tried to vary their tactics with Stefan Broccoli replacing Irwin and then Sembie-Ferris warmed the keepers’ hands when he had to retrieve the ball after spilling the first shot.  A six minutes spell midway through the second half saw St Neots destroyed as Lynn added three further goals.   The first after 69 minutes was bizarre when Johnny Herd was clearly fouled but after an injury delay the official gave the free kick the wrong way and the visitors capitalized as Gash netted from two yards following Norman’s free kick.   St Neots still refused to buckle as Street had to save a blockbuster shot from Luke Knight but after 75 minutes a Lappin corner was not defended as former St Neots defender Tom Ward rose high to head his sides’ fourth goal and just sixty seconds later a cross from another former Saint, Ryan Hawkins was forced in by Leon Mettam who became Lynn’s fifth goal scorer on the night.   A procession of further substitutions by both sides acted to suppress meaningful attacking by either side although Shariff was unlucky to see his effort fly across the face of goal after winning his way to the bye line.   So St Neots impressive unbeaten league run came to an unseemly end in front of their own supporters.   St Neots:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, Wood, Parr, O’Malley, Horne, Irwin, Shariff, Sembie-Ferris,   Subs:  Broccoli (for Irwin 56 mins), Butler (for Horne 76 mins), Marsh-Brown (for Sembie-Ferris 76 mins), McDevitt and Wiltshire Cards:  Parr (RED – 43), O’Malley (Y – 16), Horne (Y – 64) Emery (Y – 77) Goals:  none   Kings Lynn:  Street, Norman, Fryatt, Gaughan, Ward, Jarvis, Lappin, Parker, Gash, Mettam, Hawkins Subs:  McQuaid (for Hawkins 76 mins), Siddons (for Gash 76 mins), McLeish (for Norman 82 mins) Cards:   Lappin (Y – 73 mins) Goals:   Lappin (10 mins), Parker (49 mins), Gash (69 mins), Ward (75 mins), Mettam (76 mins)   Attendance: 282 Referee:  Tim Donnellan (Leighton Buzzard)   John Walker  
Sunday, 03 December 2017 09:37
  Southern League Premier Division       BISHOP’S STORTFORD        1        ST NEOTS TOWN        2            Nabil Shariff the striker brought in to replace the departed Tom Meechan delivered the goods in dramatic debut style with a second half winning goal at Bishops Stortford to extend St Neots unbeaten League run to nine matches on their first competitive visit to Stortford for 45 years.   Back in 1972 they had lost 3-0 in an East Anglian Cup tie but since then the footballing paths of the two sides had not crossed.   Shariff transferred in from Northern Premier League side Alfreton Town was twinned up from with Northampton Town Academy youngster Lewis Irwin in place of Meechan and the injured Dylan Williams, and the two newcomers blended successfully with the other starting line up changes seeing Liam McDevitt return for Ronayne Marsh-Brown and Harry O’Malley and Ryan Horne start on the bench.   It was an entertaining contest with St Neots having the better of the first half but happy to hang on to their narrow advantage in the closing stages as the home side pressed for a late equalizer.   St Neots moved up to ninth in the table but host League leaders Kings Lynn in their next match. The new look St Neots were quickly into action with Lewis Irwin setting up Dion Sembie-Ferris whose shot was deflected and then Kyron Wiltshire back from suspension brought a good save from Tyler McCarthy with a low snap shot after neat play by Nabil Shariff.  With the home side slow to settle they found themselves behind after just seven minutes when a reverse Sembie-Ferris cross found David Bridges on the edge of the penalty area and his low shot through a packed defence beat McCarthy to afford him a second league goal in consecutive matches.  It could have been 2-0 shortly afterwards when from a Jack Bradshaw corner, a shot by Liam McDevitt was diverted over his own cross bar by Jordan Westcott with his keeper stranded.   However, with Dipo Akinyemi leading fight back, Stortford began to get into the game as he saw a narrow-angled shot deflected across the face of goal and then Westcott made a midfield interception to set up Jason Williams but having made space for himself he shot wide.  After 28 minutes Wiltshire, clearly short of match fitness, limped off with an Achilles pull to be replaced by Ryan Horne.   Three minutes later Stortford levelled with a cleverly created goal as Akinyemi beat his marker to find Jordan Westcott just outside the penalty area and he scored with a well-placed shot.  Both the St Neots new men went close towards the end of the first half with Shariff firing narrowly over the bar after the Referee had played a good advantage with Sembie-Ferris clearly fouled and then Irwin saw a rising shot following a Bradshaw corner blocked by a defender. St Neots began the second half as they had the first with a flurry of chances.   Johnny Herd joined the attack to shoot across the face of goal and then up for a corner Taylor Parr saw a shot blocked by a defender.   From another searching Bradshaw corner Irwin outjumped the defence but his header was just the wrong side of the bar.   The threatening Akinyemi, who once played for St Neots, then brought an important save from Mike Emery but then St Neots decided on a further change with Harry O’Malley introduced in midfield in place of Bridges.  What proved to be the winning goal came after 65 minutes when a long ball out of defence by Johnny Herd fed the well-timed run of Nabil Shariff through a square lying defence and his pace was enough to sidestep the onrushing McCarthy leaving him an unguarded net to breach.  Seven minutes later another top class save from Emery was key in this victory as he went full length to push away a Williams shot for a corner.   Dean Ager shot wide as the home side increased their pressure on the visiting defence and with ten minutes remaining St Neots decided to protect their narrow advantage sending on Tom Wood for Sembie-Ferris and adopting a 4-4-2 formation.   The home side promptly sent on two additional attacking players and the final minutes saw Stortford with the advantage but defensively St Neots looked sound with Taylor Parr and McDevitt confident and sound. Claire Howes' Match Gallery can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/claire_howes/   St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Wiltshire, Bridges, Irwin, Shariff, Sembie-Ferris,   Subs:  Horne (for Wiltshire 28 mins), O’Malley (for Bridges 62 mins), Wood (for Sembie-Ferris 80 mins), Butler and Marsh-Brown Cards:  none Goals:  Bridges (7 mins), Shariff (65 mins)   Bishop’s Stortford:  McCarthy, Casey, Foxley, Simpson, Ekpiteta, Rogers, Ager, Westcott, Williams, Moncur, Akinyemi Subs:  Thomas (for Simpson 73 mins), Taylor (for Ager 85 mins), Mason (for Moncur (85 mins) Cards:   none Goals:   Westcott (31 mins)   Attendance: 307 Referee:  Jonathan Burridge (Godmanchester)   John Walker  
Saturday, 25 November 2017 19:48
Southern League Premier Division     ST NEOTS TOWN        2          BASINGSTOKE TOWN       1 This was the last match of Tom Meechan’s two months loan from Hungerford Town and he will have mixed memories of his final appearance at the Premier Plus Stadium.   He was denied a very obvious penalty in the first half when he was flattened by Basingstoke defender Shane Hollamby but then with nine minutes left and the scores tied at 1-1 he was brought down again in the penalty area and picked himself up to see his under hit penalty kick comfortably saved by Colm McAdden.   Then five minutes into time added he again burst into the area to be upended for a third time and this time he left the penalty kick to Johnny Herd whose successful effort obtained all three points for his side.   Meechan was the first to congratulate his team mate!    So, St Neots extended their unbeaten league run to seven games despite the absence of five players either injured, suspended or ill and they climbed to tenth place in the league table – their highest position since 29th August 2016.   The midweek training ground injury to leading scorer Dylan Williams meant a recall to the side for David Bridges whilst Ronayne Marsh-Brown came into the side for his third league appearance in place of the also injured Liam McDevitt.  Visitors Basingstoke contributed to their own downfall by finishing with nine players on the pitch after picking up two second half red cards.   The first 45 minutes were rather forgettable despite each side scoring a goal.  Play was often scrappy with a lack of real control from either side although St Neots had two early chances when Dion Sembie-Ferris cut in to see his low shot blocked and then Jack Bradshaw linked with Sembie-Ferris to sent in a low cross that neither Meechan nor Bridges could reach.  At the other end from a George Bennett free kick, Mike Emery made an important save to touch over a header from Shane Hollamby after 21 minutes but three minutes later the visitors took the lead with a fortunate goal.   It came from a flighted Tim Wohlfiel free kick that was not cleared and the ball fell to an attacker who drove the ball at Jack Bradshaw from a couple of yards and to St Neots dismay the Referee awarded penalty kick for an alleged involuntary handball.  Sam Argent slotted home the penalty kick but St Neots were behind for less than two minutes.   A long throw by Johnny Herd was returned to him wide on the right and his cross to the far post saw David Bridges climb above the goalkeeper to head home his first Southern League goal for St Neots.   Meechan should then have been awarded a penalty when he was flattened by Hollamby but the Referee waved play on much to St Neots disbelief.   Just before half time Harry O’Malley headed narrowly over the bar from a Bradshaw corner.   The second half was a feisty affair with Bridges heading wide before St Neots lost Bradshaw to injury with Jonny Butler replacing him.   Ryan Horne saw an effort deflected over the bar and sent a volley well wide as St Neots began to dominate but after 67 minutes he was also injured and limped off to be replaced by St Neots’ latest signing Stefan Broccoli, once on the books of Newcastle United.  He had an immediate impact on the left flank setting up Sembie-Ferris for a shot well saved by McAdden.   A 77th incident saw substitute Ben Wright – only on the field for five minutes – kick Luke Knight who was on the ground for which he was sent off with the St Neots skipper booked for retaliation.   Meechan then missed the penalty he had been awarded and with five minutes remaining the visitors could have snatched a winning goal with a breakaway attack, but Emery produced a quality save to deny Argent who had been left unmarked.   Two minutes from the end of normal time Bennett picked up a second yellow card to join his colleague in an early bath, and it looked as though Basingstoke would hang on for a share of the points.   However, five minutes into added time Meechan burst into the area and finished up on the ground from a desperate tackle and cool as a cucumber Johnny Herd tucked away the third penalty kick of the contest to settle the outcome. Footnote:  St Neots scheduled Tuesday evening League match at Royston is postponed because the Hertfordshire side will be involved in an FA Trophy replay. St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, Marsh-Brown, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Bridges, Meechan, O’Malley, Horne Subs:  Butler (for Bradshaw 54 mins), Broccoli (for Horne 67 mins) and McDevitt Cards:  Marsh-Brown (Y – 49), Knight (Y – 77)   Goals:  Bridges (26 mins), Herd – pen (90 + 5 mins)   Basingstoke:  McAdden, Wohlfiel, Bennett, Collier, Hollamby, Demuria, McKnight, Kennedy, Argent, Smart, Bunting   Subs:  Wright (for Bunting 72 mins), Johnson-Schuster (for Hollamby 82 mins) and Goater   Cards:   Wright (RED – 77 mins), Bennett (RED – 2 x Y – 74 mins & 88 mins)   Goals:   Argent (24 mins) Attendance: 233 Referee:  Tom Danahar (Camden, London)     John Walker
Saturday, 18 November 2017 20:02
Southern League Premier Division     BANBURY UNITED        1        ST NEOTS TOWN        1           Another draw on the road for St Neots – the sixth time they have finished all square in their last nine League outings – was regarded as a good result by Manager Matt Clements who said, “a point away from home is always good”.   However, a glance at the records shows that in half of those drawn games St Neots were leading and so perhaps they should have garnered more points in this impressive run.   Now eleventh in the table St Neots have as many points now as they had in mid-February last season, so they are well placed to go on and cement themselves a mid-table position or better this season.    The St Neots saviour once again was the irrepressible Dylan Williams, now the sides’ leading scorer with eight goals in 21 games but this result came from an all-round team performance which included Taylor Parr reliably solid in defence and once again Mike Emery in goal produced important saves when his team was in trouble.  With illness, injury and suspension still limiting team selection the Manager made just one slight adjustment to the starting line-up with Harry O’Malley restored in midfield, swapping places with David Bridges who was on the bench. There was a slow start to the contest with neither side able to take the initiative.   Banbury created the first real opening after six minutes when the unmarked Jefferson Louis headed wide when he should have at least tested the keeper whilst St Neots relied on their usually effective attacking tactic that saw chances emanate from lengthy throws by Johnny Herd.   From one of these skipper Luke Knight blazed over the bar and then after 25 minutes a Jack Bradshaw free kick found the head of Taylor Parr whose effort flew the wrong side of a post.  A dangerous Banbury free kick on the edge of the area was successfully blocked by the defensive wall but after 31 minutes the visiting defence was breached when a diagonal cross from Adam Sandy found Connor McDonagh lurking on the edge of the penalty area and he beat Emery with a well-placed shot.   St Neots’ were often their own worst enemy as they persisted with high balls into the box that were easily cut out by the tall home defenders.  A clever Bradshaw pass found Dion Sembie-Ferris on the edge of the area and having cut in he saw his shot with the outside of his foot comfortably saved by Jack Harding and in time added at the end of the first half St Neots were twice fortunate not to go further behind.   A fierce rising shot by Tom Winters was beaten away by Emery who had looked unsighted, but the ball only went as far as Louis whose follow-up effort rebounded from the cross bar. Having looked second best in the first 45 minutes, St Neots came out to dominate the second period.  After just two minutes they should have levelled when Williams threaded a cross into the box to find Sembie-Ferris unmarked, but he sent his shot directly at the keeper who was relieved to be able to save.   A second Sembie-Ferris effort was blocked and then the lively Williams was dragged down in the penalty area by Luke Carnell, but the replacement Referee waved away St Neots penalty appeals.  However, it took only nine minutes for St Neots to get back on terms as another long throw by Herd was not cleared and Dylan Williams drove the ball into the net.   Having got back level with more than half an hour to spare St Neots could, and probably should have gone on to take all three points.  Despite the visitors’ domination of possession Banbury always looked dangerous on the break and after 71 minutes McDonagh got the advantage of a favorable rebound off a defender and seemed to have the open goal at his mercy but Parr got back to clear off the line.  Four minutes later at the other end from yet another Herd throw, Parr won the ball in the air and only an acrobatic save by Harding kept his goal intact.   Tom Meechan saw a shot blocked and Ryan Horne shot over the bar but an 87th minute breakaway almost gave the home side full points as substitute Jack Self crossed to find the unmarked Louis but Emery produced the save of the match to ensure that one point returned to Cambridgeshire. St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, O’Malley, Meechan, Horne, Williams (D), Subs:  Butler (for Horne 76 mins), Bridges and Dean. Cards:  none   Goals:  Williams (54 mins)   Banbury:  Harding, Hawtin, Westbrook, Nash, Johnson, Carnell, Sandy, Finch, Louis, McDonagh, Winters   Subs:  Bradbury (for Westbrook 58 mins), Self (for McDonagh 72 mins), Howards (for Sandy 82 mins), Wise and Peake.   Cards:   Johnson (Y – 88 mins)   Goals:   McDonagh (31 mins) Attendance: 326 Referee:  Dave Bullen (Leicester)   John Walker
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 15:38
  Southern League Premier Division       ST NEOTS TOWN        0          BIGGLESWADE TOWN       0   Draw specialists St Neots finished all square with neighbors Biggleswade Town in a rather low-key midweek meeting at the Premier Plus Stadium.  It was their fifth draw in their last eight league matches but it arrested a run of four consecutive defeats at the hands of the Waders.   The recent trend of a more impressive second half showing by Matt Clements’ men continued but they were unable to break through a resolute visiting defence marshalled by former St Neots favorite Gavin Hoyte.   Without a win in their last six league matches Biggleswade arrived at the match desperate for some improvement but it was a match that was largely dominated by the two defenses, with the two goal keepers rarely stretched.  Both sides were denied by the woodwork and the visitors will be happier with the outcome given their recent form.  The home side featured just one change in the starting line-up with David Bridges making his league debut replacing Harry O’Malley whose recent form suggests that he was unlucky to start on the bench.   It was the visiting side that looked the more positive enjoying greater possession in the early stages.   However, there were no significant attempts on goal by either side in the first half hour after a seventh minute snap shot from Tony Burnett had rattled the St Neots cross bar with Mike Emery having to throw himself at the feet of Liam Brookes to smother a follow-up effort.  The home side were wasteful in their possession with some wayward passing quickly handing the initiative to their visitors.   Taylor Parr and Liam McDevitt looked confident and assured at the heart of the St Neots defence but both sides were guilty of failing to create real openings for their forwards.   After 31 minutes visiting keeper Liam Gooch had to save full length from Johnny Herd after a precise cross from Dylan Williams and in a quick counter attack the lively Greg Kaziboni ran at the defence but saw his shot blocked by a saving tackle from Jack Bradshaw.   Tom Meechan was getting little service up front but had two attempts blocked by defenders and the best first half chance fell to Biggleswade when full back Lucas Perry attacked down the left to find the unmarked Kaziboni who shot wide.   As usual one of St Neots more threatening openings came from long throws by Herd but the visiting keeper quickly dominated his near post to counter that threat.   After the half time dressing room advice, the second half saw St Neots with a more direct approach.   Meechan saw another effort blocked by Reece Fielding and then Hoyte was booked by the Referee for a cynical foul on Williams.   A Bradshaw free kick failed to penetrate the defensive wall and then Meechan should have punished a defensive slip as he went clear, but he delayed his shot and Tyler Walker got back to smother his shot.   Another former Saint Connor Hall should have done better but shot weakly after the St Neots defence was breached but St Neots were now looking the stronger side and McDevitt headed narrowly over from a Bradshaw corner.   With twenty minutes left the visitors introduced substitute Jack Bowen who had scored both goals in the Waders’ victory over St Neots earlier in the season, but they adopted a more defensive stance leaving him up front on his own.   A dipping shot by Dion Sembie-Ferris beat Gooch but rebounded from the cross bar and that was the nearest St Neots got to breaking through a packed defence.   Both sides sent on substitutes but made little difference to a match that petered out with St Neots producing little to show for their better share of possession.   St Neots:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Bridges, Meechan, Horne, Williams (D), Subs:  Wood (for Bridges 76 mins), O’Malley (for Horne 89 mins) and Butler Cards:  Parr (Y – 64), Williams (Y – 79), Wood (Y – 84) Goals:  none   Biggleswade:  Gooch, Walker, Perry, Fielding, Hicks, Hoyte, Kaziboni, Hall, Brookes, Parker, Burnett Subs:  Bowen (for Burnett 69 mins), Hill (for Hall 85 mins), Bailey (for Kaziboni 89 mins) and Griffiths. Cards:   Hoyte (Y – 50 mins) Goals:   none   Attendance: 138 Referee:  Chris Reason (Boston)   John Walker  
Sunday, 12 November 2017 11:14
  Buildbase FA Trophy – Second Qualifying Round   ST NEOTS TOWN        2          STOURBRIDGE       3     Six minutes into the second half of this match a very dubious penalty decision shaped the outcome of the tie and condemned St Neots to only their second defeat in twelve league and FA Trophy ties stretching back to mid-September.   After a drab first half the match came to life after the break with three goals in six minutes and led to a feisty second period in which the fate of the sides could have gone either way.   In the end the visitors from the Premier Division of the Northern League were happy to cling on to their narrow advantage and see out time to earn their place in the next round.   St Neots will rue a couple of missed chances and their inability to make a long spell of second half domination produce the clear openings needed to win the match against opponents that defended well throughout the match.   With Kyron Wiltshire starting his four-match ban, Ryan Horne came back into midfield along with skipper Luke Knight with Scott Sinclair on the injured list.   In their first meeting for four years the two sides quickly had the measure of the other with both defenses looking fairly confident and clear chances very few.   Stourbridge created the first two real chances in the opening ten minutes with Kyle Perry heading wide from a Tom Tonks free kick and Perry bringing a full-length fingertip save onto a goalpost by the home keeper.   After 12 minutes Tom Meechan was clumsily bundled over on the edge of the penalty area by Aris Christophorou earning the defender the first of seven yellow cards to be issued by fussy Referee Rob Evans.   Johnny Herd bent his free kick around the defensive wall but only into the side netting.   St Neots tried hard to find an opening through the well-drilled visiting defence but they were hampered by mis-placed passes and over ambitious attempts to get behind the defence.   With the half unable to find any real tempo with too many stoppages – many of them for trivial offences – the visitors just about shaded possession without further testing Mike Emery until five minutes before the break when he had to save full length from Perry.   Three goals in six minutes after the restart set the contest alight.  St Neots struck first after just 33 seconds when clever interplay between Meechan and Dion Sembie-Ferris saw the latter latch on to a neat flick between defenders to net with a shot across Matthew Gould in the visiting goal.  However, the lead was short-lived because three minutes later the visitors levelled as a Tonks corner was flicked on at the near post for Leon Broadhurst to net with a low shot.  St Neots had no time to recover because after 51minutes Christophorou was impeded in the penalty area by Liam McDevitt and the Referee pointed to the penalty spot.  Luke Benbow sent Emery the wrong way and the visitors were in front.   St Neots set about repairing the damage and Sembie-Ferris sprinted goal wards to be brought down on the edge of the area by Paul McCone who looked fortunate only to receive a yellow card.  It was nip and tuck as both sides adopted an attacking approach and after 76 minutes another dubious free kick was awarded when Perry – who seemed to spend a lot of time on the ground – went down and Benbow picked out unmarked substitute Josh Green wide on the left and he cut in to beat Emery with a rising shot.   Now St Neots had to go for broke as they sought to recover a two goals deficit and with two substitutes on they adopted a three men-at-the back approach and dominated possession in the final quarter of an hour.   However, Stourbridge filtered back to defend in numbers and a Tom Meechan effort rebounded from the woodwork with Gould beaten, St Neots only consolation was a rare goal by Jack Bradshaw following a Dylan Williams corner after two St Neots efforts had been blocked by visiting defenders in the same attack.      So, now out of three of their four cup competitions this season, St Neots must look to the County Senior Cup competition for silverware. Claire Howes' Photo Gallery can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/claire_howes/   St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, O’Malley, Meechan, Horne, Williams (D), Subs:  Bridges (for Knight 76 mins), Wood (for Horne 80 mins) and Butler Cards:  Knight (Y – 15), Bradshaw (Y – 27), Herd (Y – 56) Goals:  Sembie-Ferris (46 mins), Bradshaw (86 mins)     Stourbridge:  Gould,Christophorou, Westlake, McCone, Pierpoint, Forde, Tonks, Broadhurst, Perry, Benbow, Shearer Subs:  Green (for Shearer 73 mins), Marsh (for Benbow 83 mins), Duggan (for Perry 86 mins) and Cooke. Cards:   Christophorou (Y – 12 mins), McCone (Y – 61 mins), Benbow (75 mins), Forde (Y – 90 mins) Goals:   Broadhurst (48 mins), Benbow (51 mins), Green (76 mins)   Attendance: 323 Referee:  Rob Evans (Northampton)   John Walker  
Sunday, 05 November 2017 11:32
  Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division   GOSPORT BOROUGH       0         ST NEOTS TOWN        1             Expectation was high as St Neots headed off to the south coast to take on bottom of the table Gosport Borough who were without a win in the league this season.   Mindful of their precarious position the former National League side had strengthened their squad over the past couple of weeks and looked more solid than expected.   St Neots began well and dominated for more than half an hour but faded towards the break and then heaped unnecessary pressure on themselves when they were reduced to ten men on the hour.   In the end they were happy to return home with all three points, but Manager Matt Clements was less than happy with the performance especially from the front players.   "We defended well’ he said, ‘and to get a clean sheet away from home (only the second in the league this season) was a fitting tribute to my back five".   The Manager had shuffled his pack with Johnny Herd, Kyron Wiltshire and Harry O’Malley all returning to the side for Ronayne Marsh-Brown, Tom Wood and skipper Luke Knight who was on the bench.   A first half injury to Scott Sinclair means he is doubtful for the Trophy match at home to Stourbridge next week.   In their two previous league meetings with Gosport five years ago, St Neots had twice finished on the losing side but they quickly showed that they were out to redress that position.  With Dion Sembie-Ferris marauding down the right flank there were early chances for Kyron Wiltshire and Dylan Williams and the pressure paid off after just ten minutes when Sembie-Ferris was hauled down in the area by Eddie Wakely and Dylan Williams stroked home his seventh goal of the season from the penalty spot.   Play continued largely towards the Gosport goal with St Neots defenders joining the fray as Liam McDevitt tested home keeper Tom Price with a lob and Taylor Parr headed over from a Bradshaw free kick.   Then after 25 minutes St Neots had to regroup when Scott Sinclair was helped off with a dead leg with Ryan Horne on in midfield and Williams moved out wide left.   The visitors shrugged off this setback with Tom Meechan on his fiftieth appearance seeing a close-range effort deflected and Parr forcing a good full length save from Price.   Then in the ten minutes before the break the home side came into the game and Frankie Page intercepted a misplaced pass to set his side on the attack and his perfectly weighted cross found the head of Iffy Onwauchwu at the far post but with the goal at his mercy he sent the ball wide.   Liam Mears then had Gosport’s second clear chance, but he missed his kick and the half ended with Jack Bradshaw twice shooting wide of goal for the visitors.   St Neots began the second half with the impressive Harry O’Malley firing over the bar and the Referee then played a good advantage to the visitors before coming back to book Onwauchwu for a late off the ball challenge on Ryan Horne.   Gosport were now competing far better and Mears had a shot blocked by McDevitt and Luke King headed wide when he should have at least tested Mike Emery.  Then on the hour Kyron Wiltshire mistimed a high challenge on Harry Medway and was sent off after the Referee consulted an Assistant on the appropriate level of punishment.   It was the midfielder’s second sending-off of the season having picked up two yellow cards in the match with Weymouth and he now misses to FA Trophy match.   Emery’s most important save came on 66 minutes when he spread himself to block a Mears effort with his legs and then Sembie-Ferris could have eased the pressure shooting wide after good work by Meechan.  Towards the end the home was making its numerical advantage tell as St Neots switched to a one-man attack, but they held out to return home with three valuable points.   St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, O’Malley, Parr, McDevitt, Sembie-Ferris, Wiltshire, Meechan, Williams (D), Sinclair (S) Subs:  Horne (for Sinclair 25 mins), Knight (for Sembie-Ferris 77 mins), Bridges (for Meechan 87 mins) and Dean. Cards:  Wiltshire (RED – 60), Meechan (Y – 73) Goals:  Williams – pen (10 mins)   Gosport:  Price, Paige, Medway, Lis, Wakely, Sanders, Breed, King, Onwauchwu, Mears, Sinclair (M)   Subs:  Mason (for Lis 66 mins), Watts, Buckland, Connor and Watch. Cards:   Mears (Y – 34 mins), Onwauchwu (51 mins) Goals:   none   Attendance: 236 Referee:  Lewis Sandor (Bournemouth)   John Walker 
Saturday, 28 October 2017 19:36
Buildbase FA Trophy – First Qualifying Round ST NEOTS TOWN        3          CORBY TOWN       2   It is a completely overworked phrase, but this really was a game of two halves.   Corby totally dominated the first 45 minutes and scored twice in three minutes early on whilst St Neots were almost anonymous and only really tested the visiting keeper on two occasions.   What was said in the dressing room at half time after such a poor home side showing is not recorded but St Neots returned after their half time cup of tea a different side.   With a slight tweak to their approach and two substitutes on, they controlled the second half to such an extent that home goalkeeper Mike Emery had only one save to make whilst his opposite number was in almost constant action.  The key was probably the tactical change that saw St Neots play far more football on the ground and down the flanks to prevent the two-giant visiting central defenders from mopping up their rather ambitious attacking attempts.   With Dylan Williams free roaming in attack and the wide players always outpacing their markers, St Neots could have scored more goals, as their visitors should have done in the first 45 minutes.  There was just one change in the starting line-up with Taylor Parr back in defence following suspension, which pushed Tom Wood into midfield in place of Harry O’Keefe, perhaps unlucky to lose his place after some solid performances. The first half hour of the match is best forgotten by St Neots.   Looking slick and confident Corby showed why they had won their last six league and Cup matches as they shredded a rather hesitant St Neots defence to run a up a quick two goals advantage.   After 11 minutes Jordan Crawford cut inside his marker from the left and unleashed a right-footed thunderbolt that left Mike Emery statuesque and three minutes later the advantage was doubled.  Again, the St Neots defence were only spectators as Crawford and Steven Leslie neatly exchanged passes to leave two defenders in their wake and when the cross reached the penalty area Ben Diamond got in front of his marker to glance the ball past Emery.   The St Neots approach in response was not working as the two towering visiting defenders Paul Malone and Jason Lee were easily able to cut out any danger before it materialized.   Tom Wood curled a shot just wide and Dylan Williams shot the wrong side of a post with visiting keeper Sam Wilson only having to save twice from Tom Meechan and Dion Sembie Ferris.  Right on half time Emery saved well from Jordan O’Brien and this was to prove a pivotal moment allowing St Neots with just a two goals deficit to address in the second half. Manager Matt Clements decide he needed more defensive stability sending on Johnny Herd and withdrawing Ronayne Marsh-Brown, and he added more midfield creativity swapping Tom Wood with Kyron Wiltshire.   The result was an almost instant improvement and after 52 minutes Herd fed Scott Sinclair whose looping cross drew the keeper off his line, but Dion Sembie-Ferris’ pace beat him to the ball and he headed into the unguarded net.   Eight minutes later with the momentum maintained a long Herd throw evaded the defence and at the far post Liam McDevitt claimed his first goal for St Neots.   Now Corby began to look demoralized and after 64 minutes ace marksman Tom Meechan raced into the area to score after the Referee had played on despite Connor Kennedy bringing down Sinclair to deservedly earn his second yellow card and dismissal.   Down to ten men the visitors tried to exploit breakaway attacking to get back into the match but their defence was often exposed and goalkeeper Wilson made two excellent saves to deny Meechan and Sinclair.  St Neots’ only anxious moment came two minutes from time when the lively Crawford tumbled in the St Neots penalty area and as breaths were held the Referee booked the visiting player for simulation.   It was a comeback that deserved the £3,250 sponsorship award.   St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Marsh-Brown, Knight, Parr, McDevitt, Sembie-Ferris, Wood, Meechan, Williams (D), Sinclair Subs:  Herd (for Marsh-Brown 46 mins), Wiltshire (for Wood 46 mins), Butler (for Williams 90 mins) O’Malley and Bridges. Cards:  Parr (Y – 22), Knight (Y – 48), Sembie-Ferris (Y – 50)   Goals:  Sembie-Ferris (52 mins), McDevitt (60 mins), Meechan (64 mins)   Corby Town:  Wilson, Anton, Warburton, Malone, Lee, Leslie, Diamond, Kennedy, O’Brian, Mulready, Crawford   Subs:  Trainer (for O’Brien 54 mins), Tanga-Gibson (for Mulready 81 mins), McBride, Smith and Cretu.   Cards:   Huggins (Y – 11 mins)   Goals:   Kennedy (RED – 2 x Y -  53 & 64 mins), Crawford (88 mins) Attendance: 275 Referee:  James Turner (Dereham)     John Walker
Wednesday, 25 October 2017 09:22
Southern League Premier Division      ST NEOTS TOWN        1       HITCHIN TOWN      1     St Neots had only beaten Hitchin at home once in five previous league meetings but a solid performance gave them another league point to cement their position in the top half of the league table at the one-third point of the season.   It meant that Matt Clements side have only been beaten once in their last eight league outings and gave credence to his claim of steady but unspectacular improvement by his side in both confidence and performance.   Despite having three key squad members available after suspension and non-availability the Manager kept faith with the squad that had recorded that fine victory at Farnborough as he named an unchanged line-up for only the third time in eighteen matches this season.   Going forward his only concern is the injury to midfielder Ryan Horne that is taking some time to show recovery but the league programme takes second place this weekend as the side host Corby Town in the first Qualifying Round of the FA Trophy. Just how evenly matched these two sides are was clearly shown for almost the whole of the opening half hour with neither keeper having a direct shot to field as the two defenses dominated with summer signing Liam McDevitt marshalling St Neots with great confidence.   Despite this, the match was never dull with play moving from end to end but the strong breeze was a factor with the ball constantly running away from well-intentioned passes.  The first moment of controversy arrived after 25 minutes when Dion Sembie-Ferris went past two defenders to be bowled over in the penalty area by a third but St Neots’ appeals for a penalty kick were waved away by a Referee from well behind play.  Four minutes later from a Charlie Smith corner the visitors produced the first serious shot of the match from Brett Donnelly that rebounded from a goalpost whilst at the other end in the St Neots counter-attack Tom Meechan had his close-range effort cleared off the line.  St Neots were now the more dominant force as Scott Sinclair sent a snap shot narrowly wide and from a Jack Bradshaw free kick Tom Wood brought the save of the match from visiting keeper Michael Johnson who tipped his effort over the bar.   Two more St Neots efforts before the break saw Sinclair fire wide again and Luke Knight shoot high over the bar after a clever set-piece short corner. Sembie-Ferris should have done better with an effort sent over the target after clever play by Dylan Williams three minutes after the restart but sixty seconds later that was forgotten as a neat attacking move by the hosts saw Sembie-Ferris flick a Sinclair cross into the path of Dylan Williams who beat the keeper from a narrow angle with a sweet finish to put his side ahead.   This seemed to fire a greater determination from Hitchin who then had a fine spell of play creating chance after chance.  Donnelly headed over when left unmarked and Jonny McNamara brought a good save from Mike Emery as he shot from a narrow angle.   Jack Green weaved through the St Neots defence but shot over the bar and Elliott Bailey got the ball in the St Neots net but was foiled by an offside flag.   However, after 70 minutes Hitchin were rewarded for their efforts when full back Kevan Cotter overlapped on the right to cross and a close-range Brett Donnelly volley levelled the scores.  St Neots attempted to refresh their approach with substitutes Taylor Parr and Kyron Wiltshire introduced but now both sides had opted to concentrate on maintaining what they had achieved with the two defenses now looking tighter and chances limited to quick breakaway attacking.   Sinclair shot wide at one end and Ben Walster did the same at the other and the only real moment when a deciding goal looked likely was in added time when Sembie-Ferris was brought down in the area again, but the Referee saw no offence and the match ended all-square.   St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Marsh-Brown, Knight, Wood, McDevitt, Sembie-Ferris, O’Malley, Meechan, Williams (D), Sinclair Subs:  Parr (for O’Malley 66 mins), Wiltshire (for Williams 73 mins), Bridges (for Meechan 85 mins), Herd and Butler. Cards:  Williams (Y – 63)   Goals:  Williams (49 mins)   Hitchin Town:  Johnson, Cotter, Walster, Dowie, Webb, Bickerstaff, Green, Smith, Donnelly (B), Bailey, McNamara   Subs:  Vincent, Charles, Brooks, Syme and Donnelly (C) – none used   Cards:   none   Goals:   Donnelly (70 mins) Attendance: 333 Referee:  Elliott Swallow (Derby)     John Walker
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