Tuesday, 13 March 2018 16:12
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION Basingstoke Town       1        St Neots Town      0 St Neots produced their worst performance on the road since losing in the League Cup at Rushden & Diamonds in October.   Basingstoke have been on a good run of late with only one defeat in their previous six League outings but their performance on the day hardly merited all three points with the visiting side lacking in method, application and belief.   A picture of the possession in the match is displayed in the corner count where St Neots had twelve and Basingstoke two, but of course it is goals that count and apart from a couple of smart saves by home keeper Colm McAdden, St Neots seldom looked like scoring.   The side is being hampered by a lack of competition for places because again from within the usual senior squad St Neots had three players injured, one ill, and Kyron Wiltshire serving the final match of his suspension.   No doubt Manager Matt Clements would dearly have liked to have introduced change in the second half to boost the confidence of his side but with only two inexperienced substitutes on the bench there was little room to maneuver.    So, his side dropped two places to thirteenth in the table and must now work hard to achieve their stated aim of a place in the top half of the final league table with the next test being a long trip to Wales to play Merthyr.  After a slow start which saw only one early shot by Sam Smart comfortably saved by Finlay Iron, St Neots almost took the lead in the tenth minute – an effort that was to be their best of the match!   Dion Sembie-Ferris was brought down in full flight on the right and from Johnny Herd’s measured free kick to the far post David Bridges headed back into the centre and Taylor Parr’s acrobatic volley brought the save of the match from Colm McAdden as he fingertipped the ball over the bat at full stretch.   A thirty yards effort by skipper Luke Knight was well saved by the keeper and Nabil Shariff worked his way along the bye line to see his narrow-angled shot comfortably saved.   With Luke Knight and Bridges dominating the midfield play the St Neots wide attacking players were seeing a lot of the ball but the final crosses and passes were inaccurate and easily cut out by the home defence.   Tom Wood joined the attack on the overlap and saw his crisp low shot pushed for a corner whilst at the other end Finlay Iron was almost a spectator and he watched a second Smart shot sail harmlessly wide after some loose marking.   Then as half time approached in the 43rd minute Basingstoke scored with their first credible attempt ion goal.  Sam Argent drifted wide right and went past one defender and when his harmless looking cross was not cleared the ball fell to Sam Smart who clipped a low shot through a forest of legs with the unfortunate Iron looking unsighted. St Neots must have been told at half time ‘you have done everything but score – now go out and put the ball in the net’.  That proved to be wishful thinking because they appeared to have lost the momentum they had shown in the first 45 minutes.   A Knight shot was blocked after good work by Shariff, but the home side were looking much better on the break and the lively Sam Argent had two good efforts – one saved by the keeper and the other passing narrowly wide of the far post.   Slick play by Shariff just past the hour and a clever back heeled flick set up Stefan Broccoli but he skied his shot over the bar but in the next attack Broccoli collected a Johnny Herd pass to bring a good save from McAdden.   In the last 25 minutes St Neots visibly flagged, and Basingstoke started to enjoy an equal share of possession and attacking play.   Smart should have added his name to the score sheet for a second time when Callum Bunting unselfishly set him up with only Iron to beat but he shot hopelessly wide giving St Neots a chance to capitalize.   However, they produced nothing to threaten the home goal as they ran out of ideas and became frustrated with their own efforts.   Basingstoke skillfully slowed the pattern of play by introducing their three permitted substitutes and it always looked that one goal would be enough to take all three points.   St Neots:  Iron, Wood, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Bridges, Shariff, Williams (D), Broccoli Subs:  Buddle and Butler (neither used) Cards:  Bridges (Y – 53 mins) Goals:  none Basingstoke:  McAdden, Wohlfiel, Bennett, Collier, Demuria, Hollamby, McKnight, Atkinson, Bunting, Argent, Smart Subs:  Kennedy (for Smart 71 mins), Davis (for McKnight 79 mins), Knight (for Bunting 84 mins) Cards:  Collier (Y – 67 mins), Bennett (82 mins) Goals:  Smart (43 mins) Referee:  Ian Parsons (Salisbury) Attendance:  284     John Walker
Saturday, 24 February 2018 20:52
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION Slough Town       2        St Neots Town      1 Two goals either end of the first half proved sufficient to give Slough all three points as they avenged an early season defeat at the Premier Plus Stadium.   The game had barely got under way when after 25 seconds in the first attack of the match Slough were in front – the quickest goal ever scored against St Neots in a Southern League fixture.   That might have dampened the hopes of any side but for much of the remaining 89 minutes St Neots looked undaunted and might well have returned home with a share of the points.   However, their reshaped side lacked bite in front of goal and despite a solid overall performance they can have no complaints about the result.   The day began badly with the news that striker Lewis Irwin had failed to shake off an injury sustained in the midweek trip to Hereford, so Stefan Broccoli was restored in a reshaped attack.   In midfield Kyron Wiltshire was serving the first of his two-match suspension with David Bridges replacing him but another late problem surfaced with Jack Bradshaw breaking down in the warm-up, so Liam McDevitt came in at the heart of the defence with the versatile Tom Wood moving to full back.   With only two substitutes (one of them less than fully fit) it was just as well that there were no further injury scares. That lightning quick goal resulted from some very shoddy early defending.   James Dobson waltzed past Johnny Herd to produce the perfect cross and Perry Coles, recently acquired from Farnborough and making his home debut, managed to get free from the two central defenders to give Finlay Iron no chance with a crisp finish.   St Neots responded with a Herd free kick comfortably saved by home keeper Jack Turner and apart from a 12th minute let off when Chris Flood was left unmarked to crash a volley against a goalpost, St Neots came back well to compete with some confidence.   They still tended to play with their back line too narrow giving wide men Dobson and Warren Harris too much space, but Slough failed to make their attacking possession count and Iron was seldom tested.   After 40 minutes a Herd corner went over the head of Turner to finish up in the net, but the Referee had spotted a push on the keeper and a free kick was awarded.   Then in the last three minutes of the half there was non-stop action.   A glancing header by Mark Nisbet from a Matt Lench corner was headed off the line by the hardworking Luke Knight but from a Guy Hollis long throw, Dobson headed on to the far post and Perry Coles claimed his second goal of the match.   In added time at the end of the first half St Neots produced the perfect response when from another Herd corner Nabil Shariff rose to head over the keeper to keep the visitors in the game. Within two minutes of the restart the Referee missed a clear handball by a home defender following a corner and as St Neots vainly appealed, the home side broke forward with Dobson going clear of the defence but with only the keeper to beat he saw his shot rebound from a post.   The pace of the game then seemed to drop and for a spell much of the play was in midfield with neither side seeming able to carve out a real opening.   Dobson did well to get past his marker to cross to set up Flood for a free header that he put straight into the arms of Iron, but St Neots were beginning to look the more confident and Shariff unselfishly set up Dion Sembie-Ferris whose net bound effort was blocked by a defender.   A spate of late bookings broke up the rhythm of the game, but three minutes from time after a sweet move started by Knight deep in the St Neots half, Shariff should have done better but sent his shot high over the bar.   However, with Hitchin beaten at Basingstoke, St Neots remain eleventh in the table. St Neots Town:  Iron, Wood, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Bridges, Shariff, Williams (D), Broccoli Subs:  Buddle and Bradshaw (neither used) Cards:  Bridges (Y – 66 mins), Williams (Y – 69 mins), McDevitt (Y – 82 mins) Goals:  Shariff (45 + 1 min)   Slough:  Turner, Fraser, Wells, Hollis, Nisbet, Togwell, Dobson, Lench, Coles, Flood, Harris Subs:  Williams (J) (for Coles 71 mins), Dunn (for Flood 88 mins) Cards:  Flood (Y – 64 mins), Dobson (79 mins), Fraser (Y – 84 mins) Goals:  Coles 2 (25 secs & 44 mins) Referee:  James Simpson (Paddington) Attendance:  615     John Walker
Wednesday, 21 February 2018 15:52
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION Hereford      1        St Neots Town      0 St Neots returned from their challenging and lengthy midweek trip to Hereford unbowed despite a narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of the league leaders.   In front of a massive crowd of 2402 they produced a very creditable performance against the best side in the Division and were unlucky not to get a share of the spoils after matching Hereford in almost every department.   Hereford boast the best defensive record in the league and are the second highest scorers, but they were taken all the way by St Neots who gave a brave determined showing and were close to becoming only the third side to win at Edgar Street this season.   A fifth successive victory for the hosts has given them a four-point lead at the top with two matches in hand over the chasing pack, with St Neots remaining in eleventh place, eight points shy of the play-off places.   Skipper Luke Knight returned to the side after suspension in place of David Bridges who was unavailable, and Dion Sembie Ferris was preferred to Stefan Broccoli who was on the substitutes bench. Hereford began very impressively forcing their visitors on the back foot from the first whistle.   In only their first attack Jack Bradshaw had to clear off the line from a corner and then Finlay Iron produced a good low save to deny Pablo Heysham.   St Neots did not let their opponents have it all their own way for after 15 minutes Kyron Wiltshire worked his way past two defenders to be brought down just out the area, but Bradshaw’s driven free kick was blocked by the defensive wall.  Four minutes later St Neots had a let off when a Rob Purdie corner was won in the air by Jimmy Oates, but his effort was deflected as a defender stuck out a leg.   Hesham was then wide with a header from another corner but St Neots always looked dangerous on the break and Lewis Irwin had a low shot deflected wide by Ryan Green.   A 28th minute four by Taylor Parr earned him a booking and Hereford a free kick in a dangerous area but Jamie Bird’s effort was wide of the post and there was plenty of goalmouth action in the final five minutes of the first half as from a Nabil Shariff cross, Irwin saw his shot cleared off the line by Dara O’Shea and then at the other end Iron produced a stunning double save to deny Bird and Heysham. Hereford’s determined start to the second half brought them success.   After Purdie had headed a corner onto the roof of the net they scored the only goal of the game after 55 minutes.   Again, it came from one of the plethora of set-piece free kicks as another Purdie corner saw Dara O’Shea rise above the defence to power a header into the roof of the net despite the unlucky Iron getting his fingers to the ball.   That setback seemed to spur the visitors and in quick succession home custodian Martin Horsell saved well from Shariff and then the same St Neots player headed narrowly wide from a Bradshaw corner.    Iron then denied Heysham with an impressive save and then shepherded a Bird free kick around the far post.   In a bid to vary his options Matt Clements sent on Stefan Broccoli for the tiring Sembie-Ferris and he almost put Irwin clear of the defence, but a covering defender got back to rob him.  With around ten minutes left Iron produced the save if the match diving full length to push away a shot from Mike Symons. Matt Clements declared himself ‘extremely proud’ of the work ethic and overall display of his side against ‘the best side we have played this season’. Video Interview with Matt after the game can be found here: http://www.evostikleaguesouthern.co.uk/videos/hereford-fc-1-0-st-neots-matt-clements-reaction-124147.html#   St Neots Town:  Iron, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, Wood, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Wiltshire, Irwin, Shariff, Williams Subs:  Broccoli (for Sembie-Ferris 73 mins), Buddle and Rudman. Cards:  Parr (Y – 28 mins), Wiltshire (Y – 31 mins), Sembie-Ferris (Y – 47 mins), Knight (Y – 51 mins) Goals:  none   Hereford:  Horsell, Oates, Pring, Richards, Green, O’Shea, Reffell, Bird, Haysham, Purdie, Symons Subs:  Murphy (for Bird 71 mins), Bowen, Mills, Dearman and Puddy. Cards:  Bird (Y – 67 mins), Reffell (Y – 76 mins) Goals:  O’Shea (55 mins) Referee:  Mark Howes (Solihull) Attendance:  2402     John Walker
Sunday, 11 February 2018 09:55
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION Weymouth       3        St Neots Town      1         The sending off of St Neots skipper Luke Knight after 31 minutes for an alleged handball proved to be the catalyst for an unfortunate away defeat at in-form Weymouth.   The incident came when a close- range shot was driven at him on the goal line following a corner and although the Referee waved play on, an eagle-eyed Assistant flagged for the infringement.   Play was then brought back, and double punishment imposed as a converted penalty kick was awarded which put the home side in a commanding position.   This condemned the visitors to playing for the final hour with ten men and despite a heroic rearguard performance including an equalizing goal the day was sadly spoiled when Weymouth scored twice in the last five minutes to snatch all three points.   It was an undeserved blow for Matt Clements understrength team short of several players.   Lewis Irwin was unwell, David Bridges unavailable, and Scott Sinclair sidelined by the injury sustained at St Ives, so Jack Bradshaw and Dion Sembie-Ferris were restored to the side after missing the Senior Cup tie.   The defeat was no disgrace and the small contingent of visiting supporters showed their appreciation of the team effort at the final whistle. In many ways it was a strange game because in the first half hour apart from two off target shots by the home side there was little meaningful goalmouth action.   Both defenses were dominant and neither goalkeeper had a shot to save in that opening half hour.   However, the dismissal seemed to bring the match to life after St Neots keeper Finlay Iron had gone full length to tip away a Calvin Brooks shot to concede the corner.   Leading league scorer Brandon Goodship rapped home the penalty despite Iron guessing correctly and getting his fingertips to the well struck spot kick.   The keeper was then again in action diving bravely at the feet of Harry Baker and he then produced a stunning full length save to deny Goodship a second goal.   Two minutes before the break overlapping full back Callum Buckley was given too much space to go clear on goal but he sent his shot high over the bar before St Neots ended the half with a flourish.   Kyron Wiltshire produced a delightful cross field pass to find the unmarked Tom Wood who sent St Neots first real shot over the bar and then Taylor Parr had a header saved from a Johnny Herd corner. If Weymouth thought the second half against ten men was going to be easy they had a shock.   Wood saw a shot blocked as the visitors took the game to their opponents and Dion Sembie-Ferris was upended as he made for goal.   After 63 minutes Wiltshire again became the provider as he set up Jack Bradshaw whose shot was too high and then St Neots suffered a blow as acting skipper Taylor Parr was injured, although able to continue after treatment.   Then after a spell of pressure St Neots were rewarded with an equalizing goal.   Substitute Stefan Broccoli on for Sembie-Ferris was hauled down 25 yards from goal and Jack Bradshaw bent a low free kick around the defensive wall and beyond the despairing dive of goalkeeper Will Dennis.   Weymouth responded with a series of attacking moves in which Iron produced the save of the match to deny Harry Baker and Brooks saw a net bound shot deflected wide.  Eventually the numeric unbalance paid off five minutes from time when a Weymouth free kick was flicked on at the near post by Jake McCarthy and Stephane Zubar restored the home sides’ lead with a diving close range header.   Then three minutes into added time salt was rubbed in the wound when a deflected shot fell to substitute Jordan Ngaio who completed the scoring.   St Neots Town:  Iron, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Wood, Shariff, Wiltshire, Williams Subs:  Broccoli (for Sembie-Ferris 55 mins), O’Malley (for Williams 80 mins) and Dean Cards:  Knight (RED – 31 mins), Wiltshire (Y – 61 mins) Goals:  Bradshaw (71 mins)   Weymouth:  Dennis, Wells, Buckley, Zubar, McCarthy, Wakefield, Davis, Thomson, Baker, Goodship, Brooks Subs:  Ngaio (for Davis 81 mins), Sa (for Baker 89 mins), Stewart, Baggio and Cooper Cards:  Buckley (Y – 38 mins), Thomson (Y – 57 mins) Goals:  Goodship – pen – (31 mins), Zubar (85 mins), Ngaio (90 + 3 mins)   Referee:  Robert Cockle (Bristol) Attendance:  653   John Walker
Tuesday, 06 February 2018 21:47
HUNTS FA SENIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL St Ives Town       0        St Neots Town      2         St Neots eased into the Hunts Senior Cup Final with a very comfortable victory over their neighbours in a low-key encounter to make it three wins on the bounce.   The match had been in doubt until the day of the match because of the winter affected state of the Westwood Road pitch and that probably accounts for the very low attendance.   It was the heavily sanded pitch – only the second game to be staged on it since Christmas – that made football very difficult for both sides but in the final analysis St Neots took two of their chances well whilst St Ives never really got going and failed to test the visitors’ teenage goalkeeper.   St Neots will be delighted with their first clean sheet since 14th November and only their fourth in 37 league and cup games this season.   Manager Matt Clements took the Cup match as an opportunity to rotate his squad bringing into the side all five of his named substitutes in the league match just three days earlier and the performance showed just what an able squad he has mustered because despite the mass changes the overall performance did not suffer.   St Ives had several regulars ‘cup tied’ after their squad changes around the turn of the year but that should not be seen as a major factor in the result. There was a cautious start by both sides as they sought to come to terms with the conditions.  The first serious attempt on goal did not arrive until the fifteenth minute when Luke Knight was fouled on the edge of the area and Dylan Williams’ free kick was comfortably saved by Lewis Todd.   St Ives suffered a setback when Eugene Libertucci limped off injured after just twenty minutes to be replaced by Ollie Snaith.   Against the run of play after 27 mins former St Neots midfielder Peter Clark hit a shot from outside the box that bounced off the far post into the grateful arms of Finlay Iron and that was about as close as St Ives were to get to scoring all evening.   Sixty seconds later St Neots came up with the perfect response as a superb 50 yards pass over the retreating home defence by skipper Luke Knight freed Scott Sinclair wide right and his early inch perfect cross fed Nabil Shariff to claim his first goal since scoring the equalizer at St Ives in the league meeting a month ago.   Todd saved a low Johnny Herd shot amongst a sea of boots and six minutes before the break Shariff should have extended the lead, but he shot weakly wide after great play by Williams.   Two minutes later another Shariff effort was deflected to earn a corner which was not cleared and from the edge of the area Dylan Williams hit a low shot past Todd with the aid of a slight deflection.   St Ives danger man Tom Knowles was being kept quiet by Herd and he sent two free kicks in dangerous positions into the visitors’ defensive wall. St Ives needed a positive early response after the interval, but it never looked like materializing.  Sinclair went clear for St Neots forcing Todd into a brave save at his feet, but the St Neots man then suffered a hamstring pull and had to be replaced by Dion Sembie-Ferris.   The home side sent on substitute Phil Draycott in a bid to boost their attack but with Taylor Parr and Liam McDevitt in commanding form for St Neots, they made little progress.   Danny Watson spurned one chance after neat work by Rogan McGeorge and St Neots should have sealed the victory when Dylan Williams was brought down by a defender, but he sent the keeper the wrong way from the resultant penalty kick which hit the crossbar.  The game then petered out with no significant chances created by either side in the final twenty minutes.   St Neots Town:  Iron, O’Malley, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sinclair, Wood, Shariff, Wiltshire, Williams Subs:  Sembie-Ferris (for Sinclair 55 mins), Irwin (for Wiltshire 80 mins), Bradshaw (for Shariff 88 mins) and Broccoli Cards:  none Goals:  Shariff (28 mins), Williams (41 mins)   St Ives Town:  Todd, Smith, Jarrold, Libertucci, Groves, Kelly, Knowles, McGeorge, Clark, Watson, Baker Subs:  Snaith (for Libertucci 20 mins), Draycott (for Clark 60 mins), De’Ath (for Watson 74 mins), Moyes and Warner-Eley. Cards:  McGeorge (Y – 47 mins), Smith (Y – 78 mins) Goals:  none Referee:  Joshua Crofts (Peterborough) Attendance:  103     John Walker
Saturday, 03 February 2018 20:25
  SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town      3         Chesham United     1   With recently signed goalkeeper Josh Jessop recalled late in the week by his former club, Chelmsford City, St Neots Manager Matt Clements brought in 17 years old Cambridge United Academy player Finlay Iron on loan to take over the number one jersey, and the youngster performed with great skill and maturity when under second half pressure as the visitors strove for a comeback from a 3-0 half time deficit.  Chesham arrived at the Premier Plus Stadium, as holders of the best playing record in the division, boasting a seven matches unbeaten run with the last six of those being straight victories.   However, they came up against a determined home side displaying the rather unusual trait of an excellent start to a home match.   Three goals in a 27 minutes spell saw them well on top at the break and although Chesham came back strongly, Taylor Parr in the home defence was outstanding against one of the most potent attacking forces in the division.   It was only the second time this season that St Neots had enjoyed the luxury of a three goals cushion and in the second half they played with confidence and a resoluteness despite conceding an early own goal.   Apart from the enforced goalkeeping change Manager Clements reshaped his side in a 4-3-3 formation bringing in Kyron Wiltshire and Stefan Broccoli for Nabil Shariff and Dylan Williams.   After the early exchanges in which Iron had to sprint from his line to clear following a Liam McDevitt mis-judgement, St Neots saw a Dion Sembie-Ferris shot deflected wide before they took the lead on 12 minutes.   A swift build-up involving Kyron Wiltshire and Davis Bridges ended when Matt Bevans handled a Sembie-Ferris cross and a penalty was awarded.   With regular penalty taker Dylan Williams on the bench, Johnny Herd stepped forward to send the goalkeeper the wrong way to put his side ahead.   Chesham responded with a spell of possession but created no real openings and on the half hour, a neat Sembie-Ferris back heel in the area bamboozled the visiting defence allowing Lewis Irwin to calmly slot past the statuesque goalkeeper.   Iron did well to collect a curving free kick by former Saint David Hutton and then six minutes before the break the goal of the match arrived with Wiltshire slipping a neat pass through the defence for Lewis Irwin to unleash a rising shot over Harry Isted who got despairing fingers to the ball as it flew into the net.   Stefan Broccoli was then tripped on the edge of the area earning a booking for Darren Locke.   Chesham shaped up with a more attacking look after the break and substitute Jhai Dhillon was quickly involved setting up a second minute attack that saw Lewis Toomey get to the bye line to cross and in his panic to clear Liam McDevitt only succeeded in turning the ball past the unfortunate Iron.   St Neots then almost claimed a fourth goal as Sembie-Ferris raced half the length of the field and when his shot was blocked it fell to Broccoli whose net bound shot was cleared off the line by Bevans with his keeper beaten.   This boosted the visitors’ hopes and they produced some swift attacking moves with Lewis Toomey firing badly wide after good work by Hutton and then a Hutton free kick was punched away under pressure by Iron.    On the break St Neots still looked dangerous and David Bridges found Sembie-Ferris unmarked on the right, but his shot was diverted just over the bar by a defender with the unsighted Referee awarding a goal kick.   A series of substitution by both sides saw the tempo drop but four minutes from time McDevitt had a shot blocked on the line following a Herd corner.   In the generous addition of seven minutes time by the Referee, St Neots were easily able to mop up Chesham’s late attempts to salvage something from the match.   St Neots:  Iron, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Bridges, Irwin, Wiltshire, Broccoli Subs:  Sinclair (for Sembie-Ferris 76 mins), Shariff (for Irwin 79 mins), O’Malley (for Wiltshire 79 mins), Wood and Williams. Cards:  Wiltshire (Y – 59 mins), Broccoli (Y – 64 mins) Goals:  Irwin 2 (30 & 39 mins), Herd – pen – (12 mins)   Chesham:  Isted, Crilley, Hall, Bevans, Murphy, Locke, Swales, Watkins, Louis, Toomey, Hutton Subs:  Dhillon (for Hall 64 mins), Shamsi (for Hutton 69 mins), Green (for Watkins 76 mins), Bates and McGleish. Cards:  Murphy (Y – 12 mins), Locke (Y – 45 mins), Green (Y – 90 + 2 mins) Goals:  McDevitt (OG) (47 mins)   Referee:  Stuart Cheek (Stevenage) Attendance:  239   John Walker  
Saturday, 27 January 2018 20:20
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION Dunstable Town       2            St Neots Town      3 A last gasp winner from St Neots deservedly gave them their first victory of 2018 after three defeats and two draws in their last five league outings.   The victory was hard earned for a visiting team that started and finished the game well but for a twenty minutes spell either side of the break they struggled to compete with a side just four points off the foot of the table.   Dunstable, reshaped and much improved of late, have recently undergone a root and branch reorganisation both on and off the pitch and prior to midweek they had won just twice in 29 matches prior to a surprise Tuesday evening victory over top five side Weymouth, so they came into this match with expectation of continuing their revival.   They are a hard-working side employing a direct approach in attack and midway through the game they surprised St Neots with their ambitious but effective approach.   Having come from behind to lead 2-1 they must have been hoping for another rare home victory, but they seemed to run out of steam in the last ten minutes whereas their visitors, now noted for their ability to play right up to the final whistle, broke their hearts with that late winner.   With skipper Luke Knight back from suspension, he was reinstated in midfield in place of Tom Wood and Dylan Williams was preferred to Scott Sinclair in attack.   The third change saw newly signed goalkeeper Jake Jessup make his debut in place of Mike Emery whose work commitments were behind his sudden departure, having played all but two of his sides’ 34 league and cup matches this season. The pitch was heavy and sanded in places, but a pre-match inspection saw it passed fit.   A sixth minute long throw by Johnny Herd was headed on to David Bridges whose shot flew well wide but eight minutes later St Neots were ahead as Dylan Williams went around the outside of Gideon Okito but was pulled back and a penalty awarded which Williams confidently tucked away.   The Dunstable player was booked, and a pattern of play emerged with St Neots using the Herd long throws as a principle attacking ploy.   Another of his long efforts was headed on by Taylor Parr for Williams to half volley over the bar and apart from a length effort by Peter Kioso from a Gideon Okito cross, little was seen of the Dunstable attack.  St Neots were looking comfortably in control with both Lewis Irwin and Williams having shots blocked and Luke Knight shooting well over the bar.   Ironically the closest that St Neots came to concede a first half goal was after 41 minutes when Parr elected to head a bouncing ball back to his keeper who had to stretch well above his 6’ 5” frame to grab the ball.   However, in added time before the break, the new signing showed his athleticism to turn a well placed free kick by Arel Amu over the bar for a corner. Having finished the first half well, the host side carried on after the restart and just three minutes into the second period they deservedly drew level when Amu played Ryan Young clear on the right and he evaded a tackle to surprise the keeper with a fierce low shot.   After 63 minutes Dunstable won a corner and Ryan Young’s teasing cross was not cleared, the ball dropping to Daniel Trif who hit a shot past the unsighted Jessup to give his side the lead.   This was a wake-up call for St Neots and three minutes later Herd’s throw was headed on by Taylor Parr and when the ball was not cleared he pounced to level the scores.   St Neots sent on all three substitutes for the last twenty minutes and that paid dividends when four minutes into added time a Herd cross from the left found Lewis Irwin on the far side of the penalty area and his low shot was helped over the line from close range by substitute Kyron Wiltshire.   So, St Neots stay twelfth in the table as the season enters its final third. St Neots Town:  Jessup, Bradshaw, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Bridges (D), Irwin, Shariff, Williams Subs:  Broccoli (for Shariff 59 mins), Sinclair (for Sembie-Ferris 69 mins), Wiltshire (for Williams 69 mins), Wood and O’Malley Cards:  none Goals:  Williams – pen – (14 mins), Parr (66 mins), Wiltshire (90 + 4 mins)   Dunstable Town:  Hunt, Kioso, Okito, Ward (A), Trif, Ogden, Young, Ward (T), Black, Amu, Osei-Bonsu Subs:  Maquemba (for Black 64 mins), Sonuga (for Okito 77 mins), Lamptey (for Young 83 mins), Williams (S) and Ladipo Cards:  Okito (Y – 14 mins) Goals:  Young (48 mins), Trif (63 mins)   Referee:  Jonathan Burridge (Cambridge) Attendance:  105     John Walker
Wednesday, 24 January 2018 18:39
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION Royston Town       2            St Neots Town      1 A much improved second half performance after an unimpressive first 45 minutes saw St Neots claw back some pride after their mauling by Frome in their previous outing.   However, the concession of two goals in the first sixteen minutes of the match was enough to earn hosts Royston their first Southern League victory over their visitors.   For the first half hour St Neots was tentative, lacking in confidence and purpose and a carry over from their poor weekend performance seemed to be dogging them.  No doubt the half time team talk highlighted their shortcomings and they looked a different team in the second 45 minutes.   Royston sit proudly just one point out of the play-off places in their first season at Step Three with matches in hand and this excellent start to their highest ever league placing is no accident.   Defensively they are solid and determined and they attack as a unit and despite their poor start the St Neots rearguard did well to limit them to just two first half goals.   St Neots renaissance after the break saw them enjoy the greater share of second half possession but they lacked finishing and are still searching to rekindle their self-belief.   With Harry O’Malley unavailable Manager Matt Clements made four team changes leaving Dylan Williams, Kyron Wiltshire and Ronayne Marsh-Brown on the bench and bringing back Johnny Herd in defence, Tom Wood and David Bridges in midfield and Lewis Irwin up front. After David Bridges had set up Dion Sembie-Ferris for a shot punched clear by home keeper Josh Tibbets after five minutes it was all Royston and three minutes later there was the all too familiar sight of St Neots leaking an early goal.   A long clearance by Sam Gaughran was headed down by an off-balance defender and it fell to ace marksman John Frendo who powered home a left foot volley giving Mike Emery no chance.   After sixteen minutes the score was doubled as St Neots conceded a free kick wide on the right and full back Lee Chappell sent a dipping free kick towards goal, seemingly totally misjudged by Emery as it went over his head and inside the far post.   Three minutes later it could have been even worse when Adam Marriott was played clear by Scott Bridges, but he delayed his shot and the ball went wide.  A fierce volley by Ed Asafu-Adjaye tested Emery and Sam Corcoran volleyed wide as half time approached and the only notable attacks in the first 45 minutes by the visitors stemmed from long throws into the penalty area by Johnny Herd that were cut out by a combination of defenders and goalkeeper. The second half saw a different pattern to the game.   Straight after the restart Tibbets twice saved well from Bridges and Sembie-Ferris and just before the hour St Neots sent on the lively Stefan Broccoli to replace Scott Sinclair.   Now St Neots were enjoying a much greater share of possession but despite some good approaches down the flanks by Sembie-Ferris and Broccoli they lacked the final ball and a cutting edge in front of goal.   Long before the end Royston had clearly settled to sit on their two goals advantage and soak up St Neots’ attacking and the visitors gained a glimmer of hope after 74 minutes when they pulled a goal back.  Wood and Sembie-Ferris worked the ball down the right flank and under pressure defender Asafu-Adjaye mistimed an attempted back pass towards his keeper and Lewis Irwin pounced to steal the ball and round the advancing keeper to score.   In the last ten minutes most of the play was towards the Royston goal but St Neots could not create a second goal but left in defeat with some pride restored.   St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Herd, Wood, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Bridges (D), Irwin, Shariff, Sinclair Subs:  Broccoli (for Sinclair 56 mins), Wiltshire, Williams, Marsh-Brown and Ruggerio. Cards:  Bridges (Y – 51 mins), Wood (Y – 71 mins) Goals:  Irwin (74 mins)   Royston Town:  Tibbets, Asafu-Adjaye, Chappell, Bridges (S), Gaughran, Brathwaite, Gordon, Corcoran, Frendo, Thomas, Marriott Subs:  Scott-Morriss (for Corcoran 56 mins), Hobbs (for Chappell 71 mins), Castiglione (for Gordon 71 mins), Powell and Oyinsan. Cards:  Chappell (Y – 34 mins), Marriott (Y – 83 mins) Goals:  Frendo (8 mins), Chappell (16 mins)   Referee:  Alex Rayment (Dunstable) Attendance:  225   John Walker
Sunday, 21 January 2018 13:33
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town      1         Frome Town     6 It is difficult to gauge what the fall-out from this performance will be.   It was St Neots heaviest ever home defeat in more that six years in the Southern League and the first time they have shipped in six goals in a home league match since 1996.  The post-mortem began immediately after the match with Manager Matt Clements attempting to evaluate how such an inept performance had followed an impressive run of results up to the end of the first half of theseason.  It will clearly be a day to forget but it should be noted that Frome thoroughly deserved their victory although perhaps not by the final margin.   Defensively St Neots were woeful although the only player missing was the suspended Johnny Herd.  His replacement Ronayne Marsh-Brown had the most torrid of afternoons tormented constantly by man-of-the-match Darren Jefferies who seemed to be involved in almost every attacking Frome move, until his merciful second half substitution   The other absentee, also suspended, was team skipper Luke Knight and in a bid to fill the gaps Clements had brought in Marsh-Brown and Harry O’Malley as direct replacements as well as preferring Scott Sinclair to Stefan Broccoli who had struggled in the heavy going at St Ives.   Now the sides have two crucial away matches against the in-form Royston Town and struggling Dunstable and the recollection of confidence for the players will be as vital as the results. Frome scored after just nine minutes in their first serious attack on the St Neots goal.   Darren Jefferies cut in from the right leaving two defenders in his wake to net a rebound after his first effort had been blocked and that set the standard with Jefferies terrorizing the St Neots defence setting up Joe Raynes for the second goal after 31 minutes.  In between the two goals St Neots had twice looked likely to be further punished when first acting skipper Taylor Parr and then Marsh-Brown had set up their visitors with careless defending.   In reply St Neots had Dion Sembie Ferris missing his kick in front of goal after good work by Nabil Shariff and Dylan Williams and then Kyron Wiltshire had a shot deflected wide.  Shariff then finished weakly after a good St Neots move out of defence and in time added at the end of the first half the under pressure visiting keeper did well through a crowd of player to punch the ball clear off the head of Williams. Energized by their half time instructions St Neots began the second half strongly and Sembie-Ferris cut in from the right in the first minute to fire narrowly wide.   Wiltshire then had a shot deflected wide but on the break the visitors pace always looked to have the St Neots defence in trouble and after 51 minutes Ollie Knight beat a thinly attempted offside trap to collect the ball and round Mike Emery but somehow, he failed to find the unguarded net.   However, sixty seconds later in their next attack Frome added a third goal to present St Neots with a mountain to climb – a task they never looked capable of achieving.  Predictable it again came from Jefferies who left Marsh-Brown in his wake to cross to the far post where Emery’s poor attempt to punch away only saw the ball fall to the feet of Mitchell Page who bundled it into the net from close range.   Now the St Neots defence looked even more vulnerable when Frome attacked and they were shredded both on the right and left as the visitors wisely chose to keep the ball wide on the drier areas of a very wet pitch.   The introduction of substitute Ryan Bath up front proved significant.   After 76 minutes a flowing move involving Ollie Knight and Marcus Mapstone set up the substitute for a slick finish and a minute from the end of normal time he scored a second as he outmuscled Taylor Parr to score from an angle.   St Neots consolation goal (although that may be a doubtful description) came in added time when Sembie-Ferris cut in from the right to beat goalkeeper Kyle Phillips.     St Neots Town:  Emery, Bradshaw, Marsh Brown, O’Malley, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Wiltshire, Shariff, Williams, Sinclair. Subs:  Irwin (for Williams 56 mins), Wood (for Marsh-Brown 67 mins) Broccoli (for Sinclair 73 mins). Cards:  Sinclair (Y – 18 mins), Williams (Y – 38 mins), Wiltshire (Y – 58 mins) Goals:  Sembie-Ferris (90 + 1 mins)   Frome Town:  Phillips, Griffiths, Withey, Roberts, Mapstone, Hemmings, Davies, Raynes, Page, Jefferies (D), Knight Subs:  Bath (for Page 64 mins), Holland (for Raynes 73 mins), Cleverley (for Hemmings 86 mins), and Jefferies (J) Cards:  Page (Y – 41 mins), Mapstone (84 mins) Goals:  Bath 2 (76 & 89 mins), Jefferies (8 mins), Raynes (31 mins), Hemmings (52 mins), Page (60 mins)   Referee:  Gavin Muge (Dunstable) Attendance:  277     John Walker
Thursday, 11 January 2018 10:11
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION St Ives Town       1        St Neots Town      1         For the second time in four days a Nabil Shariff goal late in the match saw a determined St Neots side recover to earn a valuable League point.   However, it was not just points at stake in this rearranged New Years’ Day fixture – it was local bragging rights and appropriately the match finished level with hostilities due to be resumed at Westwood Road next month in the County Senior Cup.     It could and perhaps should have been very different because the visitors had to play all but 24 minutes with ten men after full back Johnny Herd had been dismissed for picking up two first half cautions in a bid to stunt the pace of Tom Knowles.   Thereafter St Neots approach had to be more cautious but St Ives will be ruing the fact that they really should have made their numerical advantage count.  St Neots’ overall fitness and desire saw them through to the draw and deservedly so after the home side had looked the better in the early stages of the match.   St Neots Manager Matt Clements opted to name an unchanged side for the trip despite having a fit again Lewis Irwin on the bench, but he now loses previously suspended skipper Luke Knight and Herd in his sides’ upcoming fixtures.   In the final analysis it was a fair result bearing in mind the early dismissal and the boggy state of the pitch on which hampered the usual style of play of both sides.   It was eight points from their last four matches for an improving St Ives.  Dubbed ‘friends reunited’ St Ives included seven former St Neots players in their line up whilst the visitors had two former Westwood Road players in the starting line-up. The attritional contest began with the hosts in the ascendancy and former St Neots striker Danny Watson should have done better with the first opening of the match after five minutes when he fired narrowly wide after being left unmarked in the centre and Rogan McGeorge brought a save from Mike Emery with a free kick.   The pivotal moment came after 24 minutes when Johnny Herd was dismissed for a clumsy challenge just 13 minutes after picking up a first yellow card.   Shortly after Watson had a second gilt edged chance after a mistake by Stefan Broccoli filling in at full back, but the striker fluffed his chance and was then lucky to stay on the pitch when receiving only a yellow card for a dangerous revengeful lunge after losing the ball.   Dylan Williams then hit the bar in a breakaway attack but had been flagged offside and Liam McDevitt had an effort from a corner hacked off the goal line, but these were isolated attacks with St Ives dominating possession with man of the match Tom Knowles tormenting the visiting defence. Just three minutes after the break St Ives took the lead when an opportunistic 20 yards effort by Declan Rogers appeared to skid in the mud in front of Emery to bounce past him into the net.   St Neots responded swiftly sending on Lewis Irwin and Scott Sinclair to boost their attacking ambitions and rearranging their side with just three at the back.   Nabil Shariff fired wide from a Dion Sembie Ferris cross but Referee Thomas Hancock was being kept on his toes with the focus more on personal battles with McGeorge clashing with McDevitt and Watson with Luke Knight.   Occasional flashes of danger from Knowles failed to inspire St Ives to what might well have been a clinching goal and then eight minutes from time St Neots’ determination was rewarded when Sembie Ferris got past his marker and his cross eventually set up Nabil Shariff for the equalizing goal – appropriate reward for the striker to register St Neots 50th league goal of the season.   St Neots Town:  Emery, Wood, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Wiltshire, Shariff, Williams, Broccoli. Subs:  Sinclair (for Williams 51 mins), Irwin (for Broccoli 51 mins), Bradshaw (for Wood 74 mins), and O’Malley Cards:  Herd (RED – 2 x Y – 11 mins & 24 mins), Wood (Y – 47 mins), Sinclair (Y – 66 mins), Wiltshire (Y – 83 mins) Goals:  Shariff (82 mins)   St Ives Town:  Trebes, Smith, Warner-Eley, McGeorge, Moyes, Kelly, Knowles, Clark, Snaith, Watson, Rogers Subs:  Libertucci (for Clark 16 mins), Sawyer (for Rogers 80 mins), Jarrold & Groves. Cards:  Watson (Y – 23 mins) Goals:  Rogers (48 mins)   Referee:  Thomas Hancock (Ely) Attendance:  236   John Walker
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