Sunday, 28 April 2019 11:08
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town       1        Halesowen Town       1 Perhaps appropriately this ‘relegation party’ ended all square at 1-1 with these two sides now preparing for life at Step Four next season.   It was only St Neots Town’s second relegation in their proud 140 years of history so now for Manager Marc Abbott the work begins with his talented young squad for the new season due to start in just over three months.   With relegation for both sides confirmed prior to the match there may have been little to play for but this final match for  both was nonetheless competitive despite the gusting wind making conditions very difficult.  The visiting side, managed by former West Bromwich Albion player Lee Hughes, also featured some of their younger players and a share of the points was a fair outcome.   Marc Abbott had his skipper Matt Miles injured so changes were required so he left Jacob Joseph and Prince Mutswunguma on the bench bringing in Joe Rider, Joe Sutton and Aaron Hudson – the latter for his first start after a couple of substitute appearances. St Neots made a bright start and were ahead after just four minutes.  Joe Rider received the ball with his back to goal and turned neatly to feed it through the defence for Dan Trendall to run on and net.   Seven minutes later the lead should have been doubled when Joe Sutton found himself clear of the defence in front of goal but shot across the face.   Halesowen were enjoying a fair share of possession but created little although Isai Marselia saw a fierce shot well blocked by Ryan Hughes.   Mason Rhiney saw his effort blocked at the other end and as St Neots continued to dominate the usually reliable Dan Trendall failed to capitalise on more good work by Joe Rider as he sent his free shot from ten yards high over the bar.   St Neots was almost made to pay for that miss five minutes before the break when Aaron Birch headed down a Kartel O’Neill-Martin free kick, but Samir Nabi blazed his shot high over the bar.   The match had been well controlled by Referee Wayne Chalmers but he unaccountably yellow-carded Aaron Hudson for kicking the ball away after awarding a free kick. Both sides opted for a half time change with Jacob Joseph replacing Joe Sutton and Samuel Dallow coming on for Aaron Gilpin for the visitors.   On a break Hudson shot well wide after James Philp had saved well, but after 53 minutes the scores were levelled.   A defensive lapse in concentration by St Neots saw Marselia play Nabi clear on the right and when his effort rebounded off a post, Joe Hood rushing back to cover only succeeded in putting the ball into his own net after the ball lucklessly rebounded onto his knee.   At the other end, Trendall crossed from the left and Jacob Joseph was only inches away from the ball in front of a gaping net but the most significant moment of the second half was when Halesowen player/manager Lee Hughes opted to bring himself on to replace Marselia.   From that point onwards the visitors grew in confidence and put the home defence under constant pressure.   Hughes was in immediate action bringing the save of the match up to that point from James Philip with Nabi volleying the loose ball over the bar and the same visiting player squandered a further chance again shooting off target.   St Neots substitute Reif Clarke had a well-placed header deflected wide from a Trendall cross and Hughes could twice have scored for Halesowen.   However, St Neots finished strongly, and it took two outstanding saves from Platt to deny late efforts by St Neots substitutes Prince Mutswunguma and Clarke.    Honours even then but the two sides could meet again next season at Step Four. St Neots Town:  Philp, Hood, Fulianty, Bradley, Hughes, Shaw, Sutton, Rhiney, Trendall, Rider, Hudson Subs: Joseph (for Sutton 7 mins), Mutswunguma (for Rider 61 mins), Clarke (for Hudson 79 mins), McCormack and Abbott. Cards:  Hudson (Y – 44 mins) Goals: Trendall (4 mins)   Halesowen Town:  Platt, Ekongo, Kelly, Lawton, Morris, Mendez-Jones, Gilpin, Birch, Marselia, O-Neill- Martin, Nabi. Subs:  Dallow (for Gilpin 46 mins), Hughes (for Marselia 76 mins), Charlton and Nickolds. Cards:none Goals:  Hood OG (53 mins)   Referee:  Wayne Chalmers (Northampton)   Attendance:       132 John Walker
Monday, 22 April 2019 19:59
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Ives Town       0        St Neots Town       0  This was only St Neots third clean sheet in the fifteen games since the mass defection of players, but it afforded them the point they needed to ensure finishing above the two sides below them.   It also gave them the satisfaction of not conceding a league double to their neighbours St Ives Town who needed to win if they were to achieve their best-ever finish in the Premier Division.   In front of a shirt-sleeved Bank Holiday crowd St Neots defended well in a match that had an end-of-season feel to it, and the host side really failed to take advantage of their visitors’ inexperience.   St Neots made just the one change in the side beaten at home 48 hours earlier bringing back specialist defender Leon Fulianty and preferring Prince Mutswunguma to Joe Sutton in attack.   St Ives with several injured players missing looked unbalanced and the nearest they came to beating visiting keeper James Philip was one shot that rebounded from the woodwork.   The result may have boosted St Neots’ confidence ahead of their final match of the season against Halesowen next Saturday with the only incentive for either side being to treat the occasion as a relegation party. St Ives started well when in the third minute in the first attacking move a long Mark Coulson throw was flicked on and Ollie Snaith attempted an ambitious volley that flew just wide of a post.    After just seven minutes St Neots suffered a severe blow as skipper Matt Miles was injured and forced to leave the field with striker Joe Rider replacing him and Ben Bradley moving back into midfield in a reshuffle.   Robbie Parker then won the ball and picked out Morgan Penfold who beat his marker to curl a shot wide and although the hosts were enjoying superior possession, they created little.   Jacob Joseph claimed St Neots first significant attempt on goal for the visitors after 28 minutes but home keeper Martin Conway saved comfortably and two minutes later St Neots suffered another setback as Bradley sustained a nasty cut above his left eye forcing his side to play four minutes one man short as he received off the pitch treatment.   St Ives then received a potential opening when a long ball forward by Coulson seemed to slow up between Ryan Hughes and James Philip and an eagle-eyed Assistant Referee indicated that the custodian had gathered the ball inches outside his area.  Parker played a short free kick into the path of Andrew Osei-Bonsu and his finish beat the visiting keeper but rebounded from the crossbar to safety.   Just before the break the same St Ives player was denied again when his free header flew wide when he was set up by former Saint Tom Wood. St Ives made an enforced change after the break with the lively Penfold limping and George Bailey was his replacement.    Wood then shot well wide as the home side upped their attacking efforts, but this seemed to leave gaps in defence and Joe Rider tried an opportunistic chip that was deflected over the bar.   Substitute Bailey then tested Philip and then St Ives conceded a free kick on the edge of the area that came to nothing.  St Neots seemed to grow in confidence as the match drifted into the final quarter of an hour and Bradley dispossessed an opponent and looking up picked out the dangerous Dan Trendall who had tirelessly fought a one-man battle with the home defence.   He broke past the square lying defence and as the keeper narrowed his angle, he chipped the ball goal-wards, only for Owen Wallis to recover to acrobatically scoop the ball off the line, but only as far as Rider whose follow-up effort was gratefully grabbed by the recovering goalkeeper.   In the final five minutes St Neots created two potential match winning openings – both balls out of defence to find Trendall on the right.  On both occasions he was cynically upended by defenders earning first Owen Wallis and then Munashe Sundire yellow cards.    The final action was another Wood shot wide of target and St Neots had deserved their share of the spoils in what will be the final local Saints league clash for at least one season. St Neots:  Philip, Hood, Fulianty, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Joseph, Rhiney, Trendall, Bradley, Mutswunguma Subs: Rider (for Miles 7 mins), Sutton (for Mutswunguma 61 mins), Hudson (for Joseph 79 mins) and Clarke. Cards:  Philip (Y – 39 mins), Bradley (Y – 44 mins), Sutton (Y – 66 mins) Goals: none St Ives:  Conway, Sundire, Coulson, Wood, Wallis, Wilson, Penfold, Parker, Osei-Bonsu, Snaith, Seymour-Shove Subs:  Bailey (for Penfold 46 mins), Newman (for Seymour-Shove 76 mins), Baker (for Snaith 86 mins), Ward and Griffiths. Cards:Snaith (Y – 64 mins), Wallis (Y – 85 mins), Sundire (Y – 88 mins) Goals:  none   Referee:  Alex Rayment (Dunstable)   Attendance:       351   John Walker
Sunday, 21 April 2019 17:19
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town       0        Kings Lynn Town       5  This result confirmed St Neots relegation to Step Four next season after seven seasons in the top flight of the Southern League, and furthered King Lynn’s aim of a home semi-final tie in the play-offs.   The visitors were as dominant as the final score suggested and Saints Boss Marc Abbott was quick to heap praise on the winners saying “they are easily the best side we have played since I took over as Manager.   This was a tough lesson for my young side who were unable to cope with the experience and quality of the opposition.   Lynn were exceptional today and judged on this performance, they look likely to progress further through the play offs.”   His opposite number, Ian Culverhouse, was thoughtful, adding “Yes, we played well today and were very happy with the result that gives us a chance of the runners-up spot”. He also said, “but great credit is due to Marc Abbott and Matt Clements (St Neots Managers) for keeping the club going after their trauma of the past two months”.    Injury means that full back Jordan Norville-Williams’ season is over so there was just one St Neots team change with Jacob Joseph coming in for Leon Fulianty with Prince Mutswunguma moving back into defence.  Lynn always looked comfortable and in control and their slick short passing tactics ensuring that they enjoyed more than two thirds of the possession throughout the match. The visitors got off to the perfect start with a goal in the first real attack of the match after five minutes.   St Neots conceded a free kick wide on the right and Frazer Blake-Tracy’s direct shot seemed to be covered by St Neots custodian James Philp, but ace marksman Adam Marriot got the touch that left the keeper stranded.   Marriott then almost doubled his tally, but Philip anticipated well to block his effort.   Dan Trendall beat the visitors’ offside trap, but Ryan Fryatt got back to clear and then visiting keeper Alexander Street under pressure did well to clutch a Joe Hood cross.   However much of the play was in the direction of the St Neots goal and after 20 minutes Adam Marriott doubled his personal tally after being left unmarked at the far post.   The impressive Jordan Richards then rattled the crossbar and Marriott proving a real thorn in the St Neots defence might have completed a 25 minutes hat trick but for a fine block by Ryan Hughes with the goal looking invitingly open.   St Neots tried hard to make an impression on a resolute visiting defence with skipper Matt Miles and Mason Rhiney prompting from midfield,but the measure of the visiting side was that they always seemed to have extra players on the pitch. Two goals in a three minutes’ spell early in the second half put paid to St Neots’ hopes of any reward from the match.   After 53 minutes a slick move from midfield saw Richards find Michael Gash unmarked at the far post.   His angle was narrow, but his fiercely hit shot ricocheted off the unfortune Ryan Hughes for an own goal.   Lynn maintained their pressure and from a Michael Clunan corner, Rory McAuley rose high above the defence to power a header into the roof of the net.   Both sides then opted to utilise their allowed number of substitutes – Lynn no doubt happy that the points were assured and St Neots trying to vary their approach against an impenetrable defence.   The  result was a period of non-productive play but in the final fifteen minutes the game became more open.   A fierce effort by Aaron Jones was well parried but the reshaped St Neots attack was beginning to grow in confidence and the hard-working Dan Trendall shot narrowly wide and substitute Joe Rider  had an opening after good work by Matt Miles and Prince Mutswunguma, but his finish was weak.   Two late bookings for the home side seemed to sap their confidence and two minutes into added time visiting substitute William Mellors-Blair raced clear to beat the keeper with a shot that rebounded in off the far post.  Ironically even if St Neots had won this match, they could not have caught Lowestoft Town who impressively defeated play-off hopefuls Stratford Town 3-2.   St Neots Town:  Philip, Hood, Mutswunguma, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Joseph, Rhiney, Trendall, Bradley, Sutton Subs:  Hudson (for Joseph 67 mins), Rider (for Bradley 67 mins), Dunnett (for Shaw 67 mins) and McCormack. Cards:  Hood (Y – 71 mins), Sutton (Y – 84 mins), Mutswunguma (Y – 89 mins) Scorers:  none Kings Lynn Town:  Street, Jones, Blake-Tracy, Jarvis, Fryatt, McAuley, Clunan, Richards, Gash, Marriott, Parker Subs:  Mellors-Blair (for Gash 62 mins), Hawkins (for Marriott 67 mins), Barrows (for Jarvis 71 mins), Henderson and Robinson. Cards: Street (Y – 19 mins), Blake-Tracy (Y – 21 mins) Scorers:  Adam Marriott (2) (5 & 20 mins), Hughes OG (53 mins), McAuley (56 mins), Mellors-Blair (90 + 2 mins) Referee:  Alastair Wilson (Boston) Attendance:  320 John Walker
Monday, 15 April 2019 21:05
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Rushall Olympic       3        St Neots Town       2  Ben Bradley and Mason Rhiney both scored their first ever goals for St Neots and the visitors led twice but back came Rushall with two goals in the final eight minutes take all three points.   With Lowestoft mirroring St Neots achievements of seven days earlier with victory at Hitchin the combination of those results left St Neots teetering on brink of relegation eight points below their Norfolk rivals with each having three games to play.   With their vastly superior goal difference Lowestoft now need a single point from those three games to despatch St Neots down to Step Four.    With St Neots’ four U18 players in the squad facing their third match in four days a victory over mid-table Rushall was a big ask and with loan full back Jordan Norville-Williams injured and unable to re-join the squad, Manager Marc Abbott left Jacob Joseph and Owen Dunnett on the bench recalling Joe Hood and fit again Dan Trendall.    James Philip was back between the posts and was to be in early action.   After the home side had come back twice to level the scores with eight minutes left it looked like a well-deserved if meaningless point for St Neots but a cruel very harsh penalty decision three minutes from time gave Rushall the opportunity to steal all three points.   The result was particularly unkind to central defenders Ryan Hughes and Stevan Shaw who were magnificent, but the outcome was all part of the reality of senior football where sometime just deserts are not achieved. Early sparring saw home defender Sam Whittall head over the bar and Dan Trendall at the other end produced a trademark turn and shot that was only inches too high.   Around the quarter of an hour mark James Philip was twice called upon to block a low effort by Ashley Sammons and then turn a second effort by the home player around a post for a corner.  Rushall began to dominate as Tyler Lyttle shot over the bar, a Whittall header was deflected for a corner and a towering header by Orrin Pendley was cleared off the line by Ryan Hughes.   However, St Neots came back into contention in the final ten minutes of the half as skipper Matt Miles saw a shot deflected and then they won a free kick floated in by Mason Rhiney and Ben Bradley fired just too high.   However, six minutes before the break he made up for that disappointment by putting St Neots ahead as he was in the perfect place to convert a cross from Trendall who had outpaced his marker.   This narrow lead at the break was well-deserved for the work rate alone displayed by the visitors. After a Miles cross had been acrobatically saved by home keeper Matthew Sargeant, the home side hit back with an equalising goal as Benjamin Lund headed a cross back for Simeon Moye to hit a low short beneath the diving Philip after 55 minutes but St Neots regained their advantage just two minutes later when Mason Rhiney made space for himself 30 yards from goal to send a dipping shot over the keeper.    However, the home Manager replied by sending on his two final permitted substitutes and adopting a wider more attacking approach.   Now St Neots under the defensive direction of Ryan Hughes had to be at their best but Rushall were hampered when goalkeeper Sergeant limped off with a groin strain meaning that defender Sam Whittall had to don the gloves.   However, he was rarely tested whilst Sammons a substitute Aram Soleman tested Philip.   With eight minutes left the home pressure paid off as Soleman crossed from the right and a powerful headed by Daniel Waldron levelled the scores.   Five minutes later a mis-timed tackle by Rhiney felled Soleman and the Referee awarded a penalty confidently tucked away by the home emergency goalkeeper Sam Whittle to the delight of the home supporters.   Elsewhere Kettering became divisional champions to earn Step Two football next season as they defeated Halesowen to condemn them to Step Four in August. St Neots Town:  Philp, Hood, Fulianty, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Mutswunguma, Rhiney, Trendall, Bradley, Sutton Subs: Dunnett (for Bradley 85 mins), Rider (for Sutton 90+1 min), Joseph (for Mutswunguma 90+1 min) and Abbott. Cards:  none Goals: Bradley (39 mins), Rhiney (57 mins) Rushall Olympic:  Sergeant, Lyttle, Smikle, Smith, Whittall, Pendley, Waldron, Maye. McDonald, Sammons, Lund  Subs:  O’Callaghan (for Sergeant 62 mins), Berry (for Smith 67 mins), Soleman (for McDonald 67 mins), Adelekan and Bridgewater. Cards:none Goals:  Maye (55 mins), Waldron (82 mins), Whittall – pen – (87 mins)   Referee:  Ryan Williams (Coventry)   Attendance:       203   John Walker
Saturday, 06 April 2019 19:39
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION   Hitchin Town       0         St Neots Town       2    With Lowestoft beaten at home by Coalville, St Neots last gasp hopes of escaping relegation began to look possible following their unlikely 2-0 victory at Hitchin.   Now with just five points between the two sides with four matches to go St Neots can keep dreaming – especially as Lowestoft go to Hitchin next Saturday and the home sides’ reaction to this defeat could be key.   St Neots’ record at Top Field is far from impressive with just one victory in their previous six visits prior to this trip and they had to recover from the double whammy of losing leading scorer Garry Wharton and Northampton Town recalled midfield dynamo Scott Pollock.   Into their places came Mason Rhiney and Prince Mutswunguma in a reshaped attack and there was a debut for goalkeeper Michael McCormack with regular custodian James Philip unavailable.   The new keeper whose previous club experience had been limited to just six Reserve appearances was very impressive as he recorded a clean sheet with a mix of inspired and brave saves whilst Dan Trendall the former Saffron Walden wide player was mandated to take over the strikers’ role and he responded with the two goals that earned the three invaluable points.   However, the victory was down to a determined and committed all round display by a side that shrugged off their inexperience to look capable of dealing with anything that their hosts could muster.   Needing a single point to ensure their place at Step Three next season there was no lack of desire by Hitchin, but they were contained by a goalkeeper and defence that thoroughly deserved their victory and the points. Former Saint Isaac Galliford quickly made his mark with an inch perfect cross to find the head of the unmarked Jack Green in the second minute, but his headed effort was too high.   At the other end a teasing Joe Hood free kick was well claimed under pressure by home keeper Michael Johnson and then his opposite number was in action saving a point-blank shot by Green.   The same player did get the ball in the net after 17 minutes but was ruled offside and then the visiting defence did well to smother shots by Ezra Forde and Scott Belgrove.   St Neots were now looking more comfortable as the lively Ben Bradley had his net-bound shot deflected and after 37 minutes they deservedly took the lead.   A Joe Sutton shot from distance was fumbled and then dropped by Johnson and Dan Trendall was quickly in to capitalise on the error and put St Neots ahead.   A minute before the break a well-placed free kick by Galliford was well saved by Michael McCormack who was beginning to look confident and just before the break Prince Mutswunguma was booked for his third foul coming from clumsiness rather than intent. The Hitchin Manager was clearly unhappy with his sides’ first half performance and after the break he introduced two substitutes and changed his tactics to a more attacking formation.   A corner by Galliford went across the face of goal with no-one able to get a touch and then another effort by the same Hitchin player was pushed away under pressure by McCormack at the expense of a corner.   Then after 51 minutes Bradley robbed a hesitant defender to race clear of the defence before unselfishly picking out the unmarked Dan Trendall at the far post and he advanced on goal to double St Neots’ advantage.   Hitchin substitute Charlie Thake was having an immediate impact on the game for Hitchin with his physical presence testing the St Neots defence and forced McCormack into pushing one effort for a corner before setting up Galliford to bring the save of the match from the visiting keeper with an almost perfectly placed shot just under the bar.   Another former St Neots player Joshua Bickerstaff then shot wide when well placed as Hitchin pressed but St Neots made openings of their own with Bradley firing narrowly wide.   With seventeen minutes left Trendall sustained an ankle injury and was unable to continue being replaced by Jacob Joseph – a Youth side County Cup winner from the previous evening.   A minor flare up saw a player from each side booked and the match ended with McCormack saving bravely at the feet of substitute Nathan Mullings. St Neots Town:  McCormack, Hood, Norville-Williams, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Mutswunguma, Rhiney, Trendall, Bradley, Sutton Subs:  Joseph (for Trendall 73 mins), Rider (for Mutswunguma 90+4 mins), Dunnett and Abbott. Cards:  Rhiney (Y – 35 mins), Mutswunguma (Y – 45 mins), Shaw (Y – 80 mins) Goals:  Trendall 2 (37 and 51 mins) Hitchin Town:   Johnson, Mensah, Anderson, Dowie, Webb, Ferrell, Green, Belgrove, Forde, Galliford, Bickerstaff Subs:  Thake (for Mensah 46 mins), Mullings (for Forde 46 mins), Bird (for Belgrove 61 mins), and Thomas. Cards:  Dowie (Y – 80 mins) Goals:  none Referee:  Steven Bates (St Albans) Attendance: 472 John Walker  
Saturday, 30 March 2019 21:06
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town       0          Banbury United        3      This was theoretically a ‘must-win’ match for St Neots if they are to retain a credible chance of Step Three football next season.   Sadly, not at any time did this look likely, as a previously out of form Banbury with just one win in their last nine league outings strolled to a very comfortable victory.   When the result came through that Lowestoft had won their away match at Tamworth, St Neots were left effectively nine points from safety because of an inferior goal difference, with just fifteen points left to play for.   However, the post-match talking point was not about the three goals Banbury scored but the one that was disallowed.   After nine minutes a Giorgio Rasulo corner was knocked out for another corner indicated by match Referee Sean Barry, but the visiting player cheekily played on to net from a narrow angle and only persistent protests by St Neots with the opposing side lined up for a restart kick off eventually persuaded the official to consult with his colleague and then the corner was retaken.  Not that was to have any effect on the outcome of the contest because St Neots never seriously tested visiting keeper Jack Harding at any time in the 90 minutes.   Manager Marc Abbott reinstated Dan Trendall in the starting line-up and gave a full debut to Ben Bradley leaving Prince Mutswunguma and Owen Dunnett on the substitutes bench so the line up meant St Neots were at full strength.   Right from the first whistle Banbury looked able to dominate play with home keeper James Philip doing well after just two minutes to parry  a fiercely hit volley from Gregory Kaziboni.   Four minutes later St Neots were behind when the lively Kaziboni sprinted down the right to cross for Guiseppe Iaciofano to send a delicate chip over the keeper into the far corner of the net.   Banbury then though they had doubled their lead only to be denied when Referee Barry dramatically changed his mind, but they continued to press forward and their sheer physical advantage with their taller players winning almost every headed challenge kept them well on top.   Iaciofano squandered a clear opening shooting wide from ten yards and Philip then saved well from a Rasulo free kick.   Towards the end of the first half St Neots did create a couple of chances but Jordan Norville-Williams effort was comfortably saved at the near post and a Scott Pollock free kick did extend visiting keeper Jack Harding to a full length save.   After Iaciofano had missed badly volleying over from just five yards, Banbury got the reward three minutes into first half added time they had deserved for their impressive first half domination when the lanky Ricky Johnson rose high above the home defence to head home another Kaziboni cross from the right. St Neots needed an early second half response if they were to make inroads into the deficit and new boy Ben Bradley did test the visiting keeper from a Matt Miles corner.   The home side then introduced two fresh wide players with Prince Mutswunguma and Jacob Joseph replacing Dan Trendall and Joe  Sutton but within three minutes of the changes Banbury had put the match beyond the home side with a third goal.   It came from a rare mistake by Stevan Shaw who gave the ball away to Iaciofano and he unselfishly drew the keeper off his line to chip a cross to Ricky Johnson who only had to walk the ball into an unguarded net.   Banbury then seemed to take their foot off the accelerator allowing St Neots a greater share of play, but the home side lacked ideas and penetration although they won several corners from one of which Ryan Hughes headed narrowly over the bar with his sides’ best second half chance.   A Gary Wharton header late on was the only other threat to the home defence and Banbury left town after comfortably avenging a 3-1 defeat in the first meeting of the two sides this season. St Neots Town:  Philip, Hood, Norville-Williams, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Bradley, Pollock, Wharton, Sutton,  Trendall Subs: Mutswunguma (for Sutton 61 mins), Joseph (for Trendall 61mins), Dunnett (for Shaw 65 mins), Rhiney and Clarke. Cards:  Trendall (Y – 61 mins) Goals: none Banbury United: Harding, Taylor, Nash, Wise, Hawtin, Richards, Johnson, Iaciofano, Kaziboni, Whitehead, Rasulo Subs:  Shamsi (for Iaciofano 65 mins), Awadh (for Kaziboni 81 mins), Odhiambo (for Nash 87 mins), Finch and Antonio. Cards:Taylor (Y – 69 mins) Goals:  Ricky Johnson 2 (45+3 and 64 mins), Guiseppe Iaciofano (6 mins)   Referee:  Sean Barry (Northampton) Attendance:       260   John Walker
Wednesday, 27 March 2019 10:17
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town    1    Coalville Town    4      This victory left ambitious Coalville Town just a point outside the play-offs and it avenged an earlier meeting with St Neots when they were dumped out of the FA Cup in a penalty shoot-out.   It may have been the fourth meeting of the two sides this season (including the FA Cup replay) but the visitors will have learned little in advance about their opponents for St Neots skipper Matt Miles was the only survivor from the last meeting of the two sides.   The home side probably played as well as they had in their previous match against champions elect Kettering Town despite the final score not reflecting this, but the winners created few scoring openings yet managed to convert four of them!   It was once again a penalty conceded in the opening quarter of an hour that left the home side with a mountain to climb, but this time unlike in the previous match, the penalty decision was much more contentious.   It came after 12 minutes when central defender Owen Dunnett appeared to win the ball with a decisive challenge, but his opponent tumbled, and the Referee pointed to the spot on his Assistant’s advice.   From that point on St Neots were chasing the game despite their side being strengthened from their previous match with Scott Pollock and Gary Wharton returning after injury and loanee Ryan Hughes returning from his Football League debut with Northampton Town.   Also, back in the side was Prince Mutswunguma with Mason Rhiney, Joe Rider and Reif Clarke on the substitutes bench. After a quiet opening the penalty award after 12 minutes was the first notable incident.   Andrew Wright confidently tucked away his spot kick to boost the visitors and a minute later Scott McManus could have increased the lead, but he shot wastefully over the bar.   For the next twenty minutes there was little action in either penalty area but a poor clearance by visiting keeper Richard Walton was seized upon by Scott Pollock whose chip drifted just over the cross bar.  With much of the play in midfield there was an effective stalemate as neither side were able to dominate but the reorganised home back four seemed to be growing in confidence.   Another opening for the visitors saw McManus fire high over the bar after the St Neots defence had failed to clear and then a lengthy free kick three minutes before the break by Ryan Hughes was comfortable gathered by Walton.   A disappointing first half ended with Tom McGlinchey winning his way to the bye line but as he widened his shooting angle his shot flew across the face of goal. Pollock, still feeling his injury, failed to reappear after the interval giving recent signing Ben Bradley the opportunity for his debut in midfield for St Neots.    However, before any significant counter attack could be mustered by the home side, two goals in three minutes effectively ended the contest.   Five minutes after the restart Coalville won a free kick and Wright’s floated cross was headed in at the far post by defender Kieran Fenton and three minutes later St Neots were floored by a very unfortunate goal.   Another free kick by Wright was deflected up into the air by a defender, wrong footing his colleagues and it fell invitingly for Tim Berridge to poke home from just a couple of yards.   St Neots retaliated with a series of attacking moves and a Hughes free kick was deflected for a corner taken by Matt Miles.   His inswinging kick was totally misjudged by visiting keeper Richard Walton who called for the ball but off balance, could only punch it into his own net.   If that was the boost St Neots desired it did not materialise.   Their efforts failed to significantly test the visiting defence whilst at the other end James Philip made an excellent save to deny McGlinchey.  Eight minutes from time Joe Doyle-Charles won a corner for the visitors but suffered an accidental neck injury that saw an eight minutes delay in play whilst he was treated on pitch before being stretchered off.  However, in the added time substitute Kairo Mitchell took advantage of slack marking to complete the scoring. St Neots Town:  Philip, Hood, Hughes, Miles, Dunnett, Shaw, Sutton, Pollock, Wharton, Mutswunguma, Norville-Williams Subs: Bradley (for Pollock 46 mins), Rider(for Mutswunguma 74 mins), Rhiney and Clarke. Cards:  Hughes (Y – 42 mins) Goals: OG (57 mins) Coalville Town: Walton, Thomas, McManus, Fenton, Burgin, Towers, Doyle-Charles, Wright, Omotola, Berridge, McGlinchey Subs:  Mitchell (for Berridge 69 mins), Dean (for Wright 78 mins), Shaw (for Doyle-Charles 90 mins), Freeman and Luto. Cards: none Goals:  Wright – pen – (35 mins), Fenton (50 mins), Berridge (53 mins), Mitchell (90+2 mins)   Referee:              Jeffrey Aldous (Bedford) Attendance:       139   John Walker
Sunday, 24 March 2019 19:54
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Kettering Town       2        St Neots Town        0        A spirited performance against runaway league leaders Kettering Town was without tangible reward but a spirited second half performance after trailing 2-0 at the break was of great credit to the inexperienced visiting side.   This victory for the Northamptonshire hosts extended their lead at the top of the table to eleven points with just six matches remaining and now only a catastrophic run of form looks likely to rob them of the championship and resultant promotion to the National League.     With recent star player Dan Trendall unavailable and leading scorer Gary Wharton injured, St Neots selection problems were further complicated late in the week when Northampton Town recalled loan centre half Ryan Hughes for their EFL match at Cheltenham so into the side Marc Abbott drafted three additional youth side players Owen Dunnett, Joe Rider and Reif Clarke also recalling Harry Beckley for Prince Mutswumguna who was on the bench. The revised starting balance of the visiting side was a contributory factor to a backs to the wall first 25 minutes in which Kettering dominated and threatened to run riot.   Visiting keeper James Philip was in constant action making two excellent saves in the first three minutes to deny a Rhys Hoeness snap shot and a well-placed Marcus Kelly free kick.   Hoeness in particular was the chief tormentor down either flank and he was twice denied when his efforts were either blocked or deflected.   The sheer pace of the home attack, that are the leading scorers in the league was frightening, but St Neots held out until the 16th minute when an unfortunate handball by Harry Beckley conceded a penalty kick which Hoeness confidently despatched to put Kettering ahead.   The home side thought they should have had a second spot kick when Dan Holman tumbled in the area but their appeals were waved away and then after 28 minutes St Neots first real shot from Beckley nestled on the roof of the net.   Lindon Meikle then had a net bound shot deflected and when Hoeness went clear skipper Matt Miles got back to rob him on the line at the expense of a corner ten minutes before the break.  It was only a temporary reprieve as from the cross the unmarked Declan Towers ghosted in to head past Philp.   St Neots tried to retaliate with some neat approach football but the home defence stood firm apart from a late chance for Joe Sutton who went clear but home keeper Paul White raced from his line to quell the danger. The second half also began at breakneck speed as the home side again tried to dominate.   A cross-cum shot from the left by Hoeness beat Philip but rebounded from the far post and a follow-uo effort by Stohrer was cleared off theline.   Holman then squandered a great chance firing wildly over the bar and as the match aproached the hour mark, Mark Abbott reshaped his side with Leon Fulianty on at full back pushing the lively Jordan Norville-Williams forward to boost the attack.   Stohrer shot over the bar and Philip saved from Holman but now the Kettering attacking opportunities were drying up as Neots appeared to grow in confidence.  Prince Mutswunguna replaced the tiring Joe Rider who had been hard working up front with little support, and then after a dazzling run from the half way line, Norville-Williams tumbled in the penalty area but was only rewarded with a yellow card for allegedy diving.   Club Coach Ben Yeoman then made a surprise appearance as St Neots third substitute replacing Joe Sutton and he kept the home defence on their toes in the latter stages of the match.   Kettering did threaten to extend their lead five minutes from time when substitute Brett Solkhon clipped the crossbar with a dipping shot and Holman almost had the last word in added time when he cleverly turned his marker before shooting over the bar.   Against a very experieced home team, this will have been a useful learning curve for a St Neots side containing eight teenagers.   St Neots Town:  Philip, Hood, Norville-Williams, Miles, Dunnett, Shaw, Clarke, Rhiney, Rider, Sutton, Beckley Subs: Fulianty (for Beckley 59 mins), Mutswunguma (for Rider 71 mins), Yeomans (for Sutton 78 mins) Hudson and Abbott. Cards:  Norville-Williams (Y – 72 mins) Goals: none   Kettering Town: White, Stohrer, Richens, Meikle, Holman, Milnes, Hoeness, Kelly-Evans, Kelly, Towers, Stanley Subs:  Toseland (for Meikle 33 mins), Solkhon (for Milnes 81 mins), Brighton, Bradshaw and Rowe. Cards: none Goals:  Hoeness – pen (16 mins), Towers (35 mins)   Referee:              Steve Durnall (West Bromwich) Attendance:       894 John Walker                                                                                                                                                                                    
Sunday, 17 March 2019 14:05
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town        1        Lowestoft Town       3 Victorious Manager Jamie Godbold was understandably jubilant after the match.   ‘This was a genuine six-pointer which we had to win’ he said ‘and we did it in style.   I was very pleased with my side’s approach and delivery and it gives us an important psychological boost to move above St Neots and out of the relegation zone at this important point of the season.   Now we go on to another vital match on Tuesday at home to Halesowen who are one of the three clubs below us so three more points will give us a very useful cushion above the relegation area’. St Neots Manager Marc Abbott had a more sober approach.   ‘We were beaten on the day by a better team that adapted to the conditions more readily and showed a greater hunger and ruthlessness’ he said.   ‘My team failed to live up to the promise of our three previous performances and we conceded some soft goals.   We showed an inability to take advantage of key momentsin the match.   However there are still eight matches left and we must learn from our shortcomings’. This was to be the first league meeting of the two sides at St Neots for 46 years when a goalless draw had been the outcome but with visiting striker and man of the match Jake Reed in his current form and confidence that was never likely.  There was a very significant moment before that match started when visiting skipper Ross Jarvis won the toss and elected to kick with the almost gale force wind at his sides’ back.  They powered forward from the start to take full advantage and with their first attack after two minutes the irrepressible Reed headed the opening goal at the near post after skipper Jarvis had won his header at the far post from a swirling cross.   After 20 minutes Reed was unmarked at the far post to double the lead.   St Neots showed some determination with the hard-working Dan Trendall testing Nicholas Hayes but the visitors were well in control and Philp had to produce a back breaking save to deny Shaun Bammant at the expense of a corner. St Neots made a determined start after half time introducing two attacking substitutes and reorganising in an attacking 3-4-3 formation.   However, a third goal by Jake Reed with a shot across the goalkeeper after the home defence only managed a half clearance two minutes after the break effectively settled the issue. St Neots worked hard to get back in the game but they lacked the guileto take full advantage.     The wind had abated slightly but apart from one shot by former Saint Dylan Williams, the home side looked well in control through their superior possession.   However, they squndered too many promising openings like after 56 minutes when Ryan Hughes was presented with a golden opportunity when visiting keeper Nicholas Hayes mishandled a cross from Norville-Williams  but his tame header went over the bar.  Just past the hour Mason Rhiney wasted a free kick in a promising position and Jacob Joseph wriggled pastthree defenders but his cross was cleared.   The lively Dan Trendall was then brought down by Joshua Curry to earn a penalty kick but Jordan Norville-Williams’ woeful effort was high and wide after 65 minutes.   Six minutes later they received another potential lifeline when Trendall was again grounded this time by the goalkeeper, earning the assailant the only caution in the game.   This time Gary Wharton made no mistake with his fourth goal in successive matches.   That signalled a change of tactics by the visitors who reverted to full defensive mode happy to preserve their two goals cushion in the final twenty minutes.   St Neots replaced the limping Stevan Shaw with youth team skipper Liam Fulianty but the only significant chance that they created was an added time effort by Trendall relatively comfortably claimed by Hayes.   And it does not get any easier with the sides’ next match away to face league leaders Kettering Town. St Neots Town:  Philp, Hood, Norville-Williams, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Mutswunguma, Rhiney, Wharton, Sutton, Trendall Subs:  Joseph (for Mutswunguma 46 mins), Rider (for Sutton 46 mins), Fulianty (for Shaw 76 mins) and Beckley. Cards:  none Goal: Wharton -pen- (71 mins) Lowestoft Town: Hayes, Curry, Wilkinson (J), Barker, Jarvis, Frisk, Pollock, Williams, Reed, Bammant, Wilkinson (M) Subs:  Smith (for Wilkinson (J) 33 mins), Deeks (for Williams 78 mins), Zielonka (for Bammant 90+1 mins), Tann and Putnins. Cards: Hayes (Y – 71 mins) Goals:  Reed 3 (2, 20 & 47 mins)   Referee:              Matthew Morrison (Bury St Edmunds) Attendance:       293   John Walker
Monday, 11 March 2019 17:39
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION  St Neots Town        2        Biggleswade Town       2   They say lightning does not strike twice but St Neots are living proof that it does, and two goalkeeping errors – one at each end – made this outcome of the contest happen.  For the second consecutive week a goal conceded three minutes into added time robbed the young inexperienced home side of two extra points they had worked so hard to achieve but the single point was enough to lift them out of the relegation zone for the first time in as many months.   Ultimately it was inexperience that cost them dear, but they continue to learn as they build experience at this higher level of football for most of them.   The commitment of the side is beyond question and proud Manager Marc Abbott heaped praise upon his team in his post-match interview.    He had been forced into a team change when playmaker Scott Pollock failed to recover from the injury sustained in the previous match, so he brought in Dan Trendall for his debut and he added pace and imagination in attack. The first serious effort on goal after 6 minutes saw Sean Lucien’s effort blocked but St Neots took the lead two minutes later.   A long clearance by James Philip sailed over the heads of defenders and former St Neots custodian Sam Donkin opted to wait for the ball to reach his area but Gary Wharton pounced to steer the ball past him and into the open net – his third goal in consecutive matches.   The visitors had a further shock after 11minutes when David Longe-King misdirected a header back to his keeper but luckily for him the ball passed the wrong side of a post.   However, St Neots’ lead was short-lived for after 15 minutes a Matt Ball corner was headed back by Jordan Gent and Joe White headed past the keeper.   Prince Mutswunguma tried a lengthy effort that just cleared the crossbar and then Philip did well to push away a searing cross from Lucien that looked to be creeping in at the far post.   Ten minutes before the break St Neots regained the lead as Dan Trendall switched play from left to right and Mason Rhiney’s cross was stabbed in at close range by Prince Mutswunguma.   It was the first time St Neots had scored twice in a league match since 8th December.   Five minutes before the break Philip saved well again and then White headed in from an offside position as the visitors sought parity. The second half saw the visitors adopt a more attacking formation with former St Neots player Claudio Ofosu on to test St Neots down the flanks.   Lucien seemed to be getting all the better chances for the visiting side, but he sent a free kick high over the bar and was well off target with two more efforts.   St Neots seemed to have lost the rhythm that had seem them competitive in the first 45 minutes and their back line had to defend well as their opponents began to dominate possession.  They looked particularly threatening from set pieces with their tall defenders supplementing their attack.   Another striker was added to the visiting attack, but Ball squandered a good chance with a centrally positioned free kick that he dragged well wide.   St Neots did threaten on the break with Trendall a constant threat, but they lacked the finishing touch to carve out what could have been a clinching goal.    With five minutes left Philip again rescued his side with a point blank save to deny White and Ofosu earned a booking for simulation diving dramatically in the penalty area.    The Referee signalled four added minutes and in the third of those the visitors stole a goal and a point.   It came from one of many corners after the excellent Philp had mishandled a shot dropping the ball over the bye line – this one delivered by Lucien and when St Neots failed to clear there were two shots blocked before Jordan Gent drove home from close range.   It was a cruel ending, but it still took St Neots to a third consecutive match without defeat, following the defection of almost their whole team.       St Neots Town:  Philp, Hood, Norville-Williams, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Mutswunguma, Rhiney, Wharton, Sutton, Trendall Subs:  Clarke (for Prince 62 mins), Beckley (for Sutton 77 mins), Rider (for Wharton 88 mins), Hudson and Fulianty. Cards:  Hood (Y – 74 mins), Shaw (Y – 74 mins) Goals:  Wharton (8 mins), Mutswunguma (35 mins)   Biggleswade Town:  Donkin, Bradshaw, Perry, Forbes, Gent, Longe-King, Lucien, Brooks, White, Ball, Nwaboukei Subs:  Ofosu (for Brooks 62 mins), Donnelly (for Forbes 73 mins), Allinson (for Bradshaw 82 mins) and Walster. Cards:  Gent (Y – 38 mins), Ofosu (Y – 81 mins), Perry (90 mins) Goals:  White (15 mins), Gent (90 + 3 mins)   Referee:  Alex Rayment (Dunstable) Attendance:  284   John Walker
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