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
Sunday, 03 March 2019 13:51
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Redditch United        1         St Neots Town        1 A point away at Redditch is on paper an acceptable return as the St Neots youngsters find their feet in their new surroundings but with the equalising goal coming three minutes into added time from a host side with just EIGHT players on the pitch, it felt like a defeat on the way home. The match was marked and eventually dominated and spoiled by an over-zealous Referee who finished up with a tally of nine yellow cards and three reds. To the casual reader of these facts it sounds like it was a physical bad-tempered affair but that is nowhere near the truth. The majority of the cautions were for dissent – either verbal of frustratedly kicking the ball away when a free kick was awarded – several times in error – although two of Redditch’s dismissals were straight red cards for cynical and dangerous fouls.   In the final analysis St Neots were guilty of being caught out by their own inexperience because their tactics were not good as they failed to take full advantage of their growing numerical advantage and should not have been caught lacking defensive concentration in that added time.  Overall the performance was encouraging as they held their opponents at bay after stealing an early lead, and they received a massive boost when rookie goalkeeper James Philp saved a first half penalty kick in only his second appearance for the club. However, it will go down as two points lost when a victory would have lifted them out of the relegation zone.   There was just one team change with Mason Rhiney preferred to Harry Beckley in midfield. The visitors got the perfect start when after just three minutes Scott Pollock sent a though ball in the heart of the home defence and GARY WHARTON, with his back to goal, sidestepped a challenge and hit a low shot past Adam Whitehouse for his second goal in successive matches. Two minutes later he won a header from a Pollock free kick which passed the wrong side of a post. Redditch thought they should have had a penalty after 20 minutes when Philp was exposed, and he rushed from his line to collide with Jack Storer but the Referee waved play on. With two player booked early in the first half the home side looked frustrated and created few openings but from a Robbie Bunn corner Richard Batchelor should have got his free header on target. On the break, St Neots were looking good with Joe Sutton only inches wide after good work by Mason Rhiney and a lengthy Pollock shot well saved by Whitehouse. Five minutes before the break Redditch pressed and won a penalty kick following a handball offence by a defender. Leading home marksman, Danico Johnson, hit a fierce effort to Philp’s right, but the keeper guessed correctly and parried the effort. Then approaching the break Pollock was cynically brought down by Batchelor to earn the first red card of the afternoon so Redditch went to the break a man down. Unfortunately the injury sustained by the inspirational Pollock in that incident meant he was unable to continue after the break, so Harry Beckley came on as his replacement. Redditch also made two early second half substitutions and one of them Michael Nelson quickly tested Philp and the keeper also saved well from Shaquille Leachman-Whittingham. Although Redditch were clearly intent on an attacking approach and were able to dominate possession despite being that man short, they created few direct openings as the match became a midfield contest with the Referee taking the attention as he flashed his cards. After 72minutes Michael McGrath got on the end of a Robbie Bunn corner and pushed the ball over the line with a hand. Already booked, he picked up a second yellow card and an early bath. At that stage St Neots, should have tried to push home their advantage but they concentrated on containing the home side. The final five minutes plus four added were manic with three more yellow cards and a straight red card for Jamie Ashmore. However, in the third added minute, Bunn was left unmarked to fire in a low shot to earn an unlikely point for the home side.                                          Redditch United:  Whitehouse, Ashmore, Bowen, McGrath, Parsons, Evans, Leachman-Whittingham, Bunn, Johnson, Storer, Batchalor Subs:  Nelson (for Storer 46 mins), Howards (for Evans 53 mins), Franklin (for Howards 73 mins), Stoddart and Wright. Cards:  Batchalor (RED – 44 mins), McGrath (RED – 72 mins), Ashmore (RED – 87 mins), Evans (Y – 28 mins), Parsons (Y – 35 mins), Bowen (Y – 85 mins) Goals:  Bunn (90 + 3 mins)   St Neots Town:  Philip, Hood, Norville-Williams, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Pollock, Rhiney, Wharton, Sutton, Mutswunguma Subs:  Beckley (for Pollock 46 mins), Rider (for Sutton 76 mins), Fulianty (for Wharton 83 mins) Cards:  Pollock (Y – 39 mins), Sutton (Y – 47 mins), Hood (Y – 63 mins), Mutswunguma (Y – 66 mins), Fulianty (Y – 85 mins), Beckley (Y – 90 + 4) Goals:  Wharton (3 mins)   Referee:  Gareth Davis (Loughborough) Attendance:  221   John Walker
Sunday, 24 February 2019 08:29
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town        1         Barwell        0 St Neots Town recorded their first home win since 8th January and only their second in the last seven league outings, but more significantly their first win since the defection of eight senior players.   All this after they were rocked in the week by the news that regular goalkeeper Finley Iron had been recalled by his parent club Cambridge United after making 39 appearance for the side.   New Manager Marc Abbott moved quickly to sign Haverhill based Birmingham University student James Philip for a ‘baptism of fire’ as they hosted Barwell whom had won 6-1 in the first meeting of the two sides in December.   If there was a prize for sheer determination and commitment in addition to the three points, that would have been in the bag as well, after they had despatched their Leicestershire visitors.   They had to survive a torrid first half hour and ride their luck as the visitors were denied three times by the woodwork, but few could deny they deserved their reward with some heroic defending.   In addition to the replacement goalkeeper the Manager made two team changes leaving Mason Rhiney and Joe Rider on the bench in order to bring in Joe Sutton for his full debut as well as recalling Prince Mutswunguma. Barwell began full of intent and confidence producing five shots on goal in the opening six minutes.  Two of those brought significant saves from the new keeper as he denied Jacob Whitmore with his legs before pushing a fierce shot from Nigel Julien around a post for a corner.   The one-way traffic continued but with less intensity as Daniel Durkin volleyed high over the bar and Elliott Percival’s effort was also too high after he had stolen in unmarked at the far post.   St Neots replied with a shot from Prince Mutswunguma that was comfortably saved and in another attack Joe Sutton’s delightful flick played in Gary Wharton, but he delayed his shot and was robbed.   After 23 minutes Jamie Towers could hardly believe his luck when his close range shot rebounded from a goalpost and then Durkin showed great skill to draw Philip from his line to chip over him towards goal, but Ryan Hughes got back to clear off the line.   Sutton looked lively for St Neots and visiting keeper Liam Castle needed two attempts to keep out his rising shot and then in the five minutes before the break Barwell created two chances that should have seen them take a lead into the break.   First Whitmore beat his marker to find the head of Dominic Brown-Hill, but his free header was wastefully too high and then Towers was left unmarked at the far post but saw his looping header bounce off the top of the crossbar to safety. Upon the restart St Neots looked more confident and were only denied a goal after 49 minutes when Castle produced a superb full length save to deny Scott Pollock after the St Neots player had ridden three tackles.   A close-range Durkin header from a Percival cross rebounded from a post – the third time the woodwork had intervened, and by now St Neots stalwarts were beginning to think that this could be their day.   Their belief was further cemented when less than a minute after coming on as a substitute on the hour, a first-time delightful flick over the defence by Jacob Joseph freed Gary Wharton and his non-stop effort was rewarded as he claimed what was to be the winning goal.  However Barwell were not surrendering with a fight and they threw on attacking substitutes in a bid to retrieve their situation.   An Eliot Putman free kick was well saved by Philip, and substitute Jai Rowe shot wide when he should have at least tested the keeper.   St Neots one anxious moment came sixteen minutes from time when Philip mishandled an Alex Tomkinson cross and had Stevan Shaw to thank as the defender cleared off the line.    St Neots now had to concede possession and concentrate on defence but despite their pressure Barwell managed only one further significant shot by substitute Rowe that passed the wrong side of a post.   St Neots deservedly celebrated at the final whistle, and the confidence boost will have been almost as important as the victory.   St Neots Town:  Philip, Hood, Norville-Williams, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Beckley, Pollock, Wharton, Sutton, Mutswunguma Subs:  Joseph (for Beckley 60 mins), Rider (for Wharton 81 mins), Rhiney (for Mutswunguma 87 mins) and Fulianty. Cards:  none Goals:  Wharton (61 mins)   Barwell:  Castle, Percival, Putman, Eze, Gascoigne, Julien, Whitmore, Brown-Hill, Durkin, Towers, Tomkinson Subs:  Rowe (for Brown-Hill 66 mins), Nisevic (for Tomkinson 75 mins), Raven (for Whitmore 75 mins), Hickey and Desrosier. Cards:  Towers (Y – 71 mins) Goals:  none   Referee:  Jeffrey Aldous (Bedford) Attendance:  171   John Walker
Saturday, 16 February 2019 22:22
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Stourbridge       1        St Neots Town        0 Sometimes there is no justice in football.  The youthful inexperienced St Neots side were up against second in the table Stourbridge and suffered the disappointment of conceding a third minute goal but could and should have gone on to rescue a point after an impressive fighting second half display.   Home officials were quick to concede that the visitors deserved a point, but luck was against them, clearly displayed in added time when substitute Joe Sutton just failed to reach a cross by the impressive Jordan Norville-Williams.   Manager Marc Abbott in charge for just the second time expressed pride at the performance of his side and believes the experienced gained by his charges will be of immense value despite the defeat.   His team selection saw Jacob Joseph, Leon Fulianty and Prince Mutswunguma dropped to the bench to be replaced by Gary Wharton returning from injury, and two new signings, defender Joe Hood and wide man Harry Beckley.   St Neots had been beaten at home by the odd goal in three earlier in the season by their Worcestershire hosts after they had led by a Dylan Williams goal at the break.   It was disappointing that the powerful home side went ahead after just three minutes in the first attack of the match.   Their attack down the left split the St Neots defence and having been involved in the break, Greg Mills then sprinted forward to turn an Aaron Forde cross past Finley Iron to score what proved to be the only goal of the match.   Robbie Thompson-Brown then shot narrowly over the bar and a feature of the early play was the ball retention of the home side as they waited patiently for an opening to present itself.   On the break St Neots carved out openings but Gary Wharton shot wide after good work by Scott Pollock and then Harry Beckley cut in from the left to shoot over the bar.   Stourbridge are the second highest goal scorers in the league and their potential was clearly displayed as striker Luke Benbow a former National League player with Solihull Moors, and Greg Mills late of Derby County terrorised the St Neots defence with the latter twice shooting wide when well placed.   Forde also ran at the defence shooting over the bar and putting a second effort wide so despite having a smaller share of possession, St Neots survived comfortably until the break.   Both sides made half time substitutions with Prince Mutswunguma replacing Mason Rhiney for the visitors and playing down the slope St Neots began to look more confident.   However the home side clearly decided to go for the kill and Iron had to produce two outstanding saves to keep his side in the game.   He first denied substitute Bilal Yafai pushing away his fierce shot and then added the save of the match after 52 minutes, acrobatically denying a Leon Broadhurst header from a Thompson-Brown cross.   Benbow then displayed great skill to take two defenders out of the game with a clever turn to set up Forde but his low shot rebounded from the inside of a post to be cleared.  Although the visitors were enjoying a much greater share of play, they created few significant chances, but the balance of play was switching and with a quarter of an hour remaining the home side seemed to go into defensive mode.   Second St Neots substitute Joe Sutton was looking lively up front and after shooting narrowly wide he was cynically tripped from behind by Broadhurst earning the home player the only yellow card of the match.   Norville-Williams took the free kick and from 25 yards beat the keeper but saw the ball land on the roof of the net.  Stourbridge were now quite blatantly time-wasting to preserve their narrow advantage and as the match moved into added time Sutton just failed to convert that cross mentioned earlier and the same player had a second late chance that was too high.   The St Neots team were cheered off by the home crowd – a deserved measure of their performance.   Stourbridge:  Wren, Hayden, Brown, McCone, Christophorou, Forde, Birch, Broadhurst, Benbow, Thompson-Brown, Mills Subs:  Yafai (for Birch 46 mins), Powell (for Thompson-Brown 60 mins), Anderson (for Benbow 72 mins), Pierpoint and Westlake. Cards:  Broadhurst (Y – 84 mins) Goals:  Mills (3 mins) St Neots:  Iron, Hood, Norville-Williams, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Rhiney, Pollock, Wharton, Rider, Beckley Subs:  Mutswunguma (for Rhiney 46 mins), Sutton (for Rider 60 mins), Joseph and Fulianty. Cards:  none Goals:  none   Referee:  Robbie Dadley (Coventry) Attendance:  596 John Walker
Sunday, 10 February 2019 08:04
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Tamworth       5         St Neots Town        0 Forget the score line it was the performance that mattered, as St Neots struggle to find a semblance of normality following the midweek defection of seven senior players.   As they had four days earlier, the youngsters came up trumps despite the defeat by a side with several years’ experience in the Football Conference.   5-0 sounds like a thrashing but it was far from that with two key moments that shaped the final score.   Tamworth scored twice in two minutes prior to the break after the visitors had kept a clean sheet for 43 minutes, and then in a further two minutes spell in the second half experienced and much travelled striker – substitute Gregg Smith who had played for almost all the senior clubs in Lincolnshire – added two headed goals to extinguish any hopes of a St Neots come-back.  The visitors never gave up and created the two last chances of the match, but luck was never on their side trying find their way through an uncompromising home defence.   With three players still on the injury list St Neots named an unchanged side for the trip to Tamworth – only the fourth time in 38 games that their starting line-up has been unchanged.  With new Manager Marc Abbott an interested spectator in the dug-out, he will have made his assessment of what he needs to do going forward to try to pilot his side out of the relegation zone. Tamworth man-of-the-match Chris Lait quickly made his mark on the game dribbling past three defenders to go clear in the fourth minute, but Finley Iron anticipated his shot and blocked with his legs.   A minute later the same player then cut in from the left but shot over the bar and shortly afterwards Jack Concannon and Claudio Dias both shot wide of the target.   St Neots first real attack after 22 minutes was halted when Kristian Green cynically upended Jordan Norville-Williams as he bore down on goal earning the home player an early caution.   For a spell there was limited goalmouth action as St Neots seemed to get the measure of their opponents but after 35 minutes the visitors were lucky not to concede when the lively Lait set up Jordan Gough whose volley beat Iron but rebounded from the inside of a post across the goal and was cleared.   Another run and shot by Norville-Williams flew wide and then after 43 minutes Jack Concannon was given too much space just inside the area and his lob beat Iron to put Tamworth ahead.   In time added before the break Chris Late was somewhat fortunate to double the lead when his complete miskick fooled the defence and made it 2-0. Two efforts immediately after the break – one at each end could have shaped the outcome.   First hard-working Scott Pollock brought an excellent save from home keeper Jas Singh whilst at the other end Iron produced the save of the match to deny Lait.  However the home player had to wait only sixty seconds to make up for that disappointment as he rapped home from ten yards from a Joe Magunda free kick.   St Neots then introduced two substitutes pushing skipper Matt Miles into midfield, but it was a Tamworth substitution that was to prove more significant.   Within five minutes of joining the fray Gregg Smith picked up two goals to kill St Neots hopes, first rising high over the defence to power home a header from a Ryan Beswick corner and then stealing in unmarked at the far post to head home an accurate cross from Lait.   To their credit St Neots refused to buckle and it was in the last fifteen minutes that they produced their best chances.   Pollock shot wide and substitute Reif Bissett-Clarke forced a good save from Singh.   The other substitute Owen Dunnett had a shot blocked following a Norville-Williams corner and the home keeper had to dive bravely at the feet of Joe Rider to smother a cross.   Smith was denied a home hat trick when Iron produced another good save, but St Neots had the last word when Bissett-Clarke cut in from the right to see Singh deny the visitors a consolation goal that they deserved. Tamworth:  Singh, Green, Gough, Beswick, Kettle, Magunda, Clement, Waite, Dias, Lait Subs:  Smith (for Dias 64 mins), Jemson (for Magunda 75 mins), Gordon (for Waite 81 mins) Cards:  Green (Y – 22 mins) Goals:  Lait 2 (45+1 & 55 mins), Smith 2 (67 & 69 mins), Concannon (43 mins)   St Neots Town:  Iron, Miles, Fulianty, Rhiney, Hughes, Shaw, Joseph, Pollock, Rider, Mutswunguma, Norville-Williams Subs:  Bissett-Clark (for Joseph 57 mins), Dunnett (for Mutswunguma 66 mins) and Abbott Cards:  none Goals:  none   Referee:  Jonathan Maskrey (Newark-on-Trent) Attendance:  512   John Walker
Wednesday, 06 February 2019 19:24
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Biggleswade Town       1         St Neots Town        0 An heroic performance by the least experienced St Neots side ever to play in the Southern League fell just eight minutes short of a deserved but unexpected League point at play-off chasing hopefuls Biggleswade.   The imposed austerity due to the club announcement of an immediate cutback in the budget, had seen the prompt departure of no fewer than six senior first team regulars and with three more on the injury list Manager Matt Clements had to call upon the youth team for reinforcements.   As a result eight changes were made in the starting line up with no fewer than five players handed a senior league debut for the side.   In all the team boasted less than a hundred St Neots senior starting line-ups between them but they belied the statistics and almost recorded a totally unpredictable result.   However, with more than a third of the season remaining, it was the performance on the night that was as important as the result and with Marc Abbott announced as the new Manager immediately after the match it is now an exciting new beginning for the side.   The Biggleswade side were naïve, perhaps believing they only had to turn up to collect the points, but the determination and effort of the young visiting side quickly made it clear that they were going to have to work hard for the points.   Significantly it was a Biggleswade substitute introduced to replace former St Neots player Dylan Williams that made the late breakthrough with the only goal of the match. Williams had the first goal effort of the game after ten minutes, but he could only find the side-netting.   St Neots replied with a Joe Rider effort comfortably handled by Saints former keeper Sam Donkin.   Joe White then had the chance to open the scoring played clear in space by Williams, but he volleyed well wide.   Another effort by White from close range was deflected by Matt Miles – the fifth player to wear the St Neots captains’ armband this season.   As the game settled on the very heavy surface Rider had another effort saved but the best first half chance fell to Biggleswade’s Matt Ball after 31 minutes, whose shot was brilliantly turned over the bar by Finley Iron.   Biggleswade were shading possession indicated by a growing corner count but the St Neots defence playing together for the first time were resolute and determined.   From one of those corners, another former Saint, Jordan Gent won the ball in the air only to see it rebound from the crossbar to be cleared.   The half ended with a St Neots breakaway attach in which Jordan Norville-Williams shot over the bar. A smart move at the start of the second half saw Ball and White combine on the left to set up Williams, but he volleyed over the bar and was shortly afterwards replaced by substitute Johnny McNamara.   Another Norville-Williams effort was wide from a Scott Pollock free kick and then new skipper Matt Miles joined the St Neots attack to short narrowly over the crossbar.   For a spell St Neots seemed to take the initiative with the impressive Jacob Joseph and Prince Mutswunguma both going close for St Neots but with the home side regrouping with all their substitutes utilised the visitors began to flag in the difficult conditions.   Gent again used his height and strength to carve out another shooting opportunity but saw his effort fly wide and Iron saved well from White.   The deciding moments came eight minutes from time when following another Biggleswade corner Johnny McNamara forced the ball home from close range in a goalmouth scramble.   It was a disappointing blow, but St Neots refused to submit and in a late show of defiance Pollock sent a lengthy effort just wide. Biggleswade Town:  Donkin, Makoma, Walster, Forbes, Gent, Longe-King, Lucien, Williams, White, Ball, Nwaboukei Subs:  McNamara (for Ball 63 mins), Clark (for Williams 66 mins), Donnelly (for Lucien 78 mins), Thomas and Bell. Cards:  none Goals:  McNamara (82 mins)   St Neots Town:  Iron, Miles, Fulianty, Rhiney, Hughes, Shaw, Joseph, Pollock, Rider, Mutswunguma, Norville-Williams Subs:  Mutswunguma, Bissett-Clark (for Jacob 76 mins), Minall (for Mutswunguma 83 mins) Dunnett (for Fulianty 84 mins), O’Hara and Burberry. Cards:  Mutswunguma (Y – 56 mins) Goals:  none   Referee:  Andrew Hitchcox  Attendance:  188   John Walker
Sunday, 27 January 2019 11:04
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Needham Market       0         St Neots Town        1 St Neots recorded their first victory of 2019 and their first away league win since 23rd October as they avenged a 3-0 home reversal by their Suffolk hosts in their first meeting in November at the Premier Plus Stadium.   It was a strange day in the league with all six bottom clubs picking up at least a point – five of them playing away from home.  It was a changed St Neots line up with three players missing from the previous match all for different reasons.   Dylan Williams had departed from the Club to join neighbours Biggleswade Town, Ryan Hughes was unavailable and skipper Luke Knight was beginning a two-match ban as he serves his fourth suspension of the season.  Into their places came Jack Newell, another loanee from Northampton Town, and Tom Wood and Gary Wharton who were both on the substitutes bench for the Alvechurch match.   It was victory achieved in difficult circumstances for St Neots lost two players to injury in the first 45 minutes with two very inexperienced substitutes coming on in replacement.   Prince Mutswunguma was making only his second start for the side whilst seventeen years old youth starlet Jacob Joseph celebrated his senior debut. St Neots had an excellent first half creating most of the openings for themselves whilst defensively looking very sound.  In the first five minutes Taylor Parr saw an opportunistic overhead effort just clear the cross bar and Gary Wharton broke clear on the right but his shot passed the wrong side of the far post.     Then after 20 minutes a Matt Miles corner was won in the air by Parr, but his header was scrambled off the line by a home defender.   Needham was enjoying plenty of possession, but they never created a clear chance in the opening half hour as the reshaped visiting defence looked untroubled.   Wharton limped off injured after just 27 minutes and his replacement Prince Mutswunguma quickly settled in to look creative playing just behind striker James Hall.  The first serious threat to the visiting goal came after 33 minutes when Taylor Parr stretched to clear an Adam Mills cross but the ball deflected to James Baker whose first shot was blocked and his follow-up effort was spectacularly tipped over the bar by Finley Iron.   A Mills cross saw the St Neots defence backpedalling, but the ball was too long and then Scott Sinclair had to limp off just before half time with a leg injury. The visitors began the second half still looking comfortable and another Mills shot from distance was safely gathered by Iron.    Two left wing corner by Johnny Herd tested the home defence – the first only cleared as far as Russell Short who shot over but the second after 54 minutes saw a much more profitable replay of the first as the ball dropped to Short and his volley through a packed area beat home keeper Jake Jessup (once having played for the Saints) and it gave the defender his first goal for the Club on his 22nd appearance.   The home side redoubled their attacking effort and Callum Sturgess burst down the left, but his shot only found the side netting.   Young Joseph was not looking out of place and he confidently went past two opponents but shot wide and then the hard-working James Hall was robbed by a defender after chasing down a Jack Newell through pass.   With fifteen minutes remaining St Neots seemed to tire and Needham saw a way back into the match.   They began to exert pressure on the visiting defence and Luke Ingram headed over when he won a Mills cross.   Ingram then went clear of the defence but fired wildly over the bar and on a quick break Jordan Norville-Williams was hauled down making for goal earning the home defender a caution.  However, it was all Needham in the final five minutes as Joseph Marsden twice squandered good chances to earn his side a share of the points, both times firing high over the bar.  The home side did get the ball in the net two minutes from time, but the Referee had spotted a foul on Iron and awarded a free kick.   St Neots held out for a well-deserved and welcome three points.   Needham:  Jessup, Marsden, Sturgess, Squire, Morphew (K), Morphew (D), Ingram, Heath, Baker, Dobson, Mills Subs:  Griffiths (for Dobson 66 mins), Kamanzi, Pelling, McLoughlin and Cook. Cards:  Dobson (Y – 23 mins), Marsden (Y – 56 mins), Morphew (K) (Y – 83 mins) Goals:  none   St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Wood, Short, Parr, Sinclair, Newell, Hall, Wharton, Norville-Williams Subs:  Mutswunguma (for Wharton 27 mins), Joseph (for Sinclair 45+3 mins) and Rhiney Cards:  Sinclair (Y – 21 mins), Parr (Y – 71 mins) Goals:  Short (54 mins)   Referee:  Karl Sear (Chelmsford) Attendance:  299   John Walker
Saturday, 19 January 2019 20:16
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town       0        Alvechurch       3 The outcome of this match hinged on an ugly 51st minute incident which resulted in a red card for a visiting official and two yellow cards for home players – the one for home skipper Luke Knight a second in the match, and a sending off.   It appeared that St Neots had been denied the chance of taking a quick throw-in bringing Referee Andrew Humphries into consultation with a colleague to sort out the melee before meeting out the punishments.    Sadly this was a case of St Neots being responsible for their own misfortune because the loss of a player as they sought to get back into the game proved to be a fatal blow.   It was the second dismissal for the Saints’ skipper this season and in addition to twelve cautions, it has resulted in his disciplinary punishments seeing him missing almost half of St Neots’ matches.   It was overall a very disappointing performance by the home side who are now mired in a relegation fight with only just over a third of the season remaining.  With one of his Northampton loanee players recalled at short notice and Devante Stanley starting a three matches suspension, Manager Matt Clements recalled Taylor Parr, Russell Short and Scott Sinclair leaving Tom Wood and Mason Rhiney on the substitutes bench. Alvechurch took control of the attacking play from the start.   A loose clearance fell to Raheem Nabie after just two minutes, but his shot was deflected, and then a Josh Ezewele corner was pulled back to Josh March who shot high over the bar.  It was therefore no surprise when the visitors went ahead after 12 minutes as an Ezewele free kick found Kieran Cook unmarked and he headed past Finley Iron.   St Neots first shot on goal after 12 minutes by Johnny Herd was deflected for a corner and the ball was cleared quickly to March who free shot was comfortably saved by Iron.   Cook could have added to the score but skied his effort over the bar and from a Tom Turton corner, March won the ball in the air, but Iron saved well.   An initial midfield flare up saw Luke Knight and Cook booked as tempers frayed and St Neots desperate to get a toe hold into the game did create a good chance with Dylan Williams and Jordan Norville-Williams combining well, but Scott Sinclair fired well wide.   The first half ended with Nabie player clear of a square lying defence, but his effort was too high. St Neots looked more positive after the break but before they could really test the visiting defence the unfortunate (but unnecessary) flare up outside the visitors’ bench saw them reduced to ten men and a quick rethink of tactics required.   They responded by introducing Tom Wood to boost their attacking options in midfield, sacrificing Sinclair who was playing wide right but before the substitute made any impact the visitors carved out a second goal to leave the home side with a mountain to climb.   It came after 66 minutes as Tom Turton beat his marker on the side line and his accurate cross saw Lee Chilton arrive late from the left flank to head past the stranded Iron.   Wood had a shot blocked as St Neots rallied and a second substitute, Gary Wharton saw his effort blocked after good play by Williams.   Alvechurch was then reduced to ten men when Ash Carter was dismissed for violently disputing a corner kick decision but by then the visitors were back firmly in control and they rounded off a comfortable victory and a league double when the lively Chilton stole in at the far post to claim his second goal of the match from a Rahim Nabie cross in a breakaway attack six minutes from time.  Many of the rather sparse crowd had left before this third goal no doubt ruminating on how St Neots can get back to consistency of performance and enough points to retain their place at their current level of football. St Neots Town:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Hughes, Parr, Sinclair, Short, Hall, Williams, Norville-Williams Subs:  Wood (for Sinclair 60 mins), Wharton (for Hall 70 mins) and Rhiney Cards:  Knight (RED – 2 x Y – 35 & 51 mins), Herd (Y – 48 mins), Sinclair (Y – 51 mins), Miles (Y – 59 mins), Wharton (Y – 77 mins). Goals:  none   Alvechurch:  Crane, Ezewele, Foster, Turton, Morrison (K), Carter, Nabie, Cook, Lloyd, March, Chilton Subs:  Morrison (T) (for Cook 73 mins), Landell (for Lloyd 77 mins), Llewellyn (for Turton 89 mins, Willets and Parsons Cards:  Carter (RED – 73 mins), Cook (Y – 35 mins) Goals:  Cook (12 mins), Chilton 2 (66 & 84 mins)   Referee:  Andrew Humphries (Daventry) Attendance:  198   John Walker
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 11:25
HUNTINGDONSHIRE SENIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL Yaxley       2         St Neots Town       2 (St Neots won 3-2 on penalties) With half of the standard ten penalties either missed or saved the outcome of this Hunts Senior Cup semi-final was until doubt until literally the last kick of the match.   The outcome of the match could and should have been decided by half time because St Neots dominated much of the first half and created chance after chance but lower graded Yaxley repelled their efforts with home keeper James Blake producing several good saves.   Then after the break Yaxley came back with a vengeance and the confidence seemed to be drained from the visiting side who, nevertheless, could have snatched a winning goal before the ultimate penalty shoot-out.   Yaxley are enjoying their first ever season at Step Four of the pyramid in the Southern League Division One Central and have made a good start presently sitting half way up the table with much the same squad as won their promotion from the UCL.   The last time the two clubs met was in the Senior Cup was three seasons ago – a quarter final tie won by the visitors 6-1 with Tom Meechan, Adam Tann, Luis Vieira, Claudio Ofosu, Tom Ward and Isaac Galliford their goal scorers.   Unsurprisingly St Neots no survivors from that team in the squad for that meeting.   Yaxley last lifted the Senior Cup in 2007/08 beating St Ives in a penalty shoot-out but have been beaten finalist twice since then.   St Neots Manager Matt Clements made several changes from the side that had lost at Leiston restoring Ryan Hughes and Tom Wood in defence and James Hall to lead the attack, as well as handing full debut to Mason Rhiney in midfield with Taylor Parr unavailable and Russell Short, Scott Sinclair and Gary Wharton on the substitutes bench. The match got off to an explosive start with both sides scoring in their first credible attack.   St Neots were swiftly out of the blocks as Jordan Norville-Williams chased a long cross ball to the corner flag before skilfully turning his marker and crossing for James Hall to rise above the home defence to head home – his first goal since his return to the club on New Years Day.  Yaxley’s response was swift and effective as two minutes later the visiting defence failed to clear, and Dan Cotton returned the ball to the far post for Dalton Harris to level the scores.   St Neots then took over with Dylan Williams hauled down on the edge of the area and from Johnny Herd’s free kick, Ryan Hughes saw his shot rebound from a post into the grateful arms of home keeper James Blake after eleven minutes.  Three minutes later Williams saw an effort rebound from the crossbar and from a Luke Knight corner, Norville-Williams had his shot cleared off the line by Sam Spencer.   However, the pressure paid off and after 18 minutes St Neots regained the lead when Jordan Norville-Williams unleashed a surprise shot from 25 yards to beat Blake’s desperate dive.   The tempo then dropped with St Neots continuing to dominate with Williams twice going close, Blake producing the save of ther match to deny Devante Stanley, and Herd slicing through the home defence to be upended by Kyle Nolan on the edge of the penalty area, earning the Yaxley player a rather fortunate yellow card when the home side might have been reduced to ten men. If Yaxley had failed to test visiting keeper Finley Iron in the first half, they swiftly made amends after the break, with Matt Sparrow cutting in to see his low shot well saved and then Lewis Hook squandered an excellent chance firing wildly over the bar.   Fraser Sturgess also tested Iron and after 57 minutes a Cotton shot was blocked on the goal line.   St Neots seemed to regain their rhythm and they replied around the hour with a Knight shot that was deflected for a corner and Hall then set up the unmarked Williams ten yards from goal, but Blake bravely saved his point-blank effort.  Substitutions by both sides followed in a bid to grasp the initiative and one of the newcomers, Scott Sinclair burst through with a fierce shot just shy of the angle of post and bar.    The last ten minutes was phrenetic as both sides threw caution to the wind.   It was Yaxley who produced the decisive moment as a long cross by Cotton found substitute James Ward who levelled the scores with nine minutes remaining.   St Neots responded with Norville-Williams heading over the bar and Knight seeing a free kick well saved.   Yaxley will rue their missed late opportunities with substitute Tom Waumsley breaching the visiting defence but firing straight at Iron, and Sparrow shooting across the face of goal when left unmarked.   In time added Herd then cleared off the line to earn St Neots their penalty shoot- out. Waumsley fired the first spot kick over the bar to hand the visitors the initiative and the goalkeepers both made two excellent saves to extend the drama but with Luke Knight and Dylan Williams scoring for St Neots and James Ward and Joe Butterworth successful for Yaxley it was left to Tom Wood to become the unlikely St Neots hero as he fired home the tenth spot kick.   Holders St Neots will now face either the Rovers of Eynesbury or Godmanchester in the end of season Cup Final.   Yaxley:  Blake, Duncliffe, Eagleton, Nolan, Spencer, Bettles, Sparrow, Hook, Harris, Cotton, Sturgess Subs:  Waumsley (for Harris 56 mins), Ward (for Nolan 71 mins), Butterworth (for Sturgess 76 mins), Stebbing and Watson. Cards: Hook (Y – 23 mins), Nolan (Y – 40 mins), Bettles (Y – 90+2 mins) Goals:  Harris (8 mins), Ward (81 mins)   St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Hughes, Wood, Stanley, Rhiney, Hall, Williams, Norville-Williams Subs:  Sinclair (for Rhiney 64 mins), Wharton (for Hall 80 mins) and Short Cards:  none Goals:  Hall (6 mins), Norville-Williams (18 mins)   Referee:  Jon Burridge (Papworth) Attendance:  103   John Walker
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