Sunday, 17 January 2016 12:26
  Southern League Premier Division   ST NEOTS TOWN     0        CHIPPENHAM TOWN      4   Things got progressively worse for St Neots as first the week and then the match wore on. Two days prior to the match Manager David Batch announced the resignation of his management team after only just over a year in charge leaving recently appointed Club Director of Football Iain Parr, to stand in to manage the side - for the third time in the last decade. He then got news from the treatment room that Ryan Hawkins and Remy Gordon had joined the injury list but he did have the bonus of two new signings – Josh Dawkin from Cambridge City and Matthew Smyth – a loanee from Stevenage. Hosting free scoring, second in the table Chippenham could hardly have been a more daunting prospect for the caretaker Manager but then skipper and centre-half Ryan Frater limped off with a hamstring injury after just 23 minutes and his replacement, Matt Mitchel-King then left the field with double vision ten minutes from time leaving St Neots with ten men having previously utilized all of their permitted substitutes. In addition, both second half goals that doubled the tally against his side were both own goals scored by increasingly desperate defenders. So it is now eleven matches without a win and a nagging worry that a relegation battle looms in the last three months of the season. Where has it all gone wrong? – a question at the top of the to-do list that will occupy the priority of the new Manager expected to be named in the next week or so.   Although this was a better team performance than of late St Neots, were outclassed by their visitors and the need for more skill and energy in midfield shone out as a priority because the front runners had very poor service and the visiting keeper a very comfortable afternoon. From the start the visitors bossed proceedings. Andy Sandell headed over when well placed and Alex Ferguson left his marker for dead only to see his cross blocked and it took only 15 minutes for Chippenham to take the lead. After several attacks repelled by the St Neots defence the ball ran loose out of the penalty area and Matt Smith netted with a low shot that seemed to catch Andy Wilton unsighted.  Smith then brought a good stop from Wilton that he could not hold and Alan Griffin squandered an easy chance to increase the lead firing high over the bar. After just 23 minutes there had to be a major reshuffle as skipper Ryan Frater limped off leaving Matt Michel-King to move to central defence and Lee Clarke into midfield with teenage striker Chris Lewis coming on to partner Tom Meechan. St Neots best first half chance came after 33 minutes when Meechan beat two players on the right to cross to the head of Clarke and visiting keeper Kent Kauppinen produced a fine reflex save to push the ball away.  After 41minutes Sandell saw a close range header blocked by Wilton but he only had to wait three more minutes to get his name on the score sheet.  He was impeded by Mitchel-King in the area and he confidently tucked away the resultant penalty kick to double the visitors’ lead. Griffin wasted a golden opportunity to extend the lead two minutes after the break heading wide from a James Guthrie cross but six minutes later he crossed from the left only to see St Neots debutant full back Ben Burton turn the ball into his own net.   Energetic youngster Robbie Sweeney, easily the most impressive St Neots player cleared off the line from Mark Preece following a Michael Pook corner and after 63 minutes St Neots made a bold move sending on 17 years old Claudio Ofosu for Josh Dawkin, who had not really settled on his debut.  Ofosu looked lively and was unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after 74 minutes when Kauppinen appeared to pull him down but only a corner was awarded. Chippenham continued to bombard the St Neots goal and Wilton made two excellent saves from Ferguson and Sandell but when Mitchel-King went off St Neots could only await the final whistle for some relief however the visitors extended their lead in stoppage time when the unfortunate Tann diverted the ball into his own net.   St Neots:  Wilton, Anton, Burton, Tann, Frater, Smyth, Dawkin, Mitchel-King, Meechan, Clarke, Sweeney   Subs:  Lewis (C) (for Frater 23), Ofosu (for Dawkin 63), Jones (B) (for Meechan 78), Hobbs and Vieira.   Cards:  none   Goals:  none       Chippenham:  Kauppinen, Ballinger, Grant, Pook, Tindle, Preece. Ferguson, Smith, Griffin, Sandell, Guthrie   Subs:  McCormack (for Ballinger 67), Taylor (for Griffin 72), Jones (M) (for Guthrie 78), Campbell and Allen.   Cards:  none   Goals:  Smith (15 mins), Sandell pen (44 mins), Burton OG (53 mins), Tann OG (90+2 mins)           Attendance: 272   Referee: Nicholas Cooper (Ipswich)       John Walker  
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 17:51
  Huntingdonshire Senior Cup Semi-Final   ST NEOTS TOWN  1- 2   ST IVES TOWN             It is the St Ives Saints who will progress to this year’s Huntingdonshire Senior Cup Final after a generally uninspiring match at St Neots. Ironically both the St Ives goals came from two former St Neots players and the final score was a reversal of that recorded on the same ground last October in the first round of the Red Insure Cup. St Neots’ team changes saw several inexperienced youngsters in the starting line-up and the highlight for the struggling home side who have now gone ten games without a win was an injury time consolation goal from sixteen years old debutant Dan Lewis. It is a long time since St Neots have started a match in the Senior Cup as second favorites but St Ives fresh from their away league victory over the leaders on Saturday looked the likely winners throughout the match and deserved their progress. With the St Neots Management team away on business it was recently appointed Director of Football Iain Parr who was in charge of the home side. The opening phase of the match was a fairly dour struggle as the sides appeared to pay too much respect to the other. St Neots made the better start but the only early attempt on goal after 12 minutes was a Peter Clark shot for the visitors that sailed over the bar. Claudio Ofosu shot wide at the other end after good work by Ryan Hawkins but the game came to life after 28 minutes when Peter Clark picked up the ball 20 yards inside his own half and was allowed to run unchallenged to within 25 yards of target where he unleashed an unstoppable shot across St Neots keeper Ollie Sutton for the opening goal. Andrew Phillips had the best chance to increase the visitors’ lead four minutes later when he volleyed across goal with better options available and another surging run by Clark at the St Neots defence was halted when he was bundled off the ball by St Neots skipper Ryan Frater who was booked. St Neots began the second half brightly and Tom Meechan fired over the bar before he was brought down by Scott Sinclair who was booked. A Ryan Hawkins free kick tested Tim Trebes and the keeper then had to rush from his line to save at the feet of Ofosu who had beaten a thinly disguised offside trap. After 57 minutes St Neots introduced 16 years old substitute Erhan Nurettin one of their scholarship and he quickly settled in a midfield role looking a comfortable replacement for Ben Jones. St Ives then broke away for Stuart Eason to see a close range effort rebound from the crossbar just before he limped off to be replaced by Luke Knight. The match had now opened up as a contest with play end to end and defender Dan Moyes could have extended St Ives lead from a free header at a corner but the ball sailed over the bar. Jordan Jarrold was St Ives saviour as he deflected a Meechan effort off the line and St Ives then introduced their two final substitutes to push on to settle the match. However St Neots finished the stronger but created little of significance and in a St Ives breakaway attack Ben Seymour-Shove showed electric pace to outrun the defence and force Sutton into a fine save at the foot of a goalpost. With five minutes left St Ives clinched victory as Luke Knight rose above the defence to head home a Jack Higgs corner but there was still time for another sixteen years old debutant late entrant to the fray as Dan Lewis fired home from 30 yards a minute into stoppage time to register his first senior goal for St Neots and claim some late limp consolation for the host side.   St Neots:  Sutton, Anton, Sweeney, Clarke, Frater, Blackett, Hawkins, Jones, Meechan, Ofosu, Vieira Subs:  Nurettin (for Jones 69), Lewis (D) (for Vieira 80), Tann, Mailancol and Wilton Cards:  Frater (34 mins) Goals:  Lewis (D) (90+1)   St Ives:  Trebes, Sinclair, Jarrold, Death, Moyes, Higgs, Seymour-Shove, Clark, Eason, Phillips, Draycott Subs:  Knight (for Eason 63), Keating (for Draycott 78), Cuniff (for Clark 78), Gentle and Watson Cards:  Sinclair (Y – 49), Jarrold (Y – 77) Goals:  Clark (27 mins), Knight (85 mins)   Attendance: 205 Referee: Neil Hair (Peterborough)   John Walker  
Wednesday, 06 January 2016 10:49
  Southern League Premier Division CHESHAM UNITED  3 - 1   ST NEOTS TOWN               Another game – another defeat and it took St Neots’ sorry recent run to three successive defeats and no win in their last nine matches. It was however not all doom and gloom because the overall team performance was easily the best since the beginning of December and their return home empty handed came principally because of the very controversial sending off of Matt Mitchel-King after just 29 minutes.   There was a coming together of Mitchel-King and Barry Hayles – the two most experienced players on the pitch and after the former Jamaican International went down the St Neots midfielder was shown a straight red card for an alleged ‘stray arm’ that had caught Hales in the face.   Referee Adam Williams from Pinner had already sought the limelight booking St Neots skipper Ryan Frater after five minutes for a rather dubious handball offence in the centre of the park and he went on to issue seven yellow cards and two reds in a match that was never physical or ill-tempered.   With Lee Clarke, Remy Gordon and Ben Jones all restored to the starting line-up it was Jamie Anton who was the unlucky player to start on the bench. Despite the early booking St Neots settled quickly on the rain sodden surface and after 13 minutes the lively Tom Meechan burst into the penalty area to be pushed off the ball by Curtis Ujah but the certain looking penalty appeals were ignored by the officials.   At the other end Ujah headed onto the roof of the net from a Matt Taylor corner but St Neots were in the ascendancy and after 24 minutes deservedly took the lead as a delightful through ball inside the final defender by Lee Clarke freed Meechan and he made no mistake to claim his 24th goal of the season.   It was no more than they deserved but St Neots were then reduced to ten men and this gave the home side the initiative. Ryan Blake went clear but Andy Wilton saved at his feet and in the same attack the keeper had to go full length to push away a stinging shot from Bruce Wilson. Seven minutes before the break another fine Wilton save denied a Dave Pearce goal but the seeming non-stoop wave of Chesham attacks gave them the reward they sought after 43 minutes when a Taylor shot was pushed away but Ryan Blake was the first to react as he netted from close range to level the scores. St Neots half time tactical move saw Adam Tann moved into midfield with Jamie Anton on in defence with the out of touch Remy Gordon sacrificed.   That move did what was required because for the first 25 minutes of the second half St Neots dominated despite their deficiency in numbers. Ben Jones had his shot deflected and followed up to bring a good save from home keeper Shane Gore and Ryan Hawkins shot narrowly wide.  Meechan saw another narrow angled shot finish up in the side netting but he was then hauled down when going clear and Ujah looked mighty lucky only to get a yellow card after 66 minutes.   However two minutes later the same thing happened and this time the defender saw both colours as he was sent off.   That just seemed to inspire the home side and four minutes later they took the lead when Blake burst into the area to leave Wilton helpless with a fierce finish after good work on the right by Pearce.  Wilton under pressure then did well to punch away a shot by Wilson but as St Neots seemed to lose their rhythm and confidence Chesham were now looking the stronger side.   With eleven minutes left the goal of the match – a real humdinger of a 25 yards shot by substitute Ashley Smith ripped into the roof of the St Neots net to confirm a 3-1 Chesham victory and leave the visitors back at square one. St Neots:  Wilton, Tann, Longden, Mitchel-King, Frater, Blackett, Hawkins, Jones, Meechan, Clarke, Gordon Subs:  Anton (for Gordon 46), Hobbs (for Longden 85), Lewis (for Meechan 90), Ofosu and Mailancol. Cards:  Mitchel-King (RED – 29), Frater (Y – 5), Longden (Y – 84) Goals:  Meechan (24 mins) Chesham:  Gore, Gater, Little, Beasant, Ujah, Youngs, Pearce, Taylor, Blake, Hayles, Wilson Subs:  Smith (for Taylor 71), Bossman (for Hayles 76), Hamilton-Forbes (for Pearce 81), Woodcock and Dubrenec Cards:  Ujah (RED – 68 – 2xY), Gater (Y – 44), Blake (Y – 73), Little (Y – 86) Goals:  Blake 2 (43 & 72 mins), Smith (79 mins) Attendance: 245 Referee: Adam Williams (Pinner, Middlesex) John Walker
Sunday, 03 January 2016 12:35
  Southern League Premier Division ST NEOTS TOWN   0 - 1     KINGS LYNN TOWN      St Neots worst ever run of results in the Southern League was perpetuated as Kings Lynn stole all three points with a late goal.   It is now eight matches without a win and only two wins in the last fifteen games and alarm bells must be ringing.  Despite two more players returning from their injury list St Neots were lacking in ideas and finishing and their afternoon was clearly summed up when skipper Ryan Frater fluffed the simplest of chances of an equalizer when he fired over the bar with the net gaping five minutes into added time.   Lynn defended well and will have been delighted to take full points but St Neots must arrest their freefall if they are not to convert play off ambitions into a relegation battle.   They had the bonus of Shane Blackett and Matt Mitchel-King both returning from injury absence but their approach to the match seemed woefully short of confidence and with Drew Roberts still injured their decision to play Tom Meechan as a lone striker starved the team of scoring opportunities.   They have now scored just four goals in their last five matches and with Roberts’ fitness a long term doubt Manager David Batch might be having to strengthen in that department but his main concern will be his players’ apparent lack of belief in themselves and the team.  With six league matches and a Hunts Senior Cup semi-final in quick succession January is beginning to look a critical month. With the two teams looking fairly matched the first half was rather a pallid affair and despite playing being end to end neither goalkeeper had a serious save to make in the first 45 minutes.  St Neots could have been ahead in the second minute when from an Isaac Galliford corner Shane Blackett saw a shot blocked but the ball fell kindly for Ryan Hawkins who skied it high over the bar.   At the other end Jacek Zielonka finished in similar fashion and despite both sides looking prepared to go forward in search of goals the finishing from both was very poor and too often well off target. Robbie Sweeney on loan from Stevenage making only his second start volleyed over the bar whilst for the Linnets Lee Stevenson had a shot blocked to present Liam Hurst with the visitors’ best first half chance but he shot high over the bar.   St Neots persevered with a 4-4-1-1 formation with alternately Galliford and Sweeney playing behind Meechan and created very little so the goalless first period was very predictable. Lynn came out looking very much more positive and determined and had much the better of play for twenty minutes or so. Jacek Zielonka played clear shot weakly wide and then Liam Hurst put Michael Clunan in on goal and only a full length stop by Andy Wilton saved St Neots after 49 minutes.   Two minutes later Wilton left his line only to be lobbed by Lee Stevenson but Ryan Frater galloped back to clear off the line and then Stevenson beat the thinly disguised St Neots offside trap but shot wide with just the keeper to beat.   St Neots sent on Remy Gordon to boost their attack but the visitors also introduced fresh blood and defender Ryan Fryatt went close from a set piece.  Another St Neots tactical change saw Lee Clarke on in midfield with Adam Tann moved to full back in place of Jamie Anton just after the defender had seen his long cross steered off the line by Stevenson.  However in the last 15 minutes St Neots looked the stronger and more positive side with visiting keeper Alex Street saving at the feet of Meechan.  Ironically during their best spell of the game St Neots conceded the match winning goal five minutes from time as they failed to cut out a Clunan corner and substitute David Bridges forced the ball in at close range.   Twice in the last five minutes St Neots were denied what looked like good shouts for penalties as Lynn blocked several close range shots but the Referee waved away the appeals and booked Matt Mitchel-King for protesting too loudly. St Neots:  Wilton, Anton, Longden, Tann, Frater, Blackett, Hawkins, Mitchel-King, Meechan, Galliford, Sweeney Subs:  Gordon (for Galliford 61), Clarke (for Anton 75), Ofosu, Hobbs and Mailancol. Cards:  Tann (Y – 56), Mitchel-King (Y – 86) Goals:  none Kings Lynn:  Street, Fryatt (R), Yong, Miller, Gaughran, Smith, Clunan, Hurst, Zielonka, Stevenson, Friend Subs:  Mulready (for Zielonka 64), Bridges (for Smith 67), Edge (for Friend 85), Castellan and Fryatt (L) Cards:  none Goals:  Bridges (85 mins) Attendance: 520 Referee: Chris Ward (Doncaster) John Walker
Sunday, 27 December 2015 12:28
  Southern League Premier Division BIGGLESWADE TOWN   5 - 2    ST NEOTS TOWN     This was a Boxing Day cracker the result of which was effectively settled in the first 14 minutes regardless of St Neots’ subsequent valiant efforts.   Biggleswade must have thought that Santa had arrived a day late when they were awarded two penalty kicks before the match was a quarter of an hour old but St Neots certainly contributed in no small way to their own misfortunes.   With Drew Roberts, Lee Clarke and Ryan Hawkins back in the starting line up the real disappointment was the absence of Matt Mitchel-King recovering from a training injury but St Neots greatly strengthened side from their previous match were hoping for some significant reward from their short trip down the A1.   Locked together in mid-table going into the second half of the season both sides have disappointed so far this season but were hoping for upward progression in the league table in the New Year. Before some of the spectators had taken their seats the home side had set out their intentions as Ian Rees forced visiting keeper Andy Wilton into a smart save at the foot of his hear post in the first minute.   Two minutes later Chris Marsh burst into the penalty area to aim a cross to the far post but the ball struck defender Ryan Frater on the arm and to the surprise of many Referee Josh Few pointed to the penalty spot and booked the unfortunate defender.   Innih Effiong confidently dispatched the spot kick and just three minutes later before St Neots had time to recover from the shock Tony Burnett cleverly turned his marker to shoot beyond the keeper to double the lead.   St Neots responded with a free kick from Remy Gordon that was touched around the post by Ian Brown but the home side were well in control and after 14 minutes Effiong was left with space on the left and his dangerous low cross found St Neots defence in disarray and Brett Longden foolishly tugged the shirt of Craig Daniel to concede a second penalty and deservedly earn himself a straight red card.  Once again Offing comprehensively beat Wilton and three goals adrift St Neots were left looking for a miracle that was never going to come,16 minutes gone three goals adrift down to ten men game over. They rallied with just three players at the back and Brown had to dive bravely at the feet of Tom Meechan bur the respite was brief and after 31 minutes the jubilant Effiong completed his hat trick lobbing the unhappy Wilton who had decided to leave his line to narrow the striker’s shooting angle.   At the same time St Neots had been reduced to nine men with Drew Roberts limping off and he was replaced by Isaac Galliford who slotted into a traditional back four leaving Tom Meechan to forage alone up front.   Effiong then spurned a simple chance of a fourth goal shooting tamely wide after rounding Wilton who had once again been exposed and just before the break Daniel sent in an angled shot that beat Wilton but rebounded from the crossbar.   Two minutes into time added before half time Tom Meechan gave St Neots a glimmer of hope when his smart finish made the half time score 4-1 in favour of the host side. Another St Neots change at the break saw the introduction of Stevenage loanee Robbie Sweeney who slotted in at full back with Galliford moving to midfield.and St Neots really made light of being a man short as they took the game to Biggleswade.   After 56 minutes Meechan loked to be hemmed in by three defenders yet he still pulled out a volley into the roof of the net to reduce the arrears and nine minutes later when Hawkins was brought down it was St Neots turn to be awarded a penalty kick.   Meechan should have completed his hat trick but his poorly struck attempt was saved by Brown to the relief of his team mates. However St Neots continued to look the dominant side although on the break Effiong headed over before bringing the save of the match from Wilton.   The late dregs of an exciting match continued to produce further goal attempts as Burnett cut in to fire over the bar and three minutes into added time Craig Daniel saw his shot deflected past the unfortunate Wilton to complete the scoring but Wilton had the last word as he produced another fine save to deny Burnett.   St Neots:  Wilton, Anton, Longden, Clarke, Tann, Frater, Hawkins, Jones, Meechan, Roberts, Gordon Subs:  Galliford (for Roberts 31), Sweeney (for Clarke 46), Ofosu (for Gordon 78), Hobbs and Lewis. Cards:  Longden (RED – 14 mins), Frater (Y – 3 mins) Goals:  Meechan 2 (45+2 & 56 mins)   Biggleswade:  Brown, York, Coulson, King, Hoyte, Lewis, Daniel, Rees, Effiong, Burnett, Marsh Subs:  Vincent (for Effiong 87), Lee (for King (90+6), Allinson (for Burnett (90+6) Cards:  none Goals:  Effiong 3 (3, 14 & 31 mins), Burnett (6 mins), Daniel (90+3 mins) John Walker
Saturday, 19 December 2015 19:01
  Southern League Premier Division ST NEOTS TOWN 1- 1  WEYMOUTH           St Neots seventh draw in their last eleven games leaves them still struggling to regain their form as they languish in mid-table.   This was a match never short of incident with both sides finishing with ten men but despite St Neots having much the better of the first half they were unable to make their better possession and chances pay off with goals.   Weymouth were twice denied by the woodwork after the break and could have stolen all three points with their spirited second half performance. With Lee Clarke (unavailable) and Ryan Hawkins (suspended) joining Shane Blackett, Tom Ward and Drew Roberts (all injured) on the side lines the only thing St Neots will be hoping for this Christmas is a fully fit squad to choose from and for this match they introduced teenage trialist Robbie Sweeney from the Stevenage Academy and he played all but six minutes in a position wide right in midfield.  Off the pitch the main talking point was the surprise retirement of Chairman Michael Kearns who was still supporting his side from the terraces. After an early cross from Chris Shephard had tested home keeper Andy Wilton the game settled with St Neots in the ascendancy but there were too many stoppages notably for offside offences at both ends for the game to really flow.   Adam Kelly stabbed a shot wide for the visitors but St Neots really should have been in front after 20 minutes when a clever pass by Isaac Galliford freed Tom Meechan but a poor first touch allowed Andrew Dawber to leave his line to collect the ball at the strikers’ feet.   However five minutes later St Neots did take the lead when a sublime flick over the defence by the confident Remy Gordon once again put Meechan beyond the final defender and it took a quality full length save by Dawber to push the ball around a post.   However from Galliford’s uncleared inswinging corner a shot by Robbie Sweeney was blocked by a defender but the ball fell to Matt Mitchel-King and he rapped home his fourth league goal of the season.  It was no more than St Neots deserved and three minutes later they looked to be denied a clear penalty when a Galliford cross was handled by a defender but play was waved on.   Gordon now getting back to fitness after his long injury lay-off then brought a fine save from the overworked visiting keeper and after a couple of long range off-target shots from the visitors the half ended with another St Neots chance as skipper Ryan Frater headed wide from a Galliford corner. That first half had been St Neots best 45 minutes for several matches but they failed to build on that after the break. Galliford did volley an early half chance over the bar but with their leading scorer Stewart Yetton on as a substitute for the injured Ben Thomson the visitors looked more positive.   From an Adam Kelly cross Yetton saw a close range header rebound from the crossbar and then Billy Lowes brought a good save from Wilton.   St Neots had lost their first half rhythm picking up three bookings as they struggled to contain the visiting attack and after 75 minutes a snap shot by Mark Moseley from 30 yards surprised Wilton but bounced off the junction of post and crossbar.   However Weymouth only had to wait until their next attack two minutes later to get the equaliser they were threatening. A long through ball from Mark Cooper was chased down to the bye line by Adam Kelly and his low cross to the near post was turned into the net by Chris Shephard.  St Neots made the positive move of introducing striker Chris Lewis for Galliford but before he had been involved a bust up between Ben Jones and Jordan Copp saw the Weymouth player pick up a straight red card and Jones a second yellow so both sides were reduced to ten men with seven minutes remaining.   During that spell Weymouth looked the more threatening but St Neots held out for a point that saw them slip one place in the table to fourteenth with neighbours Biggleswade winning away at Leamington.   The two meet at Biggleswade on Boxing Day. St Neots: Wilton, Anton, Longden, Mitchel-King, Frater, Tann, Galliford, Jones, Meechan, Sweeney, Gordon Subs: Lewis (for Galliford 78), Hobbs (for Sweeney 84), Ofosu (for Gordon 90+2), Burton and Dean Cards:  Jones (RED – 83 – 2xY), Longden (Y – 62), Mitchel-King (Y – 66), Sweeney (Y – 70) Goals:  Mitchel-King (25 mins) Weymouth: Dawber, Cooper, Copp, Evans, McPhee, Brooks, Kelly, Lawes, Moseley, Thomson, Shephard Subs:  Yetton (for Thomson 32), Sills (for Lawes 73), Wannell (for Cooper 84), Wells and Rigg Cards:  Copp (RED – 83), Moseley (Y – 90+3) Goals:  Shephard (77 mins) Attendance: 299 Referee: Geoffrey Russell (Northampton) John Walker  
Saturday, 12 December 2015 19:16
  Southern League Premier Division ST NEOTS TOWN   0 -1   KETTERING TOWN           This match will be remembered for two controversial goalmouth incidents – one at each end – and precious little else.  Unfortunately for St Neots the decision against them settled the outcome of a disappointing encounter that was as drab as the weather. Still without injured defenders Tom Ward and Shane Blackett, St Neots looked short of ideas and confidence and a further blow came when Drew Roberts failed to shake off a thigh strain.   However Tom Meechan was back after his three match suspension but he received little service from his side in a match in which neither sides came to terms with the blustery conditions.   Defensively St Neots looked fairly sound but having to play Matt Mitchel-King at the back robs them of some steel in midfield and although the versatile Isaac Galliford looked bright their overall performance was well below par.   So at the halfway stage of their season St Neots suffered their fourth home defeat and start the remainder of their programme from the bottom half of the league table. With the elements in their favour Kettering began the stronger of the two sides.   James Brighton sent a free kick the wrong side of a post and from a corner by the same player Dom Langden sent a looping header over the defence but saw the ball rebound from the crossbar.   St Neots first attack through a long throw by Brett Longden tested the visiting defence but Chris Carruthers headed over his own bar to relieve the pressure but Kettering were using the wind well and created further chances as Liam Canavan had a low shot finger tipped for a corner by Andy Wilton and then visiting skipper Brett Solkhon sent a header onto the roof of the net.   St Neots seemed to be chasing shadows as Kettering kept the ball well but St Neots did go close in a quick break when from a Meechan corner, Mitchel-King had a close range shot blocked on the goal line   Then after 20 minutes a searching cross by Brighton saw St Neots keeper Andy Wilton rise to grasp the ball but under what looked to be an illegal change the ball squirmed loose to be rolled into the empty net by Renee Howe and St Neots protests fell on deaf ears.   Brighton shot over the bar and at the other end Meechan went down under a strong challenge by Carruthers but his penalty appeals were ignored.   St Neots were creating little and having to rely on half chances and just before the break Meechan chased down a through ball and cleverly made space for himself but shot disappointingly over the bar. The second half challenge was for St Neots to utilise the conditions as well as Kettering had in the first 45 minutes but this proved a vain hope.   The visitors looked happy to defend their slender lead without making any real move to increase it and it was frustrating for the home side who dominated possession but created very little.   Ryan Frater and Mitchel-King easily snuffed out any forward moves by Kettering but the home side needed a play maker to create openings for the front players. They swapped Ryan Hawkins and Lee Clarke to add variation and in a rate Kettering sortie to the St Neots end Liam Canavan shot well wide when the home side looked vulnerable.   After 74 minutes a teasing Jamie Anton cross was well held by Keeper Paul Walker at full stretch and Remy Gordon went through the Kettering defence with pace but was blocked as the keeper left his line.    Five minutes later St Neots thought they had an equalising goal when leading scorer Tom Meechan forced the ball into the Kettering net from a Hawkins free kick but after vehement protests by the visiting side Meechan was booked for handball and the effort ruled out.   Meechan then limped off to be replaced by Chris Lewis and Wilton had to be alert to deny substitute Courtney Baker-Richardson a second Kettering goal a minute from time.  In added time St Neots might have snatched a point but Lee Clarke’s full length header was deflected for a corner.  Overall it was a poor performance by St Neots who must now find a second gear in order to improve their position. St Neots: Wilton, Anton, Longden, Galliford, Frater, Mitchel-King, Clarke, Jones, Meechan, Hawkins, Gordon Subs: Lewis (for Meechan 82), Mailancol, Hobbs, Tann and Dean Cards:  Mitchel-King (Y – 39), Meechan (Y – 79) Goals:  none Kettering: Walker, Bateman, Carruthers, Solkhon, Langden, Pepe-Ngoma, Carvalho, Mulligan, Howe, Canavan, Brighton Subs:  Baker-Richardson (for Howe 46), Grocott (for Carvalho 84), Stephens (for Canavan 84), Sandy and Hill Cards:  Stephens (Y – 90) Goals:  Howe (20 mins) Attendance: 438 Referee: James Turner (Kings Lynn) John Walker  
Sunday, 06 December 2015 15:02
  Southern League Premier Division SLOUGH TOWN   2 -2   ST NEOTS TOWN               A fifth successive trip on the road and another very useful draw for a St Neots team that is gradually rediscovering its form and confidence.  Only one defeat in their last seven league outings sees their record returning to the level achieved at the start of 2015 and the appointment of Manager David Batch.   For the first time since the end of August there was an unchanged starting line up in successive games with only two significant absentees in Tom Meechan (suspended) and Tom Ward (injured) and the performances are reflecting a level of consistency to match the line-up.   There was also a return to action just sixteen weeks after breaking his leg for Remy Gordon who had a ten minutes substitute appearance after being carefully nursed back to fitness.  However the result should have been better had not a controversial refereeing decision gone again St Neots in the first half before they were further penalised by a brilliant penalty save by the home keeper.  Slough are fast becoming a bit of a bogey side for when the two sides had met in the Central Division promotion season the Buckinghamshire side threatened to derail St Neots’ ambitions by being the only side to record a league double over them. For the third time in eight days the high wind made conditions very difficult but to the credit of both sides there was some entertaining football served up.   St Neots made much the better start with Ryan Hawkins leading the attack looking lively to lay on a fourth minute cross that just required a touch and six minutes later clear on goal he was cynically brought down from behind by home skipper Dan Hicks who looked very fortunate only to be issued with a yellow card.   From the resultant free kick Hawkins’ effort was well saved by Mark Scott and then Drew Roberts outwitted his marker to cross to the far post where the unmarked Lee Clarke was only inches from putting the visitors ahead.   As the half wore on Slough began to threaten and Charlie Mpi beat Andy Wilton in a race to a through ball but skied his effort over the bar.   An Isaac Galliford volley after 23 minutes was well saved and two minutes later two close range efforts in the same attack by Clarke were both blocked by first Scott and then Sean Fraser.   After 27 minutes St Neots went ahead when a long throw by Brett Longden was not cleared and Ryan Frater celebrated his return to St Neots by flicking home from close range – his first goal since 1st January – coincidentally the Manager’s first game in charge.   St Neots then lost Frater’s co-defender Shane Blackett who was injured and replaced by Adam Tann with Matt Mitchel-King moving back into defence. Then on the stroke of half time from a Lewis Putman corner Frater seemed to be shoved in the back as he went up to clear – the ball striking his arm – but instead of giving St Neots a free kick the Referee gave Slough a penalty converted by Ed Smith. After the break St Neots pushed Clarke up front with Hawkins moving to a wider role on the right and after the early exchanges St Neots went ahead for the second time in the match when poor defending by Slough saw the ball ping pong around the area before Isaac Galliford shot home through the confused defence.   Slough lifted their game and Smith tested Wilton before winning several corners.   From the last of these after 72 minutes Lewis Putman’s cross was only cleared as far as Ryan Hope some 25 yards from goal and he hit a hard low shot goal-wards that took two deflections the second of which struck Charlie Mpi and he claimed his sides’ second levelling goal.   Three minutes later Hawkins was brought down just inside the penalty area by Hope and St Neots were awarded a penalty.   Slough protested long and loud at this decision culminating in Hope being sent off for his refusal to accept the decision. With regular penalty taker Tom Meechan suspended the ball was handed to Drew Roberts who hit a well struck and well placed shot but Scott anticipated brilliantly to push the ball onto the bar from where it was bundled clear.  However St Neots tried hard in the remaining 15 minutes to make the extra man count without any success and Smith squandered a late chance to steal all three points for Slough shooting over the bar from four yards. St Neots: Wilton, Anton, Longden, Mitchel-King, Frater, Blackett, Clarke, Jones, Hawkins, Roberts, Galliford Subs: Tann (for Blackett 35), Gordon (for Roberts 80), Hobbs, Mailancol and Lewis Cards:  Longden (Y – 35), Roberts (Y – 45+2), Jones (Y – 49) Goals:  Frater (27 mins), Galliford (62 mins) Slough: Scott, Fraser, Clayton, Hollis, Hicks, Hope, Putman, Webb, Mpi, Smith, Harris Subs:  Rumbold (for Mpi 79), Dhillon, Maloney, Strutton and Gokmen. Cards:  Hope (RED – 75), Hicks (Y – 10) Goals:  Smith (45 mins), Mpi (72 mins) Attendance: 280 Referee: Shaun Barry (Northampton) John Walker  
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