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
Saturday, 12 January 2019 21:41
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Leiston       2         St Neots Town        0 Just four days on from their first league meeting these two sides suffered contrasting fortunes in the quick return match.   St Neots had enforced team changes and seemingly far less method than in the first meeting and the result was a complete turn-around of score line and points reward.   With James Hall unavailable and the pair of Northampton Town loanee’s defender Ryan Hughes and midfielder Scott Pollock, recalled by their parent club to play in a youth fixture, St Neots welcomed back skipper Luke Knight after suspension and recalled Gary Wharton and Matt Miles – the latter after injury.   However, the visitors were far from their best – unable to put together any real convincing attacking moves, whilst the home side used the pitch well stretching the visiting defence to create openings, and despite playing with ten men for half an hour before a Neots red card levelled the numbers, they thoroughly deserved their victory.   St Neots looked only a shadow of the side that came into this match on the back of their first two consecutive league victories of the season and with a County Cup to defend in a midweek semi-final they must swiftly regroup and rebuild confidence. St Neots almost conceded a goal in the opening minute when Luke Knight clumsily upended Kyle Hammond on the edge of the penalty area, but the home player climbed to his feet to send the free kick narrowly over the bar.   St Neots responded with a quick counter-attack as Devante Stanley fed Gary Wharton but he fired across goal from an oblique angle.   Finley Iron then had to save bravely at the feet of Hammond as Leiston began to assert themselves and Byron Lawrence sent Christy Finch clear, but he shot well wide as Iron narrowed his angle.   After 21 minutes the wily Jordan Norville Williams was crudely brought down by Harry Knights earning the home defender a straight red card – a chance for the visitors to push home their advantage.   However apart from one off-target effort by Stanley this never materialised and after Tom Bullard had headed against the bar for Leiston from a corner, they deservedly took the lead on the half hour when the unmarked Patrick Brothers was given far too much space on the left and he curled a sublime chip over the keeper and under the bar at the far post.   St Neots managed a brief rally as Dylan Williams had a net-bound shot blocked and a second well gathered by Marcus Garnham.   Before the break Luke Knight picked up a strange booking as he appeared to push one of his own players! St Neots still sought to push home heir numerical advantage after the break but after Knight hadsent a free kick in a prominent position wide of target and after only six minutes of the second half, parity in numbers was restored when Devante Stanley became the second player in the match to be shown a straight red card after a late high tackle on Bullard.   St Neots regrouped with Norville-Williams pushed well forward but six minutes after the St Neots dismissal, the home side effectively clinched all three points with a second goal.   It came as a result of some shoddy defending with wide man Lawrence going past his marker to send in a low shot that was deflected to the unmarked Noel Aitkens at the far post for a simple tap-in goal.   Leiston quickly stated their objective of sitting on their enhanced advantage taking off two attacking players and defending deep in their own half challenging St Neots to take the game to them.   However they almost got a third goal on the break when Scott Sinclair missed a header presenting Brothers with an open chance, but he shot wide.   St Neots huffed and puffed with little result although they did try to play some constructive football to get the ball forward.    From a late free kick Taylor Parr had a header comfortably saved by Garnham and from a Sinclair cross Gary Wharton missed St Neots best chance for a late consolation goal, before bringing a good save from the home keeper with the final chance of the match. Leiston:  Garnham, Knights, Dunbar, Boardley, Jefford, Bullard, Lawrence, Hammond, Aitkens, Finch, Brothers Subs:  Bacon (for Boardley 58 mins), Davies (for Finch 77 mins), Cheetham (for Brothers 90+2 mins), Head and Lay-Fulcher. Cards:  Knights (RED – 21 mins} Goals:  Brothers (30 mins), Aitkens (57 mins)   St Neots:  Iron, Sinclair, Herd, Knight, Short, Parr, Stanley, Miles, Wharton, Williams, Norville-Williams Subs:  Rhiney (for Williams 64 mins), Shaw and Gomes. Cards:  Stanley (RED – 51 mins), Knight (Y – 36 mins) Goals:  none Referee:  Benjamin Bowles (Colchester) Attendance:  208   John Walker
Wednesday, 09 January 2019 16:51
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town     2         Leiston       0 Back to back league victories for the first time this season has lifted St Neots three points clear of the relegation zone for the first time for a month.   Suffolk visitors Leiston visiting the Town for the first time were sent back down the A14 with little to show for their ninety minutes effort.   St Neots could and should have won by a greater margin for the were the dominant force in the first 45 minutes and more than shared possession after the break with home keeper Finley Iron have only one serious save to make.   This was in part tribute to a compact and confident display by St Neots’ central defenders Ryan Hughes and Taylor Parr who shackled the free scoring visiting attack that has netted more than twice the number of goals scored by the host side this season.   Undefeated in their last six games Leiston had climbed to the top half of the table after a poor November but they were well beaten in this encounter.   St Neots had an enforced team change when full back Matty Miles failed to recover from an injury sustained in the Royston game and so Scott Sinclair got his first start since returning to the side after a voluntary break.    However, St Neots kept their loyal group of noisy fans waiting because despite leading for more than ninety minutes they kept the faithful waiting until added time for the clinching goal from the penalty spot. St Neots received a massive early boost when they scored their quickest goal of the season when Jordan Norville-Williams ghosted in at the neat post to flick home a Devante Stanley cross in just two minutes after St Neots had broken clear from a Leiston attack.   It was the youngster’s first goal of the season – deserved reward for his non-stop effort in both attack and defence.   St Neots’ early pressure continued with several corners and then after seven minutes a Dylan Williams free kick only just cleared the cross bar.   Williams was then the provider with a delightful reverse pass to Scott Pollock coming quickly forward from midfield, but his shot whistled just a foot wide with visiting keeper Marcus Garnham beaten.   James Hall still searching for his first goal since his return to the squad, then fired wide following a corner and the home side thought they were hard done by when Stanley was brought down in the penalty area, but justified penalty appeals were ignored by the Referee.   Finley Iron had to save at the feet of Kyle Hammond as Leiston struggled to get a meaningful attacking presence in the game and St Neots then created three good chances in the five minutes leading up to half time.   Williams showed sublime skill to outwit two defenders but saw his shot blocked by a third, Johnny Herd curled a shot wide of the far post and then Stanley set up Williams to force a good save from Garnham. St Neots needed to quickly re-establish their confident approach after the interval and in the first minute Norville-Williams sped down the left leaving his marker in his wake and his cross split the defence, but Hall was unable to muster a meaningful finish.   Sebastian Dunbar had a shot deflected and when Scott Sinclair gave the ball away in midfield, Matthew Blake was left with time and space, but he delayed his shot and Ryan Hughes blocked at the expense of a corner.    Stanley then headed over the bar after 70 minutes and play then moved to the other end where a corner afforded defender Harry Knights with a free head, but he put the ball over the bar.     Another well-placed Williams free kick after 78 minutes brought the save of the match from Garnham and Hall then cut in but only found the side netting.   With time running down Leiston chanced their arms forward and the St Neots defence had to repel several promising attacking moves that came to nothing.   Then two minutes into added time home substitute Gary Wharton fired in a low cross to the near post handled by Knights and the Referee awarded the penalty for Dylan Williams to confidently stroke home for his fifth goal of the season to confirm the three points haul.   A late Leiston attack saw Taylor Parr clear off the St Neots line – the only real late threat to the home sides’ important victory. St Neots:  Iron, Sinclair, Herd, Short, Hughes, Parr, Stanley, Pollock, Hall, Williams, Norville-Williams Subs:  Wharton (for Stanley 73 mins), Rhiney and Gomes. Cards:  Short (Y – 39 mins) Goals:  Norville-Williams (2 mins), Williams – pen (90+2 mins)   Leiston:  Garnham, Keys, Dunbar, Nichols, Knights, Bullard, Lawrence, Hammond, Finch, Blake, Brothers Subs:  Jefford (for Keys 46 mins), Davies (for Finch 71 mins), Cheetham (for Nicholls 86 mins), Boardley and Beckwith. Cards:  Lawrence (Y – 25 mins), Blake (Y – 76 mins), Nicholls (Y – 84 mins) Goals:  none   Referee:  Mark Chalkley (Swaffham) Attendance:  128   John Walker  
Saturday, 05 January 2019 22:09
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town     1         Royston Town       0 This long awaited third home league victory of the season was a fully deserved reward for a determined St Neots performance.  They were having to avenge a 5-0 defeat at Royston earlier in the season and they went into the match on the back of five successive league and cup defeats at the Premier Plus Stadium.   Mid-table Royston nine places ahead of their hosts were unbeaten in their last three matches and began the match in a very positive way but St Neots matched them, and the result was a competitive encounter in the grey chilly conditions.   The home side were without two key players – skipper Luke Knight and utility player Tom Wood – both serving suspensions, and Manager Matt Clements again shuffled his pack making four changes including a debut for seventeen years old impressive Northampton Town loanee Scott Pollock, but this time he significantly got the formula right.   Into the side came full backs Matt Miles, Johnny Herd and Devante Stanley but the most significant change was the midfield pairing of Pollock and veteran Russell Short who had spent the last couple of months in defence. There was an explosive start to the match with each side close to taking the lead twice in the opening quarter of an hour.   St Neots shook off their ‘slow starters’ tag creating the first two chances only to be denied by some excellent goalkeeping by visiting custodian Joe Welch.   Back in the side Devante Stanley found Dylan Williams on the edge of the area and his clever turn wrongfooted his marker but the keeper pushed his low shot away to be cleared.   Then James Hall was twice involved in prising open the visiting defence as he collected a neat return pass from Jordan Norville-Williams only for the keeper to smother bravely at his feet.   Play moved to the other end where Ryan Hughes save his side clearing off the line from Vance Bola, and Tom Newman squandered a good opening shooting wide after good work by Josh Castiglione.   The pace never really slackened with both sides playing attacking football as Finley Iron saved well from a Joe Newton free kick and Rohdell Gordon fired over after good play by Bola.   Royston had to make an early substitution when Newman limped off injured, but his replacement Sam Corcoran quickly made an impact as he saw his effort rebound from the crossbar.   Visiting skipper Dan Braithwaite robbed Devante Stanley when a St Neots goal looked certain and then Norville-Williams sent a free kick over the bar.   Castiglione had the final first half chance, but Finley Iron saved well, and the sides went to the break wondering how the match was still goalless. Corcoran found the woodwork for a second time with a cross that bounced on top of the bar four minutes after the restart and Norville-Williams set up Stanley, but he fired wildly over the bar.   After 56 minutes Royston got the ball in the net following a Castiglione cross, but St Neots were saved by an Assistant Referee’s flag and with Hughes suffering an injury, Scott Sinclair became the first St Neots’ substitute with Short moving back into defence.   From a Williams free kick Hall fired wide after 73 minutes and then the industrious Scott Pollock set up Williams following a corner, but his effort was blocked by a defender.   The pace slackened but St Neots were still the more impressive with Norville-Williams teasing the visiting defence with his pace.   Pollock was driving St Neots forward and Hall had another effort blocked by a defender and in a bid to boost his tactics Clements sent on Mason Rhiney urging his players to go in search of a winning goal.   It eventually arrived eight minutes from time.  A long Johnny Herd throw was returned to him and his second cross was powered into the net by Taylor Parr – appropriate reward for he had been a defensive stalwart for the home side.   St Neots held out for the last few minutes and added time without the visitors’ threatening to spoil the party and now they must build on both confidence and this result in the second half of the season. St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Short, Hughes, Parr, Stanley, Pollock, Hall, Williams, Norville-Williams Subs:  Sinclair (for Hughes 61 mins), Rhiney (for Miles 78 mins), Wharton and Gomes. Cards:  Stanley (Y – 36 mins) Goals:  Parr (82 mins)   Royston:  Welch, Joseph, Newton, Thomas, Murray, Braithwaite, Castiglione, Mentis, Bola, Newman, Gordon Subs:  Corcoran (for Newman 26 mins), Gallin (for Gordon 68 mins), Scott-Morriss (for Castiglione 68 mins), Green and Oswick. Cards:  none Goals:  none   Referee:  Mark Stevens (Milton Keynes) Attendance:  268   John Walker  
Wednesday, 02 January 2019 10:06
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION   St Neots Town     0         St Ives Town       1  St Neots Town were hoping for a new start to the New Year, but their in-form neighbours had used up all their goodwill and left with the three points to condemn their hosts to a fifth consecutive league defeat over the festive period, now seemingly doomed to a relegation battle in 2019.   Manager Matt Clements had brought in James Hall to lead his attack after a two years absence, following the defection of striker Nabil Shariff, but he received precious little service and was closely shadowed by the solid St Ives defence.   Hall has an excellent strike rate in St Neots colours with fifteen goals in 26 appearances but despite his efforts on the day he had just one significant shot on target.   With only one defeat in their last nine matches St Ives have climbed to half way in the table and they look compact and well-organised.   However it is perhaps significant that they fielded just three of the players in their starting line-up that had featured in the last meeting of the two sides whilst St Neots numbered six survivors.   With Johnny Herd unwell Clements made two team changes with Hall joined by Tom Wood returning in midfield and Matt Miles starting on the bench. An enthusiastic local crowd saw a competitive start to the match, but it was St Neots who still had one seasonal gift to bestow as they preswented their visitors with a goal after twelve minutes.   Forced on to his left foot to clear a back pass, Finley Iron miskicked directly to the unmarked Robert Parker and although his effort was blocked by a defender, the ball fell at the feet of Jake Newman who guided it past the stranded Iron.   The game was then held up following a clash of heads but both players happily continued after treatment and St Ives began to dictate play with Newman close to adding a second goal.   He sped between the last two defenders but was brought down in full flight from behind by Ryan Hughes on the edge of the area.   The St Neots played looked fortunate only to be shown a yellow card, but the free kick was wasted.   The home side did produce a brighter period around the half hour when a Russell Short cross was plucked off the head of James Hall by Martin Conway and the keeper then save an important save to deny Dylan Williams.   Ben Seymour-Shove fired wide after neat play by Parker but the visitors finished off the first half with a flourish as from a Ben Baker cross, Kelly won the ball in the air but saw his effort rebound from the crossbar and then St Ives had a credible shout for a penalty when Parker appeared to be brought down in the area but Referee Alex Rayment, perfectly placed, waved play on.   However the first half had been an accurate reflection of the form and league positions of the two sides. St Neots needed a positive response after the interval, but their only real early effort was a shot by Jack Daldy deflected for a corner.   At the other end Kelly had a shot blocked by a defender and although St Neots were beginning to enjoy a greater share of possession the visitors produced the perfect tactics in reply.   They filtered back playing confident containing football restricting the home side to opportunistic shooting from distance with goalkeeper Conway seldom in action.   In one rare opportunity for the home side the hard-working Tom Wood saw a header rebound from the bar, but St Ives always looked in control and were happy to protect their narrow advantage.    With just three at the back St Neots continued to dominate but failed to create genuine scoring opportunities despite introducing attacking substitutes.      Jordan Norville-Williams volleyed over the bar when well placed and substitute Scott Sinclair back for the first time this season, also shot well off target as St Neots’ frustration began to show.   It could have ended badly in added time when St Neots was caught short ion defence and substitute Ollie Snaith was allowed time and space, but he failed to test Iron who save comfortably. St Neots:  Iron, Short, Norville-Williams, Knight, Hughes, Parr, Daldy, Wood, Hall, Williams, Wharton Subs:  Miles (for Wharton 57 mins), Rhiney (for Hughes 73 mins), Sinclair (for Norville-Williams 83 mins) and Gomes. Cards:  Hughes (Y – 25 mins), Wood (Y – 45+1 mins) Goals:  none   St Ives:  Conway, Jackson, Coulson, Sundrie, Cartwright, D’eath, Baker, Parker, Newman, Kelly, Seymour-Shove Subs:  Snaith (for Seymour-Shove 63 mins), Bailey (for Newman 75 mins), Ward (for Sundrie 88 mins), Hood and Wallis. Cards:  none Goals:  Newman (12 mins)   Referee:  Alex Rayment (Dunstable) Attendance:  428   John Walker    
Saturday, 29 December 2018 21:07
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Bedworth United       1         St Neots Town     0       This was a match that neither side could afford to lose.   Bedworth had failed to record a victory in their first 20 league matches whilst St Neots are being sucked into the relegation scrap, and they travelled knowing that victory would hand them a rare league double.  In the end it was decided by a single goal two minutes into added time scored by the oldest man on the field.   42 years old journeyman Iyseden Christie with several Football League clubs including Mansfield Town, Stevenage Borough and Coventry City on his CV plus around a dozen Southern League Clubs, came on as a second half substitute and was in the right place to sweep home a late goal through the tiring St Neots defence to earn Bedworth all three points.   Neither side were at their best and it was a rather scrappy encounter that had a goalless draw written all over it until the last few added seconds.   St Neots must now regroup and search for confidence as they kick off 2019 with three successive home fixtures.   Still in the three-side relegation area they were almost caught by the side below them as Halesowen recorded a surprise 2-0 victory over visiting Banbury.   With striker Nabil Shariff opting to return to Stratford where he had started the season, Manager Matt Clements installed Gary Wharton as his principle striker for his tenth start of the season, but he received little support but saw his best chance of glory ruined just four minutes before the winning goal, by the save of the match from home custodian Adam Harrison.  Also reinstated in the side was Johnny Herd, who replaced Tom Wood who was on the bench. There was a pedestrian start to the match but after just ten minutes a hotly disputed free kick awarded twenty yards from goal saw Alexander Troke bend his effort around the wall to bring an outstanding save from Finley Iron at the expense of a corner.   Luke Rowe then volleyed over the bar following a second Bedworth corner, and St Neots first effort was a sixteenth minute lengthy shot from skipper Luke Knight that flew harmlessly wide.   For a spell there was very little goalmouth action as neither side were able to put together any penetrative attacking play but just past the half hour a cynical tackle on Jack Daldy earned Barry Fitzharris the first caution of the match.   Seven minutes before the break Wharton produced an impressive burst of speed to go clear of the home defence but Harrison advanced to the edge of his area to narrow the angle and parry the shot.   Just one minute later a volley by Daldy just cleared the Bedworth crossbar and the sides went to the half time break locked at stalemate. St Neots looked the brighter side upon the resumption.   A well-constructed three man move involving Jordan Norville-Williams and Daldy ended with Matt Miles seeing his net-bound shot deflected for a corner and then Harrison saved well from a Daldy header.   After 69 minutes St Neots though they had broken through when Harrison dropped a cross from Norville-Williams, but an offside flag denied St Neots from capitalising.   After this spell of pressure Bedworth came more into the game and in one attack both Fitzharris and Rowe had shots blocked as the visiting defence did their job.   In the last fifteen minutes Bedworth looked the stronger side.   Montal Gibson was left unmarked on the left and he advanced on goal, but Iron saved well with his legs and from the resultant corner Fitzharris outjumped his marker but sent his headed effort wide of the far post.   With substitutes on both sides went for the winning goal in a hectic last eight minutes.   St Neots saw substitute Andrea Borg send a cross that was deflected, and the same player was skilfully set up by Wharton, but he shot wide.   The important late Harrison save from Wharton was St Neots final chance but they were completely deflated when Christie snatched the late, late winner. Bedworth:  Harrison, Dudley, Rowe, Parrot, Albrighton, Sharpe, Hancocks, Fitzharris, Gibson, Troke, Blackmore Subs:  Christie (for Fitzharris 66 mins), Story (for Gibson 81 mins), Tonge, Whitmore and Abraham Cards:  Fitzharris (Y – 32 mins), Albrighton (Y – 88 mins) Goals:  Christie (90+2 mins)   St Neots:  Iron, Short, Herd, Knight, Hughes, Parr, Daldy, Miles, Wharton, Williams, Norville-Williams Subs:  Borg (for Norville-Williams 73 mins), Wood (for Daldy 83 mins) and Gomes Cards:  Parr (Y – 76 mins), Knight (Y – 88 mins) Goals:  none   Referee:  Andrew Ellis (Solihull) Attendance:  Not Published   John Walker  
Friday, 28 December 2018 22:02
EvoStik League South Premier Division Central AFC Rushden & Diamonds 2 St Neots Town 0 A Tom Lorraine brace for AFC Rushden & Diamonds proved to be the difference between the sides at Hayden Road on Boxing Day, with Saints playing more than half the match with only 10 men after Tom Wood was harshly dismissed before the break.  Whilst it was always going to be an uphill battle for St Neots after the sending off, coming as it did moments after they had fallen behind, it was still disappointing that they failed to force one save from home keeper Heath throughout the ninety minutes.   For the first twenty minutes the teams were evenly matched with very little goalmouth action.  Saints best goal bound effort came in the opening minute from Norville-Williams whose twenty five yard effort whistled over the bar, whilst Diamond had the best chance for the hosts but his header was well wide.  In what proved to be Saints best move of the match, Parr combined with Miles down the right in the twentieth minute and drove in a great cross that was met by Shariff but his header just cleared the bar.  Diamond then had another chance for the hosts as the game started to open up and should have done better with a free header from a Reynolds cross but he directed his effort straight in to the arms of Iron, whilst a free kick by Hicks sailed over..   It was a thirteen minute spell just before the break that proved to be pivotal in determining the outcome of the match.  Firstly two late challenges from Farrell saw the home midfielder booked in the twentieth eighth minute, and just six minutes later an even later challenge on Wood resulted in a free kick to Saints but surprisingly no further action was taken against the home player.  Williams put the resulting free kick just over the bar.  On Forty minutes the hosts took the lead when a corner from the left was met by Hopkins and although his header was cleared off the line, LORRAINE was on hand to tap home from close range.  Less than a minute later Saints were down to ten men when Wood was shown a straight red card for what the Referee adjudged to be a dangerous tackle even though he won the ball in a fifty -fifty challenge.   Despite their numerical advantage the home side failed to test Iron in the Saints goal in the early stages of the second half, although former Saints Declan Rogers was only denied by the woodwork when his twenty yard free kick looked goal bound.  It was the sixty ninth minute when Rushden & Diamonds doubled their advantage and effectively ended any hope that Saints might force an unlikely equaliser, and it was Tom LORRAINE that struck from close range yet again after Diamond met a Hicks cross and his blocked shot fell at the feet of the striker.  The home team had the ball in the net again four minutes later was Brown was adjudged to have pushed the Saints defender as he met a Rogers cross.  The final fifteen minutes was non -eventful, broken up by no less than five substitutions as Rushden & Diamonds seemed to settle for their two goal advantage and Saints, despite never giving up, lacked any creativity to open up the home defence.     AFC Rushden & Diamonds: Heath, Reynolds, Brown, Punter, Collard, Rogers, Hopkins, Farrell, Lorraine, Diamond, Hicks  Subs Berry-Hargreaves (for Farrell 46), Johnson (for Reynolds 75), Westbrook (for Hicks 81), unused Dean and  Curtis Cautioned: Farrell (28), Berry-Hargreaves (90)     Saints: Iron, Hughes, Norville-Williams, Knight, Short, Parr, Miles, Wood, Shariff, Williams, Daldy  subs  Stanley (for Miles 62), Wharton (for Shariff 65), Borg (for Williams 74), unused Herd, Gomes Cautioned: Stanley 77), Knight (89)   Sent Off: Wood (41)
Saturday, 22 December 2018 23:55
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town     1       Stratford Town       2          After their sixth home defeat in ten starts this season, St Neots go into 2019 now desperate for a change in their fortunes.   Manager Matt Clements claims that his squad is now not far from his hopes, and the addition of two more loan players – one in attack and the other in defence – seemed to achieve his initial objective.   However, for new players to gel within the team on their first outing is a tall order regardless of their individual ability and now St Neots must improve swiftly if they are not doomed to spending the next four months locked in a relegation dog fight.   The main problem is statistically obvious – a return of just seven goals in ten home outings speaks for itself – and although the side creates openings the finishing is not good enough.   The two latest squad additions were loan signings from Northampton Town and both were thrown in at the deep end, one of them striker Jack Daldy who looked promising but lacked service.   The other, Ryan Hughes a tall defender, slotted comfortably into a defensive back three as Clements shuffled his team tactics and he also recalled Tom Wood and Matt Miles in midfield with Devante Stanley, Jordan Norville-Williams, Andrea Borg and Lee Watkins making way.   The end result was an improvement on the team performance at Barwell in midweek, but the truth is that results are now more important than performances.   The match only went ahead after a very late pitch inspection with the heavy overnight rain making the centre of the pitch rather boggy. St Neots began confidently enough and in their first attack an effort by skipper Luke Knight was deflected for a corner.   Russell Short then headed narrowly over from a second corner and Nabil Shariff set up Tom Wood for a 20 yards effort that was only inches over the bar with the visiting keeper beaten.   Stratford did get the ball in the St Neots net but only after an offside whistle, and little was seen of the visiting attack until the half hour when Finley Iron was first called into serious action to save a Shane Benjamin header from a William Grocott free kick.  Shariff attempted an acrobatic volley that flew over the bar and then Stratford set up the best chance of the first half when Grocott and Wilson Carvalho combined to set up Benjamin, but he shot wide when he should have at least tested the home keeper.   St Neots won several corner from one of which Russell Short was cautioned for a late challenge on the keeper and the half ended with Benjamin again shooting wide after good work by former St Neots player, Lewis Wilson. After Dylan Williams had sprinted down the left immediately after the resumption to set up Jack Daldy for a shot comfortable saved by Natja Sarkic the game boiled over in an off-the-ball incident that produced three bookings and that seemed to ruin what rhythm there was in the contest.   For around fifteen minutes there was little progress for either side, but two free kicks conceded in as many minutes on the edge of the St Neots area proved significant.   The first was cleared by Ryan Hughes and the second by Russell Short but on this occasion the ball fell to Wilson Carvalho who was unmarked on the edge of the area and he produced a sublime curling shot into the roof of the net giving Finley Iron no chance.   St Neots tried to respond with Johnny Herd bringing two excellent saves from Sarkic – one from a dipping cross and the second from a well hit shot from 18 yards.   Williams also saw the keeper save comfortably and it became a keen contest with the visiting defence seeming happy to hang on to their narrow advantage.   Then out of nothing, a hopeful through pass found Stratford substitute Shawn Richards in space and he skilfully rounded the advancing Iron to double the visitors’ lead.   That wrapped up the result despite St Neots’ late surge that included a goal from Taylor Parr that was too little too late to have any effect on the outcome.   St Neots are deep in trouble in the relegation zone, but Stratford now up to eighth are only goal difference away from a play-off place.     St Neots:  Iron, Hughes, Herd, Knight, Short, Parr, Miles, Wood, Shariff, Williams (D), Daldy Subs:  Stanley (for Herd 84 mins), Norville-Williams (for Miles 84 mins), Wharton (for Daldy 90 mins), Borg and Gomes Cards:  Short (Y – 36 mins), Williams (Y – 56 mins), Knight (Y – 56 mins), Parr (Y – 67 mins), Wood (Y – 78 mins) Goals:  Parr (90 mins)   Stratford:  Sarkic, Cox, Fisher, Fry, McAteer, Williams (J), Wilson, Oulton, Benjamin, Grocott, Carvalho Subs:  Richards (for Benjamin 80 mins) Cards:  Fry (Y – 56 mins), Oulton (Y – 88 mins), Richards (Y – 90+1 mins) Goals:  Carvalho (68 mins), Richards (83 mins)   Referee:  Jeffrey Aldous (Bedford) Attendance:  258   John Walker  
Wednesday, 19 December 2018 10:38
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION  Barwell        6          St Neots Town     1                   St Neots slumped to their biggest ever away Southern League defeat in atrocious conditions in their rearranged match at Barwell.   A measure of the state of the pitch was that Wolverhampton Referee Greg Rolleson and the two skippers stood in a centre circle puddle for the pre-match toss up and the incessant rain never really stopped throughout the ninety minutes.   However the staunchest St Neots supporter (and a few made the trip) would be hard-pressed to find a genuine excuse for this very poor performance.   Too many key players were well below their best, from skipper Luke Knight whose normal midfield general’s role was never apparent to teenage goalkeeper Finlay Iron whose gifted the home side at least three of their goals.   St Neots normal neat short passing game was just not possible on this semi-waterlogged surface and they were either unwilling or unable to adopt to a long ball game.  Barwell, smarting from their weekend drubbing in the FA Trophy were focussed and determined to get back to league action and to compound St Neots misery Taylor Parr, celebrating his birthday, chipped in with an own goal!   There were two team changes with fit again Davante Stanley replacing Matt Miles at full back, and Lee Watkins in midfield for the unavailable Tom Wood. Barwell laid the foundation of this victory with goals in the third minutes of each half. The first, in the first attacking move of the match, saw former Kettering defender Henry Eze rise above the St Neots defence to head in a Liam Canavan free kick, and they almost added a second when an angled shot by Elliot Percival beat Finlay Iron but drifted beyond the far post.   St Neots felt aggrieved after 16 minutes when Nabil Shariff was hauled down in the area, but St Neots penalty appeals were ignored.   However, St Neots overcame the disappointment of conceding the early goal and competed well with Dylan Williams curling a shot beyond both goalkeeper and far post after 26 minutes, and Taylor Parr heading a Johnny Herd corner wide of target.   A Luke Knight free kick was dropped by home keeper Liam Castle, but he managed to retrieve it at the feet of opponents whilst at the other end Iron saved from Eliot Putman and Canavan.  Jordan Norville-Williams was St Neots biggest threat for the home side and he twice carved his way through the home defence only to win corner kicks.   Just a single goal down, St Neots must have gone to the half time break looking to get back into the game. However within three minutes they had a mountain to climb as a searching midfield cross from Jahvan Davidson-Miller picked out the unmarked Nial Julien on the right and his cross to the near post was powered in by Massiah McDonald under the diving body of Iron.   Five minutes later St Neots Manager Matt Clements reacted swiftly pulling off both full backs to go to three at the back and adopt a more aggressive approach but his plan fell flat when two minutes after the change,   Massiah McDonald took full advantage of defensive hesitancy to add a third goal for the home side.   That seemed to snuff out St Neots confidence and for a spell the side was under constant pressure.   Penned back in defence they conceded a fourth goal after 67 minutes when Canavan set up Jamie Towers who arrived at the far post to net past a hesitant goalkeeper.   The pressure seemed to ease with Barwell sending on substitutes but with fifteen minutes remaining Davidson-Miller went past Knight and substitute Matt Miles to cross deep into the penalty area and with Iron deciding to stay on his line Taylor Parr could do nothing under pressure but head the ball into his own net.   Another self-imposed problem came when Knight was easily dispossessed and tackling back Andrea Borg was booked for a late challenge.   Worse was to follow for twelve minutes from time a free kick by Putman found its was to the unmarked substitute Rob Morgan whose tame-looking free kick straight at Iron was mishandled and it rolled almost apologetically over the line to give Barwell their sixth goal.  St Neots did have the last word in the 90th minute when substitute Gary Wharton was in the right place to rap home after excellent play by Norville-Williams. St Neots:  Iron, Stanley, Herd, Knight, Short, Parr, Borg, Watkins, Shariff, Williams, Norville-Williams Subs:  Miles (for Stanley 57 mins), Wharton (for Herd 57 mins), Gomes (for Williams 85 mins) Cards:  Watkins (Y – 13 mins), Short (Y – 39 mins), Borg (Y – 77 mins) Goals:  Wharton (90 mins)   Barwell:  Castle, Percival, Putman, Eze, Gascoigne, Canavan, Julien, Towers, McDonald, Hickey, Davidson-Miller Subs:  Morgan (for Canavan 68 mins), Rowe (for Towers 70 mins), Albertus (for Hickey 77 mins), Desrosiers and Cross. Cards:  Canavan (Y – 57 mins), Towers (Y – 63 mins), Hickey (Y – 69 mins) Goals:  McDonald 2 (48 & 59 mins), Eze (3 mins), Towers (67 mins), Parr OG (75 mins), Morgan (78 mins)   Referee:  Greg Rolleson (Wolverhampton) Attendance:  63     John Walker  
Saturday, 08 December 2018 21:36
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town     3       Redditch United       1          St Neots clambered out of the relegation zone with their first home league victory since 14th August thanks to a double strike from Nabil Shariff and a smart header from Dylan Williams.   In difficult windy conditions both sides struggled to produce their best football, but in the end, justice was done because of St Neots grit and determination, the Saints moved up to 18th position.       Less than two months ago Redditch were bottom but one in the league table, with two wins and eight defeats in their first ten matches, but they have turned things around in spectacular style with just one league defeat in their last six league outings and they had climbed five places to 16th and were no doubt looking to maintain that improvement in this match. However, St Neots know that it is no use playing well and losing and there were signs that the recently signed players are bedding in.   The latest addition to the squad is Jordan Norville-Williams, on loan from Cambridge United and he was making his second debut for the club have played eight games last season in a brief stay.   There were recalls for Taylor Parr and Russell Short who had completed their one-match bans and making way for this trio were Gary Wharton and Lee Watkins (both on the bench) and Dan Olaniran. Conditions were far from ideal with the swirling wind on a wet surface making control difficult and neither side seemed to hit a rhythm in the early stages. St Neots received an early shock when, in their first notable attack, Redditch took the lead as Shaquille Leachman-Whittingham drifted down the left to cross to the far post where Richard Batchelor arrived late and unmarked to slide the ball past Finley Iron.   St Neots set about repairing the damage and a long thrown from Johnny Herd was flicked on by Taylor Parr and the ball ran across the area to deflect off the far post after a quarter of an hour. However, after 32 minutes the host side levelled, when a solo effort by Nabil Shariff saw his low shot across Daniel Crane find the corner of the net. Luke Knight shot over the bar and before the break, St Neots seemed to be getting on top with little seen of the Redditch attack, however, just before the break St Neots, were lucky to stay on terms when Matt Miles upended Mitchell Piggon on the edge of the area, but Robbie Burn’s free kick was pushed for a corner by Finley Iron.   Miles then limped off injured to be replaced by Devante Stanley who had missed the previous two matches through injury. The second half followed a different pattern with St Neots well on top, dictating play from midfield where Tom Wood and Luke Knight were dominant.   Dylan Williams had an early effort blocked by Andrew Parsons and the match became feisty with three players booked in a five minutes spell.   St Neots’ pressure than paid off after 59 minutes when a long throw by Herd was flicked on at the near post and last season’s leading scorer Dylan Williams netted his fourth goal of the campaign with a neat header. Once in front, St Neots looked comfortable and they could have extended their lead as Knight had a shot blocked and Shariff brought a fine full length save from Crane. Norville-Williams also went close after good work by Tom Wood, seeing his shot deflected the wrong side of a goalpost. The result was made safe seven minutes from time when Nabil Shariff completed his third double haul of league goals this season finishing off searching free kick by Herd. In those last seven minutes plus added time, Redditch threw caution to the wind and went all out to try to salvage something from the match. There were waves of attacks towards the St Neots end, but Iron was never seriously stretched whilst at the other end, on the break, Shariff had two chances to complete a hat trick, but his first effort brought the save of the match from Crane, and his second was blocked by a defender. To view Claire Howes' photo gallery of today's win, click here: flickr.com/photos/claire_howes/   St Neots Town:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Short, Parr, Borg, Wood, Shariff, Williams, Norville-Williams Subs:  Stanley (for Miles 45+1 mins), Watkins (for Norville-Williams 79 mins), Wharton (for Borg (90+2 mins) and Gomes. Cards:  Miles (Y – 42 mins), Knight (Y – 59 mins), Borg (Y – 83 mins), Short (Y – 87 mins) Goals:  Shariff 2 (32 & 83 mins), Williams (59 mins)   Redditch:  Francis, Sinclair, Mills, Franklin, Parsons, Evans, Leachman-Whittingham, Bunn, Piggon, Reynolds, Batchelor Subs:  Howards (for Reynolds 62 mins), Loveridge (for Bunn 62 mins), Nelson (for Leachman-Whittingham 74 mins, Tye and Butterfield. Cards:  Sinclair (Y – 34 mins), Leachman-Whittingham (Y – 57 mins) Goals:  Batchelor (7 mins)   Referee:  Stephen Bates (St Albans) Attendance:  179   John Walker  
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