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  
Saturday, 01 December 2018 20:36
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town     1        Stourbridge       2           After a tepid first half performance and a half-time deficit, comeback kings Stourbridge moved closer to league leaders Kettering with two second half goals in a four minutes spell.   St Neots seemed to be coping well before the break without their two suspended central defenders Taylor Parr and Russell Short, but after half time the strong visiting side moved fully into gear to show just why they are in the top two places in the table.   Based on previous performances this was a much-improved overall showing by St Neots and Manager Matt Clements will have been pleased the way that the versatile Tom Wood and occasionally selected Dan Olaniran coped with the potent Stourbridge attack that is the best in the league.   Clements also introduced loan player Andrea Borg from Peterborough United and he had a quiet debut.   Once again back in goal Finlay Iron made several good saves whilst at the other end St Neots carved out a host of half chances but once again, they were let down by their finishing. After a quiet start with much of the play in midfield it was St Neots who made the important break through after 14 minutes.   Gary Wharton drifted from left to right to pick up a pass and his cross was knocked down by Stuart Pierpoint, but only to the edge of the area where Dylan Williams picked up the ball to score with a low crisp shot beyond the dive of visiting keeper James Wren.   Nabil Shariff then shot wide after neat play by Lee Watkins but Stourbridge created openings on the break and just before the half hour Finlay Iron at to dive bravely amongst flying boots to smother the ball after Luke Benbow had directed a Robbie Thompson-Brown free kick across goal.   St Neots should have extended their lead before the break as Williams sent an ambitious effort high over the bar, Andrea Borg saw his effort blocked and Gary Wharton should have done better than shoot wide after neat play by Johnny Herd.   However the visitors always looked sharp in attack when they did break forward and the lively Benbow forced an important save from Iron in time added at the end of the first 45 minutes. It looked a different Stourbridge side that emerged after the break.  They looked full of the confidence they seemed to have lacked in the first half and the St Neots side were pushed back on the defensive.   Iron became the busiest man on the field saving efforts by Benbow and Callum Powell, but St Neots did show some counter-attacking tendencies with Williams firing wildly over the bar after visiting keeper James Wren had saved well from Nabil Shariff, and Gary Wharton being only inches from a Watkins cross in front of a gaping goal.   However, it was the visiting side who were beginning to boss the game and after 58 minutes following a quickly taken free kick Luke Benbow levelled the scores with a smart finish.   Then just four minutes later St Neots conceded a second goal from a set piece.   A Thompson-Brown free kick found the head of Pierpoint drawing a fingertip save over the bar by Iron but from the result corner Paul McCone rose above the defence to put his side ahead.   Iron then produced a full-length save from Powell to keep St Neots hopes alive, and St Neots thought they had created an equaliser following a Herd corner, as Dan Olaniran curled in a shot that beat the keeper but clipped the crossbar.   St Neots then sent on two substitutes to freshen up their attack, but the experienced Stourbridge defence funnelled back to stifle their best efforts and the home side looked unable to seriously threaten the visitors’ goal.    St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Wood, Olaniran, Borg, Watkins, Shariff, Williams, Wharton Subs:  Douglas (for Wharton 74 mins), Ofosu (for Borg 74 mins), Gomes and Fulianty. Cards:  Knight (Y – 59 mins) Goals:  Williams (14 mins)   Stourbridge:  Wren, Hayden, Aris, McCone, Pierpoint, Forde, Powell, Birch, Benbow, Thompson-Brown, Mills. Subs:  Broadhurst (for Birch 57 mins), Anderson (for Powell 74 mins), Steele, Tonks and Maher Cards:  Mills (Y – 34 mins), Pierpoint (Y – 66 mins), Forde (Y – 81 mins) Goals:  Benbow (58 mins), McCone (62 mins)   Referee:  Shaun Barry (Northampton) Attendance:  188   John Walker  
Wednesday, 21 November 2018 09:03
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town     0        Needham Market       3           St Neots  Town produced their worst home performance of the season as they capitulated without any real threat on an evening, they will be glad to forget.   Now without a home league victory since 15th September and without any win at all in their last five outings they slipped into the relegation zone in the league table almost without a whimper as Lowestoft defeated high-flying Royston Town.   Visitors Needham Market making their first trip to the town were a workmanlike outfit without being special, and they will have returned home surprised at the ease of their victory.   On the few occasions that St Neots did threaten they were ironically thwarted by visiting goalkeeper Jake Jessop who played one match for St Neots last season.   The home side were inept of ideas and too many of their passes lacked conviction or accuracy and they were defensively poor.   The only player to emerge with credit from the match was goalkeeper Harry Reynolds who kept the score down to a reasonable level and even he was culpable when his side sloppily conceded the second Needham goal.   Skipper Like Knight and Dylan Williams returned to the side after suspension but the two players injured on Saturday, Russell Short and Devante Stanley were not fully fit and sat the match on the completely unused substitutes bench.   The only other change saw a recall for Claudio Ofosu in place of Dan Olaniran, with Manager Matt Clements lining his side up in a more usual 4-2-4 formation. On a damp dismal evening St Neots performance was soon to mirror the weather when they conceded the first goal after just six minutes.   Full back Callum Sturgess won his way to the bye line and crossed low for James Baker to nip between two defenders at the near post to slide the ball past Reynolds.   Three minutes later the goalkeeper had to leave his line smartly to attempt a clearance, but the ball deflected to Luke Ingram whose shot was badly wide as the goal yawned.   Midway through the half Reynolds was twice called up in as many minutes to make important saves to deny Baker and Adam Mills as Needham dictated all the attacking play and it was past the half hour when Luke Knight had St Neots’ first searching shot that flew wide and then Claudio Ofosu was unlucky when his narrow-angled effort rebounded from a post into the grateful keeper’s arms.   After 34 minutes Needham should have had a second goal when Jake Dye went past two defenders to find Mills unmarked at the far post, but he headed wide when it looked easier to score. St Neots initial response after the break was critical if they were to salvage some reward from the match and Tom Wood did fire narrowly wide following a corner but it was the visitors who produced the second crucial goal of the match after 56 minutes.   It came from an attack down the left-hand side with Mills beating his marker and when the ball ran loose, goalkeeper Reynolds and two defenders all seemed to hesitate leaving Mills to slide a pass to the unmarked Tariq Issa to side foot in to the unguarded net.   St Neots showed some fight with Lee Watkins having a shot blocked after good work by Johnny Herd, Nabil Shariff had reasonable appeals for a penalty turned down, and Ofosu tested Jessop with a shot acrobatically saved.   However it was all too little to seriously test the visiting defence and Ingram was left unmarked at the far post but could only find the side-netting.  Then after 67 minutes the visitors clinched the points with a third goal when from an Issa corner Daniel Morphew was allowed to rise unchallenged to head home.   St Neots fight back stalled as they had players booked more for frustration than effort, and it was left to Reynolds to produce two more excellent saves to deny Mills and Baker.   In the last ten minutes Taylor Parr headed over from a Herd corner and then Herd attempted a solo run towards goal but finished up screwing his shot wide.   St Neots evening was appropriately summed up when they were denied even a late consolation in added time when Jessop produced a full length save to deny Dylan Williams a goal from a free kick. St Neots Town:  Reynolds, Miles, Herd, Knight, Wood, Parr, Wharton, Watkins, Shariff, Williams, Ofosu Subs:  Douglas, Olaniran, Mutswunguma, Stanley and Short (none used) Cards:  Parr (Y – 34 mins), Wharton (Y – 69 mins), Wood (Y – 71 mins), Miles (Y – 88 mins) Goals:  none   Needham:  Jessop, Dye, Sturgess, Squire, Morphew (K), Morphew (D), Ingram, Heath, Baker, Issa, Mills Subs:  Dobson (for Squire 78 mins), Kamanzi (for Issa 78 mins), Griffiths (for Baker 85 mins, Marsden and Shorten Cards:  Issa (Y – 17 mins) Goals:  Baker (10 mins), Issa (56 mins), Morphew (D) (67 mins)   Referee:  Wayne Chalmers (Northampton) Attendance:  139   John Walker  
Saturday, 17 November 2018 21:56
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Alvechurch       3          St Neots Town     2           Having scored just twice in their last four league and cup matches, St Neots Manager Matt Clements had called for his side to rediscover their goalscoring touch as they now returned to their league programme.    In their first ever meeting with Alvechurch they disappointingly fell behind early in the game before two late first half goals afforded them a 2-1 half time lead.   Surely that would be sufficient to earn at least a valuable point – but no.   Sloppy defending after the break gifted their hosts with two goals and all three points, and St Neots slipped a further place in the league table to nineteenth, now only three points above the relegation zone.   It was a multi-changed line up for this match with two enforced absentees – Luke Knight and Dylan Williams – both sitting out a one match ban, and the Manager chose to reshape his attack leaving Dion Sembie-Ferris and Claudio Ofosu on the bench.   Into the side came Johnny Herd (after suspension), Dan Olaniran, Gary Wharton and loanee Lee Watkins.   The side looked to have good shape but two defenders – Russell Short and Devante Stanley both departed injured and the side then seemed to suffer a loss of confidence and despite a late show of determined pressure they were unable to retrieve their single goal deficit. From the first whistle it was a high tempo contest with chances at both ends of the field.   St Neots with a 3-4-3 shape saw Tom Wood test home keeper Charlie Price from distance after five minutes and then a minute later the home side delivered sucker punch as Kieran Cook flicked home a Mitch Botfield cross at the near post.   St Neots responded with Nabil Shariff seeing his shot deflected for a corner, but play returned to the other end where Yusifu Ceesay saw his effort smothered by a defender, and Botfield robbed a defender but overran the ball as he bore down on goal.    As the half wore on St Neots began to dictate the pattern of play and Taylor Parr’s neat back-header from a Johnny Herd throw was acrobatically tipped over the bar by Price.   In a quick break by Alvechurch, Dave Bellis tried his luck from distance only to see his effort beat Harry Reynolds but rebound from a post.   However, the spirited reply from the visitors deservedly had its reward when a neat square lay off by Gary Wharton set up man-of-the- match Tom Wood for his first league goal of the season.   Price then saved well at the feet of Nabil Shariff after good work by Devante Stanley and Wood then almost scored again only to see his header from a corner, cleared off the line by Jamie Willetts.   However five minutes before the break the industrious Gary Wharton took full advantage of home defensive hesitation to round the keeper and score from a narrow angle to afford St Neots a deserved half time advantage. The second half began badly for the visitors as just two minutes poor cover in the defence allowed Kieran Cook too much space and he scored, also from an oblique angle to level the scores for a second time.   St Neots had lost Russell Short at the break following a first half injury and after 57 minutes Devante Stanley was helped off the field after a collision had left him prone on the ground.   With the versatile Tom Wood now switched into defence St Neots set about restoring their influence on the match but they were under pressure again when a Botfield free kick required the under-pressure Reynolds to punch away.  Then from a Tom Turton cross the defensive marking was wanting, allowing tall defender Kyle Morrison a free header to give Alvechurch that 3-2 advantage.   St Neots were stunned by this setback and mounted a series of counter attacks with Matt Miles firing over the bar and Dion Sembie-Ferris also off target after neat work by Lee Watkins.   Alvechurch on a counter then saw Turton get the ball in the net following a corner but an Assistant Referee flagged one of his colleague offside and it was left to Claudio Ofosu in the dying minutes to fire across the face of goal and leave St Neots their journey home wondering what might have been. St Neots:  Reynolds, Stanley, Herd, Olaniran, Short, Parr, Miles, Wood, Shariff, Wharton, Watkins Subs:  Sembie-Ferris (for Short 46 mins), Ofosu (for Stanley 62 mins) and Douglas. Cards:  Short (Y – 34 mins) Goals:  Wood (30 mins), Wharton (40 mins)   Alvechurch:  Price, Ezewele, Foster, Turton, Morrison, Willetts, Bellis, Botfield, Lloyd, Ceesay, Cook Subs:  March (for Cook 62 mins), Landell (for Lloyd 62 mins), Carter (for Botfield 83 mins), Evans and O’Callaghan Cards:  Turton (Y – 32 mins), Botfield (Y – 45 mins) Goals:  Cook 2 (6 & 47 mins), Morrison (68 mins)   Referee:  Richie Watkins (Nuneaton) Attendance:  239   John Walker  
Sunday, 11 November 2018 11:22
FA TROPHY – SECOND ROUND QUALIFYING St Neots Town      0          Barwell       1 This match was supposed to be about a football contest, but it turned out to be more about an over-zealous Referee.   The forgettable first half was dominated by the Referee who issued four yellow cards for offences not helped by the conditions thanks to a pre-match downpour, including two to visiting striker Massiah McDonald leaving his side to play for more than an hour with ten men.   Boston Referee Alastair Wilson also dismissed one of the Barwell Managerial staff from the dugout and in the second half issued a second yellow card to Dylan Williams ten minutes from time balancing up the two sides.   In addition to the two dismissals there were a further four yellow cards issued – three for the visitors – in a match that hardly boasted a single malicious challenge.    One time million-pound Wolverhampton Wanders striker, 32 years old Sylvan Ebanks-Blake came off the Barwell bench at half time to fire his side to an unlikely FA Trophy victory claiming the only goal in a scrappy match between these two Southern League Central opponents.   St Neots can have no real complaints because they had more than enough possession to make their numerical superiority count, but at present they are lacking quality in front of goal.   In eleven matches at the Premier Plus Stadium they have managed only thirteen goals whilst on foreign soil they have notched just a goal a game in league and cup.   Manager Matt Clements had to make two team changes bringing in utility man Matt Miles for the suspended Johnny Herd and with loanee Ben Worman unavailable he gave Claudio Ofosu a starting berth for only the second time in the last seven matches. It was a bright enough start with both keepers in action in the first five minutes – Harry Reynolds saving well from Liam Canavan and Dion Sembie-Ferris seeing his effort pushed clear by Liam Castle.   A free kick by Dylan Williams following the first McDonald booking saw Tom Wood just inches from converting the low cross and then a second Sembie-Ferris effort was deflected for a corner.   Brady Hickey squandered the visitors best first half chance firing over the bar with the St Neots defence split, but further bookings saw the rhythm of the match deteriorate.   Castle did have to leave his line swiftly to save at the feet of Nabil Shariff and a snap shot by Russell Short was competently handled by the keeper.   Barwell could have taken a first half lead when they split the St Neots defence from a lengthy goalkeeper clearance six minutes before the break but Hickey volleyed wide when he should at least have tested the keeper.  The half ended with a good move at the other end when the pace of Sembie-Ferris took him around his marker but at the near post, Dylan Williams’ header was over the bar. A bold approach by Barwell immediately after the break laid the foundation for this result.  Despite being a man down they sent on Ebanks-Blake taking off a defensive midfielder and taking the game to St Neots.  Jahvan Davidson-Miller outpaced the St Neots defence and drew Reynolds off his line but his clever chip towards goal was acrobatically cleared off the line by the covering Short.  As the visitors continued to press Reynolds produced a top notch save to deny Hickey but that was St Neots chance to counter-attack and Williams had a shot blocked and Shariff saw a looping header retrieved by the back-peddling Castle.    Tom Wood then set up Sembie-Ferris on the right and his rising shot was well saved by the keeper and two more visiting players were booked for clumsy challenges.   After 70 minutes Barwell sent on another attacking player and that proved to be the master stroke as within six minutes of his arrival substitute Nigel Julien won his way to the bye line to cross beyond the far post for Hickey to head back to Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to apply the lethal finishing touch.   St Neots responded with Luke Knight bringing a good save from Castle and in a long period of seven minutes added time St Neots failed to produce a significant shot to bother the keeper.   Now out of both National competitions St Neots must turn their attention to improving their precarious looking league position. St Neots:  Reynolds, Stanley, Miles, Knight, Short, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Wood, Shariff, Williams (D), Ofosu Subs:  Wharton (for Ofosu 65 mins), Douglas (for Sembie-Ferris 90 mins) and Olaniran Cards:  Williams (RED – 2 x Y – 22 & 81 mins), Knight (Y – 18 mins) Goals:  none   Barwell:  Castle, Percival, Putman, Desrosier, Gasgoine, Hildreth, Canavan, Tomkinson, McDonald, Hickey, Davidson-Miller Subs:  Ebanks-Blake (for Hildreth 46 mins), Julien (for Davidson-Miller 70 mins), Taylor, Williams (K) and Rowe. Cards:  McDonald (RED – 2 x Y – 6 & 28 mins), Davidson-Miller (Y – 64 mins), Canavan (Y – 69 mins), Gasgoine (Y – 88 mins) + member of Management Team (SENT OFF28 mins) Goals:  none   Referee:  Alastair Wilson (Boston) Attendance:  216   John Walker  
Wednesday, 07 November 2018 10:58
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town      0          Tamworth      0 St Neots Manager Matt Clements saw this result as two points lost rather than one gained after his side had finished strongly in a closely fought match with league newcomers Tamworth.   It was the return to the Premier Plus Stadium of visitors’ Manager Dennis Greene who oversaw St Neots progress from Step Five to Step Three in successive seasons, as well as a late cameo substitute appearance for former charismatic goalscoring hero Stefan Moore.   Sadly the result only served to underline St Neots lack of league goalscoring power for they have now only managed to score nine times in thirteen league outings despite having found the back of the net fifteen times in eight cup matches.   The match also featured the return to the defence of Taylor Parr after missing the last two matches with injury and there was a one hundredth senior appearance for utility player Tom Wood moved into midfield for this match to accommodate Parr, with Matt Miles left on the substitutes bench.    Tamworth relegated to this level from the National League at the end of last season cherish ambitions of a return to Step Two this season but on this showing, they are some way short of achieving that aim. Although first half play was end to end neither side had the finishing to seriously test their opponents’ goal in the opening stages.   Aman Verma sent Tamworth’s first shot after eight minutes towards goal, but Harry Reynolds saved comfortably.   Tom Wood then headed wide from a Johnny Herd corner and the match was becoming competitive in midfield with two visiting players booked for fouls in the opening 25 minutes.   An ambitious overhead bicycle kick by Nabil Shariff flew over the bar whilst at the other end after 32 minutes, Gregg Smith did get the ball in the St Neots net, but the Referee had blown for an infringement.   Tamworth were enjoying the greater share of possession but St Neots back line looked confident and sound and goalkeeper Reynolds did not have a serious save to make.   His counterpart was also untroubled in the first half although Ben Worman saw a shot blocked and both Ryan Beswick and Tyrell Waite sent their efforts wide of target at the other end. The visitors stated the second half well with Waite weaving his way past two defenders to test Reynolds at his near post and in a bid to boost his teams’ fortunes Dennis Greene made two early second half substitutions but to little effect.   Visiting keeper Jas Singh was then forced into a serious save to deny Dion Sembie-Ferris and St Neots also made a change with Claudio Ofosu replacing Worman.    Midway through the second half St Neots though they should have been awarded a penalty when Dylan Williams picked up a pass from Devante Stanley and burst into the penalty area to be upended but the Referee judged that the St Neots player had illegally dived, and he was booked for simulation.   Further substitutions followed as the sides sought late inspiration in a bid to find a winning goal and it was St Neots who came closest to breaking the deadlock.   With nine minutes left the best team move of the match saw Dion Sembie-Ferris and Nabil Shariff open up the visiting defence and when the latter went clear his shot beat the visiting keeper but narrowly skimmed the angle of bar and post.   Four minutes later substitute Ofosu beat his marker on the edge of the area to send Stanley clear on the right and his searching low cross from the bye line was only inches from conversion by Shariff.   After this burst of St Neots pressure it was left to Stanley to save the day in added time with a timely interception to rob Waite in front of an open goal. St Neots:  Reynolds, Stanley, Herd, Knight, Short, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Wood, Shariff, Williams, Worman Subs:  Ofosu (for Worman 65 mins), Miles (for Wood 76 mins), Olaniran, Watkins and Douglas. Cards:  Williams (Y – 71 mins), Knight (Y – 75 mins) Goals:  none   Tamworth:  Singh, Green, Gough, Beswick, Kettle, Jemson, Magunda, Verma, Smith, Lait, Waite Subs:  Dunkley (for Lait 53 mins), Clement (for Beswick (56 mins), Moore (for Verma (80 mins) Jeynes and Johnson Cards:  Jemson (Y – 19 mins), Gough (Y – 23 mins), Magunda (Y – 90 mins) Goals:  none   Referee:  Jack Blaxham (Wheathampstead) Attendance:  181   John Walker  
Sunday, 04 November 2018 08:59
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION Coalville Town       1         St Neots Town      1     This match was regrettably marred in time added on at the end of the ninety minutes when the Referee, Jamie O’Connor from Bolsover, totally lost control following a rather innocuous foul.   He ended up issuing four yellow cards in that unsavoury ending – one a second yellow which became a red, and another when he brandished the red card again only to rescind it after being corrected by an Assistant Referee.   It was a great shame because it had been a very good contest between two well-matched sides and on the balance of play a draw was a fair outcome.   St Neots dominated the opening 45 minutes but the Coalville response immediately after the break was swift and effective as they pinned St Neots back in their own half.   However the initial flash point had come twelve minutes from time with the visitors holding on to their slender one-goal half time lead.   In a home attack Johnny Herd was harshly judged to have fouled Alex Dean and having previously picked up a yellow card when he injudiciously kicked the ball away following the issue of a free kick, and he was sent off leaving St Neots to see out time with ten men.    There was a return in this match after an absence of six matches through injury, for skipper Luke Knight who settled in effectively and a recall for the on-loan Ben Worman with Dan Olaniran and Gary Wharton making way. Conditions for football were difficult with a swirling and unpredictable wind playing havoc when the ball was in the air.   St Neots had Devante Stanley to thank for a second minute last ditch tackle when Tim Berridge had freed Kairo Mitchell whilst it took home keeper Rudy Soloha two attempts to retrieve a snap shot from Matt Miles.   St Neots then settled to dominate play for a spell and were rewarded after 25 minutes when a long throw by Johnny Herd was not cleared and Dion Sembie-Ferris swivelled to hit a lob in off the far post for that 1-0 lead.   Seven minutes later the same visiting player looked to be illegally brought down from behind, but the Referee waved away credible penalty appeals.    St Neots continued to enjoy the bulk of possession and home skipper Steve Towers was booked for bringing down Ben Worman in flight.  The first half ended with incidents at both ends as Tom McGlinchey and Mitchell combined to get the better of the St Neots defence for Courtney Wildin to pick out the head of the unmarked Joe Doyle-Charles but he wastefully looper his header onto the roof of the net, and then at the other end Nabil Shariff combined neatly with Sembie-Ferris but his run towards goal was halted as Soloha left his area to head away. The second half saw a dramatic change in fortune.   Coalville looked energised by the break and set about looking to pull back the deficit.   Harry Reynolds did well to gather a searching Kalern Thomas cross and the same player then neatly won his way to the bye line to cross to find Wildin who fired high over the bar.   Alex Dean then sent a free header well wide and Mitchell turned a defender to curl in a shot that rebounded off the inside of a post.   Stanley was called upon again to produce a saving tackle to deny Mitchell a clear shot, and Reynolds saved comfortably from Towers.   St Neots did break out for Sembie-Ferris to see his net-bound shot deflected for a corner and just when St Neots seemed to have weathered the attacking storm, they lost Johnny Herd and had to go on the defensive with Matt Miles filling in at full back.  Two minutes after the dismissal Wildin wasted a free kick in a prominent position but he then made up for it by supplying the cross for Kaine Mitchell to rise above the defence to head home the equalising goal.    On the break Shariff sent St Neots final effort across the face of goal before that disappointing ending that saw Towers dismissed and Knight, Stanley and Dean all pick up those yellow cards.   With upcoming midweek opponents Tamworth winning, St Neots dropped one place in the table to seventeenth. St Neots:  Reynolds, Stanley, Herd, Knight, Short, Wood, Sembie-Ferris, Miles, Shariff, Williams, Worman Subs:  Watkins (for Sembie-Ferris 86 mins), Ofosu, Olaniran and Douglas. Cards:  Herd (RED – 2 x Y – 64 & 78 mins), Knight (Y – 90+3 mins), Stanley (Y – 90+3 mins) Goals:  Sembie-Ferris (25 mins)   Coalville:  Soloha, Thomas, Wildin, Towers, Walker, Jenno, Dean, Doyle-Charles, Mitchell, Berridge, McGlinchey Subs:  Creaney (for Burridge 57 mins), Hallahan (for McGlinchey (90+3 mins), Burrows, Ebanks and Dillon Cards:  Towers (RED – 2 x Y – 43 & 90+3 mins), Thomas (Y – 68 mins), Dean (Y – 90+3 mins) Goals:  Mitchell (81 mins)   Referee:  Jamie O’Connor (Bolsover, Derby) Attendance:  138   John Walker  
Saturday, 20 October 2018 21:39
FA CUP – FOURTH ROUND QUALIFYING Alfreton Town       4         St Neots Town      0           St Neots’ FA Cup adventure for this season is over as they were soundly beaten by higher graded Alfreton Town.   Despite having the vocal backing of around 300 travelling fans they found this latest challenge a step too far.   However, they returned home with their heads held high after holding their National League hosts to a goalless second half to recoup some pride, but unfortunately, they had trailed 4-0 after a disastrous opening 27 minutes.  In that opening period, they looked defensively naïve conceding two converted penalty kicks (and that made it four in the last 64 minutes playing time!) and they never looked like producing the late comeback which had been a trademark of this seasons’ competition.   Alfreton were a bigger and stronger team and they used their physical attributes to good effect muscling out much of their visitors close passing football and their long ball swift moving attacking knocked St Neots out of their stride from the first whistle.   St Neots were still without injured club skipper Luke Knight but were otherwise at full strength with Matt Miles making a swift recovery from his midweek injury.   It took Alfreton just five minutes to assert their superiority as a curled corner from the left by Curtis Bateson managed to find its way through a packed six yards box without anyone getting a touch.   St Neots found it difficult to get out of their own half as the hosts continued to press but a second goal after 17 minutes really set the tone for that wretched first half.  Richard Peniket twisted and turned his way into the penalty area but was impeded and the Referee right in this thick of the action pointed dramatically to the penalty spot to award a kick which James Clifton stoked inside the left-hand post.   Worse followed four minutes later as Peniket robbed a dithering visiting player to set up Curtis Bateson for his second goal of the match.   St Neots brief rally saw a Johnny Herd free kick force David Shiels to head over his own cross bar, but this was little reward and after 27 minutes it was game over as a clumsy challenge by Dion Sembie-Ferris earned the St Neots player a booking and Alfreton a second penalty, this time blasted down the centre of the goal by James Clifton.   Frustration was beginning to show as first the names of Harry O’Malley and then Matt Miles joined Sembie-Ferris in the Referee’s notebook as the first half progressed.   St Neots did show some defiance but Nabil Shariff heading for goal was cynically brought down by Josh Gowling who became the fourth player to be booked in that first half with furious St Neots’ players claiming that as he was the final defender the card should have been red in colour.   The final action of the half saw home keeper Sam Ramsbottom collect a Herd free kick off the head of Taylor Parr. St Neots’ Manager Matt Clements sent on Gary Wharton after the break for Claudio Ofosu and this slight tactical change saw St Neots competing much better.   Home substitute Declan Bacon did see a header rebound from the cross bar, but it was the visitors who were now creating openings.  An injury to Harry O’Malley after 52 minutes forced another St Neots change with Dan Olaniran introduced into a three-man defence and shortly afterwards there was another positive move with substitute Devante Stanley added to the attack.   A Dylan Williams free kick brought the save of the match from Ramsbottom, and Shariff fired narrowly over the bar.   Tom Wood also brought a save at full stretch from the home keeper and then in a rather scrappy end to the match with Alfreton pushed back in defence, the Referee booked two further St Neots players whilst ignoring similar offences by home players.   The St Neots faithful kept singing but went home disappointed. St Neots Town:  Reynolds, Miles, Herd, O’Malley, Wood, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Short, Shariff, Williams, Ofosu Subs:  Wharton (for Ofosu 46 mins), Olaniran (for O’Malley 52 mins), Stanley (for Miles 61 mins), Douglas and Fulianty Cards:  Sembie-Ferris (Y – 27 mins), O’Malley (Y – 30 mins), Miles (Y – 35 mins), Wharton (Y – 85 mins), Stanley (Y – 89 mins) Goals:  none   Alfreton: Ramsbottom, Clifton, Wilde, Hird, Gowling, Shiels, Bateson, Hotte, Clarke, Peniket, Johnson Subs:  Bacon (for Gowling 46 mins), Riley (for Shiels 46 mins), Clackstone (for Clifton 90 + 1 mins), Nicholson, Chettle, Sinnott and Platt. Cards:  Gowling (Y – 44 mins) Goals:  Bateson 2 (5 & 21 mins), Clifton 2 – both pens – 17 & 27 mins)   Referee:  Michael Barlow (Bolton) Attendance:  645   John Walker  
Wednesday, 17 October 2018 15:06
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION CENTRAL Royston Town       5         St Neots Town      0           This match was not part of the preparation for the historic FA Cup match at Alfreton at the weekend that Manager Matt Clements would have wanted.   In fact, it was a match the squad could have well done without and it finished with their biggest ever away defeat in the Southern League and the sides’ biggest away defeat since September 2006.   Of course, there were contributory factors – the result prompted by an early own goal followed by a freak injury for Matt Miles that saw him stretchered off in the first half with concussion, and then having Dan Olaniran sent off, but the Manager would not wish to dress this up other that a shoddy performance by his side.  Royston, third in the league table, are enjoying their best ever season at Step Three, and they took full advantage of their visitors’ shortcomings, but looking for excuses will not mask one of St Neots’ easily forgettable evenings.   As he did at Lowestoft two weeks earlier the Manager rested four of his senior squad to give playing time to his fringe players bringing in Gary Wharton, Devante Stanley, Dan Olaniran and Ben Worman for Johnny Herd, Russell Short, Dion Sembie-Ferris and Claudio Ofosu who were all on the bench. The opening phase of the match was very high tempo with the home side employing long ball tactics that kept the three-man St Neots defence at full stretch.   Surprisingly there were no real openings in front of goal for either side until the 18th minute when home keeper Joe Welch had to go full length to save a snap shot by Nabil Shariff and Royston replied a minute later with the first goal when a cross from Vance Bola was defected across goal and attempting to clear Tom Wood could only divert the ball into his own net.   Watched by the Manager of Alfreton St Neots then had a rough patch as Harry Reynolds had to save well from an Adam Murray shot on the turn and he then saw a Sam Corcoran shot safely over the bar.  St Neots did break out for Ben Worman to have a shot blocked at the other end but after 33 minutes the defence left Vance Bola unmarked on the right and he collected a defensive clearance to advance on goal to beat Reynolds with a low shot with the outside of his boot into the corner of the net to double the lead.   There was then a lengthy delay as the unfortunate Matt Miles collected a fierce clearance full in the face and after receiving on-pitch treatment he was stretchered off to be replaced by Claudio Ofosu. After the break Ofosu gave away possession in his own half freeing up Rohdell Gordon but with the goal at his mercy he fired over the bar after 48 minutes, but the respite for St Neots was brief for five minutes later Harry O’Malley pulled back Josh Castiglione in the penalty area and Rohdell Gordon confidently tucked away the penalty kick to extend the lead to 3-0.  St Neots protests saw Dan Olaniran booked and this heralded a spell of Royston dominance with Bola volleying over the bar when well placed and substitute Chris Assombolonga making an immediate impact as he forced Reynolds to save bravely at his feet.   St Neots were reduced to speculative shooting from distance with Worman and Shariff both seeing Welch save comfortably and Royston dominated the final quarter with St Neots being reduced to ten men when Dan Olaniran picked up a second yellow card as he upended Bola with a late challenge conceding a second penalty kick (St Neots fourth concession in two matches) which was despatched by Rohdell Gordon to make the score 4-0.   Reynolds then saved well to deny Murray and a late but fruitless burst by St Neots saw a Devante Stanley shot blocked and Nabil Shariff brought down to ignored penalty appeals.   To run salt in St Neots’ wounds, home substitute David Mooney rounded things off with a fifth Royston goal in added time. St Neots:  Reynolds, Miles, Stanley, Olaniran, Wood, Parr, O’Malley, Worman, Shariff, Williams, Wharton Subs:  Ofosu (for Miles 40 mins), Sembie-Ferris (for Wharton 66 mins), Short and Herd Cards:  Olaniran (RED – 2 x Y – 63 & 82 mins), O’Malley (Y – 76 mins), Goals:  none   Royston:  Welch, Scott-Morris, Norville-Williams, Mentis, Martin, Brathwaite, Castiglione, Corcoran, Murray, Bola, Gordon Subs:  Thomas (for Corcoran 54 mins), Mooney (for Brathwaite 60 mins), Assombolonga (for Castiglione), Potton and Aolmenu Cards:  Scott-Morris (Y – 35 mins) Goals:  Gordon (2) - pens (53 & 82 mins), Wood (o.g) (19 mins), Bola (33 mins), Mooney (45+3 mins)   Referee:  Alex Rayment (Houghton Regis) Attendance:  243   John Walker  
Tuesday, 09 October 2018 22:41
St Neots Town have reached the Fourth Qualifying Round tonight for the first time since 1966, coming back from 3-1 down in the second half to level the scores late on and carry the game through extra time and a successful penalty shootout. Saints conceded the opening goal two minutes into injury time at the end of the first half, but CLAUDIO OFOSU levelled the scores shortly after the restart (50th minute) but the hosts then powered their way into what looked to be an unassailable 3-1 lead but with the clock ticking away, substitute GARY WHARTON was introduced into the action and he scored twice in the 89th and  93rd minutes to take us into extra time (his first goals since the 2015/16 season due to injury). There were to be no further goals in the extra periods despite chances for both teams so the tie was to be settled by the dreaded penalty shootout. First up was to be TAYLOR PARR who successfully slotted home. Now was to be HARRY REYNOLD’s moment of glory as he saved the first spot kick for the hosts. From this point on, all the spot kicks were scored by both teams with DION SEMBIE- FERRIS, DYLAN WILLIAMS, NABIL SHARIFF finding the net and leaving skipper JOHNNY HERD to fire home the winning spot kick and spark wild scenes of celebration for both the players and the travelling support. Saints now travel to National League North side, Alfreton Town, on Saturday October 20th – Kick Off 3.00pm St Neots Town: Reynolds, Miles, Herd ©, O’Malley, Wood, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Short, Shariff, Williams, Ofosu Substitutes used: Wharton, Stanley    Unused: Douglas and Olaniran Goals: OFOSU (50), WHARTON  (89 and 93) Bookings: Wood (y) Short (y) Stanley (y) Attendance: 409
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