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  
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  
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