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
Sunday, 07 October 2018 12:06
FA CUP THIRD ROUND QUALIFYING St Neots Town       2         Coalville Town       2        St Neots were in the draw for the Fourth Round Qualifying of the FA Cup thanks to a dramatic added time goal on a wet afternoon at the Premier Plus Stadium.   They had fallen behind in the first half before having the unexpected advantage of seeing their visitors reduced to ten men after the break, but then as a comeback beckoned they were wasteful conceding a second goal before their late recovery.   So, for the second time in a fortnight their faithful followers were treated to a significant FA Cup goal deep into time added by the official, ironically as a result of blatant timewasting by the visiting side.    It was another slow start for the home side, but they were up against a side lying second in their division of the Southern League who had only tasted defeat once in their last ten matches.   Manager Matt Clements rang the changes from midweek restoring Matt Miles, Nabil Shariff, and Claudio Ofosu to the starting line-up, leaving Gary Wharton on the bench but being without Ben Worman who is Cup-tied and Dion Sembie-Ferris the hero of the previous round who was handed a one-match FA Cup ban for excessive celebrations which had earned him a second yellow card in the competition this season. In front of their best crowd of the season (518) St Neots made a slow start and the visiting side had two early openings, Tom McGlinchey setting up Andrew Wright to shoot wide after just two minutes and then Lee Cox squandered a great chance ten minutes later firing directly at Harry Reynolds after being played clear in a counter-attack following two St Neots corners.   As the half progressed, St Neots seemed to settle down and skipper Luke Knight had a shot deflected wide and from a lengthy Johnny Herd throw and Nabil Shariff had a shot blocked on the line by Scott McManus.   After 32 minutes there was an anxious moment for the home side when goalkeeper Reynolds left his line to gather a McGlinchey cross but missed the ball and he was relieved to see Tom Wood block the resultant effort from Tim Berridge.   However, four minutes later the Coalville player made up for his disappointment when he opened the scoring firing home from close range when the St Neots defense failed to clear a free kick by Steve Towers.   McGlinchey was terrorizing the St Neots defense and twice he cut in from the left to see his efforts blocked by defenders and on the stroke of half-time visiting keeper Max Smith-Varnam dropped a stinging Claudio Ofosu effort but there was no one on hand to take advantage. There was a lively start to the second period as Shariff sent a shot just the wrong side of a post and then from a Johnny Herd corner a shot was blocked on the line.  In the next St Neots attack Taylor Parr was bundled over in the penalty area but credible penalty appeals were waved away.  Then after 53 minutes from another Herd corner there was an incident in the area which saw Scott McManus kick out at a home player.   The Referee did not see the incident but having consulted an Assistant he issued a straight red card to McManus to reduce the visitors to ten men.   St Neots quickly introduced substitute Devante Stanley to adopt a more attacking approach whilst the visitors filtered players back in defense leaving just one up front.   Ten minutes after the dismissal St Neots were caught short in defense and when they failed to clear a Towers free kick, Daniel Creaney slotted the ball past Reynolds to give his side a 2-0 advantage.   That looked curtains for St Neots, but they sent on a second attacking substitute to take advantage of their extra player and seven minutes from time a 35 yards effort from Tom Wood sailed over defenders and keeper to keep St Neots hopes alive.    In those last few phrenetic minutes St Neots created several openings including shots wide of target from Shariff and Stanley but five minutes into time added Reynolds sent a fifty yards free kick, deep into the visitors’ penalty area and when it was nodded down Nabil Shariff pounced to net from close range.   View Claire Howes' Photo Gallery right here:   St Neots:  Reynolds, Miles, Herd, Knight, Wood, Parr, O’Malley, Short, Shariff, Williams, Ofosu Subs:  Stanley (for Williams 59 mins), Wharton (for O’Malley 72 mins), Olaniran, Douglas and Fulianty. Cards:  none Goals:  Wood (83 mins), Shariff (90 + 5 mins)   Coalville:  Smith-Varnam, Bryant, McManus, Towers, Wildin, Cox, Dean, Wright, Creaney, Berridge, McGlinchey Subs:  Hallahan (for Creaney 88 mins), Shamalo (for Berridge 90 + 2 mins), Solona, Ebanks, Graham and Spence Cards:  McManus (RED – 53 mins) Goals:  Berridge (36 mins), Creaney (64 mins)   Referee:  Richie Watkins (Nuneaton) Attendance:  518   John Walker
Wednesday, 03 October 2018 15:53
SOUTHERN LEAGUE CHALLENGE KO CUP Lowestoft Town       3         St Neots Town       1        Home striker Kieran Higgs completed a personal hat trick to dump St Neots out of the Southern League Cup after their long midweek trek to Suffolk.    As he prepared his team for their important FA Cup engagement at the weekend Manager Matt Clements understandably opted to rotate his squad with the object of resting key players and giving game time to his fringe players and as a result the line-up looked unbalanced in the first half.   Into the starting line up came Russell Short for his full debut, skipper Luke Knight after suspension and Gary Wharton and Dylan Williams after injury with James Peters, Matt Miles, Nabil Shariff and Claudio Ofosu making way.   This was St Neots first trip to Lowestoft for 46 years in the old Eastern Counties League days, and they may have been surprised to see former player Adam Tann in the home line-up as he left St Neots three seasons ago after 65 appearances for the club. Lowestoft were quick out of the traps and they almost snatched an early lead when a lengthy snap shot from Henry Pollock surprised Harry Reynolds who was relieved to see the ball clip the crossbar on its way to safety.   Defender Rossi Jarvis up for a set piece then shot wide after finding space in the area and it was newcomer Russell Short who recorded St Neots first attempt on goal after ten minutes, but his shot was blocked.   The over-fussy official booked Tom Wood for an innocuous challenge and then Adam Tann made his presence felt as Reynolds went full length to push away his header from a Conor McKendry corner.   In the first half McKendry on loan from Ipswich Town was a thorn in the side of the St Neots defense who were guilty of giving the wide man far too much space.   However, the first goal came from a difference source when Pollock’s sublime through ball set up Kieran Higgs for the opening goal after 24 minutes.   Higgs then had a shot blocked and McKendry saw his shot deflected for a corner as Lowestoft sought to exploit their possession superiority.   The best St Neots effort of the half came from Dylan Williams who curled his shot narrowly over the bar after neat work by Ben Worman. There was an early second half setback for St Neots when after 50 minutes a defender missed a clearance and Kieran Higgs was on hand to double the lead for the hosts.   St Neots responded by introducing Nabil Shariff and Claudio Ofosu and this not only added to their attacking options but also seemed to boost their confidence.   Russell Short had a shot blocked whilst at the other end Reynolds clawed a Ben Fowkes shot ono a post.   Home keeper Elvis Putnins then produced the save of the match after 67 minutes to deny Worman and Shariff looking sharp up front had one shot saved and placed a second over the bar.   With St Neots now beginning to dominate possession it was against the run of play after 82 minutes when man of the match Kieran Higgs completed his hat trick from close range following a breakaway home attack.   If St Neots were deflated it did not show and they deservedly finished up the match with a consolation goal from Luke Knight – his first since 7th April.   Lowestoft:  Putnins, Curry, Schaar, Pollock, Jarvis, Tann, Fowkes, Pinheiro, Higgs, Ingram, McKendry Subs:  Wren (for Pinheiro 69 mins), Hedge (for Curry 74 mins), Fletcher (for Higgs 84 mins), Langdale and Overy Cards:  Pinheiro (Y – 19 mins), Higgs (Y – 39 mins), Pollock (Y – 40 mins), McKendry (Y – 82 mins) Goals:  Higgs (3)(24, 55 and 82 mins)   St Neots:  Reynolds, O’Malley, Herd, Knight, Wood, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Short, Wharton, Williams, Worman Subs:  Shariff (for Wharton 51 mins), Ofosu (for Short 63 mins), Peters (for Parr 71 mins) and Miles Cards:  Wood (15 mins), Short (Y – 52 mins) Goals:  Knight (90 mins) Referee:  Mark Chalkley (Swaffham) Attendance:  158   John Walker
Sunday, 30 September 2018 10:26
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town       0        Hitchin Town       0 Perhaps the players on both sides had their minds on next week’s home FA Cup engagements after their respective heroics in the previous round but for the substantial crowd watching from the sidelines in the sunshine it was a disappointing afternoon.   Perhaps to some extent it was predictable – the third consecutive draw between the two sides, and although Hitchin will be the happier with the result they remain rooted in the relegation zone.   It was only St Neots second home goalless draw since March 2016 and will be regarded as two points lost rather than one gained.   The woodwork twice denied St Neots in the second half and Hitchin were hanging on for the final twenty minutes during which time St Neots failed to make their superior possession count.   With almost a full squad to choose from St NeotsManager Matt Clements opted for just the single change in his starting line-up bringing back Ben Worman, who was cup tied for the Romulus match, for Devante Stanley who was on the bench.   There was also a second half club debut for former Ipswich Town player Russell Short who managed to get his name in the Referee’s notebook for a mistimed challenge. Hitchin began in confident style and for the first twenty minutes they were the better side.    St Neots failed to show any kind of constructive approach giving the ball away and allowing their visitors to dominate play and openings.   From an Isaac Galliford corner Lewis Ferrell was unmarked and he tested Harry Reynolds with a low shot and then Alex Anderson worked his way into a clear shooting position but finished weakly.   In a five-minutes spell midway through the first half Jack Green squandered two glorious chances to put Hitchin ahead, first volleying over the bar after good work by Macsen Fraser and then firing wide from a Matt Spring corner.   Gradually St Neots grappled their way back into the game and Claudio Ofosu switched wings to see his teasing cross palmed away by Michael Johnson and then from a Johnny Herd corner, Nabil Shariff glanced his header wide of the far post.    Six minutes before the break the underworked Johnson did well to save a stinging shot from Shariff and then visiting skipper Josh Bickerstaff (one of three former St Neots players in the visiting side) cleared a Ben Worman chip off the undefended goal line after his keeper had gone ‘walk about’.   The half ended with Ofosu moving inside two defenders to unleash a rising shot that was too high to bother the goalkeeper. If the first half had seen Hitchin just shade possession that was as good as it got for the visitors.   After the break (possibly with their ears stinging) St Neots set about improving their fate.   It took just fifteen seconds from the restart for Shariff to almost break the deadlock as he chased a ball to the bye line to chip the goalkeeper only to see the ball rebound from the inside of a post to rebound into the grateful keepers’ arms.   That set a marker for the home side who bombarded the visiting goal but could not find a clinical finish.   Taylor Parr headed over from a Matt Miles corner, Dion Sembie-Ferris shot wide when well placed and a second chance for the same player set up by Ben Worman was again sent wastefully wide.   Both sides sent on substitutes with Hitchin stiffening their defense and St Neots trying to add imagination to their attack with leading scorer Dylan Williams and Gary Wharton both introduced.   Sembie-Ferris was prominent hitting the cross bar with a dipping shot before setting up Wharton who brought a save from Johnson.   Sembie-Ferris then had a shot blocked and Tom Wood headed narrowly over from a Johnny Herd corner.   With substitute Trey Charles having a rare late chance for Hitchin blocked by a defender it was left to Wharton to put St Neots’ final chance over the bar in added time. Claire Howes' Photo Gallery can be found here:   St Neots:  Reynolds, Miles, Herd, O’Malley, Wood, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Peters, Shariff, Worman, Ofosu Subs:  Williams (for Ofosu 60 mins), Short (for O’Malley 63 mins) Wharton (for Peters 72 mins), Stanley and Olaniran Cards:  Short (Y – 75 mins) Goals:  none   Hitchin:  Johnson, Fraser, Chesmain, Spring, Ferrell, Bickerstaff, Anderson, Galliford, Thake, Belgrove, Green Subs:  Forde (for Thake 52 mins), Charles (for Green 52 mins), Dowie (for Spring 63 mins) and Mollison Cards:  none Goals:  none Referee:  Robert Evans (Northampton) Attendance:  376   John Walker
Saturday, 22 September 2018 20:08
FA CUP SECOND QUALIFYING ROUND St Neots Town       4        Romulus       3                                                                                         It was akin to the script for ‘The Great Escape’.   St Neots 3-0 down after 17 minutes against visiting Romulus who ply their trade at Step Five – two below their hosts – but who have a good record with three victories in the competition this season.   At that stage St Neots looked to have let the £9,000 sponsorship prize for victory slip through their fingers with a shoddy defensive start to the match.  They recovered to pull a goal back before the break but left it mighty late to snatch a dramatic winning goal three minutes into added time.   So, they will now feature in the third round qualifying of the FA Cup for the first time in 40 years.   It was a performance of great character considering that six of their squad were unavailable due to a mixture of cup tying, injury and suspension and they lined up with four fresh faces from their previous match with Harry Reynolds, Taylor Parr, Harry O’Malley and Devante Stanley replacing Finley Iron, Dan Olaniran, Jack Worman and Dylan Williams.   For Parr it was a memorable 100th senior start for St Neots but he had to play second fiddle to man-of-the-match Dion Sembie-Ferris whose extravagant shirt shedding winning goal celebrations earned him a caution from the Referee. The least said about the first seventeen minutes of the match the better from St Neots’ perspective. The visitors took the game straight to them and in the first meaningful attack after two minutes, Dimitri Dunkley crossed to find Mitch Piggon wide on the left and he moved smoothly inside Matt Miles’ despairing challenge to find the back of the net.   It was then a story of poor defending for five minutes later from a teasing Kris Taylor corner Mitch Piggon rose unmarked at the near post to glance the ball into the net.   That was bad but ten minutes after the second goal another Taylor corner – this time to the far post was headed firmly past Harry Reynolds by Luke Richards to install a 3-0 lead for the visitors.   Just before that third goal Reynolds had saved at full stretch from Josh Willis to present Romulus with their corner and during this spell St Neots had managed just one shot on goal at the other end with Claudio Ofosu’s effort sailing harmlessly wide.   Three minutes after the third Romulus goal, St Neots dragged themselves back into the match when Tom Wood headed home a Miles corner and that seemed to regenerate his side.   From that point on St Neots largely dominated possession with Sembie-Ferris unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when nudged off the ball by the visiting keeper, and then the same player struck a post with a rasping shot following another Miles corner.   Harry O’Malley shot wide and Devante Stanley making his senior debut, twice tested Tyrrell Belford – his second effort bringing the save of the match from the visiting keeper. The second half saw more St Neots domination, but chances went begging.   Wood fired over from a lengthy Johnny Herd throw, Nabil Shariff had a close-range header deflected over the bar, Ofosu squandered a chance firing wide and a Sembie-Ferris effort was smothered.   With twenty minutes left St Neots sent on Dan Olaniran and reorganized with just three at the back but chances were hard to come by with the visiting defense well marshalled by Obaro Edobor and Kris Taylor.  Romulus might have reinstated a three-goal lead after 75 minutes when a 45 yards lob from Taylor Allen almost caught Reynolds off his line, but he recovered to push it away and three minutes later Dion Sembie-Ferris got on the end of a Johnny Herd through ball to reduce the deficit.  With five minutes left skipper Johnny  Herd was again the inspiration as he got on the end of a Miles cross to level at 3-3 and then in that grandstand finish three minutes into injury time Shariff went past two defenders to pick out Dion Sembie-Ferris on the far post and his finish was clinical to sent St Neots into the next round.   St Neots Town:  Reynolds, Miles, Herd, O’Malley, Wood, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Peters, Shariff, Stanley, Ofosu Subs:  Douglas (for Peters 62 mins), Olaniran (for Ofosu 70 mins), and Hudson. Cards:  Sembie-Ferris (Y – 90+3 mins) Goals:  Sembie-Ferris 2 (78 & 90+3 mins), Wood (20 mins), Herd (85 mins) Romulus:  Belford, Cross, Rowe, Edobor, Taylor, Willis, Dunkley, Richards, Piggon, Tweed, Hurst Subs:  Collins (for Dunkley 60 mins), Allen (for Hurst 71 mins), Hague (for Richards 74 mins), Spink, Rolston, Barrow and Palmer. Cards:  none Goals:  Piggon 2 (2 & 7 mins), Richards (17 mins) Referee:  Richard Eley (Derby) Attendance:       325   John Walker
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