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
Saturday, 15 September 2018 20:21
  SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION CENTRAL Banbury United       1          St Neots Town       3        St Neots recorded their first away league victory of the season against both the odds and expectations returning from Banbury with three points.   It was only their second victory in six visits to Banbury and the home side were on a seven-match unbeaten run stretching back more than a month.   In addition, St Neots were forced into five team changes from their previous outing with skipper Luke Knight suspended, Harry O’Malley ill, Gary Wharton injured and Taylor Parr unavailable plus Manager Matt Clements reinstated Finley Iron in goal after he was cup tied for the Stortford match.   Into the side came man of the match Nabil Shariff after his brief spell at Stratford, James Peters after injury, Ben Worman (also cup-tied by his parent club) and Dan Olaniran after five matches on the substitutes bench.  A goal down after 17 minutes the reshaped visiting side had to dig deep to compete in the opening half hour but Shariff’s double strike before the break breathed confidence into the side.   He was not the only player to impress with Iron making several significant saves, Worman impressive in midfield and acting skipper Johnny Herd outstanding in both defence and attack. Banbury looked the better side in the opening twenty minutes with their two speedy wide players putting the St Neots defense under significant pressure.   From a first minute Ravi Shamsi corner Iron had to produce a smart save to deny Lee Henderson and then both Shamsi and Rasulo fired over the bar when well placed.   Greg Kaziboni shredded the St Neots defense to set up Rasulo who shot narrowly wide, and St Neots only real opening during this spell when Claudio Ofosu sped past two players to set up Dion Sembie-Ferris whose off-balance volley passed over the bar.  The home pressure paid off after 17 minutes when a long clearance from goalkeeper James Goff was touched on by Jack Self and Tom Wood seemed to misjudge the flight of the ball and Ravi Shamsi ran through to beat the retreating Iron.   Ofosu was proving a threat to the home defense and he cut in to fire over the bar before testing Goff with a rising effort.  He then provided the important equalizing goal as he picked out Sembie-Ferris with a delightful crossfield pass and he cleverly set up Nabil Shariff for a close-range finish after half an hour.  Seven minutes later Ben Worman‘s chip over the defense saw Nabil Shariff dart between two defenders and beat the approaching keeper with a low finish.   Iron made the save of the first half to deny Kaziboni and a minute before the break St Neots could have gone further ahead but the unmarked Wood headed over from a Williams corner. St Neots carried on after half time where they had left off and after 59 minutes a searching run and cross by Shariff was only cleared as far as Dylan Williams who produced a delightful well-placed shot into the corner of the net.   That provoked a determined Banbury response and Iron had to go full length to push away a shot by Ricky Johnson.   Injuries to Williams and Sembie-Ferris meant two St Neots substitutions midway through the second half but the rearranged St Neots attack still looked threatening on the break.   Banbury too, threw on substitutes and adopted a more attacking approach but their only success was a Shamsi free kick well handled by Iron.   With ten minutes left St Neots sent on Jack Keeble for the tiring Ofosu and shortly afterwards a long clearance found Shariff wide right and he advanced to test Goff who prevented his hat trick with a fine save.   A late punch clear by Iron from another Shamsi effort was the home sides’ last chance and St Neots ran out comfortable and deserved winners.   Claire Howes' photo gallery can be found here : Match Photos   St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Peters, Wood, Olaniran, Sembie-Ferris, Worman, Shariff, Williams, Ofosu Subs:  Stanley (for Williams 61 mins), Douglas (for Sembie-Ferris 75 mins), Keeble (for Ofosu 72 mins). Cards:  none Goals:  Shariff 2 (30 & 37 mins), Williams (59 mins) Banbury:  Goff, Hawtin, Ngathe, Rasulo, Wise, Henderson, Finch, Self, Johnson, Shamsi, Kaziboni Subs:  Martin (for Ngathe 64 mins), Awadh (for Kaziboni 74 mins), Bell, Diggin and Odhiambo. Cards:  none Goals:  Shamsi (17 mins)   Referee:  Robbie Dadley (Bedworth) Attendance:  490   John Walker  
Saturday, 08 September 2018 18:26
EMIRATES FA CUP FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND St Neots Town       2        Bishops Stortford       1                                                                                         A ten-man St Neots side put up a tremendous performance against the odds to defeat Bishops Stortford and move into the Second Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for only the second time in five seasons.   With the £6,000 Emirates sponsorship in the bank they now await the draw for the next round.   The outcome of the match probably depended most on a shockingly harsh decision by Braintree referee Anthony Pope to issue St Neots skipper Luke Knight a red card for what at worst was a clumsy challenge as he brought down Jordan Westcott after half an hour.   What seemed to contribute to the decision more than the tackle was the outrageous behavior of most of the visiting side who surrounded the official demanding Knight’s dismissal.   Had that decision been the standard for the match there would have been several more players sent for an early bath.   However, to St Neots lasting credit they rolled up their sleeves and worked non-stop to eliminate their numerical disadvantage and it must be said for more than an hour there was no sign that the visitors had the extra man.    There were enforced changes in the St Neots line-up with loan players Finley Iron (goalkeeper) and Ben Worman unable to play under their loan agreement and James Peters sitting out injured.   Into the side came goalkeeper Harry Reynolds for his debut along with Gary Wharton and Dylan Williams after injury. St Neots looked the better in the opening stages displaying an obvious fitness advantage over their visitors and they were unlucky not to go ahead after just four minutes when Taylor Parr headed on a Johnny Herd lengthy throw and Harry O’Malley crashed a shot on the inside of a goalpost to be scrambled clear.  Dion Sembie-Ferris looked very lively in attack and he went clear of the defense but shot wide and then he moved smartly inside his marker to see a net-bound shot blocked by a defender.   For the visitors, Jake Cass saw an acrobatic overhead effort sail harmlessly over the bar and then from an Alfie Mason corner giant defender Lance Atkins rose above the defense but headed over the bar.    The sending off seemed to slow things down as St Neots regrouped but with seven minutes to go before the break Claudio Ofosu wriggled inside two defenders to be brought down by Johnville Renee resulting in a penalty kick which Dylan Williams tucked confidently ahead to put St Neots in front. For a short spell the visitors seemed to be in the ascendancy after the break.   Following an Elliot Ronto corner the ball was forced into the net, but the Referee spotted a foul on Harry Reynolds and then Cass tested the keeper with a crisp from fifteen yards, but he saved well.   He then had to leave his line smartly to parry an Atkins narrow-angled volley, but St Neots replied with a Herd cross that found Sembie-Ferris at the far post but visiting keeper Calum Kitscha saved well.   It was now and end-to-end contest with chances created and in the same attack a Parr volley following a corner was deflected wide of goal, and then a Herd shot suffered the same fate.  Both sides sent on substitutes to freshen up their attack and it began to look that St Neots could hold to their slim advantage and even build on it as a Tom Wood volley sailed just wide and Sembie-Ferris was brought down on the edge of the area when clear surprisingly resulting only in a caution for Atkins.   Neither side could be faulted for effort as yellow cards were liberally shown but it was Stortford who made the break through as Jake Cass produced a well-placed shot to level the scores after 77 minutes.   St Neots sent on Kasey Douglas and within fifty seconds of his appearance he was perfectly placed to side foot home a Sembie-Ferris cross after a great through pass from Matt Miles.   Now again in front St Neots looked fairly secure although the Referee added on five extra minutes to be endured.   Substitute Chingdu Osaoebe was red-carded after the final whistle after an exchange of views with the Referee.   St Neots:  Reynolds, Miles, Herd, Knight, Wood, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, O’Malley, Wharton, Williams, Ofosu Subs:  Stanley (for Williams 66 mins), Keeble (for O’Malley 72 mins), Douglas (for Ofosu 82 mins) and Olaniran. Cards:  Knight (RED 30 mins), Ofosu (Y – 34 mins), Sembie-Ferris (Y – 70 mins), Keeble (Y – 88 mins), O’Malley (Y – 90+4 mins) Goals:  Williams (38 mins - pen), Douglas (83 mins) Stortford:  Kitscha, Renee, Greegan, Thomas, Atkins, Robbins, Mason, Westcott, Cass, Ronto, Charles Subs:  Cureton (for Ronto 64 mins), Osaoebe (for Mason 69 mins), Olusanya (for Greegan 86 mins), Green, Adeyemi, Brassington and Oakman. Cards:  Robinson – Asst Manager (RED – after match), Westcott (Y – 86 mins), Atkins (Y – 74 mins) Goals:  Cass (77 mins) Referee:  Anthony Pope (Braintree) Attendance:  209   John Walker
Tuesday, 04 September 2018 22:42
  SOUTHERN LEAGUE CHALLENGE CUP St Neots Town       2        Bedford Town       2                                                                                         (St Neots win 4-1 on penalties) After an indifferent first half performance when they were outplayed by their Step Four neighbors Bedford Town, St Neots recovered strongly after the break, to twice come back from behind before confidently winning a penalty shoot-out to progress to the second round of the league cup.    St Neots’ record in penalty shoot-outs in League and National Cup competition is very poor with four consecutive defeats prior to this match but that record was firmly laid to rest as four players produced unstoppable penalty kicks to supplement an outstanding save by Finley Iron to send Bedford on their way to defeat.  The result also ended a run of three defeats in the competition at the hands of lower graded clubs, but on this occasion Manager Matt Clements, looking for some consistency from his side, opted to name his strongest available line up and was rewarded with the victory.   The only change in the starting line-up saw the inclusion of Ben Worman – on loan from Cambridge United – in place of Gary Wharton who was on the substitutes bench. There was a very scrappy start to the match with Bedford looking the more composed side.   Ashton Grant powered down the left riding two defensive tackles to cross for Dan Walker who headed wide despite being under no pressure.   Then after nine minutes out of nowhere Bedford went ahead as Connor Furlong picked up a casual clearance 25 yards from goal and hit an angled low shot under the despairing dive of Finley Iron.   St Neots tried to get back into the match and Claudio Ofosu found pace to go beyond visiting goalkeeper Niall Cooper, but defender Dean Dummett got back to smother his shot.   From a Ben Ford corner Ollie Swain was left unmarked but he header tamely over the bar and then Iron was forced into a good save from former Saint Ben Ford.   St Neots lack of accuracy in passing and their failure to produce ball retention was handing the initiative to their opponents, but towards half time the balance seemed to be tipping in St Neots’ favor as Worman had a narrow angled shot saved at the near post after 33 minutes, and following a Luke Knight free kick eight minutes later, James Peters volleyed in to side netting from a tight angle. The match followed a much different pattern after the break with St Neots firmly in the ascendancy.   Two minutes after the restart a Johnny Herd free kick was mishandled by Cooper who had Dummett to thank as he cleared off the line.   Peters was injured and replaced by Kasey Douglas, but this did not hamper St Neots as Harry O’Malley fired over the bar and Cooper had to save bravely at the feet of Taylor Parr.   After 63 minutes Dion Sembie-Ferris saw his shot rebound from the foot of a post but the pressure on the Bedford goal was building and two minutes later Parr hooked a Matt Miles free kick back into the penalty area and Harry O’Malley scored his first goal for St Neots.   Ofosu then curled a shot inches wide of the far post but St Neots were pegged back again after 72 minutes when a ball over the top of the defense sent Dan Walker clear.   He looked a good five yards offside but was allowed to continue to shoot past Iron to put his side back in front.   Three minutes later parity was restored as a Sembie-Ferris shot rebounded from the woodwork and attempting to clear, Cade Stephen-Abbey turned the ball into his own net for a second St Neots equalizer.   Subsequently in the last 15 minutes St Neots were on top, but Warman hit the keeper’s legs with one effort and headed a second over the bar, so the match went to a penalty shoot-out.  Taylor Parr, Dion Sembie-Ferris and Johnny Herd all put their kicks away whilst Iron produced a full length save to deny Jermaine Hall and when Taylor Rhiney fired high over the bar. St Neots skipper Luke Knight made it four successful kicks in a row to win the tie.   St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Wood, Parr, Worman, O’Malley, Sembie-Ferris, Peters, Ofosu Subs:  Douglas (for Wharton 50 mins), Keeble (for O’Malley 86 mins) Olaniran and Wharton. Cards:  none Goals:  O’Malley (65 mins), OG (75 mins) Bedford:  Cooper, Stephen-Abbey, Jarrold, Grant, Dummett, Swain, Rhiney, Ford, Walker, Hall, Furlong Subs:  Longden (for Stephen-Abbey 76 mins), Draycott (for Jarrold 76 mins), Watkins-Clark (for Ford 79 mins), Daniel and Roach. Cards:  Grant (Y – 64 mins) Goals:  Furlong (9 mins), (Walker 72 mins) Referee:  Tim Donnellan (Leighton Buzzard) Attendance:  179   John Walker  
Saturday, 01 September 2018 21:20
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION Halesowen Town       1         St Neots Town       1 St Neots produced a marked improvement in their performance on their first ever league trip to Halesowen and were unlucky to concede an equalizing goal five minutes into added time, to return home with just one point.   In almost the last action of the game they seemed to lose concentration as they failed to defend a corner and a powerful header did the damage.   The two team changes saw Gary Wharton make his Southern League debut replacing Prince Mutswumguma whilst Johnny Herd returned at full back in place of Jack Keeble.   It was disappointing not to record a first away league victory of the season, but Manager Matt Clements was philosophical, happy to dwell on the performance rather than the result.   With Wharton leading the attack the side looked more balanced and confident – a good sign ahead of the start of two of the sides’ cup competitions in the next seven days. In bright late summer sunshine, the visitors totally dominated the opening 25 minutes of the match and should have made their superior possession count.   Skipper Luke Knight had an early effort deflected for a corner and then Gary Wharton produced a burst of speed to beat home keeper Daniel Platt to a through ball but ran out of pitch before he could direct the ball towards goal.   Claudio Ofosu was terrorizing the home defense and he shot wide after a mazy run, and then Dion Sembie-Ferris had a header cleared off the line by Asa Charlton following a corner.   The same player then brought a full length save from the home keeper who was in constant action.    The only real Halesowen attack during this period saw Finlay Iron leave his line to head clear 20 yards from goal as Lee Hughes looked to take advantage of a square lying back four.   The home side opted for a first half substitution sending on Jordan Goddard for Daniele Bragoli and the only clear chance for them came after 33 minutes when Lee Hughes cut in from the left and an acrobatic volley by Ivor Lawton rebounded from the St Neots cross bar.   Wharton had as shot well gathered by Platt just before the interval and the visitors went to the break deservedly pleased by their first half performance. Sembie-Ferris had the first second half chance going clear from an Ofosu cross field pass, but Platt pushed his effort away to be scrambled clear by Jack Kelly and then as Halesowen came more into the games Ahmed Ali headed wide when well placed.   St Neots hard work was rewarded after 58 minutes when Claudio Ofosu burst inside his marker and sent in a dipping shot that the keeper seemed to misjudge as it passed over his head and under the bar at the far post.   The lead was no less than St Neots deserved but it provoked a spell of Halesowen pressure and James Roberts should have scored when he went clear of the visiting defense, but his weak finish was easily gathered by Iron.   After 67 minutes Hughes got the ball in the St Neots net from a left-wing cross by Jack Kelly, but his effort was ruled out by an offside flag, but St Neots were still creating their own chances with Taylor Parr seeing a header from a Johnny Herd corner deflected over the cross bar.   Roberts then went close for the home side cutting in from the left and seeing his narrow-angled shot strike a goal post and rebound to safety.   With only a few minutes remaining St Neots sacrificed Wharton to send on substitute Jack Keeble as an additional defender in a bid to preserve their slender advantage.   A Kelly cross was mishandled by Iron, but Tom Wood was on hand to clear and as the match moved deep into added time it looked as though St Neots would hold on.   Then Ali curled a corner to the far post and Asa Charlton rose above the defense to head past Iron and secure an unlikely point for his side. Claire Howes Photo Gallery can be found here:   St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Wood, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, O’Malley, Wharton, Peters, Ofosu Subs:  Keeble (for Wharton 87 mins), Olaniran and Douglas. Cards:  none Goals:  Ofosu (58 mins)   Halesowen:  Platt, Bragoli, Kelly, Ali, Baker, Charlton, Hurst, Rea, Hughes, Roberts, Lawton Subs:  Goddard (for Bragoli 30 mins), Gilpin (for Lawton 64 mins), Ebanks-Blake (for Hughes 72 mins), Ezewele, Tonks. Cards:  Hughes (Y – 29 mins), Roberts (Y – 90 mins) Goals:  Charlton (90+5 mins) Referee:  Richie Watkins (Nuneaton) Attendance:  358   John Walker
Monday, 27 August 2018 18:57
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION CENTRAL St Neots Town       0        AFC Rushden & Diamonds        1 St Neots are just not getting it right in front of goal this season.   That might sound like stating the obvious but their record of three 1-0 reverses and a 0-0 draw in five matches this season is testimony to the problem facing Manager Matt Clements and his coaching team.   Originally Lewis Irwin was signed as the target man and his record of seven goals in twelve starts last season looked promising enough, but he has been missing for the last two matches and there seems to be no-one in the squad to replace him.   Effort and commitment are not the problem based on the last two performances – both against fancied sides – but in this match lady luck played her part in the defeat.   The only goal of the match came just seven minutes in when Taylor Parr brought down Tom Lorraine and although the challenge looked to be outside the penalty area, Referee George Byrne had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.   Former Saint Ben Farrell confidently tucked the penalty kick beyond the reach of Finley Iron and that was enough to send the three points back to Northamptonshire.   Subsequently St Neots played well enough in patches, but goals are proving elusive.   The one team change from the previous match was a full Southern League debut for Prince Mutswunguma with Kasey Douglas swapping places with him on the substitutes bench. Ironically the goal was the first significant action in the match.   Tom Wood was caught on the wrong side of Tom Lorraine who bore down on goal and the challenge from covering defender Taylor Parr was mistimed and clumsy.    Goalkeeper Iron then had to dive at the feet of Callum Westwood, but it was St Neots who began to dominate the attacking play.   Matty Miles saw visiting keeper Ben Heath save well and then in the same attack, a lengthy effort by Jack Keeble was pushed over the bar and from the resultant Knight corner, Dion Sembie-Ferris saw his header cleared off the line by a defender.   Rushden also had their chances with Farrell left unmarked from a Westwood free kick, but Iron saved well and then on the break a Knight free kick was pushed for a corner by Heath.   The visitors had to make a first half change when Blaize Punter replaced the injured Jack Ashton and St Neots ended the first half promisingly as Sembie-Ferris showed skill and patience on the bye line to set up Claudio Ofosu whose header was blocked by a defender.   The final action of the first half saw a looping shot by Ofosu saved by the keeper at the far post. The second half was less open as the visitors set themselves up in a more defensive formation.   Even then Iron had to leave his area to do a ‘sweepers’ job just past the hour.   St Neots pushed Harry O’Malley forward to support Sembie-Ferris and with possession in their favor St Neots was missing the creative probing of the injured Dylan Williams.   After 63 minutes a mazy run from the flank saw Ofosu set himself up for a testing shot that dipped under the cross bar but at full stretch Heath tipped the ball over for a corner.   A series of St Neots corner were then expertly defended by the visitors who seemed early to have settled for their narrow advantage.   Frustration set in as two St Neots players were booked for careless tackles and even the introduction of Kasey Douglas for Ofosu and Leon Fulianty for his senior debut replacing Mutswunguma failed to further St Neots hopes of an equalizing goal.  Six minutes from time visiting skipper Liam Dolman was left unmarked at a rare visitors’ corner but he wasted the chance of a clinching goal as he headed tamely over the bar.   A late shot by Douglas well wide of target was St Neots best effort late in the game and now only goal difference is keeping St Neots out of the relegation zone. St Neots:  Iron, Keeble, Miles, Knight, Wood, Parr, O’Malley, Peters, Sembie-Ferris, Mutswunguma, Ofosu Subs:  Douglas (for Ofosu 72 mins), Fulianty (for Mutswunguma 82 mins), Olaniran and Reynolds. Cards:  Ofosu (Y – 65 mins), Miles (Y – 71 mins), Knight (Y – 88 mins) Goals:  none   AFC Rushden:  Heath, Westwood, Brown, Ashton, Dolman, Westbrook, Chilton, Farrell, Gyasi, Lorraine, Hopkins Subs:  Punter (for Ashton 30 mins), Gilchrist (for Westwood 54 mins), Dean (for Gyasi 78 mins), Ward and Lobjolt Cards:  none Goals:  Farrell (7 mins – pen) Referee:  George Byrne (Mildenhall) Attendance:  609   John Walker
Saturday, 25 August 2018 20:18
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION Kings Lynn Town       0         St Neots Town       0 After reading the riot act to his side after their last dismal showing Manager Matt Clements was encouraged by his sides’ next showing as they ground out a determined backs-to-the-wall goalless draw with the fancied Kings Lynn.   It maintained a four matches unbeaten run for St Neots at The Walks despite being short of players in their fourth league match of the new season.   With Dylan Williams injured and Lewis Irwin and Johnny Herd both unavailable, Clements dropped central defender Dan Olaniran to the bench and brought in Tom Wood, Jack Keeble, Harry O’Malley and Kasey Douglas into a reshaped line-up that struggled to find a rhythm in the early stages of the match.   The more experienced home side – most on part-time professional contracts – dominated for the first twenty minutes but the St Neots defense superbly marshalled by Wood and Taylor Parr held firm and an improved second half showing could have seen St Neots sneak all three points.   However, a point in this fixture is always a good result and will have done the confidence of the side no harm. The match got off to a torrid start for the visitors who could have been behind after just two minutes when Lynn bore down on goal only for Toby Hilliard and Craig Parker to see close range shots blocked as the ball bounced around the penalty area.  Two minutes later Rory McAuley shot well wide from a Michael Clunan free kick and then from an Aaron Jones cross, Jordan Richards could only find the side netting from an acute angle.   Former Saint Ryan Hawkins then went clear but was denied by a fine save by Finley Iron and St Neots’ only reply during this period was a break from midfield by Claudio Ofosu thwarted as home keeper Alex Street saved at his feet.   The pressure was relieved gradually, and Street had to leave his area to head clear from Dion Sembie-Ferris.   Taylor Parr was booked for stopping Hawkins on his way to goal but nine minutes before the break after all the Lynn attacking had come to naught, St Neots almost took the lead when Parr rose above the home defense to win a cross from Ofosu only to see the ball rebound from the crossbar with the keeper beaten.   Just before the break St Neots had a fortunate let off when keeper Irons left his goal to retrieve a loose ball, but he was beaten to it by Richards who picked out the unmarked Hawkins who shot wildly over the bar with the goal at his mercy. St Neots began the second half with a snap Sembie-Ferris shot that was wide and at the other end a cross by Hilliard landed on the roof of the net.   Lynn sent on substitute Valter Da Rocha and he quickly made his presence felt with a shot just wide of the far post.   After 66 minutes with the action less frantic McAuley rapped the St Neots crossbar with a shot from 35 yards and when play moved to the other end Ryan Fryatt missed his tackle allowing Sembie-Ferris to make for goal one-to-one with the keeper, but his shot was smothered as he failed to capitalize on St Neots best second half chance.   From a dangerous position on the edge of the penalty area Jones sent his free kick high over the bar and gradually despite still having greater possession the Lynn openings were snuffed out by the visiting defense.   Ofosu had a late chance well gathered by Street and the match punctuated by substitutions seemed to lose some of its bite.   By now St Neots had settled for a point and they added Dan Olaniran to set up a five-man defensive shield through which Lynn never looked like penetrating.   The Referee added on more than seven minutes for injury and time wasting but St Neots deservedly held on to take their fourth league point of the season.   St Neots:  Iron, Keeble, Miles, Knight, Wood, Parr, O’Malley, Peters, Sembie-Ferris, Douglas, Ofosu Subs:  Mutswumbuma (for Douglas 61 mins), Olaniran (for Sembie-Ferris 86 mins), Fulianty and Reynolds. Cards:  Keeble (Y – 24 mins), Parr (Y – 32 mins), Knight (Y – 37 mins), O’Malley (Y – 45+5 mins) Goals:  none   Kings Lynn:  Street, Jones, Blake-Tracy, Jarvis, Fryatt, McAuley, Clunan, Hawkins, Hilliard, Parker, Richards Subs:  Da Rocha (for Hilliard 58 mins), Stewart (for Parker 69 mins), Limb (for Hawkins 81 mins) Cards:  Richards (Y – 69 mins), McAuley (Y – 78 mins) Goals:  none Referee:  Alistair Wilson (Boston) Attendance:  568   John Walker
Saturday, 18 August 2018 18:13
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town     0        Rushall Olympic      1 Statistics are often a good guide in football and in four a half hours this season St Neots have scored just two goals – one of those by a defender from a set piece.   St Neots have goal scorers in their squad but at present their method of creating chances is just not working effectively and their finishing lacks accuracy, and it is an issue that needs immediate attention.  Rushall so far unbeaten this term with two drawn matches prior to the visit to the Premier Plus Stadium, probably just about deserved their win because having accepted a gift goal they showed how to defend their goal and make their slender advantage count.   It was the familiar story of St Neots starting well and having the better of the first 45 minutes but once they had conceded a very sloppy goal they seemed to lack the desire and know-how to retaliate.   For the first time ever in eight Southern League seasons, St Neots fielded a starting unchanged line-up for the third consecutive time at the start of a season but the Manager’s faith in his players probably turned out to be unjustified and changes will surely follow. The end to end start promised goals from one or both sides with Dion Sembie-Ferris hoping to celebrate his 50th senior start for St Neots in a memorable way shooting wide after 12 minutes after good work by James Peters, and at the other end Gurjit Singh cut in to force a corner from a Finlay Iron save.   St Neots then had a let off when Ashley Sammons breached a square lying defense to set up Justin Richards who volleyed tamely over the bar when clear.   What proved to be St Neots’ best chance of the game came after 22 minutes when skipper Luke Knight played Sembie-Ferris clear but visiting keeper Joseph Slinn stuck out a leg to divert the shot wide.   Richards then volleyed over the bar, but St Neots were creating the bulk of the openings as Lewis Irwin chipped over the bar after good work by Dylan Williams and Taylor Parr headed a Johnny Herd corner narrowly over the bar.   From a long Knight throw the visiting defense were caught flat-footed, but Dan Olaniran headed over the bar and at the end of the first half full back Matty Miles was twice involved, firstly producing a saving tackle when Daniel Waldron was played clear, but then diving in to miss a tackle presenting Richards with a golden chance that the visiting striker scuffed wide when he should have scored. Rushall made a positive start after half time and Singh should have scored when he went inside two defenders but shot wide after 50 minutes.   Three minutes later their determination was rewarded when a second mistimed tackle by Miles released Daniel Waldron on the right and he moved inside to send a powerful shot across Finlay Iron for what proved to be the winning goal.   That should have acted as a wake-up call to St Neots, but their reaction was feeble, and the match became scrappy.   Defense was the order of the day for the visitors who funneled their players back behind the ball sacrificing possession, but St Neots never looked capable of capitalizing.   Claudio Ofosu, a potential home match winner received little or no service although he did have one effort blocked by a defender.   A series of substitutions by both sides with St Neots switching to just three at the back failed to produce any significant improvement for a home side now beginning to look bereft of ideas and inspiration.   For St Neots James Peters tried hard to get his side going without any success and now his side faces two of the pre-season title favorites over the Bank Holiday weekend – Kings Lynn and AFC Rushden and Diamonds. St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Olaniran, Parr, Ofosu, Peters, Irwin, Sembie-Ferris, Williams Subs:  Douglas (for Williams 59 mins), Wood (for Miles 81 mins), O’Malley (for Olaniran 84 mins) and Keeble Cards:  Knight (Y – 3 mins), Irwin (Y – 58 mins). Goals:  none Bedworth:  Slinn, Smikle, Hull, Pendley, Waldron, Hawker, Richards, Sammons, Singh, Lyttle, Maye Subs:  Chouchane (for Waldron 59 mins), Delaney (for Singh 70 mins), Archer (for Sammons 87 mins), Adelekan and Whittall. Cards:  none Goals:  Waldron (53 mins)   Referee:  Callum Walchester (Lowestoft) Attendance:  200   John Walker
Tuesday, 14 August 2018 23:00
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION St Neots Town     2        Bedworth United      1 Taylor Parr was the St Neots matchwinner when he scored from a Luke Knight corner eight minutes into the second half of a balanced contest.   It was only his fifth goal for St Neots on his ninety-third appearance, but it had an unusual air of deja-vu because on 29th October 2016 he scored the winning goal in a 3-2 FA Trophy victory at Bedworth.   The welcome three points was no less than St Neots deserved because they dominated possession at times and created more chances than their visitors.   However, Manager Matt Clements will probably view his side as work in progress because apart from not converting chances their defence lost a number of aerial battles – an area in which they excelled last season.   Nevertheless, it was an improved performance from the opening day, but they had teenage goalkeeper Finlay Iron to thank for some excellent timely saves.    Next it is a first ever league meeting with Rushall Olympic at the Premier Plus Stadium on Saturday. The match began at breakneck pace with Lewis Irwin getting behind the visiting defense to see a narrow-angled shot comfortably saved but Bedworth produced an early assault on the St Neots goal in which Finlay Iron produced two close range instinctive saves from close range shots with his defense in disarray after just four minutes.   St Neots then took the lead after just eight minutes when Claudio Ofosu picked up the ball wide on the left and cut in beating his marker to unleash a low right foot shot into the far corner of the goal – his first ever league goal for St Neots.  At the other end Iron had to be alert to turn a rising Luke Rowe free kick over his cross bar and as play continued end-to-end a long throw by Johnny Herd was headed goalward by Taylor Parr but Thomas Sharpe cleared off the line with his keeper stranded.  Another searching run by Ofosu set up Irwin, but his volley was just too high.   St Neots seemed to be arriving at half time with a deserved advantage but with two minutes to go, Dan Olaniran appeared to be shepherding Ryan Baldwin away from goal when the Bedworth player went to ground under a slight looking challenge and the Referee awarded a penalty kick converted by visiting skipper Alexander Troke so the sides went to the interval on terms. St Neots almost regained the lead just three minutes after the restart when Ofosu sent Dion Sembie-Ferris clear of the visiting defence, but goalkeeper Daniel Crane narrowed his angle and dived full length to save.   Sharpe then cleared off the line from a long Johnny Herd throw that had beaten everyone in a packed area, but St Neots early second half pressure paid off after 53 minutes when a curling Knight corner was blasted home by Taylor Parr.   Irwin then headed wide from a Herd corner but Bedworth redoubled their efforts to create chances of their own.   Troke got behind the St Neots defense but headed a Rowe cross over the bar and then Daniel Dubidat wasted his sides best second half opening by shooting wide after clever play by Baldwin.   A St Neots chance then went begging as Sembie-Ferris shot wide after unselfish play by Irwin.   Both sides introduced late substitutes in a bid to increase the pace and Devante Stanley looked lively for St Neots using his pace to carve out an opening but shooting just beyond the far post.   Bedworth’s final chance of a share of the points came in added time when a long cross found the head of Barry Fitzharris but he put his effort wide and the points were gained by St Neots to open their 2018/19 account.     St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Olaniran, Parr, Ofosu, Peters, Irwin, Sembie-Ferris, Williams Subs:  Stanley (for Sembie-Ferris 76 mins), O’Malley (for Williams 86 mins), Wood, Keeble and Matswumguma. Cards:  Irwin (Y – 56 mins). Goals:  Ofosu (8 mins), Parr (53 mins)   Bedworth:  Crane, Whitmore, Rowe, Fitzharris, Gordon, Sharpe, Baldwin, Parrott, Dubidat, Troke, Jeys Subs:  Christie (for Jeys), Blackmore (for Fitzharris), Brehon, Brighton and Rowley. Cards:  Troke (Y – 7 mins), Albrighton (Y – 50 mins – unused sub!!) Goals:  Troke – pen (43 mins) Referee:  Andy Humphries (Daventry) Attendance:  192   John Walker
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