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
Sunday, 12 August 2018 12:26
SOUTHERN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION Stratford Town       1         St Neots Town     0        St Neots debut in the reformed Southern League Central Premier Division began in an all-too-familiar way with a defeat by their bogey side Stratford Town.   In seven league matches with their Warwickshire hosts St Neots have drawn four times but now been beaten in the other three.   Added to that St Neots opening day record in the Premier Division continues to look sad with just one victory and one draw in seven starts.   An injury two minutes after half time to the iconic Dylan Williams was the catalyst for St Neots defeat for after his enforced departure they seemed to lose their focus and rhythm and but for some smart saves by goalkeeper Finlay Iron they could have lost by a greater margin.   The three new faces in the side all performed well but the returning Claudio Ofosu is still searching for his best form.   Manager Matt Clements was justifiably unhappy with his sides’ disappointing performance because the side seemed to lack quality and desire against a reshaped home side that always looked well up for their challenge.   It now remains to see how the side will react in their opening home game of the season with Bedworth the visitors. The match got off to a bright start with both sides showing a welcome attacking approach.   Edwin Ahenkorah one of Stratford’s few survivors from last season saw his early shot deflected wide and then at the other end Williams saw his shot blocked by home skipper James Fry.   Ofosu did get in one telling cross to find the head of Lewis Irwin but off-balance his effort was too high.   The lively Callum Powell who gave the St Neots defense a constant testing, then shot wide after beating two players but St Neots had their chances with Daniel Olaniran volleying over the bar following an uncleared corner.   St Neots best chance of the match came just past the half hour mark when a long throw by Johnny Herd found the head of Olaniran, but his header rebounded from the cross bar with another newcomer James Peters firing wide of a post with the follow-up.   Relishing his new role in the centre of the attack Dion Sembie-Ferris was brought down from behind by Jamie McAteer earning the defender the only yellow card of the match and the action continued with Wilson Carvalho getting behind the St Neots defence to force Iron into a smart save.   The half ended with home full back Kieran Westwood joining the attack only to see his shot deflected for a corner. That unfortunate injury to Williams just two minutes after the restart was the result of a very bad tackle not spotted by the Referee and it resulted in a compulsory substitution which brought on recent signing Devante Stanley for his club debut.   However, St Neots were looking ragged and with three minutes of the substitution they conceded what turned out to be the match winning goal.   Former Saint Lewis Wilson dribbled his way to the bye line and when his cross-cum shot was turned away by Iron the ball fell to Will Grocott who sent a low shot into the corner of the net.   St Neots briefly rallied with Stanley seeing his low shot deflected for a corner but now Stratford were growing in confidence as Carvelho won his way to the bye line forcing Iron into a save at his feet, and then Powell wasted a great opportunity shooting wide with only the keeper to beat.   The same home player shot over the bar and then belatedly, perhaps, St Neots utilized their two remaining substitutes in a bid to retrieve something from the game.   With three at the back St Neots tried to push forwards and from their best opening Ofosu saw his shot saved after good work by substitute Harry O’Malley.   Deep into injury time Iron did well to save from Fry leaving St Neots to ponder on what had gone wrong. Claire Howes' photo gallery can be found here:   St Neots:  Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Olaniran, Parr, Ofosu, Peters, Irwin, Sembie-Ferris, Williams Subs:  Stanley (for Williams 48), O’Malley (for Herd 80), Wood (for Olaniran 80) and Keeble. Cards:  none Goals:  none Stratford:  Vaughan, Cox, Westwood, Fry, Maslen-Jones, McAteer, Powell, Grocott, Ahenkorah, Carvalho, Wilson Subs:  Isaac (for Wilson 66), Luckie (for Ahenkorah 80), Dias (for Powell 89) Cards:  McAteer (Y – 34 mins) Goals:  Grocott (50 mins)   Referee:  Ollie Williams (Kidderminster) Attendance:  292   John Walker
Saturday, 04 August 2018 21:08
PRE-SEASON FRIENDLY MILDENHALL TOWN        1         ST NEOTS TOWN  1         It was honours even in St Neots’ final pre-season friendly with their Isthmian League Division One colleagues at Mildenhall.   However, on the balance of play and share of possession St Neots could have won handsomely and the focus in training in the final week before the start of the new season will now be on the conversion of chances.   The two significant team changes saw the return of Cambridge United teenage loanee goalkeeper Finlay Iron who made fifteen Southern League appearances for St Neots last season, and the debut inclusion of former Hitchin central defender Danny Olinaran.   Defensively St Neots looked sound as they restricted the home side to no more than three clear openings. St Neots created half a dozen chances in the first half hour only once seriously testing the home goalkeeper.   Claudio Ofosu’s electric pace set up Tom Spark but his effort drifted wide and then the tricky Dylan Williams found Lewis Irwin unmarked, but he shot over.   Williams then had a net-bound shot blocked and the home keeper then had to save bravely at the feet of Irwin after more good work by Williams.  In the final quarter of the first half Mildenhall did come more into the game and Finlay Iron saved well at the feet of Tom Debenham before watching a shot from the unmarked Emmanuel Osui fly harmlessly wide.   The first half ended with another shot from Irwin blocked on the line by a defender. It was more of the same after the break with St Neots kicking down the slope.   Iron saved a lengthy effort from James Seymour, but St Neots were still creating the better chances as Olinaran headed over from a Johnny Herd corner and Spark headed wide after good work by Matt Miles.   The introduction just past the hour of substitute Devante Stanley added to St Neots’ attacking options and he made an early mark with a shot that tested the home keeper.   The lively Williams saw another shot well saved and then Osui was left unmarked in front of goal, but Iron left his line to smother the shot.   With nine minutes left poor marking at a Jake Caulker corner saw Tom Debenham head Mildenhall into a lead against the run of play but within sixty seconds St Neots levelled as Harry O’Malley picked out Devante Stanley on the right and when his first effort was parried he followed up to level the scores.   Both sides then had to settle for parity.   Claire Howes' Photo Gallery can be found here:   St Neots Town: Iron, Miles, Herd, Knight, Olinaran, Parr, Ofuso, O’Malley, Irwin, Williams, Spark. Subs: Wood, Keeble, Sinclair, Stanley.   John Walker
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