St Neots Town FC 3 : 3 Dunstable Town
Match
43
St Neots Town FC 3 : 3
Dunstable Town
Monday 06 April, 2015 15:00

Southern League Premier Division

ST NEOTS TOWN   3 -  3   DUNSTABLE  TOWN          

On the face of it St Neots could have blown their chances of a play off place with this disappointing home draw but that bland statement does not give the picture of a most extraordinary match. 

They slipped out of the play off places to sixth swapping places with Hungerford but all the top sides still have at least three matches to play so one of those could do St Neots a favour - provided St Neots win their three remaining matches after drawing five of their last seven.  

The ultimate outcome of the match hinged on a 27th minute incident when they were reduced to ten men and worse was to follow as they surrendered a one goal lead to concede three in seventeen minutes to go in at half time trailing 3-1. The side was well on top with both central defenders up for a set piece when Brett Longden left in charge at the back misjudged a high ball forward allowing Gary Wharton to squeeze past him to go clear.

 Longden as last man was adjudged to have brought down his opponent from behind and was sent off.  However subsequent video evidence suggested that Longden had first been fouled by Wharton – an incident missed by the Referee. That decision reduced St Neots to ten men for the final 63 minutes and left them with a mountain to climb.

The St Neots side unchanged from their starting line up at Slough 48 hours earlier began extremely well once an early snap shot from visiting striker Chris Marsh had rebounded from a post. 

After just four minutes Matt Mitchel-King netted only his second goal for St Neots with a brave diving header to a Drew Roberts corner to put them ahead and then as they buzzed around the Dunstable goal both Ryan Frater and Lee Clarke had close range shots blocked on the goal line – both from corners.   

St Neots set piece threats were keeping the visiting defence at full stretch although on the break Charlie Henry cut in to shoot the visitors second attempt at goal wide of the far post.  

Then that sending off incident that stunned St Neots and they were further set back when Danny Talbot sent the resultant free kick through the defensive wall to level the scores leaving goalkeeper Paul Bastock helpless. The St Neots bench St Neots reacted swiftly to reshape their side sacrificing Nathan Frater and sending on Bruce Wilson and playing three in midfield without a wide attack. 

For ten minutes play was fairly even but then in a catastrophic two minutes period leading up to half time St Neots conceded two very sloppy goals. The first was a gift misjudged pass by Wilson who set up Adam Watkins to beat Bastock with a crisp finish and then the unfortunate substitute was again involved when Watkins broke clear to sent a shot onto the crossbar and as the defence stood statuesque Jamale McKenzie Lowe was left with the simplest of headed finishes into the unguarded net.   In added timer St Neots should have pulled a goal back when Lee Clarke found himself unmarked ten yards from goal but he mistimed his effort heading the ball over the crossbar.

Wilson never appeared after the break and so Sam Harty was sent on in his place in midfield. St Neots needed a herculean second half performance to salvage anything from the match and they produced just that.  

Never looking a man short they almost totally dominated the second period.   Reshaped again in a 3-4-3 formation they pounded the Dunstable defence and after 50 minutes Matt Spring brought the save of the match from visiting keeper Charlie May whose reflexes protected his sides’ two goal advantage. 

 However a minute later Spring was hauled down on the edge of the penalty area and a trademark quality free kick by Lewis Hilliard reduced the deficit to a single goal.   Now Dunstable’s only aim seemed to be to keep the ball out of their penalty area and they were lucky not to concede a penalty when May appeared to handle outside his area but play was waved on.  

With 13 minutes left St Neots pressure paid off as Jack Wilkinson found Matt Spring who fed Lee Clarke and from 20 yards his low shot beat May to level the scores.  

In a frantic last ten minutes Roberts saw a shot blocked on the line and the ten men of St Neots trooped off at the final whistle justifiably convinced that they had deserved to win.

 

St Neots: Bastock, Longden, Wilkinson, Mitchel-King, Tann, Frater (R), Frater (N), Spring, Clarke, Roberts, Hilliard,

Subs: Wilson (for Frater (N) 28), Harty (for Wilson 46), Vieira (for Hilliard 81), Bickerstaff and Marango.

Cards:  Longden (RED – 27), Hilliard (Y – 35), Roberts (Y – 71)

Goals:  Mitchel-King (4 mins), Hilliard (51 mins), Clarke (77 mins)

Dunstable: May, Bailey, Smith, Longe-King, Blackett, Talbot, Watkins, Henry, McKenzie-Lowe, Wharton, Marsh

Subs:  Fontanelle (for Bailey 53), Dixon, Gardner, Jones and Lynn

Cards:  Longe-King (Y – 48), Henry (Y – 65)

Goals:  Talbot (27 mins), Watkins (43 mins), McKenzie-Lowe (45 mins)

Attendance: 446

Referee: James Turner (Kings Lynn)

John Walker