Frome Town 1 : 1 St Neots Town FC
Frome Town 1 : 1
St Neots Town FC
Saturday 25 April, 2015 15:00

Southern League Premier Division

FROME TOWN  1 - 1   ST NEOTS TOWN                     

Southern League Premier Division draw specialists St Neots recorded their seventh all square finish in their last ten league matches to earn the point they needed to confirm a fifth placed finish and a place in the midweek play off semi-finals.  

On Tuesday they must travel again to the south coast to take on long time championship favourites Poole Town who fell at the final hurdle losing at home to promoted Corby Town.  

It is a remarkable achievement for Manager David Batch and his team who are now just two matches away from achieving a place in the Football Conference.   

Mr Batch presided over the final twenty league matches after his New Year’s Day appointment and his side has gone on to record nine victories and ten draws under the new Manager recovering from a deduction of six points when Hereford withdrew from the league.   

During this period there was a steady climb up the table from tenth place and but for so many drawn matches the success would have been more spectacular. Team skipper Adam Tann was still not fit and with Brett Longden serving his one match ban the one team change saw Sam Harty included for his first start for the side in midfield after nine appearances as a substitute with Matt Spring moved back to fill the vacant full back berth.  

However the success of achieving that play off berth was dimmed by the loss to injury in the first half of both Nathan Frater (ankle tendons) and Jack Wilkinson (thigh strain) both of whom seem unlikely to be fit for the visit to Poole.

St Neots had a dream start to the match they could not afford to lose. After just three minutes a silky move tore open the home defence as Lee Clarke just inside the visitors’ half headed the ball forward to Drew Roberts who swept the ball wide to Lewis Hilliard who beat his marker and crossed to the far post for Roberts to stab past the stranded home keeper. 

 St Neots looked confident and in control and eight minutes later Nathan Frater beat his man on the bye line to cross with the ball just lacking a final touch in front of the gaping net and when the defence failed to clear Mat Mitchel-King saw a net bound shot blocked.  

The injury to Nathan Frater saw him limp off to be replaced by Luis Vieira who slotted in up front with Roberts moving wide right. Frome then rallied to create openings for themselves because they knew a point was required from the match to guarantee their Premier Division survival.  

A dangerous Matt Smith cross was cleared under pressure by Mitchel-King and then the same home player crossed again for Mark Cooper to head wide.   At the other end Clarke headed narrowly beyond the far post after good work by Roberts but Frome then had their best chance when Matt Spring was caught on the wrong side of Ollie Taylor who advanced on goal but saw his effort blocked by the onrushing Paul Bastock.   On the stroke of half time Wilkinson limped off to be replaced by Josh Bickerstaff.

Frome had two early second half efforts – Taylor heading wide from a probing Cooper cross and Hulbert just failing to reach a Matt Smith cross.  

Frome then made what proved to be a very significant substitution replacing Rhys Baggridge with Aaron Rodriguez after 57 minutes and with his first touch the substitute showed a neat pair of heels to Spring before picking out Ollie Taylor on the edge of the box. He controlled the ball and moved inside a defender to beat Bastock with a low shot to level the scores.  

That put both sides into the position where a point apiece achieved their ambitions and from that point on in the final twenty minutes there was little significant goalmouth action.  

The sides had the measure of each other and cancelled out the better efforts of their opponents.  

Before the final whistle news came through that Banbury had lost their final match at Chesham so Frome survived with a comfortable four points cushion and St Neots left to book their midweek transport to Dorset.

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

Subs: Vieira (for Frater (N) 25), Bickerstaff (for Wilkinson 44), Tann, Hobbs and Ferrari.

Cards:  Mitchel-King (Y – 54)

Goals:  Roberts (3 mins)

Frome: Chitty, Cooper, Tonkin, Baggridge, Vallis, McGrath, Worlock, Smith, Taylor, Hulbert, Thompson

Subs:  Rodriguez (for Baggridge 59), Haldane, Minnis, Bonella and Vance

Cards:  none

Goals:  Taylor (57 mins)

Attendance: 350

Referee: Michael Webb (Aldershot)

John Walker