St Neots Town FC 3 : 1 Darlington 1883
St Neots Town FC 3 : 1
Darlington 1883
Saturday 15 November, 2014 15:00

FA Trophy Round Two Qualifying


ST NEOTS TOWN        3       DARLINGTON 1883       1          


Darlington unbeaten in their last nine league and cup games saw their proud record disappear after they were forced to play all but three minutes against St Neots with ten men.   In the first significant attack of the match visiting central defender Liam Hatch was dismissed for throwing a punch at Ryan Frater following a Matt Spring corner.   However the visitors put up a spirited performance and might well have gone ahead but for two excellent saves by St Neots goalkeeper Paul Bastock.   In the end it was fatigue as well as three St Neots goals that put the home side in the Third Qualifying Round of the competition for the first time ever as Darlington wilted under concerted second half pressure with all four goals coming in the last twenty minutes.   St Neots had to make a team change with Josh Bickerstaff sidelined by a training injury and so there was a welcome return to the side after missing three games through injury for Ryan Frater with Dave Deeney switched to cover the full back role.   In front of their biggest crowd for several seasons St Neots struggled to find their rhythm against a well organised and at times physical visiting side but their kept their patience and was rewarded with their fine late performance. 

After that dramatic opening Bastock saved well from a powerful Stephen Thompson volley and a second visiting player Thomas Portas looked to by fortunate only to get a caution after a rash two footed tackle.  Ben Ford off balance volleyed straight at visiting keeper Peter Jameson and then from another Spring Corner Gavin Hoyte headed onto the roof of the net.   A second important save by Bastock from Graeme Armstrong was a relief for the home side after a midfield collision between two of their players had set up the Darlington attack and then the best early St Neots chance after 31 minutes saw Drew Roberts set up Lewis Hilliard who saw his low effort at the neat post blocked by the goalkeeper’s legs.   St Neots were gradually making their numerical advantage show and they created two late first half openings but Jameson did well to save bravely at the feet of Roberts as the striker attempted to dribble around him and then Deeney headed a Spring corner over the bar when he should have left the cross to the better placed Ryan Frater.


Armstrong shot wide for Darlington in the first minute after the restart but it was fairly obvious that the visitors were settling for a draw and a replay.   They flooded their defence leaving just Amar Purewal as their sole striker and it handed St Neots a large share of possession.   A Roberts’ snap volley from a tight angle saw Jameson go full length to push the ball away and then he spilled a shot by Jay Davies resulting in a corner from which Ryan Frater headed into the side netting.   With play one way towards the Darlington goal Ben Ford brought a good save from the keeper after good work by Deeney and then headed wide after clever play by Roberts.   The expected breakthrough came after 70 minutes as Deeney progressed down the right to cross for Max York to set up Lewis Hilliard whose delightfully curling cross opened the scoring.   Briefly Darlington tried to retaliate and found a gap in the St Neots back line for Purewal to level the scores after 77 minutes but they were only on terms for 50 seconds and then from a Ford cross Drew Roberts claimed his sixteenth goal of the season with a perfectly placed header.   The save of the match followed as Jameson turned a screamer from 35 yards by Hilliard for a corner and Bastock who had seen little of the ball in the second half did well to save a rising shot from Stephen Thompson.    The icing on the cake for St Neots came five minutes from time when a bad back pass by Gary Brown was pounced on by Drew Roberts who unselfishly set up Hilliard for his second goal of the match.




St Neots: Bastock, Deeney, York, Ford, Frater (R). Hoyte, Davies, Spring, Frater (N), Roberts, Hilliard

Subs: Dillon (for Frater (N) 76), Cracknell (for Ford 79), Ferrari, Farrell and Ward.

Cards:  Davies (Y – 60)

Goals:  Hilliard 2 (70 & 85 mins), Roberts (78 mins)


Darlington:  Jameson, Brown, Watson, Hatch, Hunter, Portas, Mitchell, Scott, Armstrong, Purewal, Thompson

Subs:   Dowson (for Armstrong 55), Galbraith (for Scott 60), Cocks, Lovegreen and Bell.

Cards:  Hatch (RED – 3), Portas (Y – 12), Jameson (Y – 50), Hunter (Y – 72), Dowson (Y – 86)

Goals:  Purewal (77 mins)


Attendance: 715


Referee: Ben Cooke (Tamworth)


John Walker