St Neots Town FC 1 : 2 Hitchin Town
Match
33
St Neots Town FC 1 : 2
Hitchin Town
Saturday 28 January, 2017 15:00

 

Southern League Premier Division  

 

ST NEOTS TOWN       1         HITCHIN TOWN        2

 

With their high-flying visitors boasting five victories in the last six matches and St Neots having five defeats in the same number anything but an away win would have bucked the form trend.   However, that is not the full story because with the scores tied at 1-1 St Neots had much the better of the second half before blotting their copy book with two late errors to surrender all three points.   Less than five minutes from time they gave Hitchin substitute Brett Donnelly a criminal amount of time and space to turn and score what proved to be the winning goal and then handed a golden opportunity in added time to make amends St Neots managed to miss a penalty kick.   Manager Matt Clements named an unchanged line up from the narrow defeat at Banbury – only the second unchanged line up in a league match in 30 starts this season and the team are beginning to look much more confident and assured but the points still seem very elusive.   Hitchin, third in the table with a game in hand of the league leaders are mathematically looking like genuine title contenders but they must sharpen up their act to maintain that challenge.   Meantime with two thirds of the season gone St Neots must start picking up points if they are to survive at Step Three.

 

Alex Archer was soon in action for St Neots smothering a close range shot from visiting skipper Dan Webb whilst at the other end Declan Rogers had a shot blocked and Peter Clark forced Michael Johnson into a smart save.   St Neots then took the lead after 26 minutes when an angled cross from the right found Jevani Brown lurking on the opposite flank and he produced a scorching left foot shot that flew past Johnson to put his side ahead.   Hitchin’s response was swift because inside five minutes later the St Neots defence failed to clear an innocuous cross and Robbie Burns nipped in at the far post to claim a soft equalizer.   Neither side looked able to dominate with both defenses looking good in the air and neither inventive enough to seriously test the other.   Josh Bickerstaff wove through the St Neots defence but shot over the bar and Archer was happy to smother a rising shot by Matt Lench after good work by Lucas Kirkpatrick.   Level at the break both sides seemed to be searching for inspiration.

 

Inside ten minutes from the restart St Neots made two substitutions in a bid to find the missing spark with Jacob Partridge coming on in a straight swap for out-of-sorts Jonny Butler and Nassim L’Ghoul replacing Declan Rogers.  For Hitchin, Kane Smith curled a shot beyond the far post but neither keeper was in serious action in the first twenty minutes of the second half.   The visitors also introduced two substitutes and Brett Donnelly immediately ruffled the feathers of the St Neots back four.   St Neots full back Jonny Herd moved forward to test Johnson after 76 minutes and in St Neots best second half move Clark fed Brown but his effort just passed the wrong side of the far post.   It was looking a certain draw with both sides looking happy to settle for that but with less than five minutes left the ball was lifted into the box by Josh Bickerstaff and Brett Donnelly showed his strikers instinct to finish calmly to put Hitchin ahead.   This was the spur needed for St Neots to throw everything forwards and three minutes into injury time Taylor Parr was upended in the penalty area.   With former regular spot kick taker James Hall no longer with the club the responsibility was handed to Jevani Brown who hit his effort well enough but Hitchin keeper Johnson dived to his right to push the ball around the post.   It was much less than St Neots deserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St Neots:  Archer, Day, Herd, Butler, Wood (T), Parr, Brown, Hyem, Fortnam-Tomlinson, Clark (P), Rogers

 

Subs:   Partridge (for Butler 54 mins), L’Ghoul (for Rogers 56 mins), Clarke (L) (for Hyem 88 mins) and Norman.

 

Cards:  Brown (Y – 30)

 

 

 

Goals:  Brown (26 mins)

 

 

 

Hitchin:  Johnson, Smith, Bickerstaff, Rolfe, Webb, Wright, Spence, Donnelly (C), Kirkpatrick, Burns, Lench

 

 

 

 Subs:  Donnelly (B) (for Spence 63 mins), McNamara (for Lench 74 mins),Brooks (for Donnelly (C) 78 mins), Ann and Bennett.

 

Cards:  none

 

 

 

Goals: Burns (31 mins), Donnelly (B) (85 mins)

 

Attendance: 347

 

Referee: Andy Humphries (Daventry)

 

 

 

John Walker