Basingstoke Town 1:0 St Neots Town FC
Basingstoke Town 1 : 0
St Neots Town FC
Saturday 10 March, 2018 15:00


Basingstoke Town       1        St Neots Town      0

St Neots produced their worst performance on the road since losing in the League Cup at Rushden & Diamonds in October.   Basingstoke have been on a good run of late with only one defeat in their previous six League outings but their performance on the day hardly merited all three points with the visiting side lacking in method, application and belief.   A picture of the possession in the match is displayed in the corner count where St Neots had twelve and Basingstoke two, but of course it is goals that count and apart from a couple of smart saves by home keeper Colm McAdden, St Neots seldom looked like scoring.   The side is being hampered by a lack of competition for places because again from within the usual senior squad St Neots had three players injured, one ill, and Kyron Wiltshire serving the final match of his suspension.   No doubt Manager Matt Clements would dearly have liked to have introduced change in the second half to boost the confidence of his side but with only two inexperienced substitutes on the bench there was little room to maneuver.    So, his side dropped two places to thirteenth in the table and must now work hard to achieve their stated aim of a place in the top half of the final league table with the next test being a long trip to Wales to play Merthyr. 

After a slow start which saw only one early shot by Sam Smart comfortably saved by Finlay Iron, St Neots almost took the lead in the tenth minute – an effort that was to be their best of the match!   Dion Sembie-Ferris was brought down in full flight on the right and from Johnny Herd’s measured free kick to the far post David Bridges headed back into the centre and Taylor Parr’s acrobatic volley brought the save of the match from Colm McAdden as he fingertipped the ball over the bat at full stretch.   A thirty yards effort by skipper Luke Knight was well saved by the keeper and Nabil Shariff worked his way along the bye line to see his narrow-angled shot comfortably saved.   With Luke Knight and Bridges dominating the midfield play the St Neots wide attacking players were seeing a lot of the ball but the final crosses and passes were inaccurate and easily cut out by the home defence.   Tom Wood joined the attack on the overlap and saw his crisp low shot pushed for a corner whilst at the other end Finlay Iron was almost a spectator and he watched a second Smart shot sail harmlessly wide after some loose marking.   Then as half time approached in the 43rd minute Basingstoke scored with their first credible attempt ion goal.  Sam Argent drifted wide right and went past one defender and when his harmless looking cross was not cleared the ball fell to Sam Smart who clipped a low shot through a forest of legs with the unfortunate Iron looking unsighted.

St Neots must have been told at half time ‘you have done everything but score – now go out and put the ball in the net’.  That proved to be wishful thinking because they appeared to have lost the momentum they had shown in the first 45 minutes.   A Knight shot was blocked after good work by Shariff, but the home side were looking much better on the break and the lively Sam Argent had two good efforts – one saved by the keeper and the other passing narrowly wide of the far post.   Slick play by Shariff just past the hour and a clever back heeled flick set up Stefan Broccoli but he skied his shot over the bar but in the next attack Broccoli collected a Johnny Herd pass to bring a good save from McAdden.   In the last 25 minutes St Neots visibly flagged, and Basingstoke started to enjoy an equal share of possession and attacking play.   Smart should have added his name to the score sheet for a second time when Callum Bunting unselfishly set him up with only Iron to beat but he shot hopelessly wide giving St Neots a chance to capitalize.   However, they produced nothing to threaten the home goal as they ran out of ideas and became frustrated with their own efforts.   Basingstoke skillfully slowed the pattern of play by introducing their three permitted substitutes and it always looked that one goal would be enough to take all three points.


St Neots:  Iron, Wood, Herd, Knight, McDevitt, Parr, Sembie-Ferris, Bridges, Shariff, Williams (D), Broccoli

Subs:  Buddle and Butler (neither used)

Cards:  Bridges (Y – 53 mins)


Basingstoke:  McAdden, Wohlfiel, Bennett, Collier, Demuria, Hollamby, McKnight, Atkinson, Bunting, Argent, Smart

Subs:  Kennedy (for Smart 71 mins), Davis (for McKnight 79 mins), Knight (for Bunting 84 mins)

Cards:  Collier (Y – 67 mins), Bennett (82 mins)

Goals:  Smart (43 mins)

Referee:  Ian Parsons (Salisbury)

Attendance:  284



John Walker