AFC Rushden and Diamonds 1 : 0 St Neots Town FC
Round One
AFC Rushden and Diamonds 1 : 0
St Neots Town FC
Tuesday 03 October, 2017 19:45

Southern League Challenge Cup     

AFC RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS       1         ST NEOTS TOWN        0                   

For the fourth time in their seven seasons in the Southern League St Neots exited the League Cup in the first round and for the second season in a row beaten by lower graded opponents.   A contributory factor was the decision – by now a common practice amongst Step Three sides – to give the chance for squad members to prove themselves.  In St Neots’ case Manager Matt Clements made no fewer than six changes from the team that had recorded three consecutive league victories and three of the six were making their Southern League debuts and that included player/coach David Bridges a former Cambridge United professional.   The newcomers along with Bridges were Ronayne Marsh-Brown, a defender, and full back Joran Lee plus Peterborough United loanee Josh Davidson, whilst Scott Sinclair returned to the side and Harry O’Malley made his first senior start.  Meantime four of the six rested players were on the bench with youth starlet Andre Williams.  Any suspicion that Matt Clements had overplayed his hand with the changes were dispelled in the first half when his side dominated play and created almost all the scoring opportunities.

An opportunistic lengthy shot from Dylan Williams that sailed wide in the opening minute set the scene for the visitors.   Skipper Luke Knight brought a full length save from home keeper Matt Finlay and then David Bridges set up Williams who narrow angled effort finished up in the side netting.  Scott Sinclair was very lively on the right flank having shot after 19 minutes deflected for a corner and a second just wide of goal and then Finlay made a fine save to deny Bridges who was also prominent for St Neots.   The match was turning out to be a feisty affair keeping Referee Paul Buck very busy and he booked Sinclair for a mistimed tackle after which he became the target for some rough treatment by home players.   A Bridges header was comfortably saved after good work by Sinclair and by half time St Neots had done everything but made their superior possession pay, except for a goal.

The battered Sinclair failed to appear after the break with Andre Williams on in his place for his first senior appearance of the season.   After former Saint Ben Farrell had shot badly wide in Rushden’s first minute attack after the restart, the game saw a significant moment as another former St Neots striker Chris Dillon broke free in front of goal only to be hauled down from behind by a mistimed tackle from Tom Wood.   Wood was sent off and a penalty kick awarded which home skipper Liam Dolman tucked away sending Mike Emery the wrong way.   Now short of recognized defenders St Neots were too easily pushed back onto the defensive by a resurgent home side that smelled victory.   St Neots effected their two further permitted changes and created chances on the break with the overlapping Jordan Lee hauled down on the edge of the area and Harry O’Malley seeing an acrobatic volley sail narrowly wide from a Jack Bradshaw corner.   However, most of the play was focused on the St Neots goal with Rushden skillfully exploiting their one-man advantage.   Callum Westwood and Darryl Smith both wasted chances to extend the lead and Emery made several excellent saves denying Fernando Bell-Toxtle and Dillon.  Eight minutes from time there was a flashpoint in the St Neots six-yard box as the teams awaited a corner and after consulting an Assistant the Referee sent off Ronayne Marsh Brown and booked Dillon leaving St Neots to survive the last few minutes with nine men.   Discipline could now be an ongoing problem with the red-carded players suspended from next Tuesday and three other players now just one booking away from suspension.




St Neots:  Emery, Bradshaw, Lee, Knight, Wood, Marsh-Brown, Sinclair, O’Malley, Davison, Bridges, Williams (D)

Subs:  Williams (A) (for Sinclair 46), Horne (for Williams (D) 54) Sembie-Ferris (for Davison 61), Parr and Herd.

Cards:  Wood (RED – 47 mins), Marsh-Brown (RED – 82 mins), Sinclair (Y – 33 mins), Knight (Y – 40 mins), Bridges (Y – 60 mins).


Goals: none


Rushden & D:  Finlay, Westwood, Ford, Brown, Dolman, Farrell, Henbury, Bell-Toxtle, Lorraine, Dillon, Smith


Subs:  Boateng (for Henbury 81 mins), Curtis, Heath, Shariff and Gyasi.


Cards:   Ford (Y – 43 mins), Dillon (Y – 82 mins), Westwood (Y – 90 +5 mins)


Goal:   Dolman – pen (82 mins)

Attendance: 225

Referee:  Paul Buck (Long Eaton)



John Walker