NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE MIDLAND DIVISION
Halesowen Town 3 St Neots Town 0
St Neots produced a battling performance against the league leaders who preserved their 100% start to the season. Still well short of full strength, the visitors will feel hard done by to have lost by a three goals margin given that the third home goal came in time added, but they can be proud of the way they fought back into the game after conceding two first half goals. Clear favourites for the title this season Halesowen were forced to hang on late in the second half, but St Neots hopes of a dramatic comeback were stunted by some rather woeful finishing having done the hard work in their approach football. Robbie Mason was too often left alone up front against a defence that has only conceded three goals this season and Saleem Akanbi in particular should have featured on the scoresheet. There were just two team changes from midweek with fit-again Aaron Smith returning at the expense of Charlie Stallard, and Dominic Nche replacing the unavailable Andre Hasanally. There were however, welcome second half substitute appearances for Tremayne Charles and Charlie Lewis.
The home side began very brightly and after just four minutes a Jack Holmes effort was pushed away for a corner at full stretch by Jamie Greygoose. Sadly, the corner was not well defended as defender Kieron Morris rose high to head home Thomas Turton’s cross to give the hosts their early lead. Five minutes later the lead should have doubled after an incisive move that split the visiting defence, but Richard Gregory fluffed a simple scoring opportunity. This seemed to spur the visitors and a minute later Robbie Mason unselfishly set up Manny Osei, but his finish was wide of its target. The match continued at a blistering pace with both defences stretched and Mason saw home keeper Daniel Platt save well from his header to an Osei cross and the lively Saleem Akanbi had one shot saved and another just wide. However, the home side looked the more likely to score as Gregory shot narrowly wide and Simeon Cobourne fired over the bar with the visiting keeper stranded. Then two minutes before the break Halesowen produced a significant second goal as the St Neots defence was caught short allowing Gregory to tap in from close range to make amends for his earlier miss.
With Tremayne Charles an early second half substitute the visitors took the game to their hosts after the break. They created several good attacking moves that lacked a significant finish and then in a breakaway attack Cobourne had the ball in the net for the home side but was ruled offside. From a Charles free kick after 65 minutes Toib Adeyemi saw a close- range effort scooped off the goal line, but the home side looked dangerous on the break and Jamie Insall saw his header rebound from the crossbar to be cleared by a defender. The introduction of Charlie Lewis for George Hoddle with Joe Tarpey moving into midfield saw St Neots adopt a more attacking approach and Charles shot wide when well placed. Akanbi then squandered a good chance firing wide after good work by Tarpey and in the last five minutes St Neots raised their game as Charles had an effort deflected and Tarpey shot over the bar.
The home side had the last word in added time as Jack Holmes beat Greygoose with a smart finish to complete the home sides’ 3-0 victory.
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Today’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the match was awarded to Declan Nche
St Neots Town: Greygoose, Tarpey, Smith (A), Anderson, Beckett, Adeyemi, Osei, Nche, Mason, Hoddle, Akanbi.
Subs: Charles (for Mason 53 mins), Lewis (for Hoddle 58 mins), Sackey-Mensah and Stallard.
Cards: Smith (Y – 90 + 3 mins)
Halesowen Town: Platt, Kelly, Quaynor. Turton, Morris, Evans, Holmes, Hayward, Insall, Gregory, Cobourne
Subs: Birch (for Hayward 55 mins), Funge (for Cobourne 68 mins), Smith (R) (for Holmes 68 mins), Fuller and Dudley-Toole.
Cards: Holmes (Y – 50 mins), Morris (Y – 64 mins), Quaynor (Y – 74 mins)
Goals: Morris (6 mins), Gregory (43 mins), Holmes (90 + 3 mins)
Referee: Tom Wall (Stoke-on-Trent)