NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE – MIDLANDS DIVISION
Shepshed Dynamo 3 St Neots Town 1
An impressive second half display by St Neots did little to offset a poor first 45 minutes. Conceding two goals in the first four minutes of the game gave the visitors what proved to be an impossible task against a home side who displayed the importance of defending stoutly when St Neots produced their much improved second half comeback. The first half loss of full back Jon-Paul Duncliffe to injury did little to boost St Neots’ confidence but they can take some comfort from their spirited second half response. However, on the downside with home victories on the day for Daventry Town and Hinckley LRFC, St Neots became further detached from the sides above them in the league table. They are beginning to look doomed to a second half of season relegation scrap. Only one team change from the winning side the previous Saturday was made – this enforced because of the injury sustained by Steven Sylvester, with Panny Boxer brought back to the heart of the defence.
The opening four minutes of the match proved pivotal to the outcome of the contest. In Shepshed’s first attack after just two minutes St Neots conceded a free kick wide on the left and then watched as Cam Moore rose high above the defence to head across goal for Reece Morris to net from close range at the far post. Worse was to follow for two minutes further into the match Morris picked out Zayn Hakeem who got a fortune rebound off a defender to add a second goal. Shell-shocked St Neots responded well, and a Trey Charles shot was blocked and Liam Hook followed up but off balance could only fire over the bar. St Neots custodian Jamie Greygoose then produced an outstanding reflex save to push a free header from Toby Ritzema over the bar from a Moore corner whilst at the other end St Neots were bombarding the home goal without success. Charles saw a shot deflected over the bar by a defender, a Joe Rider effort was also deflected and Panny Boxer saw his effort cleated off the line with the home keeper beaten. Then seven minutes before the break a long ball from deep in defence saw the speedy Zayn Hakeem outpace the St Neots defence to add a third goal.
St Neots replaced Rider with Robbie Mason after the break and within seven minutes he made his presence felt with a neat flick to find Trey Charles who rounded his marker to pull a goal back for St Neots. That could have sparked a revival, but the home defence was stubbornly uncompromising despite St Neots enjoying the much greater share of possession. From an Aaron Smith free kick Mason saw his close-range header well saved and a second close range effort by Charlie Lewis was also saved by the well-placed home goalkeeper. The home side threw on substitutes to boost their defence to preserve their lead and in the final twelve minutes there was no continuity of play as the referee produced no fewer than six yellow cards which gave the outcome of the match a false impression. From the home sides’ point of view, they had successfully stifled St Neots’ best efforts and those opening four minutes of the match had proved significant and conclusive.
Today’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match – Liam Hook
St Neots Town: Greygoose, Duncliffe, Smith, Anderson, Boxer, Lewis, Nche, Hook, Charles, Rider, Njoku
Subs: Soloman (for Duncliffe 37 mins), Mason (for Rider 46 mins), Osei (for Njoku 81 mins), and Barnett.
Cards: Hook (Y – 78 mins), Boxer (Y – 86 mins), Anderson (Y – 93 min), Mason (Y – 94 mins)
Goals: Charles (52 mins)
Shepshed Dynamo: Ganley, Harper, Medrano, Smith, Betts, Prenderville, King, Ritzema, Hakeem, Moore (C), Morris
Subs: Moore (S) (for Moore (C) 84 mins), Snedden (for King 84 mins), Ruzvidzo (for Hakeem 90 mins), Wakeling and Zona.
Cards: Moore (C) (Y – 56 mins), Harper (Y – 61 mins), Medrano (Y – 81 mins), Snedden (Y – 89 mins)
Goals: Hakeem 2 (4 & 38 mins), Morris (2 mins)
Referee: Hayden Lavender (Gloucester)