NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE
MIDLAND DIVISION – RELEGATION PLAY-OFF
St Neots Town 1 Lye Town 6
St Neots Town suffered the embarrassment of a major home defeat as they tried unsuccessfully to stave off relegation back to Step Five after twelve seasons at the higher level. Lye Town from the West Midlands had only been beaten six times in away matches this season were always fully in control of this match after scoring in their first attack in the first minute of the contest. Just one win in eight matches since the beginning of March clearly spells out St Neots’ lack of form and confidence and the close season will afford them an opportunity to regroup and plan for life at the lower level once the FA groupings are announced in mid-May. Geographically the most likely perch for them seems to be the United Counties League from which they were promoted at the end pf the 2010/11 season and that could mean local matches with Eynesbury Rovers and Godmanchester Town. They were able to field almost their strongest team for the vital match and the management team made four changes with JP Duncliffe, Dan Barton, Charlie Johnson and Robbie Mason returning to the side. Manny Osei and Jack Barnett started on the subs bench and there were no places for Tommy Boxer and Joe Tarpey.
St Neots could not have suffered a worse start for inside the first minute the visitors powered forward and after skipper Callum Anderson had done well to block their first effort at the expense of a corner, within seconds defender Adam Meacham rose above the St Neots defence to head home the cross. In St Neots first attack Joe Rider was fouled on the edge of the visitors’ box but Trey Charles’ free kick was too high. Sam Hall then headed a second Lye corner over the bar and Tom Dickens was booked for breaking up another attack with a late tackle after 18 minutes. Just one minute later the visitors doubled their lead when a long ball into the area from Joe Palmer found Josh Hesson unmarked at the far post for a simple finish. St Neots rallied and a Charles narrow angled shot was well saved and then the lively Anderson saw his shot deflected for a corner.
St Neots looked determined after the break with Dan Barton bringing a good save from visiting keeper Ben Newey but after just 52 minutes a third Lye goal in their first second half attack effectively extinguished St Neots hopes of a come-back. It was an outstanding individual effort as Josh Hesson took on two defenders with pace before beating Gill with a powerful shot. JP Duncliffe did shoot wide for St Neots, but the visiting side was now well in control and just past the hour Hesson again waltzed around a defender to leave Joe Palmer with a simple tap-in finish. St Neots had little in reply although Charles forced the save of the match from Newey at the expense of a corner. With sixteen minutes left the lively Hesson again went past a leaden footed defender to set up Joe Palmer for his second goal but four minutes later the home side registered what could hardly be described as a consolation goal when Callum Anderson took a return pass from Charles to net. Defender Tom Dickens then picked up a second yellow card reducing St Neots to ten men and appropriately Lye had the final word when man-of-the-match Josh Hesson completed a memorable hat trick.
It was a sad end to a poor season and Manager Iain Parr succinctly summed it up perfectly when he said ‘We got what we deserved today – nothing’.
St Neots Town: Gill, Duncliffe, Smith, Anderson, Johnson, Dickens, Barton, Hook, Mason, Rider, Charles
Subs: Osei (for Mason 32 mins), Barnett (for Barton 55 mins), Lewis (for Duncliffe 72 mins), Boxer (P), and Adu.
Cards: Dickens – (RED 2 x Y – 18 and 82 mins)
Goals: Anderson (78 mins)
Lye Town: Newey, Ashmore, Bridgewater, Northwood, Meacham, Hall, Scott, Palmer, Hesson, Billingham, Tye
Subs: Carter (for Tye 76 mins), Tellyn (for Ashmore 83 mins), Sutherland (for Palmer 87 mins), Catlow and Chilton.
Cards: Ashmore (Y – 24 mins)
Goals: Hesson 3 (19,52 and 88 mins), Palmer 2 (61 and 74 mins), Meacham (1 min)
Referee: Martin Gospel (Northampton)