Bishops Stortford        0          St Neots Town         2        

St Neots knocked out higher rated Bishops Stortford in this First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup to repeat a victory over the same opponents four years earlier.   It put St Neots in the Second Qualifying Round of this famous old competition for the first time since that previous victory over Stortford when they went on to reach the Fourth Qualifying Round and eventual defeat by Conference side Alfreton Town. A goal in each half was enough to beat their hosts on this occasion after Stortford had missed promotion to the Conference last season in the final play-off. Perhaps one of the keys to this success was the ability of Manager Pete Gill to name almost the same line up from the previous match apart from swapping Charlie Stallard for Aaron Smith at full back.

Now the side faces two trips in less than a week to Coleshill Town – the first in the league and the second in the First Round Qualifying of the FA Trophy before their next date in the FA Cup on 17th September.

St Neots began confidently and Joe Tarpey had an early shot blocked after a promising move and Andre Hassanally set up Trey Charles who saw his crisp shot saved at full length by home custodian Noah Phillips. St Neots looked dangerous on the break and in the 24th minute opened the scoring when Andre Hasanally nicked the ball from a Stortford attack on the left hand side deep in his own half and when reaching the half way line, splayed a raking pass out to the right, freeing TREY CHARLES to get at the home defence and once inside the 18 yard box, he unleashed an unstoppable shot across the keeper into the top left hand corner.  The visiting defence stood firm as Stortford rallied after conceding the early goal and they had the ball in the net after 29 minutes. but the Referee had blown for an infringement.   Charles was a constant threat for St Neots bringing another good save from the home keeper and breaking quickly forward to shoot a foot wide with the goal at his mercy. Stortford were unlucky when a lengthy shot by Ollie Peters rebounded from the crossbar and Donell Thomas was only inches from converting a cross from Jonny Giles. In added time at the end of the first half both sides created good openings – Harry Beadle firing wide from a corner for the home side and in a slick attacking move Charles played Andre Hasanally clear but he dragged his shot wide of the far post.

Two substitutions by the home side after the break seemed to boost their attacking intentions and in the twenty minutes after the break Stortford enjoyed their best period of the match keeping the St Neots defence at full stretch. Aaron Smith had to produce a saving tackle after substitute Frankie Merrifield had gone clear of the visiting defence, the same player headed wide after Giles had left his marker in his wake and Beadle had a net-bound header saved at full stretch by Jamie Greygoose. It then took a block by the goalkeeper’s legs to deny Thomas and then Giles headed over the bar when well placed. Midway through the second half the pressure on the visiting defence seemed to ease and St Neots began to look dangerous in attack. In one quick break Declan Nche showed a clear pair of heels to the home defence but shot wide and then the same player brought a good save from Phillips. St Neots then finished strongly and after Hasanally had seen his effort parried, substitute MANNY OSEI pounced on a loose clearance to claim his first goal in St Neots colours but was booked for his over exuberant personal celebrations with his shirt removed.

St Neots Town: Greygoose, Lewis, Smith, Anderson, Beckett, Adeyemi, Hasanally, Tarpey, Charles, Nche, Akanbi.

Subs:  Osei (for Akanbi 73 mins), Hoddle (for Tarpey 75 mins), Mason (for Charles 88 mins), Stallard, Sackey-Mensah, Abbott, and Reid.

Cards: Charles (Y – 68 mins), Greygoose (Y – 81 mins), Osei (Y – 90 mins), Mason (Y – 90+3 mins)

Goals: Charles (2) 65 mins – pen – & 77 mins), Nche (36 mins)

Bishops Stortford: Phillips, Porter, Henshaw, Giles, Johnson, Harris, Olufemi, Thomas (J), Peters, Beadle, Thomas (D)

Subs: Edwards (for Thomas (J) 46 mins), Merrifield (for Harris 46 mins), Egbri (for Henshaw 74 mins), Church and Haines.

Cards: none

Goals: none

Referee: Thomas Hood (Tring)

Attendance: 431

John Walker


Today’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to HARVEY BECKETT