NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: A St Neots Town showing worthy of winning many games was not enough to prevent an FA Trophy exit
PUBLISHED: 10:02 13 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:02 13 November 2017
St Neots Town saw their FA Trophy involvement brought to an end last Saturday – despite producing a display that manager Matt Clements felt would be good enough to win many games.
Saints were beaten 3-2 by Northern League Premier Division side Stourbridge in a second qualifying round clash that exploded into life in the second period.
Both teams went close in quick succession in a goalless first half at the Premier Plus Stadium. Saints keeper Mike Emery tipped a Kyle Perry effort onto a pot moment before Johnny Herd curled a free-kick into the side-netting at the other end.
But it was a different story after the break with a spell of three goals in the opening six minutes of the second period.
It was only 33 seconds old when Dion Sembie-Ferris raced onto a fine flick from Tom Meechan to break the deadlock, but Saints’ advantage proved to be short-lived.
Stourbridge levelled within three minutes when Leon Broadhurst struck at a corner and the visitors were soon ahead from the penalty spot courtesy of Luke Benbow.
Saints were far from happy with the decision of referee Rob Evans to point to the spot after he adjudged Liam McDevitt to have impeded Aris Christophorou.
Another big call went against the hosts when Sembie-Ferris was sent tumbling on the edge of the box. Visiting defender Paul McCone was fortunate to escape with a caution rather than a red card.
Stourbridge retained a full compliment of players and struck again with 14 minutes to go when substitute Josh Green fired past Emery after being picked out by a Benbow free-kick.
Saints battled on and only the crossbar denied Tom Meechan before Jack Bradshaw did succeed in cutting their arrears with four minutes to go.
But Clements’ men couldn’t find another goal to avoid bowing out of the competition.
“We would have one eight out of 10 games with the performance we produced on Saturday,” said the Saints boss. “So we’re disappointed not to progress, but also proud of the attitude, manner and character of the players.
“There are still moments of naivety which we need to address and we’re also not hurting teams quite as much as we should when having large portions of good attacking.
“The dubious penalty obviously didn’t help, but we have to be a little bit smarter at times. I trust this squad of players and know that will come.
“I’m also sure that this defeat won’t knock their confidence going forward.”
That’s just as well given Saints have another big home game tomorrow night (Tuesday).
They entertain Biggleswade Town in a Southern League Premier Division derby clash, 7.45pm.
Saints have lost just one of their last 10 league games.