NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: It’s a performance of two halves as St Neots Town mount stirring comeback to earn FA Trophy triumph.
PUBLISHED: 13:16 29 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:02 31 October 2017
St Neots Town mounted a fine comeback to make FA Trophy progress yesterday – in what manager Matt Clements dubbed a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ display.
His men were staring at a first qualifying round exit when trailing lower-level visitors Corby Town 2-0 at half-time at the Premier Plus Stadium.
But they followed up an abject first-half performance with a terrific second-half showing to triumph 3-2 thanks to a quick-fire spell of three goals in the space of 12 minutes from Dion Sembie-Ferris, Liam McDevittt and Tom Meechan.
Clements said: “The performance in the first half is not something that will be tolerated at this club.
“We were casual, we were sloppy and we didn’t put in the hard work that has been the foundation of our good form lately.
“I’m the biggest fan of this group of players, but I had to question some of their attitudes at half-time.
“We made a couple of changes, we reminded the lads what is expected of them and we saw everything that had been lacking.
“We played with hunger, we played with passion, and our football was exciting and ruthless.
“I can only praise them for their reaction and the way they turned the game around.”
Saints were undone by two goals in three minutes during a woeful opening period. Jordan Crawford opening the scoring after 11 minutes and Ben Diamond soon glanced in a second for the visitors.
Only a fine save from Saints goalkeeper Mike Emery denied Jordan O’Brien another Corby goal on the stroke of half-time and that turned out to be a pivotal moment in the contest.
Clements introduced Johnny Herd and Kyron Wiltshire at the break and his side emerged as a different beast. They needed only seven minutes to halve their arrears as Sembie-Ferris nipped in front of visiting goalkeeper Sam Wilson to convert a Scott Sinclair cross.
Saints were on level terms as summer signing McDevitt was picked out by a long Herd throw to register his first goal for the club, and the rapid transformation was completed when Meechan raced into the area to strike.
Not only did Saints hit the front, their opponents also found themselves immediately reduced to 10 men as Owen Kennedy collected a second caution for a foul on Sinclair in the build-up to the goal.
Only smart saves from Wilson denied Meechan and Sinclair further goals while a desperate late attempt from Corby man Crawford to earn a penalty only resulted in him being cautioned for simulation.
Saints rewards are £3,250 in prize money and a home tie against Northern Premier Division side Stourbridge in the second qualifying round. That game will take place on November 11.