NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Comeback kings St Neots Town aiming to write another memorable chapter in their fantastic FA Cup story
- Credit: Archant
St Neots Town boss Matt Clements has told his players that anything is possible as they bid to reach the first round proper of the FA Cup for only the second time in their history.
It’s more than half-a-century since Saints fell 2-0 to Walsall in the 1966/67 season, but they are now within touching distance of making it to that stage again.
National League North side Alfreton Town stand between Clements’ current crop of FA Cup comeback kings and another taste of the first round.
They travel to Derbyshire for a fourth qualifying round tie this Saturday, 3pm, when looking to continue an incredible run which has seen them overcome the odds in three previous rounds.
That was again the case last week when they triumphed 5-3 on penalties at Coalville Town in a third qualifying round replay after substitute Gary Wharton scored twice in the final few minutes of normal time to ensure Saints recovered from 3-1 down.
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“It’s been a wonderful cup run,” said Clements. “It’s got everyone excited and the fans have really bought into it.
“We’ve dug ourselves out of jail in four successive games in the FA Cup. The number of late goals we’ve scored is incredible and all the credit for that goes to the players.
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“We’re having the sort of journey where I can’t help feeling there might be another great story or big twist ahead, but all I ask is that we leave everything on the pitch at Alfreton.
“I’ll be proud of the players whatever the outcome as long as that happens and hopefully everyone connected with the club can enjoy every minute of the occasion.
“If we lose we will still be able to look back on a brilliant run, but if we win then we can really dare to dream about what the first round draw might bring. Who knows, we could end up getting a big club like Sunderland, but all we can think about now is Alfreton.”
Saints entered the FA Cup at the first qualifying stage where they beat fellow Step 3 side Bishop’s Stortford 2-1 despite playing the final hour with 10 men after the harsh dismissal of skipper Luke Knight.
Then, in the second qualifying round, they were headed for humiliation when falling 3-0 down to lower-level Romulus before staging a fairytale fightback capped by a stoppage-time strike from Dion Sembie-Ferris to win 4-3.
Saints then grabbed two late goals to earn a 2-2 draw and replay against Coalville in the third qualifying round before producing arguably their most impressive comeback of all in the return clash to continue their memorable run.
Saints have already won £30,000 in prize money with another £25,000 up for grabs this Saturday, but they go into their big FA Cup date on the back of two heavy Southern League Premier Division Central defeats in recent days.
They must pick themeve up after being beaten 3-0 by table-toppers Kettering Town last Saturday and then falling 4-0 to Royston Town in midweek.