Calamity keeper costs Saints
Duggan error in added time costs St Neots Town victory against Coalville in their final pre-season game
St Neots Town 2 Coalville Town 2
A CALAMITOUS error from goalkeeper Michael Duggan deep into added time cost St Neots victory in their final friendly at home to Coalville on Saturday.
With the game seemingly won, Duggan made a complete hash of Craig Grieve’s back pass, twice slicing his attempted kick, with the ball spinning up and over him before dropping into the net.
Saints had looked to be cruising to victory against Evo-Stik Northern League Division One South new boys Coalville who, as well as winning the Step 5 Midlands Alliance crown last season, reached the FA Vase final.
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Lewis Hilliard’s low cross from the right set up Shane Tolley just after the half an hour mark to put the hosts a goal to the good at the break, before Dan Jacob put Hilliard in to make it 2-0 just after the re-start - his seventh goal in three games.
They had chances to extend that lead even further, with Tony Scully somehow missing an open goal when it seemed easier to score after Jacob had pulled the ball back into his path.
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Coalville were handed a lifeline when Jordan Gent was penalised for handball inside the area and Cameron Stuart converted the resultant penalty - before Duggan’s last-gasp howler gifted them a draw.
On his keeper’s moment of madness, Saints boss Dennis Greene said: “I’ve never seen a goal like that in football before, but it’s happened and I’m sure I won’t do again as long as I’m living.
“He had two attempts to kick it and you’d like to think that one of them could have gone in a different direction away from the goal.
“But he’s got to take the blame for it. He can’t blame other people and I’m sure it won’t happen again.
“It’s a shame because Duggie has had a great pre-season, but it’s just one of those things.”
Greene also felt aggrieved at the way Coalville were gifted their first goal, saying he felt the decision to award handball against Gent was questionable - as were a lot of the referee’s decisions on the day.
He said: “The decision to award them a penalty was just embarrassing.
“The assistant referee on that side was the only one who could see it and he didn’t give it.
“And how the referee - who was 30 yards behind play and on the wrong side of the defender - could see it and give a penalty for handball was beyond me.
“The referee’s performance overall was very disappointing.
“I know it was a lively game, but he dished out six or seven yellow cards and some of the decisions he made just beggared belief.”
On the result, Greene added: “It doesn’t truly reflect the game as I thought, over the 90 minutes, we were the better side and deserved to win it.”
St Neots open their Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Central campaign on Saturday at home to Beaconsfield, kick-off 3pm.