NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: St Neots Town suffer in the second half as first-ever clash with Alvechurch ends in defeat

St Neots Town striker Gary Wharton scored in their defeat at Alvechurch. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES

St Neots Town striker Gary Wharton scored in their defeat at Alvechurch. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES - Credit: Archant

Manager Matt Clements took full responsibility for a disappointing St Neots Town defeat yesterday.

The local club’s first-ever clash with Midlands side Alvechurch ended in a 3-2 loss in the Southern League Premier Division Central.

Clements rang the changes with captain Luke Knight and attacking ace Dylan Williams both serving one-match suspensions. He also opted to leave widemen Dion Sembie-Ferris and Claudio Ofosu on the bench when employing a new-look 3-4-3 system.

It was a line-up which featured new Cambridge United loanee Lee Watkins (a young midfielder) along with Johnny Herd (back after a ban) and the recalled duo of defender Dan Olaniran and forward Gary Wharton.

“It’s my fault we lost the game and my responsibility,” said Clements.

“This is my group of players. I motivate and ask them to play in a certain way and that isn’t always happening.

“We played very well in patches and thoroughly deserved to get ourselves ahead after being behind, but the combination of making mistakes and making poor decisions in the final third ultimately cost us the three points.

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“A core part of the team are doing well and they deserve more.”

Saints were still adjusting to their new set-up when they fell behind to a Kieran Cook flick in the sixth minute and they were fortunate not to see their deficit double when Dave Bellis hit a post from distance.

But Clements’ men gradually gained control and turned the contest before the break thanks to a Tom Wood leveller on the half-hour and a Wharton strike 10 minutes later. Wood also saw another effort cleared off the line during Saints’ purple patch.

But they were dealt a blow by the loss of Russell Short to injury at half-time and their advantage was wiped out only two minutes into the second half by Cook.

Another Saints defender, Devante Stanley, went off hurt just before the hour and their misery was compounded midway through the second period when Kyle Morrison was allowed a free header to put Alvechurch back ahead.

Clements’ side attempted to respond with Matt Miles firing over before substitutes Sembie-Ferris and Ofosu both failed to find the target with decent opportunities.

The loss left Saints one place and three points above the relegation zone ahead of a crucial home clash against Needham Market on Tuesday night, 7.45pm.