A 117th MINUTE goal from substitute Jon-Paul Duncliffe was all that separated St Neots Town and Godmanchester Rovers on Saturday when the two sides met in their Hunts Senior Cup semi-final.
Goddy goalkeeper Rob Mackney had made key saves in the 90 minutes, but Rovers themselves had the majority of the chances, and hit the woodwork three times before Mike Hyem tried to feed James Hall instead of shooting. That extra time miss proved costly. Moments later it was 1-0 with the St Neots defender meeting a corner first and finding the back of the net.
“It was a good cup tie,” said joint Goddy manager Neville Nania. “St Neots paid us due respect by fielding a strong starting 11, no doubt wanting to get back to winning ways.
“We played well against a team two divisions higher than us and with a little more fortune in front of goal we could have come away with a place in the final.”
St Neots manager Iain Parr handed a debut to 19-year-old Southend United loanee Ryan Auger, and started with Jack Werndly up front. He partnered another new boy, Craig Calver, with Ben Mackey suspended for a third match on the trot.
Godmanchester were forced to make an early substitution when Jason King fell awkwardly. The midfielder was replaced by Joe Jordan, and the next day discovered he had torn a medial ligament. King is likely be out of action for three months.
Mackney made a great save from Werndly early on, and the Rovers goalkeeper even saved an Ollie Thorne penalty, before Paul Bass had a free kick stopped by the Saints No 1 Jack Giddens.
Just before half-time, Mackney came to Goddy’s rescue again when he stopped a shot from the lively Ade Yussuf.
The second half was full of exciting chances. Chris Hyem hit the crossbar for Goddy on 55 minutes and both Lewis Hilliard and Yusuff had shots saved by Mackney. Joe Furness skimmed the crossbar with another shot in the 65th minute.
In the last 10 minutes of the second half, it was Mackney who was at the centre of things again, this time making saves from Werndly and Calver.
So extra time it was – and Furness hit the bar again before Giddens smothered a James Hall shot. Hall then shot over when he had a great chance to put Goddy 1-0 up.
Werndly shot wide and a Calver chance clipped the outside of a post, before Mike Hyem raced through on goal, only to play the ball to James Hall instead of going for glory himself. Hall’s connection with the ball wasn’t good enough and the chance was gone.
In the 117th minute, Duncliffe came up for a corner and was there to poke the ball home when things got messy in the goalmouth. “We gave our all,” said Nania. “It was a great advert for local football.”
St Neots will now face Huntingdon Town in the May final after Ricky Marheineke’s side beat St Ives Town 5-1.
But there are more pressing matters for the Saints, who are at home to Bedworth Town this Saturday.
Having not won a Southern League game since November, St Neots will be keen to end a slump in form that has seen Parr’s side drop from second in the Premier Division, to 11th.
“We’ve got everything to play for,” said chairman Mike Kearns. “We have some very good footballers who are not far off regaining fitness.”
One player certainly welcomed back will be top scorer Mackey.
St Neots: Jack Giddens, Ryan Auger, Ed Adjei, Ollie Thorne, Mawefe Nkinga, Gavin Hoyte, Ade Yusuff (Jon-Paul Duncliffe), Jay Davies, Craig Calver, Jack Werndly, Lewis Hilliard.
Goddy: Rob Mackney, Stephen Hurst (Adam King), Jon Hall, Nicky Hurst, Tom Moran, Jason King (Joe Jordan), Mike Hyem, Chris Hyem, James Hall, Paul Bass, Joe Furness.