Maidenhead draw leaves St Neots boss frustrated

ST Neots manager Dennis Greene is gutted he has missed out on a trip back to his former club Maidenhead United in the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy – and blames it all on a referee.

The Saints went to Billericay on Saturday in the second qualifying round of the competition but came back empty handed after losing 2-0 to a team who played the ball high and direct – and, according to Greene, got away with pretty much everything. Billericay were then drawn against Maidenhead, a team Greene once managed in the Conference South.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was what Greene had expected after watching the Essex side beat Tooting & Mitcham 5-1 in the Ryman Premier the previous Tuesday.

Both goals came in the first half as the Saints – who play their football at a step lower than the Ryman leaders – failed to come to grips with their opponents’ gameplan.

“I was really disappointed – not so much with the players because I thought on another day they could have won it, but with the referee and some of his decisions,” said Greene. “He gave us nothing when he could have given us two penalties and Billericay could have been down to seven men.”

Goalkeeper Michael Duggan had to push away a Sam Berry free kick early on and then striker Stefan Moore was clearly brought down in the area as he burst through on goal. The referee waved play on.

As the long balls – and long throws – rained in, St Neots were caught out in the 20th minute when Ron Sawine met a downward header with a volley to put the home side 1-0 up.

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Then Saints’ influential midfielder Adrian Sear had to leave the pitch injured and four minutes from the break David Knight made it 2-0 by blasting home a back-post chance.

St Neots looked rejuvenated after the break and Greene sent on tricky winger Pearson Mwanyongo. And then Jacob was brought down by the Billericay goalkeeper as he tried to go around him. Once again, there was no penalty.

Greene was banished to the stand after that and right-back Rene Steer was shown a second yellow, then a red, after what looked like an accidental clash. Billericay too were reduced to ten men after Junior Luke picked up his second caution before Moore missed a late chance to get at least one goal back with a late curler that went wide.

“The lads really deserved a replay of this match for their sterling second half performance,” said Greene. “But in the first half Billericay did exactly what I expected them to do and we got drawn in.”