NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Draw tally reaches double-figures as St Neots Town twice battle back against Stratford
- Credit: Archant
St Neots Town twice battled back from behind to pocket a point in their first Southern League Premier Division outing of 2018.
Dylan Williams and Nabil Shariff were the players to bring Saints level as they were involved in a 2-2 draw against Stratford at the Premier Plus Stadium yesterday.
Shariff’s late strike ensured a 10th deadlock of the season for Saints. They’ve shared the spoils more times than any other side in the division.
“Our first-half goal and our second-half performance was as good as any we have produced,” said manager Matt Clements. “We played some fantastic football and showed great character to make sure we got something out of the game.
“We know we have to cut out conceding soft goals which hurt us, but I’m proud of the way we are playing. I would pay to watch us when we are on song.”
That wasn’t the case early on yesterday and Stratford hit the front after a quarter-of-an-hour as Edwin Ahenkorah converted from close range, but Saints soon began to threaten.
Leading scorer Williams, recalled to the starting line-up after Lewis Irwin cried off ill, saw one effort saved and another blocked before firing his 11th league goal of the season in classy fashion. Williams coolly finished in the 27th minute after Kyran Wiltshire flicked a Stefan Broccoli cross into his path.
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But parity proved to be short-lived. Saints found themselves behind again only six minutes later when visiting frontman Ben Stephens pounced on dithering between goalkeeper Mikey Emery and defender Liam McDevitt to gleefully slot into an empty net.
Only the crossbar denied Shariff a leveller before the break as he climbed to head a Johnny Herd free kick and the same Saints man saw a fierce shot kept out by a smart save in the second period.
Broccoli, substitute Scott Sinclair and captain Luke Knight failed to take good opportunities and Williams saw an effort cleared off the line before Saints were eventually rewarded with a second equaliser in the closing stages when Shariff buried a Tom Wood knock-down.
And only a full-stretch save from Stratford number one Louis Connor prevented Saints from snatching a dramatic victory as he finger-tipped a stoppage-time blast from player-coach David Bridges against the bar.
St Neots remain 10th in the Southern League Premier Division ahead of a trip to local rivals St Ives Town for a Huntingdonshire derby clash on Tuesday.