NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Goalkeeping debutant sees red as fine St Neots Town league campaign ends on a low note
- Credit: Archant
St Neots Town manager Matt Clements accused his players of a lack of pride following a final-day drubbing.
Ten-man Saints were beaten 4-0 by lowly Gosport Borough at the Premier Plus Stadium in their last Southern League Premier Division fixture – a result which secured the visitors’ survival.
They fell behind on the stroke of half-time before seeing debutant goalkeeper George Bugg dismissed early in the second half.
Defender Jack Bradshaw donned the gloves for the remainder of the game, but Clements was not prepared to use that red card as an excuse for a sub-standard showing.
Clements said: “We didn’t show enough pride in what was a flat and lethargic performance.
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“The fact we went down to 10 men made life tougher, but I still hoped for more.
“We have to look at the bigger picture and realise what we have achieved overall, but we were far too nice and far too comfortable yesterday.
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“It was obviously a shame for young George to be sent off on his debut, but he did nothing wrong up until then and looked very assured. It was a mistake, but it happens in football.”
The only surprise in an end-to-end opening period was that it took until stoppage time for a breakthrough. Gosport man Ben Wright, who had earlier been denied by a fine Bugg save, provided it with a low shot through a crowd of players.
Seventeen year-old Bugg then received his marching orders six minutes into the second half after bringing down Borough man Ryan Pennery, who was bearing down on goal from a suspiciously offside position.
Stand-in keeper Bradshaw was beaten only three minutes later by Edward Saunders, but Saints responded well despite their numerical disadvantage.
In-form frontman Nabil Shariff was denied an eighth goal in as many matches by a goal-line block before a terrific save thwarted Dion Sembie-Ferris.
But Gosport soon sealed the points as substitute Luca Wrightman struck into an unguarded net with his first touch after Bradshaw had raced out to clear.
And they claimed a fourth goal with a quarter-of-an-hour to go when Joseph Lea was gifted a simple tap-in from close range.
It was a disappointing conclusion to a progressive league campaign which came complete with a second top-half finish at this level. Saints ended up 12th.
And Clements, who rested star defender Taylor Parr and captain Luke Knight, has called for the right response from his players as they aim to provide silver lining when entertaining Eynesbury Rovers in the Hunts Senior Cup final on Wednesday.
It’s a repeat of last season’s county showpiece when Saints were on the receiving end of a surprise 1-0 defeat to their lower-level neighbours.
Clements added: “The players have been made well aware of the fact that I expect and demand a reaction in the final.
“It would be a brave player who entertains bringing the same mentality from yesterday into that game.”