Saints suffer a spot of bother in final defeat

St Neots players Lee Clarke and Tom Ward watch on as they come close to scoring in their Southern Le

St Neots players Lee Clarke and Tom Ward watch on as they come close to scoring in their Southern League Play-Off Final defeat at Truro. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES. - Credit: Archant

St Neots Town saw their promotion dreams dashed by a controversial penalty call.

The Saints were beaten 1-0 at Truro City in their Southern League Premier Division Play-Off Final yesterday.

And the Bank Holiday showcase in Cornwall, which attracted a crowd of 1,450, was settled in hotly-disputed fashion midway through the second half.

Referee Adam Penwell pointed to the spot following a tangle between St Neots defender Adam Tann and home striker Isaac Vassell.

Veteran goalkeeper Paul Bastock, who had saved a penalty in their semi-final success at Poole six days earlier, could not repeat his heroics as Shane White sent him the wrong way.

Goal-line clearances from Sam Harty and Brett Longden spared Saints from falling behind in the opening quarter-of-an-hour.

St Neots were also thwarted by last-ditch actions of a defender early in the second half as half-time arrival Ebey Marango – introduced for Matt Spring – saw an effort kept out.

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Saints enjoyed their best spell around the hour mark as a Drew Roberts shot was spilled before Lee Clarke guided a Lewis Hilliard cross narrowly wide.

But the controversial penalty decision handed Truro the initiative and Saints were unable to come up with a response.

They did succeed in putting the ball in the Truro net, but it led to a caution rather than a goal as Clarke was reprimanded for using his hand to steer in a Hilliard delivery.

Emotions ran high in the closing stages with Saints boss David Batch being dismissed from the dugout following a frank exchange of views with referee Penwell.

It meant a season featuring plenty of highs finished on the painful low of missing out on promotion.

St Neots: Paul Bastock, Adam Tann, Brett Longden, Mat Mitchel-King, Ryan Frater, Tom Ward, Sam Harty, Matt Spring (sub Ebey Marango, sub Lorenzo Ferrari), Lee Clarke, Drew Roberts, Lewis Hilliard. Unused subs: Josh Bickerstaff, Luis Vieira, Dean Greygoose.