St Neots Town suffer slump following most successful season in club history
- Credit: Archant
St Neots Town were brought back down to earth with a bump after the most successful season in their history.
The 2015-16 Southern League Premier Division campaign ended with them some 15 places lower in the table in 20th, after just one win in their last 14 matches.
They finished with 10 wins, 18 draws and 18 losses in the 46-game schedule, scoring 69 and conceding 78 and in 23 home matches they managed just six wins and 26 goals.
Their four away victories produced 20 of their 43 goals on the road at Bedworth (6-0), Cirencester (5-2), Paulton (5-2) and Cambridge City (4-1).
At Christmas they sat 12th in the table, five points off a play-off place, but lost the services of striker Tom Meechan, who had 25 goals in 38 appearances at the time.
Only one more win followed as Neots finishd four points above the relegation zone and without silverware and also lost manager David Batch after 61 matches in charge.
Without a reserve team they had to rely on inexperienced youngsters to bolster flagging fortunes, winning three, drawing three and losing four of 10 cup ties by an aggregate of 23-14.
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A busy FA Cup schedule saw them draw at Tilbury but then ordered by the FA to replay the match away from home, before drawing at home to Worthing but losing the away replay in a penalty shoot-out.
They only got as far as the M25 in the replay before a coach breakdown meant another trip the following Tuesday.
Behind Meechan in the goal charts were Ryan Hawkins (9), Drew Roberts (7), Lee Clarke (7), Mat Mitchell-King (5), Remy Gordon (5), Tom Ward (4), Isaac Galliford (4) and Connor Hall (4).
Jamie Anton made the most appearances, with 43 from a maximum of 56, ahead of Adam Tann (42), Meechan (39), Ward (39), Brett Longden (39), Hawkins (33), Clarke (32), Andy Wilton (28) and Galliford (28).
Following the departure of Batch, academy manager Andy Davies took over after an internal promotion.
Matt Clements arrived as manager to replace Andy Davies and gave some lengthy stability to the team leadership for the first time since their United Counties League days.
A 113-match unbroken spell would make Clements the longest-serving manager in club history since Chris Howell’s June 1999-May 2003 reign.
An improvement in the second half of the season saw Neots achieve a very modest improvement of one place higher in the final table despite a much better start to the season.
Sixth after six matches, they slumped to 23rd just before Christmas but Clements’ first significant signing was Jevani Brown who stayed long enough to score 19 goals in 20 appearances before signing a professional contract with Cambridge United.
Brown announced his arrival with a late winner at home to Dorchester and went on to score two league hat-tricks in home matches.
Neots finished with 14 wins, six draws and 26 defeats in the league, scoring 66 and conceding a whopping 101.
Home form was again poor as they were beaten at home by Biggleswade Town, St Ives and Cambridge City, but they took four points from six against champions Chippenham Town.
Of nine cup ties, they won three, drew two and lost four, with an even goal count of 17-17.
They trouned Kettering Town 6-0 in the Red Insure Cup, but lost 2-1 at lower-graded Aylesbury, and drew at Marine in the FA Trophy after a 450-mile round trip, only to lose the replay.
Behind Brown in the scoring charts were James Hall (15), Declan Rogers (14), Sam Mulready (6), Peter Clarke (4) and Tom Wood (3).
Alex Archer played in all but one of the 55 matches, as Taylor Parr (46), Rogers (45), Wood (44), Michael Hyem (40) and Clarke (37) also featured heavily.
The reserves ventured into the South Midlands League, finishing ninth in Division One, and were promoted to the Premier Division because of the club’s superior ground facilities.
The influence of a new manager was beginning to show as the side showed a steady progress up the league table to finish 12th, equalling their second-best finish at step four.
After a very poor six-game winless start, including a first hurdle FA Cup defeat, performances improved and by Christmas they sat eighth in the table just six points off a play-off place.
They ended up with 17 wins, 13 draws and 16 losses, with 79 goals for and against, and celebrated an outstanding double over Dorchester Town, winning 5-0 at home and 4-0 away in midweek.
Dylan Williams was an important new signing, topping the goal charts with 17, as goalkeeper Mike Emery and midfielder Kyron Wiltshire also made an impression.
An FA Trophy first qualifying round home victory over Corby Town was followed by defeat at Stourbridge in the next round despite leading early in the second half, and a league cup exit at the hands of Rushden & Diamonds who scored the only goal of the game as Neots finished with nine men!
Six cup ties yielded three wins and three losses, by a 14-10 aggregate, as Neots reclaimed the Hunts Senior Cup with a 6-1 final win over Eynesbury Rovers.
Behind Williams in the scoring list were Nabil Shariff (13), Dion Sembie-Ferris (10), Tom Meechan (8), Lewis Irwin (7), Luke Knight (5), David Bridges (5) and Jonny Herd (4).
Sembie-Ferris played 46 of 52 matches, ahead of Taylor Parr (45), Knight (43), Williams (41), Liam McDevitt (38), Herd (38), Jack Bradshaw (36), Mike Emery (32) and Tom Wood (32).
The reserves, following promotion to the top division of the South Midlands League, struggled badly and finished bottom of the league before seeking pastures elsewhere.