Thornhill Challenge Salver Match Report
Twelve months is a long time in football, anything can happen, in this case St. Neot can develop a football team put it out on the pitch and it can compete.
I can say with confidence, confidence in the players, confidence in the manager and confidence in the committee that we could, if all the stars aligned, take on and push more established and experienced teams in the county without fear of being turned over, and that is what happened yesterday versus Downderry Rovers in the Thornhill Challenge Salver.
When St Neot started 12 months ago, our first ever game was against Downderry, a very experienced veteran team, that is home to some exceptional players . The first game they won somewhat convincingly 9-5, but this time I am pleased to say we put up a spirited fight.
The old cliché that ‘St Neot started brightly’ is the most apt phrase one could find, the players keeping the ball well, interplay between players, communication between everyone, it seemed the hard work in preseason was paying off.
The first goal from the Saints came from Matt Nottle on the 8th minute. Having had some time away from playing Mr Nottle is getting back into the game, but he intends not to do it quietly, but with style and flourishes that could only be described as ‘outrageous’. After a promising forward charge down the right by Scott Kemp for the Saints (who incidentally is having a fabulous pre-season), the ball ricocheted of a Downderry defender. Matt Nottle was in the right place at the right time and he let it bounce in front of him. He half volleyed the ball and it whistled… NAY screamed into the top left corner. To put this goal into context, the previous week, Mr Nottle had audaciously lobbed the Dobwalls keeper from his own half, style technique and a flourish which you thought may have been ‘a one off’, but no, it appears not. It appears this is how he scores goals…
This goal quite clearly annoyed the Downderry side, who 5 minutes later got an equaliser having come through the Saints defence, forcing some errors from our players to grab the goal.
On the 16th minute, Mr Kemp on the Saints right wing popped up, twisting and turning slotted the ball underneath the Downderry keeper only for theopposition to equalise, again 5 minutes later.
With all that, Saint’s Captain Adam King was trying to take hold of the game and do what he does best and lead the chaps in the execution of their duties. Again from the right Saints had a promising attack, a lovely ball was driven in high and to the far edge, where, to everyone’s surprise was Saints defender, Captain and Player’s Player Mr King. Tracking back, but only a touch, Mr King found himself under this beautifully crossed ball. He essentially barged another Saints player to get to it and headed the ball beautifully into the goal on the 28 minutes. St Neot rode their luck for the remainder of the half, but into the break they lead 3-2.
The second half started somewhat differently. Both teams looked as if they had already played 90 minutes, and both teams rode their luck, kept possession well, made a few errors hear and there, but it was nothing to really write home about.
It remained 3-2 to St Neot right up until the 89th, where Downderry, showing experience, and perhaps capitalising on some Saints player fatigue equalised. 3-3 the game finished so to penalties it went.
Each of the early penalties for Saints was well taken, Mr Nottle, Mr King and Mr Crowle all slotting home. Our youngest player on the pitch Ed Clarke stepped up, sweetly struck, right amount of pace, had to make the keeper think about what he was facing, but sadly it hit the post and bounced away. In the end Downderry won 5-3 on penalties to lift for the the first time, the Thornhill Challenge Salver
MoM: The entire squad
Donkey of the Match: Ed Clarke, superb game but for missing a penalty receives the award
Starting Line Up:
Bainbridge, King, R.Clarke, Banyard Kemp, Davy, Keen, Berry, Crowle, Nottle, E.Clarke.
Subs: Champion, Black, Hummagain, Graham