Mens 1st - East Div.3NW - Report
|St Neots 1||0||vs||2||City of Peterborough 4|
Saints’ Spirit Not Enough to Thwart A Strong Peterborough Side
A poor re-start to the season alongside a motivated midweek training session meant Saints were rallied to make changes to their recent performances.
Short corners soon became exchanged more than currency by both teams; however neither team could capitalise on their opportunities. Returning Rhys Edwards made a fine start, making sure to close down the opposition down quickly. Moreover, a flurry of saves from Rob Morris – both from short corners and open play – allowed the Saints’ defensive wall to stand firm. With Peterborough becoming impatient, St. Neots began to press in attack themselves. Despite limited opportunities, they would’ve felt unlucky not to have converted from their own short corner routines. Brett Nunn had a rocket of a shot being saved well and Anthony Holmes misfired from a well rehearsed routine. Nonetheless, the visitors’ back four were worried.
Then, Lawrence Groom thought he’d do something controversial to get his name in the match report. ‘Groomy’ (as he is better known) was seen to have deliberately kicked ball within the ‘25’, but outside the ‘D’. Despite furious objections from the named defender (which continued long after the game was finished), the umpire awarded a penalty corner. This time, Peterborough made amends for their previous short corner failings. A simple, yet clinical, slip right move finally paid off for the visitors, as the shot found its way into the bottom right corner of the Saints’ goal.
Nathan Read returned to his accustomed holding midfield role this week after having to cover for the two missing centre backs. He made sure to make an impact and began to run the show with a solid performance; distributing the ball with ease. Alongside Read, an energetic Rory Mooney continued to impress on the 1st XI stage who worked tirelessly to chase every ball and every opponent.
As half time came and went, St. Neots rallied to try and keep some position, and capitalise on the few opportunities that were coming the Saints way. However, the Saints’ lack of fitness began to tell in the second half; they gifted away possession and the work rate dropped beyond recognition. Despite this, the all too familiar onslaught that usually bestows the Saints never arrived. Once again the defence went beyond the call of duty to maintain the one goal deficit.
As the match progressed, the vital fight for control of the midfield appeared harder fought than that of the battle of the Somme. Both teams seemed to be taking two steps forward and one step back throughout. One of the Saints’ key weapons in this war was that of an uncharacteristically athletic Iain Moor. His relentless running and covering vast amounts of ground helped to hold their frontline; defiance against all odds, the apt term.
As Peterborough began to break through ‘no-man’s land’, they became increasingly unlucky not to score on numerous occasions. This was largely thanks to inform goalkeeper Rob Morris. ‘Brigadier Block’ provided the growing crowd with jaw-dropping entertainment – the highlight being a magnificent stick save in the top corner from a well struck reverse shot. To add to the increasing Peterborough frustration, Morris shut down a 1-on-1 by flattening the offending striker.
The tide began to turn, however, when Captain Danny Stevenson lost all rational thinking, ultimately resulting in a yellow card and some meditation time on the bench. A series of indescribably horrific diving tackles from behind (tackles footballers would be ashamed of) meant a 10-man Saints team were left to take the ever increasing strain.
A tiring Saints side battled hard, but continued to lose the little possession which they had to work so hard to win. Eventually the pressure became too great for Saints as one too many losses of possession resulted in conceding their second goal. Peterborough finally found Morris’ weakness, his Achilles heel and the chink in his armour – to score past Rob Morris, all you have to do is mishit a feeble shot through his legs and his goal is yours for the taking; he will even finish in a heap on the floor! The Saints’ impetus was inevitably lost.
Saints never really delivered on their promise, and with a few questionable (to say the least) substitutions towards the end of the game, certainly lacked a cutting edge to the Saints performance. Nonetheless, Saints have still got one of the best defences in the league, and phases of play were enjoyable to watch. It can be said that with a little more drive, ambition and clinical finishing the team could turn tight games into a win.
The only question left to ask of Saints is was what, or who, was missing? David Humphrey? As pivotal as he has been in the past his absence was clearly not felt on the day. Both the midfield and defence earned their medals of honour without his assistance. Will Humphrey even be picked for the 1st XI next week after choosing to spend a weekend gallivanting in Center Parcs? The answer is a probable yes – but he will certainly feel the pressure of needing to put out a good performance for fear of the dreaded axe.
There is no doubt that every week Saints continue to show progress. However it is results alone that really matter and St. Neots must to get back to winning ways. Somehow, St. Neots need to return to the form they enjoyed towards the latter end of 2011.