Friendly: St. Neots Town

Tuesday 12 July 2011. Pre-Season Friendly.

St. Neots Town 2 Walton & Hersham 1.

Swans’ first pre-season friendly ended in narrow defeat following an excellent match against a fine St. Neots Town side that had stormed to the UCL Premier Division championship last season, and will now ply their trade in the Zamaretto League at an equivalent level to their visitors. On a superb playing surface and at a stadium just three years old Swans fielded a familiar looking line-up that also included some returning faces in Tommy Williams, Kenny Ojukwu and Jason Pinnock, and they took the lead after just three minutes.

They had already gone close to going ahead inside the first minute when Phil Williams was played in on the left to strike a shot against the near-post. Graeme Purdy then made a clever run across the box from the right before being brought down, and Shaun Elliott rammed home the resultant penalty. Gareth Williams in Swans’ goal had to take a high shot struck from outside the box, but he was beaten after a quarter of an hour. A fine move by St. Neots was finished with a low shot into the far-corner from the left of the box. Swans replied with Sean Bradley bursting down the right and driving the ball low across the box, with both Phil Williams and Purdy just failing to get a touch.

Some more clever play by the home side inside the left of the box ended with a strike that forced Gareth Williams into a good diving save to push the ball wide. St. Neots continued to look dangerous with quick, clever attacks, and they won a free-kick just outside the box, but a strong shot deflected off the wall and the ball looped behind. Swans had an escape just before the half hour when a cross from the right was met with a header at the far-post and the ball struck the post with Williams beaten. Williams then had to make another fine save, diving to push the ball wide as a good strike came in from 25 yards. Bradley got in another good cross from the right for Swans, and Reis Stanislaus seemed to be pushed over as he just failed to get his head on the ball.

Stanislaus then poked the ball wide at the near-post after Phil Williams had made a terrific, tricky run into the left of the box. With the first-half entering the final five minutes Gareth Williams had to make two more stops, going down to save a low shot as a clever pass got a home striker into the box, and then coming out to the edge of his area to block a high shot. In the final minute of the half Swans went close to retaking the lead when Tommy Williams made a fine run before sending in a superb, left-foot chip from the edge of the box that the home keeper just managed to fingertip over. St. Neots had an early chance in the second-half, getting into the left of the box to have a shot deflected wide, before they took the lead ten minutes in, a cross from the right beating substitute keeper Sheikh Ceesay and the ball being turned in at the far-post.

Another low shot from the edge of the box flashed just wide of Swans’ right-post, but the visitors went close to equalising after 65 minutes. Bradley swung in a good free-kick from out by the left touchline for Richard Taylor to get in a fine header that flew inches over the bar. Just a minute later they had an even better chance when Phil Williams made another dazzling run inside the right of the box and crossed low to set up a gilt-edged chance for Pinnock, but the Swans’ second-half substitute blasted well over. Phil Williams opened up the home defence again with another superb, mazy run, but having done the hard part and with the goal at his mercy, his final shot was weak and a St.Neots’ defender was able to clear the ball off the line.

James Nicholls was then just inches away from getting his head to the ball at the far-post when Tommy Williams sent in a free-kick from deep on the right. The home side went close again with a low strike from the right, before they had the chance to seal the win with five minutes remaining. A high cross from the left was met at the far-post with a header and the ball was adjudged to have struck Taylor’s hand and a penalty was awarded. Former Aston Villa striker Stefan Moore took the kick, but Ceesay made a fine save to push the ball away. Swans had one more chance to equalise with three minutes left as the ball was played through to Ojukwu, but he stabbed the ball just wide.

Swans’ Team: Gareth Williams (Sheikh Ceesay 45’), Chris Wales, Shaun Elliott, Arthur Magejenuous (Tommy Williams 32’), Damian Matthews (James Nicholls 45’), Richard Taylor, Sean Bradley (Reis Stanislaus 71’), Victor Kiri (Ashley Quashie 45’), Graeme Purdy (Jason Pinnock 45’), Phil Williams, Reis Stanislaus (Kenny Ojukwu 45’). Scorer: Elliott, penalty (3’).

St. Neots’ goals: 14’ & 56’.