Football
Saints maintain title bid

28/03 Updated: 28/03 16:57

Castle Vale JKS 2 Southam United 3

THIS was a much closer affair than Saints 9-0 win over JKS earlier in the season, but the margin of victory was not as important as the three points that kept Luke Fogarty’s side in touch with Athium Midland Combination Premier Division leaders Continental Star.

The opening exchanges proved scrappy but Saints went ahead after 31 minutes when home keeper Joseph McErlean misjudged a long ball from James Hardie that bounced over his head and into the net.

Despite the JKS defence looking suspect, Saints were not sharp enough to take advantage and a cross from Oli Manoochehri that just eluded Simeon Smith at the far post summed up their first half display.

Hardie was then hurt in a tackle by Ralph Richardson, who became the second JKS player to be shown yellow.

A minute into the second period, Tunde Ajibade hit the bar and Saints were made to pay for their lack of spark as JKS equalised with a free header in the 54th minute.

The home side went ahead after 69 minutes from a free kick floated into the box that went in off Hardie.

But JKS pressed the self-destruct button two minutes later when Richardson was booked for a second time for a foul on Marc Passey and was sent off.

This gave Saints renewed hope and Ajibade levelled from the penalty spot 15 minutes from time after Smith was brought down in the box, while Brad Rees put them back in front with a thunderous shot that gave McErlean no chance.

But, the match was far from over, as a JKS header went over the bar from close range and Passey cleared off the line after a mistake by Jim Stott.

Smith had a good chance to wrap things up with nine minutes to go, but his touch let him down and he shot weakly straight at the keeper after bursting through.

Saints visit Pershore Town this Saturday (3pm).

Meanwhile, Saints will be forming a reserve team next season out of their current academy under 18’s squad and youth team that has enjoyed a much improved year in the Midland Floodlit Youth League.

The reserves will play in the Midland Football Combination Under-21 Division and continue the development of local young players within the club.

The team will be managed by Ian Ray, who is currently undertaking his UEFA A Licence and has a long association with the club, working at first team, youth and academy level, as well as winning two championships as manager of the ladies team.

This season, first team manager Luke Fogarty has brought three youth team players into his squad in Michael Clough, Joe Williams and Sam Wimbush, joining Elliott Parasmo from last year.

The reserve team will enable players to stay together when they reach the age of 18 and improve their opportunities.

Anyone interested in trialling for the reserve, youth or academy teams should contact Ian Ray on 07721 034265

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