St Neots Town manager Andy Davies is on a mission to clean up his side’s disciplinary record after stripping Tom Ward of the captaincy in the wake of the EVO-STIK League Southern club’s badly behaved exit from the Buildbase FA Trophy.
Davies took stern action after Ward was one of five players sent off during their second qualifying round exit at the hands of EVO-STIK Northern Premier League Marine. As a result of a mass melee during both games – last Saturday’s 1-1 draw and Tuesday night’s 4-2 replay defeat at the Premier Plus Stadium, the Saints are likely to face punishment from the Football Association.
Ward’s second dismissal of the season has also cost him and the other offenders sent off over the course of the two games – Sam Mulready, Nassim L’Ghoul, Tom Wood and Miles Smith – fines of two week’s wages.
The dismissals brought the total number of red cards collected by Saints so far this season to nine and Davies told huntspost.co.uk on Friday that he was determined to turn around his side’s record ahead of their trip to Frome in the EVO-STIK League Southern’s top flight this weekend.
The Saints manager, who also confirmed the appointment of midfielder Micky Hyem as his new skipper, said: “The fans deserve better than what they have been getting from us this season. I don’t think anyone can fault our playing style or the way we try to entertain, but they should be able to see a full team on the pitch for 90 minutes.
“We’re averaging close to a red card every other game and that is not acceptable on any level – nor are the amount of bookings we pick up for acts of petulance. We’ve had meetings with the five players who were sent off in the games against Marine and discussed what went on. All the lads have promised me they will learn from those mistakes and we have handed out punishments by fining them two weeks’ wages.”
Davies believes their bitter exit could cost the club anything up to £15,000, as in addition to a possible FA fine, they’ve lost out on prize money and a potential money-spinner at National League North high-fliers Darlington.
He added: “I feel for the eight players who were left on the pitch for the final few minutes of the replay. I can’t fault the lads who finished the game or those I substituted during the course of it. I have to put the blame down to the players who picked up the three red cards – all of which were avoidable.
“I thought it was a game we were going to win with 11 men on the pitch. We created the better chances while playing the better style of football. We managed to cope after going down to 10 men, but we couldn’t keep Marine out when we were down to eight.”