SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
AFC Dunstable 1 St Neots Town 1
St Neots blunted Dunstable’s play off hopes with a well-earned draw at Creasey Park. With three wins from their last four outings St Neots are now guaranteed Step Four status next season. Three draws and a defeat in their last four matches leaves Dunstable nervous about their play-off hopes with four teams now contesting the three remaining places and a tough run-in to negotiate. The match was contested under a cloudless sky but it was spoiled by a nagging breeze that neither side could better nor use to their advantage. St Neots had the luxury of making five team changes in their starting line-up without affecting the rhythm or performance of their team and came back from behind to return home with their deserved point. With another goal in consecutive matches since his return to the side Joe Rider took his tally for the season to fourteen in just seventeen starts. Ben Heal, Callum Anderson. Charley Barker, Charlie Johnson, and Kwai Marsh-Brown all returned to the starting line-up as Manager Pete Gill shuffled his pack with three of the replaced players Wynford Marfo, Myles Cowling and Glenn McConnell on the bench alongside Marc Abbott and Gill, himself, as a replacement goalkeeper.
Neither side settled in the difficult conditions and it was a quarter of an hour before there was a serious effort on goal – this from Rob Mason but his effort was well saved by home keeper Jamie Head. The lively Kwai Marsh-Brown stole the ball from a dithering defender but saw his effort deflected for a corner but from a Brett Longden cross unmarked home striker Bernard Christie should have done better than strike the ball wide of goal. Louis Chadwick saved well from Kieran Hamilton and making towards goal Charley Barker was upended, earning Newman Carney a yellow card. Then, after 36 minutes a cross from the left struck a defender’s arm at close range and a harsh penalty was awarded, tucked away by Bernard Christie. St Neots protested but then responded positively as a Lee Watkins shot rebounded from a post for Joe Rider to claim the equalising goal five minutes before the break. A brave save by Chadwick at the feet of Christie ensured parity as the half time whistle blew.
With the wind after half time, St Neots suffered the same fate as their hosts with the ball constantly overhit. Former St Neots defender Ryan Frater was close for the home side with a header from a corner and skipper Lee Watkins picked up his fifth booking since Christmas as both defences began to dominate in a second half that produced little in goal chances. However, the match did come to life in the final five minutes plus eight minutes time added with both sides having the chance to snatch a late winning goal with substitutes on to boost their attacking options. Ben Heal cut through the home defence to shoot over the bar and then Christian Tavernier produced a searing free kick that Chadwick did well emerging through a crowd of players to punch clear. Deep into added time St Neots mounted a quick attack with Myles Cowling and Marsh-Brown involved before substitute Glenn McConnell cut in from the left past two defenders to bury his fiercely hit shot in the side netting.
A draw was a fair result between two side able to snuff out the others’ attack with the wind playing a major part.
This afternoon’s travelling Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to Ben Heal
St Neots: Chadwick, Heal, Smith, Anderson, Johnson, Beckett, Barker, Watkins, Mason, Rider, Marsh-Brown
Subs: Cowling (for Barker 81 mins), McConnell (for Rider 88 mins), Marfo, Abbott, and Gill.
Cards: Watkins (Y – 66 mins)
Goals: Rider (30 mins)
Dunstable: Head. Longden, Okito, Frater (R), McClelland, Carney, Hamilton, Farrell, Christie, Tavernier, Silford
Subs: Williams (for McClelland 65 mins), Frater (N) (for Hamilton 81 mins), Abraham (for Silford 90+3 mins), Ann, and Hall
Cards: Carney (Y – 34 mins)
Goals: Christie – pen – (36 mins)
Referee: Richard Walton (Hatfield)
Thanks to MARK RIDER for the above images
Thanks to COLIN PEARSON for the below images