In their first home Saturday match for seven weeks St Neots flattered to deceive before running our rather unconvincing winners against a pallid visiting side who seldom looked like scoring themselves. Wantage Town are struggling at the foot of the league table and managed just one serious shot before being gifted with an unexpected goal in time added. St Neots were so much on top with an embarrassing amount of possession, yet they lacked that final touch in front of goal and this failing will cost them dear against more gifted opponents. After making several changes for the recent League Cup match against Hitchin to give his squad players some game time, manager Pete Gill made just two changes in his line-up from the previous League match, with his most recent signing Elliott Sartorious making his debut and a return for Brandon Shabani at the expense of Joe Rider who was nursing a niggle and the injured Myles Cowling. For 45 minutes St Neots looked poised and confident, but it seemed a different side that turned up after the break, totally unable to take advantage of their superior possession.
After a cautious start by both sides Wantage had the first real chance with visiting defender Jack Alexander up for a set piece having his effort blocked by a home defender. St Neots then settled to an attacking routine with the visiting keeper having to distinguish himself after five minutes with a full length save to deny debutant Elliott Sartorious. Neo Richard-Noel went tumbling in the area as he burst through, but his penalty appeals were ignored and then an indirect free kick inside the visiting penalty area saw skipper Lee Watkins fire high over the bar. However, the pressure paid after 21 minutes when Sartorious unselfishly pulled the ball back to Kwai Marsh-Brown who left Joseph Gorman helpless with a fierce 25 yards drive to open his account and the scoring. That lead was doubled just five minutes later with another first goal for the club from Charley Barker, who took a pass from Brendon Shabani, to shoot low past the visiting keeper. That should have opened the floodgates, but a combination of desperate defending and poor finishing kept Wantage in the game. Wynford Marfo set up Sartorious whose near post effort was just wide of the post and then Mamadou Jobe ventured forward to link up with the attack to bring a backbreaking save from Gorman’s fingertips. The half ended with Marsh-Brown robbing a hesitant defender to send his shot over the bar when he should have added to the lead.
The home crowd were anticipating further goals after the break, but they were to be disappointed. With Sartorious tiring, he was replaced by Julinho Gomes who livened up the home attack and Richard-Noel was going for goal when brought down from behind by Jack Alexander who looked lucky to only pick up a yellow card. From the free kick, the same St Neots player brought another fine save from Gorman. The only Wantage shot came just past the hour when the underworked George Whitehall saved comfortably from Alexandre Fragate and then in a bid to boost his attack, the St Neots Manager sent on Jake Battersby for Marsh-Brown. The substitute twice produced searching crosses that could not find a finish and as the game wore on St Neots began to look frustrated with their own efforts. They still had much the better of possession with their midfield players getting plenty of possession, but the final shot lacked conviction. In added time St Neots paid the price as a defensive clearance struck Charlie Johnson and ended up in the net as a doubtful own goal for the visitors.
Todays Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to Charley Barker (Sponsored by Bob Carpenter)
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