SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
St Neots Town 0 Didcot Town 4
St Neots produced a disappointing home performance and visitors Didcot Town took full advantage to climb above their hosts in the league table. For the first time St Neots were COVID hit with three players missing (goalkeeper Louis Chadwick, midfielder Myles Cowling and striker Neo Richard-Noel), after testing positive following the midweek game, but this will be no excuse for a well below par performance. With their second senior goalkeeper, George Whitehall, nursing a broken finger, St Neots had to call upon seventeen years old youth goalkeeper George Anthony to make his senior debut and former manager Marc Abbott returned in midfield in a further patched-up side. They were particularly vulnerable in defence where Charlie Johnson and recent signing Gradi Milenge looked poor and uncoordinated, and they created little in attack without a recognised striker in their squad. It was Didcot’s first win at St Neots having failed to score on their two previous visits and the win took them above their hosts as St Neots dropped three places in the table to thirteenth. It is the goalscoring department that must be of the main concern to Manager Pete Gill because in their last five league matches, they have scored just once, picking up just five points out of their last twenty-seven. Now the club physiotherapists take centre stage as they struggle to make an impact on the key players side lined by injury.
St Neots actually began well taking the game to their visitors without testing the goalkeeper but after eight minutes they were hit on the break when in Didcot’s first attack striker Noah Alabi cut inside from the left flank past two static defenders, before beating rookie goalkeeper George Anthony with an angled low shot. From a Charley Barker free kick Aaron Smith fired wide and four minutes after their first goal, Didcot went further ahead as a corner from Connor Barratt was headed back across goal for the unmarked Joshua Hedges to add a second goal. From a St Neots corner Barratt headed off the Didcot goal line and that was as close to a goal that St Neots got in a torrid first half. Visiting keeper Leigh Bedwell did have to save at the feet of Charlie Johnson following a Barker corner but despite St Neots sharing possession their attacking ideas were optimistic rather than accurate as Kwai Marsh-Brown fired wildly over the bar and brother Ky failed to test the keeper from close range. Significantly, from his midfield role St Neots skipper Lee Watkins looked the player most likely to test the visiting defence and St Neots went to the breaking searching for some inspiration.
They started the second half well enough and making for goal Ky Marsh-Brown was hauled down earning visiting defender Harley Giles a caution. Both Joshua Green and Kwai Marsh-Brown shot wide – the second following a Wynford Marfo cross after some patient build up play by St Neots. It was the home side’s defensive play that was causing concern. There seemed to be little protection for their debutant goalkeeper but after an hour they could have struggled their way back into the game but from a Marfo cross Kwai Marsh-Brown was guilty of the miss of the match as he skied the ball high over the bar from six yards. Substitute Max Smalley did liven up the home attack but sent a good chance straight into the arms of the visiting keeper, but the pressure always seemed to be on the home defence and after 75 minutes Gradi Milenge fluffed a clearance and from the edge of the penalty area visiting skipper Seth Humphries smashed the ball into the net for the third goal. Anthony did save bravely at the feet of Alabi before the visitors were reduced to ten men when Humphries was issued with a straight red card for a dangerous tackle.
Even so the visitors left their best for last because two minutes into added time they added a fourth goal when Barker missed a tackle on the edge of the area and Connor Barrett became Didcot’s fourth scorer in what for them was a memorable victory.
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Today’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to AARON SMITH
St Neots Town: Anthony, Marfo, Smith (A), Barker, Johnson, Milenge, Abbott, Watkins, Green, Kai Marsh-Brown, Kyjuon Marsh-Brown
Subs: Smalley (for Green 55 mins), Wilson-Braithwaite, Gomes, Clark, and Dean.
Cards: Kwai Marsh-Brown (Y – 83 mins)
Didcot Town: Bedwell (L), Barder, Smith (J), Bedwell (T), Giles, McNeill, McKirnan, Barratt, Alabi, Humphries, Hedges
Subs: Parsons (for McKirnan 46 mins), Bones and Evans.
Cards: Humphries (RED – 85 mins), Giles (Y – 50 mins)
Goals: Alabi (8 mins), Hedges (12 mins), Humphries (75 mins), Barratt (90+2 mins)
Referee: Joshua Crofts (Huntingdon)