SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
St Neots Town 0 North Leigh 1
St Neots produced one of their best home performances of the season against play-off chasing North Leigh but were beaten by a single goal. The visitors in the top six for much of the season, strengthened their position moving up to fourth in the table with this victory. However, Manager Pete Gill, who had the luxury of naming an unchanged line-up after two consecutive away victories was pleased with his sides’ performance against a visiting side with the third highest tally of goals scored in the division. In the second half the Manager blooded teenage Cambridge United youngster Saleem Akambi who looked a promising addition to his squad. The side now has a weekend off before their rearranged home tie with Aylesbury United on Tuesday 15th March.
It was never going to be easy against their free scoring visitors, but St Neots coped well in the first half with both sides seeing too many off target finishes. The first two openings went to the visitors in the first quarter of an hour, but Jordan Alves set up Luke Carnell only to see his volley balloon over the bar and Jordan Thomas then set up Ben Brown, but he too sent the ball high over the top. St Neots looked purposeful on the break and after 20 minutes the hard-working Rob Mason saw his effort blocked by a defender after skipper Lee Watkins had played him clear. Roger James was then played clear of the defence by Aaron McCreadie, and he should have done better than volley tamely over the bar. On the half hour from a Charley Barker corner, Charlie Johnson rose above the visiting defence only to see his powerful header pass just the wrong side of the crossbar, and then as St Neots continued to press Rob Mason sent his narrow-angled effort on to the roof of the goal netting. Six minutes before the break a searching Callum Anderson cross found Mason with his back to goal and as he turned, he could only shoot wide of the far post. The half ended with Roger James seeing his powerful free kick rebound from the crossbar,
The second half began badly for St Neots for in the first significant action after two minutes the visitors claimed what was to turn out to be the winning goal. After a St Neots attack that foundered on the edge of the visiting penalty area North Leigh broke quickly down their right where Roger James was left in acres of space to collect a Jordan Thomas clearance and progress to beat the unguarded Luke Chadwick with a low shot. Five minutes later from a Wynford Marfo cross, Mason got up above the visiting defence but could only head wide. However, St Neots were showing a spirited determination to get back on terms introducing two substitutes and adopting a more attacking approach to the match. On the hour visiting keeper Christian Lawrence had to fling himself at the feet of Marfo after clever play by substitute Glenn McConnell, who then himself shot wide. In the last fifteen minutes it was all St Neots with the visitors clearly happy to defend their slender advantage. Another substitute at the other end, Jefferson Louis, shot over the bar in a rare breakaway but St Neots persevered to the end with McConnell and Johnson both close to rescuing what would have been a deserved point.
This afternoons Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to ROBBIE MASON
St Neots: Chadwick, Marfo, Smith, Anderson, Johnson, Beckett, Barker, Watkins, Richard-Noel, Mason, Heal
Subs: Cowling (for Anderson 54 mins), McConnell (for Barker 58 mins), Akambi (for Richard-Noel 65 mins),Rider, and White.
Cards: Beckett (Y – 81 mins)
North Leigh: Lawrence, Payne, Thomas, Nash, Carnell, Brown, James, McCreadie, Williams, Alves, Awadh
Subs: Steele (for Williams 58 mins), Heap (for Payne 71 mins), Louis (for Alves 75 mins), Gunn and Payne.
Cards: McCreadie (Y – 43 mins), Heap (Y – 86 mins)
Goals: James (47 mins)
Referee: Shaun Barry (Northampton)