SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
St Neots Town 1 Thame United 0
St Neots extinguished Thame’s faint hopes of a play off spot with a narrow but efficient victory. It took their recent unbeaten run to five games and furthered their hopes of a top half finish. It was a hard-fought victory with the visiting side looking the stronger in the final ten minutes but thanks to an outstanding first half double save by Louis Chadwick, St Neots prevailed to deservedly pick up all three points. After travelling to struggling Kidlington next Saturday they wind up their season with matches against the top two sides. Manager Pete Gill missed the match struck down with COVID but he oversaw the four team changes which saw the return to the starting line-up of Harvey Beckett, Rob Mason, Myles Cowling and Glenn McConnell. A semi-fit Joe Rider was on the bench along with Perry White and Kwai Marsh-Brown whilst Aaron Smith was unavailable. Thame were hoping to complete a league double having won the first meeting of the two sides this season by two goals to nil.
The first half was a highly entertaining and competitive affair. The visitors began strongly with the unmarked Harry Mepham having an early chance, but his shot was deflected. Ryan Blake then outpaced his marker after ten minutes, but Louis Chadwick got down well to save. St Neots then produced the perfect response scoring in their first real attack after eleven minutes. Charley Barker crossed from the left and Robbie Mason collected the ball and produced a pinpoint header to beat visiting keeper Craig Hill. For a while after the goal, the home side dominated as Saleem Akanbi shot narrowly wide after clever play by Glenn McConnell, Charlie Johnson headed narrowly over the bar from a Barker corner and Lee Watkins shot into the side netting from a narrow angle. Chadwick was then forced into an acrobatic double save from Lynton Goss as Thame struck back and the contest continued end to end. The best move of the first half came after 27 minutes when McConnell produced a clever reverse pass to set up Akanbi, but his effort rebounded from the base of the far post to be scrambled clear. The visitors then had to make a first half change bringing on Harry Alexander when Jack Tutton was assisted off with a hand injury.
The second half was played at a more sedate pace with St Neots dictating much of the attacking play but lacking a significant finish. McConnell fed Mason whose shot was blocked, Hill saved well to deny Barker and a Mason shot from distance failed to test the visiting keeper. Thame hit back with substitute Alexander looking lively up front bringing one save from Chadwick before sending a surprise shot from distance against a goal post. St Neots sent on Kwai Marsh-Brown for Mason with Akanbi moving over to lead the attack, but the match became ragged with neither side able to seriously threaten the opposing defence.
Bookings for both sides added to the rather disappointing end to the game which saw Thame marginally on top, but unable to employ their greater possession to seriously threaten the home defence. As full time approached, Charley Barker sent a free kick in a promising area high over the bar and St Neots deservedly held out to claim all three points and strengthen their midtable position in the top half.
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Today’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to CALLUM ANDERSON
St Neots Town: Chadwick, Marfo, Beckett, Anderson, Johnson, Cowling, McConnell, Watkins, Mason, Barker, Akanbi
Subs: Marsh-Brown (for Mason 76 mins), Rider, White, Abbott and Peacock.
Cards: Johnson (Y – 24 mins), Marfo (48 mins), Cowling (Y – 80 mins), Barker (Y – 90+2 mins)
Goals: Mason (11 mins)
Thame United: Hill, Thorne, Jones, Lynn, Gledhill, Tompkins, Goss, Mepham, Tutton, West, Blake
Subs: Alexander (for Tutton 32 mins), Peake (for Jones 64 mins), Murray (for Thorne 77 mins).
Cards: Thorne (Y – 39 mins), West (Y – 82 mins),Tompkins ( Y – 88 mins)
Referee: Alistair Wilson (Boston)