Bedford Town        1            St Neots Town        0                

Despite losing central defender Charlie Johnson, sent off twelve minutes into the second half, St Neots Town produced a determined, gutsy performance against the league leaders only to be beaten by a single goal scored by the divisional leading scorer Rene Howe – his 20th  of the campaign. It was St Neots third away defeat at the hands of Bedford, the other two in National Cup competitions and despite being without four key players the visitors pushed their hosts all the way. Once again team changes were a key factor for the visitors with Louis Chadwick, Neo Richard-Noel and Myles Cowling returning from COVID, and Callum Anderson after injury and they replaced Kyjuon Marsh-Brown, Aaron Smith and Joshua Green with Dequaine Wilson-Braithwaite preferred to Marc Abbott who was on the bench. Bedford, on an unbeaten league run of six matches, cemented their place at the top of the table three points ahead of Berkhamsted whilst St Neots stayed anchored in thirteenth place – a dozen points shy of the play-off places. Johnson became the fourth player to see red this season and will miss the important trip to Barton Rovers next week.

On a very heavy pitch St Neots struggled to settle into a rhythm in the early stages of the contest and were quickly finding the pace of the home side a problem. In their first attack Bedford sliced through the visiting defence and the lively Connor Tomlinson moved inside the last defender but fired high over the bar. Joe Butterworth was the next home player to find himself in a scoring position, but his effort was blocked by a defender. St Neots’ first attack after14 minutes resulted in them winning a corner when Kwai Marsh-Brown’s shot deflected off a defender and this was a rare visiting sortie with the home defence dominant. Rene Howe’s strength and clever positional play was creating problems and he twice tested visiting keeper Louis Chadwick. St Neots persevered and began to look stronger towards the end of the half with the hard-working Neo Richard-Noel seeing a well-placed free kick neatly saved by home keeper Alexander Street. Both sides squandered late first half chances, Will Summerfield finishing carelessly after a great run by Lewis Miccio whilst at the other end Myles Cowling looking off balance shot over the bar after excellent play by Richard-Noel and the half ended with Shaun Keene shooting wide after good work by Howe.

Bedford produced what was to prove the knockout blow just nine minutes after the break when Hugh Alban-Jones beat two defenders to cross to the near post for Rene Howe to keep up his goal-a-game record against the Saints for the third time this season. Then it got worse for the visitors for three minutes later, central defender Charlie Johnson mistimed a tackle on Connor Tomlinson and was sent off. St Neots swiftly reorganised with recent signing Perry Wilson filling in at the back and they then showed how determined they were to redress the balance. Regardless of the imbalance in numbers, they took the game to their hosts but the home defence, which is the second tightest in the Division, were giving nothing away. For that last half hour the ten men performed as eleven but never really threatened to find an equaliser which their second half performance merited. Late in the game Richard-Noel looked to be bursting clear but he was brought down earning the perpetrator only a yellow card.

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This afternoon’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to NEO RICHARD-NOEL


St NeotsTown:  Chadwick, Marfo, Wilson-Braithwaite, Anderson, Johnson, Milenge, Cowling, Watkins, Richard-Noel, Kwai Marsh-Brown, Barker

Subs:  White (for Wilson-Braithwaite 53 mins), Abbott (for Anderson 79 mins), Gomes (for Barker 86 mins), Ronan Marsh-Brown and Anthony.

Cards:  Johnson – (RED – 57 mins), Richard-Noel (Y – 38 mins), Marfo (Y – 82 mins)

Goals:  none

Bedford Town:  Street, Keane, Steele, Richardson, Brown, Albon-Jones, Tomlinson, Butterworth, Howe, Summerfield, Miccio

Subs:  Donnelly (for Summerfield 63 mins), Setchell (for Butterworth 72 mins), Mackail-Smith (for Tomlinson 83 mins), Walker and Swain.

Cards:  Alban-Jones (Y – 51 mins), Donnelly (Y – 82 mins), Richardson (Y – 89 mins)

Goals:  Howe (54 mins)

Referee:  Luke Scott (Northampton)

Attendance:   657

John Walker