NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE – MIDLANDS DIVISION
St Neots Town 1 Dereham Town 3
A combination of injury and carelessness contributed towards a fourth home defeat this season for St Neots. After injury, Charlie Lewis was back at centre half for the Saints, but his premature return saw him replaced at half time by utility player Alex Solomon who then limped off himself to be replaced by Jayden Lott. Just twelve minutes after his introduction Lott attempted to carry the ball out of defence but was robbed and with his defensive colleagues wrong-footed the visitors broke to snatch a third and clinching goal to leave their hosts confused and defeated. St Neots had led for 55 minutes and were looking likely to end their barren spell but after conceding two goals in as many minutes they found themselves on the back foot and needing a swift response. However, their Norfolk visitors making their first league appearance in town returned home with all three points and their first ever away win in the Northern Premier League. Once again team changes were a feature for the home side with Joe Tarpey joining the ever-lengthening injury list and Trey Charles and Lott on the bench with Lewis, George Hoddle and Andre Hasanally recalled to the starting line-up.
It began well for the home side with Saleem Akanbi seeing his early shot mishandled by the visiting keeper before Declan Nche fired over the bar. However, they were rewarded after 21 minutes when Akanbi’s pace took him clear, and his early cross was turned in at the far post by Robbie Mason to put St Neots ahead. The St Neots striker then had two more chances to extend the lead, but he shot across the face of goal from a narrow angle and then shot wide after more impressive work by Akanbi. Theo Sankey-Mensah was a constant threat to the visiting defence as he attacked down the right flank and when he was brought down on the edge of the area, Andre Hasanally sent the resultant free kick the wrong side of a post. The visitors produced very little threat to the home goal in the first half although Jamie Greygoose did have to save bravely at the feet of Mo Hassan who was booked for his untimely challenge on the goalkeeper. The half ended with St Neots having less reward than they deserved for a positive 45 minutes’ effort.
The second half began dramatically with St Neots defender Toib Adeyemi booked when he fouled James Cooper just inside the area and a penalty was awarded. Goalkeeper Jamie Greygoose dived to his right to save the spot kick from Mo Hassan, and this should have given St Neots the boost they needed. However, they seemed held up by their forced defensive changes and although Akanbi went close to extending their lead – foiled by a great save by Ross Bilham – it was the visiting side that seemed to be growing in confidence. Then two goals in as many minutes from the visitors really set St Neots back on their heels. After 76 minutes a long cross to the far post by Luke Johnson found Ryan Swift not closely marked and his header beat Greygoose to level the scores. Before St Neots had recovered from this setback, they found themselves behind as Mo Hassan was permitted to pick up a pass in midfield and move through a static defence to beat the surprised goalkeeper. St Neots really needed a swift response but Lott’s ill-judged surge forward as he attempted to set St Neots on the attack surrendered the ball to his opponent and James Cooper calmly took full advantage to leave the home defence with red faces. St Neots did have one good chance tio repair some of the damage when Trey Charles went past two defenders but was brought down on the edge of the area. His resultant well struck free kick was saved at full length by Bilham and St Neots were left to rue their inability to make their first half domination count.
Tonight’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to ROBBIE MASON
St Neots Town: Greygoose, Sackey-Mensah, Smith, Solomon, Lewis, Adeyemi, Hoddle, Nche, Mason, Hasanally, Akanbi.
Subs: Charles (for Lewis 46 mins), Lott (for Solomon 69 mins), Campbell and Bent.
Cards: Solomon (Y – 19 mins), Adeyemi (Y – 49 mins)
Goals: Mason (21 mins)