NORTHERN PREMIER LEAGUE – MIDLANDS DIVISION
St Neots Town 0 Spalding United 3
For all but the first ten minutes St Neots were the better side but after conceding two identical goals in the first eight minutes to unbeaten in the league Spalding United, the damage was done, and they had a mountain to climb that proved too steep. However, Manager Pete Gill and his side can take many positives from the performance if not the result, for with several key players injured the side quickly gelled to produce some good possession football even though their finishing was lacking. Once again, the squad was hit by injury with skipper Callum Anderson and Manny Osei joining the casualty list and recent signing Patrick Campbell left on the bench with latest signing Alex Solomon making his debut alongside Theo Sackey-Mensah and a welcome return for leading scorer Trey Charles. Starting with a three-man defence the side then reverted to a more familiar 4-4-2 line-up after the second goal was scored and this proved far more effective.
St Neots could hardly have imagined a worse start to the match. In their first attack after just 55 seconds Spalding won a corner swung to the back post where tall visiting skipper Nathan Stainfield rose above his marker to head down for Sam Cartwright to net from close range. Worse was to follow for after eight minutes a carbon copy move involving the same three visiting players saw the St Neots defence breached again as Cartwright delightedly claimed his second goal. That double whammy might have signalled complete disaster so early in the game, but St Neots rejigged their line-up and took the game to their visitors. They survived another scare when Bradley Rolt rattled the crossbar with a crisp volley but then most of the remaining first half action was centred at the other end of the field as Trey Charles fired over the bat and a Robbie Mason cross was turned over his own goal by Danny Draper. A shot from Toib Adeyemi was fumbled by the visiting keeper who retrieved the ball on the goal line and before the break the lively Saleem Akanbi skimmed the bar with one effort and saw a second effort rebound from the woodwork.
After the break several lengthy throws into the penalty area by Aaron Smith kept the visiting defence on their toes and Charles forced an important save from former St Neots custodian Michael Duggan. Akanbi went clear but from a narrow angle shot across the face of goal and then with Andre Hasanally on for Mason, St Neots maintained their pressure on the visiting defence but could not find a finish. In a breakaway attack Jordan O’Brien shot wide for the visitors and after 67 minutes Duggan produced the save of the match to deny Charles. A series of substitutions by the visitors acted to break up St Neots attacking rhythm although the lively Joe Tarpey forced a full- length parry by Duggan. The Spalding substitutions livened their attack and in the last ten minutes they created a couple of openings. Then in the final minute of normal time a lengthy throw by James Clifton deflected off a defender to substitute Morgan Penfold who added a third goal for the visitors to give the final score line a margin of victory that the visiting side could not have deserved.
Now Pete Gill must ask his side to take the positives from this match into their next home match on Tuesday with Dereham Town the visitors.
Today’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to THEO SACKEY-MENSAH
St Neots Town: Greygoose, Lott, Mason, Tarpey, Solomon, Adeyemi, Sackey-Mensah, Nche, Charles, Akanbi, Smith
Subs: Hasanally (for Mason 61 mins), Campbell, Brewer and Bent.
Cards: Mason (Y – 53 mins