SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
Wantage Town 1 St Neots Town 2
St Neots long awaited first league victory came at Wantage Town 84 days after their previous victory on 20th November at Chesham over FC Romania. It was a hard-fought victory in very difficult conditions courtesy of a goal four minutes from time by skipper Lee Watkins. However, it will have been a trying watch for their loyal band of supporters who had made the 150 miles round trip after St Neots had presented their hosts with the softest of goals as well as missing a penalty themselves. The swirling wind was often the driving force in this contest, but St Neots gritty determination drove them on for what could prove a pivotal victory as they move towards the end of the season. With a win and a draw in their last three matches Wantage looked to be bidding to get clear of the relegation zone but another much changed St Neots returned home with a well-deserved tree points haul. Recent signing Robbie Mason looked a real boost up front being a significant presence on his debut and he was one of four changes in the side that had lost at Barton Rovers in midweek. Back after injury came Charlie Johnson, Aaron Smith and Callum Anderson with the Marsh-Brown brothers and Joe Dearman on the substitutes bench and Marc Abbott omitted from the squad. It was St Neots’ first victory in league and cup for fifteen matches and it completed their first league double of the season.
Wantage won the toss and elected to kick with the strong wind at their backs. After Charlie Kille had headed wide in a first minute attack, St Neots settled quickly and began to take the game to their hosts. From a Neo Richard-Noel cross new boy Mason headed over the bar and in the next attack he collided with home keeper James Foster, who after receiving lengthy treatment limped off to be replaced by Kacper Kowalczyk. Sam Hartley squandered the home sides’ best first half chance sending a free header off target whilst St Neots were defending well and looking dangerous on the break. After 26 minutes in the best move of the first half, Charley Barker exchanged passes with Aaron Smith on the left before sending Richard-Noel clear of the defence and he netted with a narrow-angled shot to put St Neots in front. Just before the break a neat move by the home side ended with Ben Lodge sending a well struck shot just inches over the crossbar.
St Neots began the second half in the ascendancy and long throws into the six yards box by Smith were testing the home defence. After49 minutes one such throw found the head of Richard-Noel forcing the replacement keeper into the save of the match at the expense of a corner but three minutes later disaster for the visitors as a measured back pass bobbled in front of Louis Chadwick who missed his clearance leaving Jamal Branker to walk the ball into the unguarded net to level the scores. Richard-Noel then had a net bound shot deflected for a corner and on a smart St Neots break from a Wantage corner, St Neots were two on one and Ben Heal slipped the ball to the unmarked Barker who delayed his finish and Kowalczyk saved bravely at his feet. After 77 minutes Barker was brought down in the area by James Hammond, but Richard Noel sent the keeper the wrong way only to see his penalty kick rebound from a post. That miss might have cost St Neots two points but with four minutes left Robbie Mason crossed to find the head of Barker and he laid the ball into the path of skipper Lee Watkins who netted to claim all three points for his side.
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Today’s travelling Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to skipper LEE WATKINS
St Neots Town: Chadwick, Marfo, Smith, Anderson, Johnson, White, Barker, Watkins, Richard-Noel, Mason, Heal
Subs: Ky Marsh-Brown (for Richard-Noel 41 mins), Kwai Marsh-Brown, Rider, Dearman, and Gill.
Goals: Richard-Noel (24 mins), Watkins (86 mins)
Wantage Town: Foster, Bestley, Kille, Hartley, Alexander, Hammond, Lodge, Crosbie, Crook, Branker, Henshall
Subs: Kowalczyk (for Foster 19 mins), Logongo (for Henshall 74 mins), Price (for Lodge 86 mins), Pemberton and Horwood
Cards: Kille (Y – 84 mins)
Referee: Benjamin Duffill (Salisbury)