UNITED COUNTIES LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION SOUTH
RUGBY BOROUGH 2 ST NEOTS TOWN 3
After a poor first half St Neots recovered to take all three points thanks to a brace of second half goals from James Hatch. The host side who was promoted from Step Six at the start of the season had a decent home record on their 3G pitch with four wins from five outings and in the first half that record looked like being maintained. However, a defiant second half recovery was richly rewarded as the Saints dominated much of the second half to recover a half time deficit to go on to win. After the midweek cup match at March where several regular players were rested, Manager Cameron Mawer restored his regulars meaning that there were no fewer than six team changes. With regular goalkeeper James Goff unavailable, due to the imminent arrival of his first child his keeper’s jersey was handed to loanee Jack Galatis from Arlesey Town whilst in front of him skipper Kyle Lincoln, Rav Kalek and Josh Brown were included in the defence/midfield, whilst James Hatch and Sam Johnson returned up front.
From the start St Neots looked sharp and had much of the early play but failed to create a notable opening. Once the home team settled, they began to look the more threatening with visiting keeper Jack Galatis having to save smartly from Sam Lockley whilst Gerard McGahey and Adam Creaney squandered good openings. The home side took the lead when Rev Kalek was dispossessed on the edge of his own box and from the cut back, Sam Lockley had the freedom of the 18 yard box to roll the ball past Galatis into the unguarded net. St Neots were reduced to using long ball tactics to reduce the pressure on their defence but too many forward passes were either overhit or wayward and another effort by Lockley was parried by the visiting keeper. Needing to do something to spur his side, the St Neots Manager substituted midfielder Dean Dummett in the first half sending on Israel Ajana to add width and pace to the visiting attack, and this changed the pattern of the game. Two minutes before the break St Neots got back on terms. They won a free kick, flighted in by Sam Johnson and full back Tommy Reynolds netted at the far post with a bullet diving header – his second goal of the campaign. However, parity only lasted for sixty seconds because from the restart an unstoppable volley by home skipper McGahey restored their lead.
With Nathan George on for Rev Kalek after the break St Neots looked better balanced and only a fine save by home keeper Jake Bull from Jordan Brown maintained his sides’ narrow advantage. Both sides made substitutions, but the important breakthrough came on 66 minutes when from a right sided cross from substitute Tom Rowley, James Hatch slotted home the important equalising goal. Now St Neots began to dominate, and Jordan Brown saw a net bound effort cleared off the line. There was concern when Hatch was brought down heavily, resulting in a second yellow card for Thomas but he was determined to limp on and eight minutes from time he was perfectly placed to claim what proved to be the winning goal after good work by Ajana and substitute Tom Rowley. The home side tried hard to find a late equaliser but the visiting defence marshalled by skipper Kyle Lincoln held firm to lift St Neots to second in the league table.
Today’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match – Kindly sponsored by The Greystones Public House, Sawtry – JAMES HATCH