FA Cup: Late double blow sends Neots crashing out

ST NEOTS Town’s 35-match unbeaten run came to an end with a dramatic late collapse at Leiston.

FA Cup

Leiston 3-2 St Neots Town

ST NEOTS Town’s 35-match unbeaten run came to an end with a dramatic late collapse at Leiston.

The Saints were leading with just five minutes remaining, before two goals in the final five minutes handed the visitors their first competitive defeat since October 27 last year.

Goals from Will Fordham and Roy Essandoh had put Neots within sight of the Second Qualifying Round.

Leiston were reduced to 10 men before half time, and Saints seemed in control at the break, but the dismissal of Des Byrne for two booking swung the match back in the home side’s favour.

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They cranked up the pressure and pushed men forward, equalising on 85 minutes and snatching the winner two minutes later.

The game opened brightly, with both teams having chances to go ahead. Saints captain Glen Fuff twice had to block smartly before 10 minutes were on the clock.

However, Neots drew first blood on 12 minutes when Shane Tolley headed a corner back across goal and Will Fordham smashed the ball home from 10 yards.

Saints almost doubled their lead shortly after when Byrne’s cross deceived the goalkeeper and hit the crossbar.

Lewis Hilliard shot just wide from 25 yards before Leiston’s equaliser on 37 minutes. Saints lost possession in midfield and Leon Ottley-Gooch was able to put the home side on level terms.

St Neots did not sit back however, and were back ahead just two minutes later as Hilliard’s superb cross from the right was headed home by Roy Essandoh.

Leiston were then reduced to ten men as Danny Smy was dismissed for kicking Fordham.

Saints lost Essandoh to injury at the break, replaced by Rob Hughes, and Saints were soon off and running again, with Hilliard and Tolley both going close.

A miskick from goalkeeper Luke McShane gave Neots a scare, but they kept a comfortable lead until Byrne’s dismissal.

After going to 10 men, Saints lost their shape a little and afforded the home side too much room in the midfield area.

There were further chances for Hilliard and Jacob, as Leiston threw more men forward in search of the equaliser.

They found what they were looking for on 85 minutes, when Gareth Heath broke through the middle and finished from the edge of the box. Dan French had a late chance for Neots, but saw his shot fly just too high.

Disaster struck three minutes from time when Leiston completed a remarkable turnaround, as McShane parried Heath’s shot and Leon Ottley-Gooch pounced to net the winner.