AFTER losing the first two games of their Southern League Premier Division season, St Neots Town beat Wetymouth 4-2 on Saturday and then Cambridge City 5-0 on Monday to calm all fears that they were going to find the going tough in the Southern League Premier Division.
Defeats to Chesham United and Hitchin Town had fostered doubts in the minds of supporters over the appointment of Iain Parr as Dennis Greene’s successor – but the former Peterborough United youth coach is a quick learner and his introduction of midfield duo Jay Davis and Ollie Thorne has been paramount in the change of fortune.
Davis is the son of Parr’s assistant Andy Davis and joined on loan from Woking in time for the Weymouth game, while Thorne was brought in from Bedford as his counterfoil. There are still a few questions about the balance of the squad, but it was never going to be easy to replace the likes of Junior Konadu and Adrian Sear.
“We have played well in all four games if I am being honest,” Parr told The Hunts Post after a Ben Mackey hat-trick and goals from Stefan Moore and Dan Jacob had seen off Cambridge City at the City ground. “We have always been a threat going forward and we were again today. We are working on dealing with the style of play in this league and shutting games out.”
With Charlie Dove injured, Parr was forced to partner Davis and Thorne in the middle for the games against Weymouth and Cambridge – and the pair didn’t let him down. Davis especially was excellent on Monday – he controlled the midfield and picked out pass after pass.
“You couldn’t have two more opposite players in there which is what you need,” said Parr. “They are intelligent enough to know that if one goes then one sits.”
And the chairman is also a fan. Mike Kearns told The Hunts Post: “In Jay and Ollie we have found two very good and slightly different players. They both give more strength to the team.
“A couple more and we might do well.”
BEN Mackey scored his first hat trick of the new season – it’s unlikely to be his last – as St Neots Town thrashed Cambridge City at the Pro-Edge Stadium to prove that the previous Saturday’s 4-2 win over Weymouth was no fluke.
Two losses from St Neots’ first two Southern League Premier League games of the season had fans feeling edgy at Rowley Park, following the close-season departure of manager Dennis Greene and the subsequent appointment of Iain Parr. But on Monday the Saints were brilliant. Quite simply brilliant. From the moment Stefan Moore hit the back of the net with their first goal on just 26 seconds, there was only ever one team in it.
Mackey and Moore were industrious and skilful up front while interchangable wingers Dan Jacob and Lewis Hilliard caused the Lillywhites all sorts of problems. In the middle of the park new boys Jay Davis and Ollie Thorne controlled the game, especially Davis, who is the son of Saints coach Andy Davis, who signed on loan from Woking last week. The 20-year-old former Peterborough United trainee ran the show in midfield alongside tough guy Thorne who made the switch from Bedford Town.
But it is Mackey that has impressed the new manager most. He told The Hunts Post: “Ben’s attitude has impressed me more than anything at the football club.
“He’s a striker who has played at a good level, he’s hungry, he’s a voice in the changing room, and he brings the best out of the youngsters. He deserved that hat trick ... and a special mention for Stef Moore as well.”
Moore’s lob of goalkeeper Enol Ordonez was just the start, the Saints were 2-0 up in the ninth minute when Mackey skipped through the Cambridge defence and found the back of the net with a thunderous left-footed strike.
Lewis Hilliard put an easy chance wide at the end of a period of one-touch football that even had the home fans applauding. Defender Jordan Gent headed a decent chance wide before Cambridge’s David Prada’s touch across the face of the St Neots goals beat Michael Duggan but not the far post. Craig Hammond also had a chance but his header went wide.
On 41 minutes Moore was through again and Lee Chaffey couldn’t handle his pace. Beaten, the left-back tripped the St Neots striker as he entered the penalty area and was sent off. Mackey stepped up and buried the spot kick.
If there was a weak link in the Saints chain, it was at left-back where Declan Rogers is playing out of position. Rogers is really a left winger and Iain Parr will need to find a solution at the back and allow Rogers a more forward role if he is going to get the best out of the former Huntingdon Town and St Ives Town player.
However, Cambridge were too worried about the Saints attacking prowess to take advantage of any defensive frailties and on 53 minutes Moore played the ball out of defence with a pass to Hilliard who then found Dan Jacob with a quality pass.
Jacob took one touch before beating the Cambridge goalkeeper easily.Mackey completed his hat-trick when, on 72 minutes, Ordonez spilt a Jacob cross and the ball fell to the striker who smashed it home from two yards.
Rogers was shown a second yellow card when he barged over Neil Midgely, the only blot on the Saints’ copybook, but he wasn’t the final player to walk, a second yellow card was also shown to City’s Jack Dekanski after he brought down Jacob.
Both of those second yellows might have resulted in final warnings on another day. But this wasn’t another day, this was St Neots Town’s day. And didn’t they have fun...
St Neots: Michael Duggan, Jon-Paul Duncliffe, Declan Rogers, Ollie Thorne, Arthur Lee, Jordan Gent, Lewis Hilliard (Kaine Felix), Jay Davis, Stefan Moore, Ben Mackey (Chris Manangu), Dan Jacob (Ed Adjei).