Leading St Neots Town scorer Dylan Williams could hardly have made a more spectacular return from injury yesterday.
The attacking ace hit a high-class late winner as Saints saw off Kings Langley 3-2 to ensure they will end 2017 in the top half of the Southern League Premier Division standings.
Williams, who missed five matches with an ankle ligament problem, struck from 25 yards with eight minutes to go aAnd manager Matt Clements was thrilled by the substitute’s contribution during his earlier-than-scheduled return to action.
“We didn’t expect to see Dylan again this year, but his rehabilitation has gone superbly,” said Clements. “We thought it would be an eight to 12 week layoff, but he is back in a month!
“He’s received plenty of treatment at his former club, Cambridge United, which is obviously very much appreciated.
“We were playing well and creating chances, but I just felt we needed a different option and Dylan provided it.
“He will get the plaudits for an excellent goal, but all the lads were fantastic in the second half when doing exactly what I asked of them at half-time.
“It was a bit like basketball in the first half with the two teams having a go at each other, but we were dominant after the break and I would have been disappointed to only come away with one point.”
Saints received a rude awakening when the struggling visitors went ahead courtesy of a Sam Tring half-volley in the second minute.
The raised flag of an assistant referee denied Nabil Shariff an almost immediate reply, but three further goals were scored in the first half.
They all arrived in a five-minute spell with Saints claiming two of them to briefly hit the front before being pegged back again.
Lewis Irwin was a key figure in that exciting spell as he laid on a leveler for Dion Sembie-Ferris before heading Saints’ second goal himself after being picked out by a Johnny Herd corner.
But fortunes continued to fluctuate and Herd was unfortunate to turn a low Mitchell Weiss cross into his own net only 90 seconds after playing a hand in that goal at the right end.
Kings Langley goalkeeper Martin Bennett denied Sembie-Ferris and Shariff with outstanding saves during the second half, but he was powerless to prevent Williams settling the contest with a curling effort from 25 yards.
St Neots have now lost just one of their last 12 league games ahead of a Boxing Day home clash against title challengers Kettering.