What a difference a win makes!
St Neots Town snapped two of the most miserable runs in their recent history by claiming a vital victory to jump out of the Southern League Premier Division relegation zone yesterday.
Saints beat Dorchester 3-2 at the Premier Plus Stadium to end a wretched spell of 12 matches without a win which stretched back to early November.
And the opening goal, which arrived just after the half-hour mark from the penalty spot and the left boot of James Hall, finally brought an end to a goal-drought which lasted 502 minutes and featured blanks in their previous five matches.
The long-overdue success for Saints was also a first in the hotseat for new boss Matt Clements. It arrived in his second game at the helm and was a dramatic improvement on the 4-0 home reverse at the hands of Weymouth seven days earlier.
Between that debacle, and the visit of another Dorset side yesterday, Clements had the chance to put the under-performing Saints through their paces in some intensive training sessions.
They clearly made a difference, while debutants Bradley Fortnam Tomlinson (a former Northern Ireland Under 19 international on loan from Tonbridge Angels for a month) and Jacob Partridge (a young midfielder brought in from Colchester United), also impressed.
“The players produced exactly what I asked of them – a high-energy performance featuring plenty of attacking prowess and discipline when without the ball,” said Clements.
“I was confident this sort of display would come after working with the lads for a full week in training.
“I also sensed the buzz was returning in the changing room before the game, and the result will certainly help that.
“Being out of the bottom four is a huge boost for the club, the players and the fans. We have to use this result as a platform on which to build.”
Fortnam Tomlinson saw a free-kick well-saved moments before their long wait for a goal came to an end as Hall struck from the spot after Jevani Brown had been brought down.
Top-scorer Hall then doubled his and Saints’ tally just before the hour when converting a Fortnam Tomlinson cross, who had been picked out by a fine clearance from goalkeeper Alex Archer.
Fortnam Tomlinson was denied a debut goal by two more decent saves from Dorchester goalkeeper Shane Murphy and the outside of a post.
In fact there were no further breakthroughs until the dying moments when three more goals arrived.
Dorchester grabbed the first of them when Ben Wood was left unmarked to halve their arrears, but Saints responded well as Brown beat the hesitant Murphy to a bouncing ball to restore the two-goal cushion.
It was quickly cut again as Matt Oldring bagged a second for the visitors, but it was not enough to prevent Saints from taking a much-needed step in the right direction.
They now sit one point above the relegation zone, and still possess games in hand on several of the teams above and below them.
Saints turn their attention to a chase for county honours on Tuesday when entertaining Clements’ former club, Godmanchester Rovers, in a Hunts Senior Cup semi-final, 7.45pm.