Matt Clements celebrated Southern League Premier Division victory as St Neots Town manager for the second time yesterday . . . and just like on the first occasion, it lifted them out of the relegation zone.

Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson sets off in celebration after his goal for St Neots Town.Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson sets off in celebration after his goal for St Neots Town.

A stunning free-kick from debutant Shane Hill set Saints on the way to a 2-1 victory against Basingstoke at the Premier Plus Stadium as they bounced back from an early blow of conceding after just six minutes.

Sam Deadfield fired the opening goal for the visitors, but Saints were back on level terms just before the half-hour mark thanks to Hill’s exquisite set-piece strike after Micky Hyem had been bundled over.

And skipper Hyem was also involved when Saints completed the turnaround six minutes before the break. He flicked the ball into the path of Bradley Fortnam-Tomlinson to grab his second goal in as many games.

Goalkeeper Alex Archer had to make a couple of smart saves to preserve Saints advantage as they spent much of the second period under pressure.

Skipper Micky Hyem in action for St Neots against Basingstoke.Skipper Micky Hyem in action for St Neots against Basingstoke.

Those contributions, along with some errant finishing from Basingstoke substitute Ashley Artwell, ensured his 50th appearance for the club was a successful one.

And the victory also earned a rise out of the bottom four due to Saints now possessing a superior goal difference to fellow relegation battlers Cirencester.

Boss Clements said: “It was a hard-working, dogged and gritty display that earned the three points.

“I have to be honest and admit we have played better in our previous three games and lost them all, but yesterday we defended for our lives and were able to show that bit of quality at the right times.

“It’s a result the lads enjoyed, but we’ve already parked it and turned our attention to another big home game on Tuesday.”

Goalscorer Hill was not the only Saints player to make his debut yesterday. New striking signing Luke Brown, who played for Clements at Godmanchester Rovers last season, also went straight into the team.

Saints entertain Chesham on Tuesday when victory could lift them three points clear of the drop-zone.