St Neots Town reached a Southern League Premier Division half-century last Saturday – and bettered their points tally from the last two seasons in the process.
Recalled defender Tom Wood headed the only goal in the 26th minute as Matt Clements’ depleted side overcame Tiverton at the Premier Plus Stadium.
That was enough to see Saints, who were without four regulars due to injury, illness and suspension, roar onto the 50-point mark – a significant milestone for a club who have only managed 48 in the past two campaigns when battling to survive at this level.
They also saw two other efforts from Nabil Shariff and Lewis Irwin ruled out in the latter stages of the opening half. The former was adjudged to have pushed a defender when rising to head in a Dylan Williams cross while Irwin was adjudged to have buried a Stefan Broccoli delivery from an offside position.
But one goal proved to be enough to earn the points and boss Clements said: “It was a really solid and disciplined display – and it really pleases me to be able to say that about my team.
“We started both halves quite slowly, but we dominated the vast majority of the game in a professional manner.
“We also posed an attacking threat and had the ball in the net three times. The margin of victory could have been greater, but the main thing is picking up the points.
“We’re all happy to have beaten the points tally the club has gained in the last two seasons. It shows we’re making progress but there is lots more still to play for as we aim to finish as high as we possibly can in the league and also win the Hunts Senior Cup.”
Clements was left with no alternative other than to ring the changes yesterday. Defender Liam McDevitt and skipper Luke Knight were both banned, while Scott Sinclair missed out through injury and Harry O’Malley cried off ill.
It was a set of circumstances which stretched Saints’ resources to such an extent that Dion Sembie-Ferris was the only senior player to figure among their substitutes.
But that didn’t stop them claiming a fourth clean sheet of the campaign – and first for more than three months. Young goalkeeper Finlay Iron did not have a single save of note to make even when Tiverton played with more positivity in the second half.
Saints continued to create chances of their own after the break with Johnny Herd and Shariff both denied by smart saves, while Broccoli and Irwin saw decent efforts blocked.
Saints sit 11th in the Premier Division standings ahead of a trip to table-topping Hereford tomorrow.