Proud St Neots Town boss Matt Clements saluted his players in the wake of a Southern League Premier Division loss at the hands of title-chasing opposition on Saturday.
A lengthy trip to Weymouth ended in a 3-1 defeat for a Saints side who played the final hour of the contest with 10 men following the dismissal of Luke Knight.
Their captain saw red for handling a shot on the goal-line – an indiscretion spotted by an assistant referee after play was initially allowed to continue - and the punishment was doubled when Brandon Goodship slammed in the resultant spot-kick to put the hosts ahead.
But, just as they had done in a derby clash at St Ives a month earlier, Saints shrugged off a numerical disadvantage to perform superbly. They were rewarded with an equaliser when Jack Bradshaw precisely guided a 25-yard free-kick around the Weymouth wall and into the corner of the net after 71 minutes.
Teenage goalkeeper Finn Iron then kept Saints on level terms with a terrific save to deny Harry Baker, while another goalbound Weymouth effort from Calvin Brooks was deflected wide.
But Clements’ men could not withstand the late assault from their hosts. Stephane Zubar dived to head Weymouth back into the ascendancy with five minutes to go and salt was rubbed into Saints’ wounds when substitute Jordan Ngaio struck in stoppage time.
“The final scoreline doesn’t reflect the standard of performance we produced,” said Clements.
“We were going toe-to-toe with a strong Weymouth side until the sending off and we then played with discipline and maturity when down to 10 men.
“It was a real sucker-punch to concede a second goal late on and Weymouth’s third was simply a result of us pushing for another equaliser.
“I’m disappointed for the players as they didn’t deserve to be beaten.”
Saints remain 11th in the Premier Division.
Fellow locals St Ives Town saw their home clash against Redditch postponed.