The boss reflects on Saints’ 3-2 friendly defeat by Ryman Premier side Lewes at The Hunts Post Community Stadium on Saturday

St Neots Town 2-3 Lewes

DENNIS GREENE says Saturday's home friendly defeat against Lewes – when Saints surrendered a 2-0 lead – needs to be kept in perspective.

Strike pair Stefan Moore and Shane Tolley scored in the first half to give St Neots a terrific start, but a brace from Ian Draycott and a goal from Nic Ciardini saw the Ryman Premier side run out winners.

The hosts were lacklustre in the second half, probably due to the raft of substitutions and trialists, but which led a few to question the strength of the squad, aside from the starting XI.

But manager Greene feels there's no need to panic, saying: “I want to win every game so of course I'm disappointed, but really the result is irrelevant.

“Pre-season is all about getting everybody fit and giving them game time. If we pick up a result or two along the way, then great.

“If I'd have kept my full team on the pitch for 90 minutes – which I'm sure the supporters would like- we probably wouldn't have lost the game.

“But if I play the same players for 90 minutes for all 12 friendlies, they'll be burnt out by the time we get to August 13.

“There are plenty of positives to take from it. For half an hour we completely outplayed Lewes and could have scored four or five - but the game got away from us.

“They had a better side on the pitch in the second half - where as we had four or five trialists - and it was too much for them.

“By the time we've got four pre-season games to go, the fans should know more or less what our starting 11 will be.”

For the opening half an hour against Lewes, St Neots were simply sublime.

With the ball zipping along the surface early on, skipper Lewis Webb's pinpoint pass sent Moore racing through on goal two minutes in, but visiting keeper Stuart Robinson was equal to it and smothered the ball at the striker's feet.

Robinson was then called into action again in the 12th minute, when Dan Jacob cut inside on his left foot and unleashed a powerful shot from just inside the box that tested his fingertips.

A goal was coming and it duly arrived three minutes later, courtesy of a set-piece manoeuvre straight from the training ground.

Webb, about 25 yards out, simply rolled the ball into Moore, who turned his marker with ease and slid the ball past Robinson into the corner of the net.

Fully in the ascendency, the home side doubled their lead in the 20th minute, when Lewis Hilliard capitalised on a defensive lapse and put the ball across the box for Tolley to stroke home a second from close range.

But the visitors, who had hardly ventured into Saints' half during the early exchanges, pulled a goal back to reduce the arrears in the 26th minute.

Ciardini took on Kieran Davies – playing at right-back – and then cut inside to rifle an unstoppable shot past goalkeeper Tim Trebes that went in off the underside of the crossbar.

It was 2-2 on 53 minutes, with the equaliser scored by Draycott, who had the simple task of touching the ball into an empty net, after Trebes could only parry Dillon Merchant's rasping long-range drive into his path.

And the comeback was complete for Lewes three minutes past the hour mark, as Ciardini's cross from the left was headed home by the unmarked Draycott for his second and the visitors' third of the afternoon.

Having been flat for almost the entire second half, there was at least some urgency in the final 10 minutes from Saints, as they searched for a leveller, but they were unable to find it.

The result followed on from St Neots' 2-1 home victory over Ryman League Division One South outfit Walton & Hersham four days earlier, when Hilliard and Tolley netted.

Saints: Trebes, Davies, Cobb, Webb (C), Gent, Fordham, Hilliard, Konadu, Moore, Tolley, Jacob.

Subs used: Harradine (tst), Henerbery, Grieve (tst), Webster (tst), Kennedy (tst), Mather (tst).