ON the hottest day of the year so far, St Neots Town barely broke into a sweat when they beat an in-form Bedfont Town 3-0 at The Hunts Post Community Stadium on Saturday.
Ben Mackey scored twice before substitute Pearson Mwanyongo got the third late on in a match that ended the Heathrow side’s 10-game unbeaten run and strengthened the Saints’ lead at the top of the Southern League Division One Central table.
St Neots remain three points clear in the race for the only automatic promotion spot after second-placed Slough Town won 2-1 at Ashford Town - but once again, the Saints nearest rivals for the title had to come from behind to beat their mid-table opponents.
“We were always in control but it was like a friendly at times,” said manager Dennis Greene. “They didn’t come here to win the game, they came here to contain us. Then, when we were three goals up, all of a sudden they showed a bit of urgency.
“They just came to keep the scoreline down which is disappointing because they haven’t lost for 10 games. They won seven and drew three of their last 10 games but they didn’t show too much ambition today.”
Making his home debut was right back Callum Stewart - and he was excellent in a position that has caused Greene perhaps his biggest headache this season. The former Histon player showed great awareness and his touch was calm and assured. His long throw also adds another string to the team’s attacking bow.
But it was double goalscorer Mackey who really shone. The striker put the Saints 1-0 up in the 10th minute with a great back-post volley - and then doubled that advantage in the 47th minute when he picked his spot to beat Gary Ross in the Bedfont goal.
In between, the visitors did little to worry St Neots but held their back line well. Captain Lewis Webb and midfielder Lewis Hilliard both had chances in the first half before Jordan Gent went close with a header and Junior Konadu and Dan Jacob both shot wide.
Mackey thought he had completed his hat trick in the 51st minute but his volley from a Jacob cross smashed into the crossbar and bounced down onto the line.
Late substitute Mwanyongo was tricky from the moment he walked onto the pitch and got his goal when he danced around a defender and the goalkeeper before finding the net with a stinging shot.
St Neots and Slough both have six games left with the Saints at home to Uxbridge on Saturday and their promotion rivals at home to Chalfont St Peter.
“Our aim is to win five,” said Greene. “If we win six then great but we only have to win five to win the title. Our aim is to take one game at a time and not worry about what Slough are doing.
“We have three home games left - if we win them, maybe we’ll only need to win one of the away games. I think maybe four will even do it now.
“We’re in the driving seat and I think we’ll be alright.”