Taylor Parr climbed off his sickbed to inspire St Neots Town to a vital Southern League Premier Division Central success.
Saints’ defensive rock, who has snubbed a move to Step 3 rivals King’s Lynn in recent days, shook off a bug to claim the only goal of a 1-0 triumph against Royston Town at the Premier Plus Stadium yesterday.
His 82nd minute effort allowed Matt Clements’ side to snap a five-match losing streak and boost their hopes of survival. In the process they gained a sweet slice of revenge after being thumped 5-0 at Royston in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
“I could not be more proud,” said Clements. “Every player was phenomenal – none more so than Taylor who crawled out of his sickbed to play in our time of need.
“We’ve been treated unfairly at times this season so I’m delighted for the players, staff and people associated with the club that we were able to pick up the result we deserved for being the better team.
“But we know we can’t get carried away by one win. We have to keep working hard and put in performances of this standard for the rest of the season.”
Saints have been guilty of starting games slowly this season but they roared out of the traps on this occasion with two smart saves from Royston keeper Joe Welch denying them an early opener.
He kept out a low shot from Dylan Williams before smothering at the feet of James Hall as he prepared to pull the trigger following a slick exchange of passes with Jordan Norville-Williams.
Royston also had their moments with Saints relying on a goal-line clearance from defender Ryan Hughes to keep out a Vance Bola effort before Tom Newman squandered another good opportunity for the visitors.
An injury to Newman forced him out of the action in the first half but his replacement, Sam Corcoran, almost made an immediate impact when firing against the bar while at the other end Devante Stanley was denied by a crucial challenge from visiting skipper Dan Braithwaite.
Corcoran struck the woodwork again early in the second half before Royston did succeed in finding the net only for Adam Murray’s header to be ruled out for offside.
But it was Saints who eventually managed a breakthrough with eight minutes to go as Parr powered in a cross from Johnny Herd.
And Clements’ side – which featured midfield debutant Scott Pollock following his arrival on loan from Northampton Town on Friday - had no trouble in holding onto their advantage until the final whistle which was greeted with a mixture of delight and relief.
Saints remain in the Premier Division Central relegation zone due to an inferior goal difference, but they can climb out of the bottom three with another positive result on Tuesday night when hosting Leiston, 7.45pm.