St Neots Town’s final pre-season run-out produced a competitive and entertaining contest with Premier Division visitors Hitchin Town.
It was settled by one goal, that from the penalty spot in the second-half and converted by former Saint Layne Eadie, but the performance from the Southern League Division One Central hosts will give them plenty of hope for the upcoming campaign.
St Neots were without injured goalkeeper Louis Chadwick and Adrian O’Hara, as well as the unavailable Sam Goode, but they did hand a first start to midfielder Myles Cowling.
A very healthy crowd of around 200 saw a lively first half contest with both teams prepared to commit to attack each time the opportunity presented itself.
The first came after just three minutes with Leon Lobjoit almost exploited defensive hesitation.
Charlie Horlock was the Hitchin hero there with a fine reflex save and he made another fine stop to deny the new striker later in the half.
Jhai Dillon had the best chances for the Canaries in the first half but saw one effort cleared off the line and a second blazed over the top.
The start of the second was also evenly contested but gradually with the assistance of a stream of substitutions, Hitchin began to take control.
St Neots’ early chance fell to Ingi Hassani who fired wide after great approach work by Jake Battersby but the pressure on the home defence was beginning to tell and on the hour home skipper Lee Watkins clumsily upended a visiting substitute and Eadie did the rest from 12 yards.
The home side sent on Sam Gomersall to replace the tiring Watkins and many of Hitchin’s best openings were repelled with Tariq Dallas and Tom Dickens combining well in defence.
The visitors’ best opening fell to the unmarked Laurie Marsh at a corner but he directed his header over the cross bar.
St Neots finished strongly as they went in search of a late equaliser and in the last three minutes they won three corners.
Following one of those Battersby went around the outside of his marker to find Lobjoit but his finish was just the wrong side of the post.