Hilliard brace but Ryman Premier outfit outclass weary Saints in penultimate friendly

St Neots Town 2 Concord Rangers 5

A TIRED-LOOKING St Neots Town side were comprehensively defeated 5-2 at home by Concord Rangers in their penultimate pre-season game on Wednesday night.

Lewis Hilliard netted twice in consolation for the hosts, who were completely outplayed by their Ryman League Premier Division visitors - particularly during the opening 45 minutes.

But with the new league season fast approaching, this set alarm bells ringing that, after what was their third game in the space of five days, Saints' marathon 12-game fixture schedule had caught up with them.

But manager Dennis Greene, although admitting his side were second best on the night, refused to panic.

He said: "The players said afterwards that they felt tired, which is understandable.

"We looked a bit leggy, were very lacklustre and were beaten comfortably and full credit to Concord, who took their chances when they came.

"But there's certainly no need to panic.

"After the Coalville game, we have a free week leading up to the first league fixture, so that'll allow an opportunity to get some rest into the players and ensure we'll be fresh come the Beaconsfield game on August 13."

St Neots had no answer to Concord's sharp and inventive play in the first half and the visitors rocked their hosts by scoring twice inside the opening seven minutes through Steve King and Richard Halle, respectively.

And a third Concord goal nine minutes before the break, scored by Harry Elmes after Michael Duggan had failed to get any length on his attempted punch clear, effectively finished the contest.

Saints did at least rally after half time, with Hilliard pulling a goal back in the 50th minute after Shane Tolley's initial effort had been blocked on the goal line.

Hilliard then scored his and St Neots' second from Neil MacKenzie's cross a minute past the hour mark to pull the score back to 3-2.

However there was to be no comeback as, after the inevitable procession of substitutions, Elmes and Meaka Okai scored two further goals in the final 10 minutes to compound the home side's woe.