MacKenzie fires winner for Saints

St Neots Town beat Chelmsford City 2-1 in a pre-season friendly at The Hunts Post Community Stadium

St Neots Town 2 Chelmsford City 1

NEIL MacKenzie belted the winner against Chelmsford on Saturday - and then celebrated by signing a contract that ties him to the Saints until at least the end of the season.

The 35-year-old midfielder struck on 49 minutes after City’s Kezie Ibe had cancelled out Stefan Moore’s earlier opener before the break.

Manager Dennis Greene said: “Chelmsford caused us problems from the wide positions during the first 20 minutes and we had to change a few things around to deal with them.

“But we sorted it out and after that I thought we did much better, particularly in the second half.

“On the hole, we looked a good side against strong opposition.”

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St Neots badly missed their unavailable skipper Lewis Webb as the visitors, play-off semi-finalists in the Conference South for the past three seasons, dominated early on.

Chelmsford were desperately unlucky not to take the lead 11 minutes into the contest, when Max Cornhill’s glancing header from a corner struck the crossbar.

But it was the hosts who broke the deadlock - albeit against the run of play - on 21 minutes when Peter Grant’s ball in from the left bounced nicely for Moore, who dispatched it beyond goalkeeper Stuart Searle.

However City deservedly drew level five minutes prior to the interval, when Ibe bundled the ball home from close range after Sam Corcoran’s low free-kick from the left had caused havoc in Saints’ six-yard box.

The winner arrived four minutes after the re-start following good work down the left by Dan Jacob and his ball across fell at the feet of MacKenzie, who smashed home a low left-footed shot from the edge of the box.

It wasn’t such a good afternoon for Saints playmaker Junior Konadu who, back from his trial at Peterborough United, put in a relatively poor performance.

Konadu, 24, who trained with Posh last week, was a second half substitute for Darren Ferguson’s side in their 4-2 friendly win at Crawley last Tuesday - but wasn’t involved in their friendly at Gillingham on Saturday.

He was off the boil against Chelmsford, but manager Greene leapt to the midfielder’s defence, saying: “Yes he looked tired but given the circumstances, that was understandable.

“He’d had a really strenuous week and, had Lewis Webb been available, Junior probably would have been rested.

“He did two double training sessions at Peterborough last week, so he’d done four sessions more than our lads going into the weekend.”

On whether or not Peterborough will be following up their interest in Konadu, Greene said: “Darren Ferguson opted to take his strongest 16 to Gillingham for their final pre-season friendly - which is why Junior didn’t go.

“But they’re continuing to monitor him. They’re very keen on him, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Greene also confirmed on-loan Posh defender Grant “should be fine” after limping off with a knee injury during the second half on Saturday.

Saints: Duggan, Harradine, Grant, Hope, Gent, MacKenzie, Hilliard, Konadu, Moore, Tolley, Jacob.

Subs used: Grieve, Fordham, Davies, A Greene.