Neots leave it late to progress in FA Cup

A LAST-GASP winner from Liam Harrold sealed a dramatic win for Neots at Brantham Athletic.

FA Cup Preliminary Round

Brantham Athletic 1-2 St Neots Town

A LAST-GASP winner from Liam Harrold sealed a dramatic win for Neots at Brantham Athletic.

An unimpressive Saints outfit were well below their best and contributed to their own downfall when full back Matt Hanniver gifted Brantham an the lead 66 minutes, leaving a backpass woefully short for Brantham Alex Drouet to steal in to score.

It took a raft of substitutions from Neots boss Dennis Greene to turn the game, as Dan French shot home the equaliser, before Hanniver made amends with a cross for Harrold to meet with a looping header.

The win sent Neots through into the first qualifying round of the FA Cup, to face Leiston on September 11.

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The Saints started with Dan Chillingworth in the lone striker role, and there was early hope as Des Byrne and Dan Jacob began to link to good effect down the left.

The best chance of the opening exchanges came on 23 minutes when Jacob was teed up from a free-kick, but he saw his volley rebound off the crossbar.

Brantham had few chances, but Luke McShane had to save sharply from Lee Grimwood’s effort and Will Fordham cleared up.

Most of the positive Neots play was going through Jacob, and he released Hughes for a shot from a tight angle which was blocked for a corner. Jacob himself twice went close before half time, drawing a save from goalkeeper Ryan Bedingfield then curling just wide from distance.

Neots turned up the pressure after the break, as Hughes and Lewis Hilliard tested Bedingfield’s alertness, but the urgency of the Saints’ search for a goal was increased when Hanniver handed Brantham the opener.

An underhit backpass allowed Drouet to latch on and slide wide of the advancing McShane.

Greene immediately changed tactics, moving Jacob up as second striker to play off Lee Bassett, who came on for the isolated Chillingworth.

The changes paid dividends rapidly as French, a substitute for Lewis Webb, drove a low shot wide of Bedingfield for the equaliser.

A third change saw Harrold enter the fray for Lewis Hilliard, and with 89 minutes on the clock, his header from Hanniver’s cross sealed a fortuitous win for the Saints.