NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Easter safety target as St Neots Town bit to avoid a survival shoot-out on the final day of the Southern League season
- Credit: Archant
St Neots go into two Easter fixtures in the space of three days with one aim – securing safety.
Manager Matt Clements has challenged his players to put their Southern League Premier Division safety beyond doubt in the coming days.
Saints today (Saturday) visit table-toppers Chippenham, who were crowned champions yesterday without kicking a ball, before entertaining mid-table Dunstable at the Premier Plus Stadium on Monday.
Clements’ side are now just two points above the drop-zone after slipping to a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Merthyr last weekend and then seeing Cambridge City triumph at bottom side Cinderford in midweek.
And Clements is keen to avoid a potentially huge derby clash at City on the final day of the season.
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“I’ve said all along that the relegation battle might go right down to the wire,” said Clements. “That still looks like being the case.
“It looked quite rosy when we were eight points above the bottom four a few weeks ago.
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“While that gap has been halved, we’re still masters of our own destiny. The five teams below us would certainly all swap places with us right now.
“In an ideal world, we would like to have things done and dusted before we play Cambridge City.
“We expected to be facing a Chippenham team who might need one more win to clinch the title. “As it turns out they were crowned champions yesterday (Friday) when Leamington lost.
“But that doesn’t change anything as far as we are concerned. They will be keen to celebrate in style by winning in front of their own fans.
“Anything we can pick up there is a bonus ahead of the Dunstable game on Monday. That’s a fixture we really need to use to our advantage.
“The table never lies and if we’re in the bottom four at 5pm on April 22, we’ll deserve to go down.
“But I don’t think we are one of the four worst teams in the division and it’s up to us to prove that on the pitch.”
Saints led for much of the Merthyr match thanks to goals from Declan Rogers, who netted on his 27th birthday, and player-coach Lee Clarke.
But they succumbed to two late strikes by the Welsh visitors to leave Clements frustrated.
“A victory last Saturday would have allowed us to breathe much easier,” he added. “But you don’t always get what you deserve in football and this game was a prime example of that.
“I’m confident we’ll stay up if we can repeat that level of performance, though.”
Striker James Tricks completes a three-match ban on Saturday, but is available again for the Dunstable game.
Midfielder Shane Hill has shaken off a bug which kept him out of the Merthyr clash.