NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Festive cheer in short supply at St Neots Town following another home derby drubbing
- Credit: Archant
Try telling St Neots Town it is the season to be jolly . . .
Festive cheer is in particularly short supply at the Premier Plus Stadium with Saints heading into the new year in the Southern League Premier Division drop-zone.
They have gone 10 matches without a victory in all competitions and suffered back-to-back home derby drubbings in recent days while under the interim guidance of Lee Clarke and Dan Gleeson.
A 5-0 Boxing Day beating at the hands of Biggleswade Town followed up a 4-0 reverse at the hands of St Ives Town mean it has been a baptism of fire for the temporary bosses following the resignation of Andy Davies a week ago.
Declan Rogers couldn’t take a one-on-one chance to put Saints ahead during an improved first-half showing against Biggleswade, but they fell behind on the stroke of half-time to a strike from Inih Effiong.
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The same player doubled the visitors’ advantage just before the hour before former St Neots man Connor Hall then put the result beyond doubt midway through the second period.
Effiong completed his hat-trick with 10 minutes to go and a fifth goal from Craig Daniel in the final minute rubbed salt into Saints’ wounds.
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Clarke said: “We were very competitive in the first half and that chance for Declan was a big moment. It might have been a different game had we been able to get ahead, but we ended up finding ourselves behind at the break after switching off.
“The boys still had a bit of belief about them as they knew they had produced an opening 45 minutes which were much better than we have produced lately.
“But as soon as the second Biggleswade goal went in, you could see them physically and mentally deflate. Biggleswade then turned the screw in the final half-an-hour.
“It was a game won by being ruthless in both areas - Biggleswade were and we weren’t.”
Saints, who handed debuts to Leyton Orient loan recruits Sam Alderson and Rian McLean, have now failed to find the net in three successive matches while conceding 32 goals since last tasting victory in early November.
The fact they remain within one win of escaping the bottom four should probably be seen as a positive when those statistics are taken into account, but Clarke recognises that further changes in playing style and personnel are required.
“It is all too easy to point the finger at the goalkeeper and defence when conceding a lot of goals,” added Clarke. “But Alex (goalkeeper Archer) has been one of our best players of late.
“We clearly have an issue with the shape of the team and it is something we need to get right quickly.
“We’re missing some warriors who will grab games and each other by the scruff of the neck.
The changing room is lacking those kind of characters at the moment, and that’s also something we’re hoping to address.
“We need to take pride in not conceding goals and not being an easy touch.
“We’ve been on a bad run, but we’re still only one win from getting out of the bottom four and we have to use that as motivation.”
St Neots return to action on Monday (January 2) when they go to Dunstable Town.
Midfielder Rogan McGeorge, who is currently out with a knee problem, has become the latest player to leave the club.
St Neots’ conquerors in the FA Cup, Northern League Division One South side Stamford AFC, are keen on him.