NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: First-ever league clash provides second successive super home showing from St Neots Town

Ryan Horne equalises for St Neots Town against Royston. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES

Ryan Horne equalises for St Neots Town against Royston. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES - Credit: Archant

Manager Matt Clements saluted his St Neots Town players – for following up a brilliant performance with an even better one!

Tom Meechan sets off in celebration after putting St Neots Town ahead against Royston. Picture: CLAI

Tom Meechan sets off in celebration after putting St Neots Town ahead against Royston. Picture: CLAIRE HOWES - Credit: Archant

The Saints supremo was thrilled by a 3-1 success against Slough last Saturday in the Southern League Premier Division.

And he was reaching for his book of superlatives again last night when it was followed by a triumph against Royston by the same scoreline in a feisty first-ever league meeting between the two clubs.

“The performance against Royston was even better than Saturday for me,” said Clements.

“It’s one thing to have a great result, but to follow it up with another one is really pleasing – especially as we found ourselves on the ropes early on and went behind again.

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“But we grew into the game and I loved how quick and bright we were when going forward. It was like the watching the Red Arrows at times when we sprung and counter-attacked!

“Even though we have produced two displays of that standard back-to-back, we still have a lot of work to do.

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“We need to maintain this consistency and not let any complacency creep in.”

Saints have now reeled off three home wins in a row after also overcoming Dorchester at the Premier Plus Stadium earlier in September. It’s a welcome run of results which have launched them into mid-table.

They were certainly aided by the poor discipline of Royston last night. The visitors were reduced to 10 men early in the second half when skipper Scott Bridges was dismissed for a stamping offence – and could count themselves lucky not to have more men red-carded.

Just as against Slough at the weekend, Saints found themselves behind early on as Josh Oyinsan finished off a quick Royston break.

But they once again managed a quick reply as Ryan Horne struck the first goal of his second spell as a St Neots player on the 15-minute mark.

Only the woodwork denied them a quickfire turnaround as a Dion Sembie-Ferris shot hit the underside of the bar barely a minute later and they were left to curse the frame of the goal again when Johnny Herd struck a post.

But the woodwork at the opposite end of the pitch also came to their rescue as Adam Marriott, who had a run-out for Saints in the summer, threatened to put Royston back ahead.

Their hopes of doing that were hit four minutes into the second period when Bridges received his marching orders and Saints made the most of their numerical advantage.

Strike ace Tom Meechan bagged the third goal of his loan return after weaving his way through the Royston defence and finishing smartly.

A terrific Joe Welch save denied him another goal before Royston were fortunate not to be reduced to nine men when Oyinsan left Taylor Parr bloodied and unable to continue due to an elbow. He escaped with a caution and was hastily substituted.

But they didn’t avoid further punishment from Saints, who sealed victory courtesy of a deflected Jack Bradshaw free-kick with 13 minutes to go.

Saints go to Tiverton this Saturday ahead of a shorter trip to AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the League Challenge Cup first round on Tuesday.

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