NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Two red cards, three penalties and three points for St Neots as Herd proves to be spot-on in stoppage time
- Credit: Archant
St Neots Town claimed Southern League Premier Division success following stoppage-time drama in a match featuring three penalties and two red cards yesterday.
Matt Clements’ side triumphed 2-1 against Basingstoke, who were reduced to nine men by a pair of second-half dismissals, at the Premier Plus Stadium after Johnny Herd tucked away a last-gasp spot-kick.
Saints had earlier fallen behind to a penalty from the visitors in the 24th minute – awarded when Jack Bradshaw was judged to have handled a shot he was attempting to block - but they quickly restored parity courtesy of player-coach David Bridges’ first goal for the club.
Departing striker Tom Meechan, who was making his final appearance for the club following a two-month loan spell, then saw strong appeals for a penalty ignored later in the first half.
The sides remained deadlocked in the second period, but Basingstoke substitute Ben Wright dismissed only five minutes after he was introduced for kicking Saints captain Luke Knight in an unsavoury incident.
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Saints looked set to take advantage when referee Tom Danahar pointed to the spot moments later after Meechan was again felled in the area, only for the frontman to see a weak penalty saved.
Basingstoke then had George Bennett dismissed for collecting a second caution in the 88th minute and that wasn’t the last incident of note.
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Meechan earned another penalty after bursting into the box in the fifth additional minute and Herd coolly converted from the spot to stretch Saints’ unbeaten league run to seven matches.
“We never really got out of third gear,” admitted boss Clements. “But we were down to the bare bones with five players out.
“We kept going and took the opportunity given to us by Basingstoke’s ill discipline. We’ve played better this season and not won, but to come out of the game with three points goes down as a great result.”
Saints climbed to 10th in the Premier Division standings – their highest league position for 15 months – as steady progress under the leadership of Clements continues.
He handed a debut to former Arsenal and Newcastle United youngster Stefan Broccoli as a second-half substitute. Broccoli may not be with the club for long as he has a trial at an Italian third division club this week.
St Neots’ scheduled trip to Royston Town on Tuesday will not take place due to their opponents being involved in an FA Trophy replay.