One point from six for Saints over Easter
IT wasn’t exactly a happy Easter for St Neots Town, who could have won the Southern League Division One Central title last weekend had results gone their way, but instead had to settle for a single point from their matches against bottom club Marlow on Saturday, and play-off fighters Biggleswade Town on Easter Monday.
At Marlow, the Saints were again off-colour against a side propping up the division (see: away games at North Greenford United and Bedfont earlier in the season) and managed only one decent shot on target in the goalless draw. Elsewhere, on the same day, the Saints’ promotion rivals Slough Town closed the gap on them at the top of the division by winning 2-1 at Bedfont.
Then, on Monday, at The Hunts Post Community Stadium, after unveilling the club’s new badge with a pre-game presentation, the Saints again failed to do the business on the field when they lost 2-1 to a Biggleswade side who were 2-0 up inside the first 11 minutes.
Even though the visitors went down to 10 men midway through the first half, St Neots were only able to get one goal back - a scrambled effort from top goalscorer Stefan Moore - despite a late flurry of chances that might have saved them a point. At Beaconsfield, Slough’s landlords held their tenants to a 1-1 draw.
With three games remaining, St Neots are still top, but only because of their monstrous goal difference. It’s going to be an interesting next three Saturdays.
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There were chances for Biggleswade’s Alex O’Brien and St Neots’ Moore before Jon Woolf waltzed through the Saints’ defence to force a corner on Monday. When that corner came in, goalkeeper Michael Duggan - who had been man of the match at Marlow - accidently punched the ball against his own crossbar, and Brett Donnelly poked it home as it came back out. Craig Daniel hit the back of Duggan’s net with a unstoppable wind-assisted 25-yard strike just seven minutes later.
Biggleswade went down to 10 men in the 23rd minute - Alaa Oujdi had already brought down Junior Konadu in the 14th minute for his first yellow card, and he sliced through the back of Pearson Mwanyongo for his second and the red.
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Moore made it 2-1 in the 40th minute when he forced the ball home after an original Mwanyongo shot had set up a goalmouth scramble in the visitors’ area. The referee then denied St Neots a possible penalty when Moore was pushed off the ball as he closed in on the goalkeeper, and Duggan dramatically tipped another Daniel shot over the top in the 45th minute.
Lewis Hilliard replaced Callum Stewart after the break, in a straight swap at right back. But very little happened for almost half an hour of the second half, until Chris Hope was injured by Donnelly and replaced by Jordan Gent a minute after Ben Mackey had smashed a great chance over the bar.
Moore and substitute Rashid Kamara both had chances after that, Kamara’s effort was saved by Anthony Ender, before the Biggleswade goalkeeper tipped over a point-blank Gent header. The young defender should have done better.
Three minutes later Ender touched a Dan Jacob shot over the top before a late Konadu strike flew agonisingly past the right hand post. Jacob was also inches away from diverting a Hilliard cross past Ender at the death.