Saints and Slough pulling clear at the top

IT’S beginning to look like a two-horse race at the top of the Southern League Division One Central table.

Having taken all three points from one of their games in hand at Uxbridge on the Tuesday night, St Neots Town went to Beaconsfield on Saturday and beat the fourth-placed side 2-0, with Ben Mackey scoring the Saints first goal in just 33 seconds, and tricky winger Pearson Mwanyongo sealing the result 88 minutes later.

Elsewhere, third-placed Bedworth lost 2-0 away to Chalfont St Peter while, more significantly, leaders Slough Town lost 2-0 at Aylesbury, the Saints’ next opponents.

Neots are now just three points behind Slough with two games in hand and with the gap to third eight points.

Once again, at Beaconsfield, Dan Jacob was asked to fill in at the back with Rene Steer failing a pre-match fitness test. Jacob had played at left back in the 3-0 home win over Woodford United the previous Saturday, but then scored both of the goals at Uxbridge from his usual position on the wing as the Saints overturned an early 1-0 deficit to win 2-1.

“Dan’s done fantastically well at left back,” said manager Dennis Greene. “I never thought of him as a left back. When I first came to the club, when Steve Lomas was here, I saw him play one game at left back against Cogenhoe and he was that bad there I didn’t think about him as a left back again.

“However, when we needed him to fill in, I spoke to him about it and he told me that he hadn’t played for six weeks before that particular game – and he wasn’t fully fit.

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“But to play two games at left back and then score twice in between goes to prove he is adaptable and will work hard for the team.”

The quick opener against Beaconsfield came as a result of a scuffed clearance. Having passed the ball back to his goalkeeper Michael Simpson, all Beaconsfield defender Mark Burgess could do was watch as the ball fell to Mackey for the striker to swipe home.

Junior Konadu sent a free kick over the top of Simpson’s bar later in the first half and Jacob had a shot blocked on the line after an excellent run and pass from Rashid Kamara. Lewis Hilliard even struck a post before the half was over.

Three minutes after the restart St Neots were unlucky not to double their lead. Jacob, who was brilliant, set up striker Stefan Moore who hit the bar with a volley from just six yards out.

For the home side, Fiston Manuella and Victor Osobu both went close; the latter forcing the Saints goalkeeper Michael Duggan into making an outstanding save.

Set up by Jacob again – and then Kamara – Moore, having an off day, squandered two more chances before Hilliard and midfielder Adrian Sear both had shots saved by Simpson. With 10 minutes left Mwanyongo replaced Moore and immediately set up Konadu for another shot which was pawed away by the goalkeeper.

Two minutes into stoppage time Konadu brilliantly took out three defenders with an audacious drag back on the edge of the area to set up Mwanyongo.

The former Thurnby Nirvana player sidestepped his marker and confidently stroked the ball past the unsighted Simpson.