Saints chairman Kearns proud of his ‘boys’ after defeat

MORE than 1,000 fans witnessed St Neots lose their biggest game of the season on Saturday - but Saints chairman Mike Kearns still believes the club will win the Division One Central title and be promoted to the Southern League Premier Division.

MORE than 1,000 fans witnessed St Neots lose their biggest game of the season on Saturday - but Saints chairman Mike Kearns still believes the club will win the Division One Central title and be promoted to the Southern League Premier Division.

The turn-out of 1,060 fans for the top-of-the-table clash between St Neots and Slough Town at The Hunts Post Community Stadium more than doubled the club’s previous record attendance at this level. In fact, there were 555 more paying punters than the 505 which were at the ground to watch the Saints beat Woodford Town 3-0 in January.

But there was no win this time. A first-half goal from one of the league’s more prolific strikers, Sean Sonner, was enough for Slough Town to leapfrog the Saints and go top of the table.

“Well done boys. I am proud of the football we play. You’re a class act and will win this league,” Tweeted the owner and chairman Kearns on Sunday morning, before elaborating on the club’s official website.

In his ‘message to the fans’, Kearns said: “We knew how Slough would play and we deserved more than what we got, but that’s football and we can’t win them all.

“With all due respect to Slough and many others, kick-and-run type football is not what any of us want to see.

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“We will win the majority of our games by playing the way we do. Yes, even in the Premier Division and beyond.

“Our whole squad are first class and real footballers, the quality of football they serve up is probably the best in non-league and we should all thank Dennis for making that happen.

“It is far easier to find players with less ability and just play the lump it forward game, it would be a lot cheaper for the club as well.

“However we will never do that. Our aim is to achieve all that we want by playing the way we have set out for this club, and if that means losing a couple of games, if that means the play-offs, if that means we try again next season in this division, then so be it.”

That message upset a few of the Slough fans monitoring the site through Facebook and Twitter - and later Kearns Tweeted a further message, saying: “Looks like I’m in the dog house with Slough Town fans. The message was not meant to offend, it was just a rallying call to Saints supporters.”

Slough certainly stopped St Neots playing their usual brand of passing football - and then took one of the two on-target chances they created for themselves.

St Neots struggled with the physical stuff that the Slough side dished out - and completely failed in front of goal despite forging more than a few opportunities to beat the excellent James Warrington in goal.

It all started rather well. St Neots took their time, building patiently, while Slough rode their luck a little. Junior Konadu had a 14th-minute shot tipped over by Warrington, Nathan Bowden-Haase headed the Rebels’ first chance wide, and Warrington made another excellent save on 18 minutes when Stefan Moore tried to flick the ball over the top of the oncoming goalkeeper when through on goal.

There were moments of sloppiness from the Saints but Slough also seemed to be in no mood to take advantage. That was unit the 36th minute when first a Danny Burnell header hit the underside of the crossbar and was deflected away by Lewis Hilliard - and then when Sean Sonner was able to shake off his marker and find the net with a simple header from the corner.

By the end of the first half, St Neots were looking lethargic and only a late cross from Hilliard, which Dan Jacob volleyed over, worried the visitors.

Saints upped their game in the second half and Konadu forced another save out of Warrington, but the ball was in the air a lot and the sun was getting in the players’ eyes.

Saints manager Dennis Greene made two changes to freshen things up in the latter stages, subbing Ben Mackey - who for once had been largely ineffective - and Hilliard, for Shane Tolley and Rashid Kamara. Immediately, the two new players made a difference.

Tolley was bundled over in the box on 69 minutes but the referee deemed it a Slough free kick and booked the St Neots striker for diving. When Tolley did successfully turn the ball into the visitors’ net, the goal was disallowed for offside.

Saints goalkeeper Michael Duggan stopped a Jerome Anderson shot with seven minutes left, and Jacob sent a half-volley high and wide on 88 minutes.

There were two final chances but the ball got stuck under Tolley’s right foot as he shaped up to shoot, and Lewis Webb’s tame strike was held by Warrington.

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