NON-LEAGUE: New signing strikes in spectacular style as St Neots Town boss is happy with first outing

St Neots Town manager Marc Abbott (left). Picture: MARK RIDER

St Neots Town manager Marc Abbott (left). Picture: MARK RIDER - Credit: Archant

St Neots Town boss Marc Abbott was a happy man following their first summer friendly.

His new-look side recorded a 2-0 victory against neighbours Eynesbury Rovers in their opening Hunts Premier Cup outing.

Summer signings Aaron Smith, James Goode, Alfie Connor, Tim Nkala and Lee Watkins all featured in the starting line-up for Saints while Jake Noble appeared as a substitute.

It proved to be an afternoon of firsts for latest recruit Nkala as his debut appearance came complete with a spectacular goal that sealed victory after substitute Joe Sutton broke the deadlock. Those goals arrived in the space of nine minutes during the second half.

Nkala also achieved the slightly less memorable feat of becoming the first Saints player to experience 10 minutes in the sin-bin when falling foul of the new disciplinary system in place this season for a show of dissent during the first half!

Another new recruit, Smith, was denied an early goal by the woodwork, while Goode pulled off a goal-line clearance to deny Jordan Brown later in the first half.

Saints were also reliant on a number of smart stops from goalkeeper James Philp in the second period to preserve their clean sheet.

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Abbott said: "It was a competitive game. I was impressed with Eynesbury and also very pleased with what we produced in our first game.

"It's early days and there was a bit of a buzz around the place which is very encouraging.

"It's important to get minutes into the players and to have the chance to look at a few things we've worked on."

Abbott declined to disclose the identity of a trialist right-back who played against Eynesbury, but did reveal that intended signing Jack Chandler won't now join Saints.

Chandler was snapped up from Godmanchester Rovers back in May, but Abbott says a change in the player's circumstances led to the move falling through.

The departures of captain Matt Miles (Biggleswade Town), attacking ace Dan Trendall (Bowers & Pitsea) and full-back Joe Hood (Bury Town) have also been confirmed.

Saints now host Biggleswade United tonight (Tuesday, 7.45pm) and then go to Yaxley tomorrow (Thursday, 7.45pm) in their remaining Hunts Premier Cup group games.

Saints then welcome League Two side Cambridge United on Saturday (3pm) before entertaining Step 3 newcomers Peterborough Sports on Tuesday (7.45pm).

The fixtures for the Division One Central campaign were released late last week. Saints begin on August 17 with a trip to another relegated side, Bedworth United, before hosting Yaxley on August 20.

Other significant fixtures include a short trip to Bedford Town on Boxing Day, a home date against Kempston Rovers on New Year's Day. Saints then host Bedford Town on Easter Monday, April 13.

* St Neots Town Reserves have been handed a Cambridgeshire County League top-flight lifeline.

The Saints second string were relegated from the Kershaw Premier Division last season when finishing bottom and earning only 10 points from 30 games.

But, they have now been handed a reprieve by league chiefs after the withdrawal of two clubs - Bar Hill and Brampton - in recent days.