St Neots strengthen grip on play-off place

Lewis Hilliard celebrates scoring for St Neots Town in their 1-0 win over Bideford on March 28.

Lewis Hilliard celebrates scoring for St Neots Town in their 1-0 win over Bideford on March 28. - Credit: Archant

Proud boss David Batch hailed the professionalism of his St Neots players after they took another giant stride towards a Southern League Premier Division play-off spot.

A solitary second-half strike from Lewis Hilliard earned victory over 10-man battlers Bideford at the Cozy Stadium on Saturday.

On a day when the Saints were one of only two teams in the top eight to pocket maximum points, it strengthened their grip on fifth spot.

Now Batch has challenged his players to grind out two more important results over the Easter weekend with a Saturday trip to Slough Town ahead of a Monday visit from Dunstable Town.

Batch said: “We were extremely professional in the way we went about things and it was a very valuable victory on a day when the teams around us didn’t win.

“We need to keep doing the things we have been doing and continue to pick up results.

“Other teams are going to drop points as was proven on Saturday and we have to make sure we take advantage when that happens.

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“There are still little things we can get better at, but we have to be happy with how we are going.

“If we do all the right things we stay in games and if we play well we can win them comfortably.”

Bideford, who had claimed the scalp of Premier Division leaders Poole in their previous game, were reduced to 10 men just after the half-hour when Nick Milton was dismissed for a challenge on Saints man Brett Longden.

Saints had to wait another 30 minutes to make the vital breakthrough as Longden picked out Hilliard who beat a defender before firing in a low shot.

Drew Roberts was unable to take a couple of late opportunities to extend the advantage, but one goal was enough on a day when the teams above them and three teams below them in the standings all stumbled to draws.

Saints will be without suspended central defender Tom Ward for both Easter fixtures as he serves a two-match ban.