Lacklustre St Neots fail to find pre-season form in opening day defeat to FC Romania

St Neots Town opened the 2021-2022 Southern League season with a loss at home to FC Romania

St Neots Town opened the 2021-2022 Southern League season with a loss at home to FC Romania. - Credit: NEIL METCALFE

The old adage that you can't judge a competitive game on pre-season results was proven conclusively as a limp St Neots Town were deservedly beaten on day one of the new Southern League season.

The 2-1 loss at home to FC Romania was a disappointing performance and even a late strike from Arel Amu was precious little consolation.

There was no threat in attack from a side that had found the back of the net 23 times in eight friendly matches and lost just one, and their midfield quartet created very little despite enjoying a much greater share of possession.

The performance was made doubly disappointing as it came in front of a big crowd.

The game was Peter Gill's first as new manager and while Cambridge United provide the link between him and previous boss Barry Corr, only skipper Lee Watkins survived from Town's last starting line-up in the league some 10 months earlier.

It could have been different if Romania's Eusebio Da Silva had seen red instead of a yellow for a scything tackle on Miles Cowling on four minutes.

Joe Rider had Saints' first attempt but fired over and then had an effort on 22 minutes saved by the keeper.

Most Read

But Da Silva was proving dangerous for the visitors and after he had two chances that he put wide, Romania took the lead in the minute before half-time, Anthony Edgar producing a skilful lob beyond the reach of Luke Chadwick.

Early second-half substitutions by both sides did nothing to alter the pattern of play with St Neots still enjoying better possession but creating little and the visitors always looking lively on the break.

Harvey Steel did have a couple of chances, the first of which was straight at the keeper, and Florian Tsaguim, one of the home replacements, was looking the most likely from the hosts to affect a breakthrough as he switched from flank to flank but he lacked support and sent his best shooting chance well wide.

And as St Neots pushed more and more for an equaliser, they left gaps at the back, one of which was exploited by new signing Jonny Edwards who netted from close range.

Arel Amu's goal came at the start of four added minutes but it was too little, too late.