Successful times for St Neots Town following promotion to step four
- Credit: Archant
St Neots Town’s second season at their new Rowley Park stadium in 2009-10 proved their most successful since reformation by some way.
It was a case of so nearly in the UCL Premier Division, as Saints led the table early in the season with manager Steve Lomas having a real impact on performances and results.
They eventually finished runners-up to Daventry Town, despite completing the double over the champions, but the club lifted four trophies – three county cups and the Reserve Championship title.
Saints won 29 games, drew eight and lost just three in the league, scoring 83 goals and conceding 26 and scored four more goals away from home.
A total of 13 clean sheets was credit to goalkeeper Luke McShane, who missed only one of their 48 league and cup matches, away at Blackstones, as captain Glen Fuff proved ever-present.
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Another notable milestone was the crowd at the derby with St Ives Town on March 13, delayed by ice and snow on Boxing Day and witnessed by 536 paying spectators. The match ended goalless, with Saints hitting the woodwork there times, including in the 94th minute through Dan Jacob.
Of eight cup ties, four were won and four lost, with 17 goals scored and 12 conceded, with a 4-1 win at Woodbridge in the FA Cup followed by a 3-0 loss at Mildenhall.
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Liam Harrold topped the scoring charts with 26 goals, as Jacobs (13), Josh Sozzo (9), Tony Scully (6), Rob Hughes (6), Jon Mitchell (6) and Dan French (5) gave support.
The reserves were crowned champions and picked up the Hunts Scott Gatty and Benevolent Cup silverware in a memorable treble.
But Lomas, after less than 12 months in charge, was replaced by the charismatic Dennis Greene for the last 16 matches of the season and was to become the longest serving boss in a decade.
This proved almost certainly the most successful season in the history of the club as after 131 years they achieved step four status for the first time ever.
The most striking factor apart from promotion and winning the UCL Premier Division title for the first time, was the phenomenal goalscoring achievements.
In 15 seasons in the UCL since reformation Saints had averaged 71.33 league goals per season but in 2010/11, they scored 160 goals in 40 matches!
Shane Tolley claimed 54 in 44 starts and Stefan Moore added 40 goals in just 36 appearances, with the signing of the latter proving the most significant achievement of Mike Kearns during his relatively short spell as chairman.
Moore announced his arrival in a home FA Vase match with Felixstowe on October 2, scoring after just seven minutes and 50 seconds in a St Neots shirt and finishing with four on the day.
Saints won 33 of 40 league games, drawing six and losing just once for a record 105-point haul, with only 33 goals conceded opposed to those 160 scored.
Yaxley were beaten 13-0 away and 6-0 at home, while Desborough were thumped 10-0 at home as the only defeat came at home to Kings Lynn. Saints redressed the balance in the return at The Walks, to inflict the only home defeat on Kings Lynn that season.
Lewis Webb and Lewis Hilliard played in 49 matches each, while Saints won 15 of 18 cup ties, losing three. and scored 68 goals against 16 conceded.
Felixstowe were thumped 11-0 in the FA Vase and Eynesbury 11-2 in the Senior Cup, before St Ives were beaten 2-0 in the final.
But Saints were removed from the League KO Cup for playing the ineligible Gavin Strachan.
Behind Tolley and Moore in the goal charts were Dan Jacobs (30), Luke Webb (20), Lewis Hilliard (16), Roy Essendoh (12) and Will Fordham (9), while the reserves finished fourth in Division One but were beaten 2-0 in the UCL Reserves KO Cup Final by Blackstones Reserves.
Saints surpassed themselves, in another memorable season, after achieving step four status as they made it back-to-back league titles and promotions for the first time ever in club history.
Those who had won promotion to the Southern League were given the chance to prove themselves at the higher level with seven players in the starting line-up of the first match having played 30-plus matches for the club.
The only new player in that first match to retain his place on a long-term basis was goalkeeper Michael Duggan, who played a key role in their outstanding defensive record along with Chris Hope, and matchday attendances were up around 25 per cent as the fan membership system took off.
Saints won five of their first six matches, two at home and there away, and although Slough were the main challengers for the title after a 1-0 away victory at St Neots in front of a crowd of 1060 in early March, their challenge fell away.
The Division One Central title was secured by six points after 29 wins, six draws and seven losses, with 115 goals scored and 36 conceded and big wins over Aylesbury (9-3), North Greenford (8-0) and Chertsey (7-0) along the way.
But Saints lost in the FA Cup to lower-graded Thurnby Nirvana, one of four defeats in 11 cup ties, before lifting the Hinchingbrooke Cup – in their last season permitted in the competition – with a 6-0 win over Stotfold.
Duggan appeared in 49 matches, ahead of Hope (47), Stefan Moore (46), Dan Jacob (45), Lewis Hilliard (41), Adrian Sear (39), Jordan Gent (38) and Rene Steer (35), while Moore top the scoring charts with 40 goals, ahead of Shane Tolley (22), Ben Mackey (21), Jacob (19), Hilliard (8), Lewis Webb (5), Pearson Mwanyongo (5) and Junior Konadu (4).
Manager Dennis Greene resigned before the start of the following season having overseen 101 matches, the longest spell since Chris Howell (1999-2003).
The reserves switched to the Peterborough League but were unable to attract players and withdrew after just nine league matches.