Shot-shy St Neots Town well and truly tamed by Thame

St Neots Town struggled in front of goal away to Thame United.

St Neots Town struggled in front of goal away to Thame United. - Credit: NEIL METCALFE

The journey home for St Neots Town was lit up by firework displays in the darkening sky - stark contrast to their performance at Thame United which had been akin to a damp squib.

The visitors dominated play, especially in the first 45 minutes, yet never produced a single threatening shot at the home goal until the 89th minute when Neo Richard-Noel failed to seriously test the home goalkeeper.

It all meant two Dave Pearce goals handed Thame a 2-0 win and St Neots a second successive defeat.

With Brendan Shabani and skipper Lee Watkins back in midfield, replacing Mark Abbott and Jake Battersby, and leading scorer Joe Rider in for Elliott Sartorius, St Neots were almost back to full strength, but they just failed to deliver against a host side that had only stubborn defence in their armoury in the first hour of the match.

St Neots boasted lots of early possession but despite playing some attractive approach football, the important end product was sadly missing from a side that boasted an average of almost two and a half goals per league match prior to this visit to Oxfordshire.

With a visit from second placed Berkhamsted on the agenda on Saturday, manager Pete Gill will be looking for a return to form, especially for his front players.

Winning the toss St Neots elected to play with wind advantage but seemingly had no idea how to use it to their credit.

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Too many forward balls went harmlessly through to the home keeper, but to their credit St Neots persisted with their patient approach with rare forward sorties by the home side only coming when careless passing surrendered the ball.

When St Neots did threaten the home side were not afraid to concede free-kicks to halt their visitors progress and early in the match Jack Tompkins became the first of four home players to be booked.

Kwai Marsh Brown was St Neots’ most dangerous player and he shot just wide and had a second effort deflected for a corner as the first half wore on.

St Neots were fortunate when Mamadou Jobe carelessly gave the ball away four minutes before the break, but Charlie Johnson came to his rescue with a well times tackle to dispossess Jack Tutton.

Just on the stroke of half time Rider limped off with a hamstring problem, Sartorius substituting.

In the first notable action of the second half Thame took the lead against the run of play when direct from a corner Pearce curled the ball beyond the reach of George Whitehall and into the far corner of the net to put his side ahead.

Richard-Noel then headed over the bar and at the other end, Whitehall made some amends for his earlier error when he twisted to turn a Ryan Blake shot over for a corner.

However, Thame had grown in confidence and 12 minutes from time Pearce was perfectly placed to turn a Blake cross beyond the reach of the visiting goalkeeper for the home sides’ second goal.

With their confidence low St Neots never looked like getting back into the match in the time remaining and, helped by some blatant time wasting that earned their goalkeeper a booking, Thame held out with few problems to take all three points and move up to 13th in the table.