Southern League Premier Division
ST NEOTS TOWN 2 DUNSTABLE TOWN 0
St Neots secured their place at Step Three in the National League system next season with this workmanlike victory over visitors Dunstable Town. A goal in each half was enough against a side that offered little in terms of attacking play and had the woodwork not saved the visitors twice, the victory would have been even more convincing. Dunstable had little to play for with their berth at this level assured but St Neots knew that three points would be sufficient regardless of results elsewhere. They now go into their final league match at St Ives with lodgers Cambridge City who must win to stay up and that would be dependent on the results of Kings Langley (away at relegated Cirencester) and Dorchester (away at Stratford). St Neots had paved the way for their survival with that unexpected but deserved victory over League champions Chippenham forty-eight hours earlier so this result just rounded off a significant finish to the season with this being only their third clean sheet in the league this season. Manager Matt Clements was able to name an unchanged starting line up with James Tricks returning from suspension on the substitutes bench.
The visitors began well as St Neots struggled to find an early rhythm. In the first twenty minutes, all St Neots had to offer was a Jevani Brown volley that sailed harmlessly over the crossbar but Dunstable might have scored through Claudio Diaz who sent a free kick in a dangerous position wide of target and then Bradley Hewitt won a corner in the air but put his effort over the crossbar. Gradually St Neots seemed to shed their nerves with Brown leading the way picking up a Declan Rogers cross to shoot just over. Then Rogers hit a 30 yards’ free kick past the keeper only to see the ball rebound from a post and Brown followed up to force a full length save by Jack Smith. Now St Neots were well in control and skipper Micky Hyem saw a volley blocked and Lewis Wilson saw a volley rebound from the woodwork. The important breakthrough came on 34 minutes when a teasing Rogers free kick was won in the air by Lee Clarke who powered home a header for only his second goal of the season. Dunstable replied with a rather untidy attack that saw Tom Wood clear off the line but St Neots fully deserved their slender half time advantage.
As in the first half Dunstable made a determined start after the break. Alex Archer who had been largely untested in the first 45 minutes did well two minutes after half time to paw away a cross from Diaz with players lined up at the far post and then from a Harry Bean cross, Josh Oynisan won the ball in the air but headed over. St Neots then began to regain their control with Tom Knowles on for the limping Rogers after 59 minutes and he was straight into the action picking out Lewis Wilson whose cross was put over the bar by Fernando Bell-Toxtle. Archer did have to save at full stretch from substitute Adam Moussi and the hard-working Bell-Toxtle had another opening which he directed into the side netting. St Neots then saw out the final ten minutes in relative comfort with Brown being brought down in the area by the goalkeeper with six minutes left. The goalkeeper deservedly picked up a caution at Brown tucked away the penalty – his nineteenth goal in twenty matches – to clinch the points and St Neots survival.
St Neots: Archer, Norman, Butler, Clarke, Wood, Parr, Rogers, Bell-Toxtle, Wilson, Hyem, Brown
Subs: Knowles (for Rogers 59 mins), Tricks (for Wilson 65 mins), Partridge (for Bell-Toxtle 86 minutes), Williams and Dean.
Cards: Hyem (Y – 22)
Goals: Clarke (34 mins), Brown – pen (84 mins)
Dunstable: Smith, Reynolds, Bean, Longe-King, Hewitt, Pepera, Verney, Diaz, Oyinsan, Green (J), Olukanmi
Subs: Moussa (for Verney 63 mins), Odofin (for Diaz 65 mins), Esso (for Olukanmi (81 mins), Green (D) and Fontonelle.
Cards: Smith (Y – 84), Oyinsan (Y – 88), Reynolds (Y – 45+3)
Referee: Tom Donnelan (Leighton Buzzard)