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Dan's the man as a Trendall double helps the Saints to three valuable points at Hitchin

Saturday, 06 April 2019 19:39

SOUTHERN LEAGUE CENTRAL PREMIER DIVISION

 

Hitchin Town       0         St Neots Town       2 

 

With Lowestoft beaten at home by Coalville, St Neots last gasp hopes of escaping relegation began to look possible following their unlikely 2-0 victory at Hitchin.   Now with just five points between the two sides with four matches to go St Neots can keep dreaming – especially as Lowestoft go to Hitchin next Saturday and the home sides’ reaction to this defeat could be key.   St Neots’ record at Top Field is far from impressive with just one victory in their previous six visits prior to this trip and they had to recover from the double whammy of losing leading scorer Garry Wharton and Northampton Town recalled midfield dynamo Scott Pollock.   Into their places came Mason Rhiney and Prince Mutswunguma in a reshaped attack and there was a debut for goalkeeper Michael McCormack with regular custodian James Philip unavailable.   The new keeper whose previous club experience had been limited to just six Reserve appearances was very impressive as he recorded a clean sheet with a mix of inspired and brave saves whilst Dan Trendall the former Saffron Walden wide player was mandated to take over the strikers’ role and he responded with the two goals that earned the three invaluable points.   However, the victory was down to a determined and committed all round display by a side that shrugged off their inexperience to look capable of dealing with anything that their hosts could muster.   Needing a single point to ensure their place at Step Three next season there was no lack of desire by Hitchin, but they were contained by a goalkeeper and defence that thoroughly deserved their victory and the points.

Former Saint Isaac Galliford quickly made his mark with an inch perfect cross to find the head of the unmarked Jack Green in the second minute, but his headed effort was too high.   At the other end a teasing Joe Hood free kick was well claimed under pressure by home keeper Michael Johnson and then his opposite number was in action saving a point-blank shot by Green.   The same player did get the ball in the net after 17 minutes but was ruled offside and then the visiting defence did well to smother shots by Ezra Forde and Scott Belgrove.   St Neots were now looking more comfortable as the lively Ben Bradley had his net-bound shot deflected and after 37 minutes they deservedly took the lead.   A Joe Sutton shot from distance was fumbled and then dropped by Johnson and Dan Trendall was quickly in to capitalise on the error and put St Neots ahead.   A minute before the break a well-placed free kick by Galliford was well saved by Michael McCormack who was beginning to look confident and just before the break Prince Mutswunguma was booked for his third foul coming from clumsiness rather than intent.

The Hitchin Manager was clearly unhappy with his sides’ first half performance and after the break he introduced two substitutes and changed his tactics to a more attacking formation.   A corner by Galliford went across the face of goal with no-one able to get a touch and then another effort by the same Hitchin player was pushed away under pressure by McCormack at the expense of a corner.   Then after 51 minutes Bradley robbed a hesitant defender to race clear of the defence before unselfishly picking out the unmarked Dan Trendall at the far post and he advanced on goal to double St Neots’ advantage.   Hitchin substitute Charlie Thake was having an immediate impact on the game for Hitchin with his physical presence testing the St Neots defence and forced McCormack into pushing one effort for a corner before setting up Galliford to bring the save of the match from the visiting keeper with an almost perfectly placed shot just under the bar.   Another former St Neots player Joshua Bickerstaff then shot wide when well placed as Hitchin pressed but St Neots made openings of their own with Bradley firing narrowly wide.   With seventeen minutes left Trendall sustained an ankle injury and was unable to continue being replaced by Jacob Joseph – a Youth side County Cup winner from the previous evening.   A minor flare up saw a player from each side booked and the match ended with McCormack saving bravely at the feet of substitute Nathan Mullings.

St Neots Town:  McCormack, Hood, Norville-Williams, Miles, Hughes, Shaw, Mutswunguma, Rhiney, Trendall, Bradley, Sutton

SubsJoseph (for Trendall 73 mins), Rider (for Mutswunguma 90+4 mins), Dunnett and Abbott.

Cards:  Rhiney (Y – 35 mins), Mutswunguma (Y – 45 mins), Shaw (Y – 80 mins)

Goals:  Trendall 2 (37 and 51 mins)

Hitchin Town:   Johnson, Mensah, Anderson, Dowie, Webb, Ferrell, Green, Belgrove, Forde, Galliford, Bickerstaff

Subs:  Thake (for Mensah 46 mins), Mullings (for Forde 46 mins), Bird (for Belgrove 61 mins), and Thomas.

Cards:  Dowie (Y – 80 mins)

Goals:  none

Referee:  Steven Bates (St Albans)

Attendance: 472

John Walker

 

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