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Sloppy goals cost Saints dear as they outplay league leaders yet still lose

Saturday, 21 September 2019 20:24

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

 

St Neots Town        2           AFC Dunstable       5

For the third time this season St Neots let in five goals in a home league match – and that was after taking the lead in 40 seconds of the start and dominating the second half!   Once again it was a tale of shoddy first half defending that left them chasing the game after the break at 4-1 behind, and although the improvement in the second half was significant, the deficit conceded in the first 45 minutes proved pivotal.   AFC Dunstable came to town as league leaders with only one defeat in their six completed matches and it will be little comfort to St Neots to know that they were able to compete on level terms when they were not conceding sloppy goals.   They must now take away the positives from the performance and improve their defending.   To rub salt into the wounds the first two Dunstable goals came from former St Neots players and two more were set up by another former Saint.   Prior to the match St Neots had the promising news that two of their senior players had recovered from injury to return to the side with Sam Goode and Jake Kerins returning for Panny Boxer and Jake Noble both of whom were on the bench.   St Neots now look forward to their first free midweek of the season so their will have a little time to prepare for the FA Trophy debut this season, next week away in Nottinghamshire.

Before all the later arriving spectators were in their seats, St Neots had taken the lead inside the first 40 seconds.   A loose defensive clearance reached Sam Bennett on the left and his early probing cross was forced home from close range by Prince Mutswunguma – his fifth goal of the current campaign.   However, the visitors took less than three minutes to respond as from their second corner of the match defender Ryan Frater (five goals in 79 appearance for St Neots) rose above the defence to head past James Philp and level the scores.   St Neots seemed to be unaffected by this setback as Sam Goode headed narrowly wide from a St Neots corner and then Mutswunguma brought a good low save from visiting keeper Dan Green.   Green then pushed two efforts over the bar from Bennett and Sam Gomersall but gradually the visitors were getting on top and for the final half hour of the first half they were in control.   After 26 minutes they forged into the lead as Nathan Frater joined his brother on the scoresheet cutting in from the right to curl a shot beyond the despairing dive of Philp.   Then in the five minutes before half time the St Neots defence endured a nightmare spell in which they conceded two further goals to effectively put the match beyond recovery.   After 40 minutes the usually reliable Philp spilled a cross from former Saint Martell Powell presenting striker Bernard Christie with a simple tap in finish and four minutes later Referee Daniel Todd wrongly awarded the visitors a free kick when Sam Goode clearly won a tackle on Christie, and from the cross by Powell Luke Abraham got in front of his marker to head past Philp to make it 4-1.

To their immense credit St Neots seemed to put the score line behind them after half time and they set about repairing the damage.   Mutswunguma shot wide after good work by Joe Sutton and after 52 minutes Sam Bennett gave them faint hope of a recovery when he collected a short pass from Mutswunguma to move inside and curl a shot into the roof of the net.   Philp kept their hopes alive with a smart save to deny Nathan Frater, but St Neots was making the running as first Gomersall and then Sutton tested the visiting keeper.   However, despite superior possession St Neots lacked inspiration in of goal despite the introduction of substitutes and adopting a more attacking approach.   A Sam Goode header from an Alfie Connor free kick was the closest they came to reduce the arrears but Green once again saved well.   Lee Watkins then spurned a golden chance by shooting wide of goal and the final blow came two minutes into added time.   St Neots were caught short pushing too far forward and Bernard Christie collected a long defensive clearance to skilfully lob Philp who was to far out of his goal and complete the 5-2 final score line.

St Neots Town:  Philp, Kerins, Smith, Connor, Goode, Walker, Gomersal, Watkins, Mutswunguma, Bennett, Sutton

Subs:  N’Kala (for Mutswunguma 68 mins), Boxer (for Gomersall 71 mins), Noble and Rhiney.

Cards:  Watkins (Y – 19 mins), Gomersall (Y – 64 mins)

Goals:  Prince Mutswunguma (1 min), Sam Bennett (52 mins)

 

Dunstable:  Green, Baird, Ajayi, Frater (R), Abraham, McNulty, Powell, Tavernier, Christie, Frater (N), Crawley

Subs:  Elliott (for McNulty 56 mins), Rhiney (for Crawley 58 mins), Carney (for Powell 82 mins), Fryer and Hall

Cards:  Tavernier (Y – 45+2 mins)

Goals:  Bernard Christie 2 (40 mins & 90+2 mins), Ryan Frater (3 mins), Nathan Frater (26 mins) & Luke Abraham (44 mins)

 

Referee:  Daniel Todd (Milton Keynes)

Attendance:       148

 

John Walker

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