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Super Saints deliver Boxing Day knockout to high flying Eagles

Friday, 27 December 2019 14:53

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

Bedford Town        1            St Neots Town        2       

The long-suffering St Neots fans got their perfect Christmas present at Bedford on Boxing day when the reshaped visiting side recorded only their third league victory of the season.   Successive weather postponements had decreed that this was to mark caretaker Manager’s Matt Clements delayed return to the hot seat and he first had to select a side without two of the team’s most consistent performers – skipper Lee Watkins and Jonny Butler – both of whom were unavailable for this trip.   In all there were four team changes with the Boxer brothers restored – Tom having been unavailable for the previous Senior Cup tie, and Panny after his holiday.   Also included in the starting line-up were Prince Mutswunguma and recent re-signing Fernando Bell-Toxtle, replacing departed pair Ben Bradley and Alan Musoke.   This proved to be St Neots first away league victory since August Bank Holiday Monday and the three points lifted them to eleven points above the relegation zone with luckless Wantage losing again after leading 2-0 at Kidlington.   A goal in each half was sufficient to take the points, despite an added time goal for the hosts who had not been helped for a late show of frustration that saw them pick up six yellow cards.   This was a memorable victory for it was the first Boxing Day victory since St Neots attained Southern League status eight seasons ago.

 

St Neots looked confident from the start with Fernando Bell-Toxtle sparking an early attack which was cleared only as far as Prince Mutswunguma who fired in from the edge of the penalty area for Jamie Head to push away at full stretch.   Bedford replied with the lively Ryan Sellers going past two defender to cross to the far post where a Joe Steele header was well saved by James Philp.   Sam Gomarsall should have done better than finish weakly after good play by Bell-Toxtle and Joe Sutton and after 19 minutes St Neots deservedly forged ahead when a quick break on the left saw the speedy Prince Mutswunguma round the stranded goalkeeper to net from a narrow angle.   Gomarsall made up for his early effort with a shot well gathered by Head and after 26 minutes Bedford suffered a setback when the dangerous Sellers was injured and had to be replaced.   Towards the end of the first half Bedford came into the game and two former St Neots players combined to almost pay them for slack defending as a Ben Ford free kick found its way to Brett Longden whose close-range effort rebounded from a goalpost to be scrambled clear.   Mutswunguma scorned a chance to double the lead nine minutes before the break when he could only send a weak effort into the arms of Head, and the half finished with two cautions for home players for at best careless challenges as St Neots sought to extend their narrow advantage.

 

Although the second half was more even from the start with possession shared it was still St Neots that looked more likely to score.   Mutswunguma volleyed wide and a Tom Boxer free kick was too high.   In a bid  to increase their pressure Bedford sent on their two remaining permitted substitutes and tried to adopt a more attacking approach to the match.   St Neots took full advantage waiting for the opening which arrived after 66 minutes when a long ball out of defence saw Mutswunguma hugging the right touchline and he went around his marker to cross to the far post where Joe Sutton dived in to get the final close-range touch to double St Neots’ advantage.   In the next attack Sutton was injured and unable to continue, replaced by Adrian O’Hara one of the youth team players populating the substitutes bench.   Prince then had a shot blocked whilst the St Neots defence stood firm in the face of home attacks.   Still looking dangerous on the break St Neots finally saw their defences breached a minute into added time when Thomas Hitchcock took advantage of hesitancy to knock in a Longden free kick for a late consolation goal and in the remaining time two St Neots attacks were broken up earning further bookings for the frustrated home defenders.

St Neots: Philp, Shaw, Smith, Boxer (P), Goode, Boxer (T), Sutton, Bell-Toxtle, Foster, Gomarsall, Mutswunguma

Subs:  Massaro (for Foster 56 mins), O’Hara (for Sutton 74 mins), Clarke (for Mutswunguma 88 mins), Olive and Joseph

Cards:  Boxer (P) (Y – 35 mins), Mutswunguma (Y – 54 mins)

Goals:  Mutswunguma (19 mins), Sutton – (66 mins)

 

Bedford:  Head, Cotter, Sellers, Ford, Steele, Longden, Calcutt, Donnelly, Hitchcock, Tomlinson, Walker

Subs:  Hall (for Sellers 26 mins), Harriott (for Donnelly 56 mins), Green (for Cotter 59 mins), Phillips and Coulson.

Cards: Hitchcock (Y – 35 mins), Calcutt (Y – 40 mins), Donnelly (Y – 45 mins), Steele (Y – 78 mins), Longden (Y – 45+3 mins), Harriott (Y – 45 + 4 mins)

Goals:  Hitchcock (90+1 mins)

 

Referee:  Stuart Cheek (Rushden)

Attendance:       334

 

John Walker

 

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