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9 man Saints two game winning run ends with below par performance at Yaxley

Saturday, 04 January 2020 20:45

SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL

Yaxley        3           St Neots Town        2              

 

Yaxley’s Christmas came a few days late as the visiting St Neots’ defence needlessly gifted them two first half goals and then added the bonus of a carelessly conceded penalty just before the hour.   It was totally unexplained how a side that had picked up six points in their two holiday matches could just three days later produce such an inept performance.   Yaxley had themselves been struggling with just on win in their last seven outings but they dominated the match for the first hour against a visiting side that had little method or challenge.   Beaten to almost all second balls and outmuscled in the tackles, St Neots were a pale shadow of their previous two performances, despite there being only one team change from the New Year’s Day thumping victory over Kempston.   That one change saw the predictable return of regular keeper James Philp to replace U18 custodian Jake Crosby, but the remaining line-up was unchanged.   However, the confidence had drained away and St Neots were a side without belief or ideas.   Then in an amazing turnaround having been reduced to ten men, with substitute Lee Watkins picking up a straight red card after a fourteen minutes substitute appearance, they roared back in the final fifteen minutes to score twice and lay siege to the Yaxley goal.   The final twist in the tale was in added time as defender Tom Boxer picked up his second yellow card to join Watkins in an early bath and both will face suspensions in the important January fixtures.

Neither side began well with little positive play in the first quarter of an hour except a booking for home defender Dalton Bettles for upending Joe Sutton.   Then a very naive display of defending gifted the first goal as Liam Hook lifted a 50 yards cross field ball over the St Neots defence to home skipper Dan Cotton in acres of space.   He skipped past flat-footed defender Stevan Shaw and beat James Philp with a low shot inside his near post that the keeper could only help into the net.   This buoyed Yaxley and in the next ten minutes both former St Neots player Sam Bennett and Cotton were left with time and space, but both directed their efforts over the cross bar.   St Neots had not managed a single shot on goal when after 23 minutes the host side doubled their lead.   It was another goal that should never have been conceded as Joe Butterworth floated in an inswinging corner that Philp totally misjudged, and the ball went over his head to the far post where the unmarked Dalton Bettles headed joyfully home.   Sam Gomersall tried to get St Neots moving but he lacked support when the ball was in the Yaxley half and the closest St Neots came to reduce the arrears was from a 37th minute Aaron Smith corner that was only cleared as far as Tom Boxer whose lob was mishandled by home keeper Aaron Butcher but a defender came to his aid to clear.

The second half saw an early lengthy effort by Aaron Smith comfortably saved but St Neots clearly had to up their game, so Manager Matt Clements made a positive move replacing defensive midfielder Johnny Butler with Lee Watkins to adopt a more attacking approach.   However, within three minutes of the change Tom Boxer clumsily brought down Dan Jarvis in the penalty area and from the spot home skipper Dan Cotton stoked the ball home for his second goal of the match and a 3-0 advantage for his side.   Sadly, Watkins’ period on the pitch lasted just fourteen minutes before a misjudged tackle earned him a sending off and reduced St Neots to ten men.   The final fifteen minutes saw the match turned on its head.   After 78 minutes St Neots pulled a goal back as from a Smith corner, Panny Boxer forced home from close range, and this sent the home defence into a panic.   Then with four minutes left the lively Sam Gomarsall converted a cross from the left to make it 3-2.   St Neots maintained the pressure for the limited remaining time but a flurry of late yellow cards including the dismissal of Tom Boxer saw play sporadic, leaving Yaxley relieved to have taken full points despite the surrender of the early domination.

 

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

Subs:  Watkins (for Butler 53 mins), Foster (for Sutton 59 mins), Massaro, Clarke and O’Hara.

Cards:  Watkins (RED 69 mins), Boxer (T) (RED – 2 x Y – 59 & 90+3 mins), Boxer (P) (Y – 85 mins), Shaw (Y – 90 mins)

Goals:  Boxer (P) (77 mins), Gomersall (86 mins)

 

Yaxley:  Butcher, Duncliffe, Garner, Butterworth, Bettles, Salmon, Bennett, Hook, Earps, Cotton, Jarvis

Subs:  N’Kala (for Earps 78 mins), Watson, Waumsley and Nolan

Cards: Bettles (Y – 12 mins), Hook (Y – 90+1 mins)

Goals:  Cotton 2 (15 & 59 mins), Bettles (23 mins)

 

Referee:  Mark Tinsley (Nottingham)

Attendance:       175

 

John Walker

 

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