SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
St Neots Town 1 Bedford Town 1
Recently crowned champions Bedford Town were pegged back by a determined St Neots Town, who really should have gone on to take all three points after the visitors lost a man to a straight red card twenty minutes from time. It was the fourth meeting of the two sides this season and after three defeats St Neots were determined to set the record straight in front of a shirt sleeved crowd of 605 – their best of the season. Bedford looked slick with some accurate long passing keeping St Neots on their toes, but the home sides probably created more clear chances and could easily have taken full points. The sending-off of Bedford’s Danny Setchell was the catalyst. St Neots had come back from a goal down and from the point of the dismissal they had several good chances to clinch the result. It took St Neots points tally to 50 for the season with their recent run of just one defeat in their last ten matches equalling their best sequence at this level since their Championship season in 2011/12. Aaron Smith and Saleem Akanbi were reinstated in the side with a less than fit Joe Rider and Callum Anderson dropping to the bench.
There was nothing ‘end of seasonish’ in the match. From the start both sides elected to play swift attacking football with St Neots just shading the opening phase. Apart from Danny Setchell sending a Bedford shot well off target, the better openings were being created by the home side. Sal Akanbi went clear only to see his shot blocked by a defender, and from a lengthy Aaron Smith throw, an off-balance Rob Mason headed over the bar. Louis Chadwick then made an instinctive close range save from Craig Mackail-Smith and a low Lee Watkins shot was deflected for a corner from, which Smith headed over the bar.
The non-stop entertainment continued with the impressive Glen McConnell setting up Watkins with a delightful flick but visiting keeper Alexander Street got down well to save. The final three minutes of the half proved significant. First Bedford edged in front as a floated free kick by Hugh Alban Jones saw Chadwick leave his line to attempt to collect but Drew Richardson rose in front of him to flick the ball over him for the opener, and the half ended at the other end with a Kwai Marsh-Brown effort that hit the keeper to deflect for a corner.
St Neots resumed strongly after the break and Akanbi brough a good save from Street and McConnell set up Wynford Marfo to shoot over the bar. However, St Neots levelled after 51 minutes as Glenn McConnell claimed his third goal of the campaign with a sublime, curling effort. From a corner a Charlie Johnson header was cleared off the line and then following a midfield flare up Bedford was reduced to ten men as Setchell picked up a straight red with Johnson booked in the same incident. Now Bedford were pushed back on the defensive as St Neots used their extra man well. The lively McConnell saw an effort rebound from a post, Marfo shot wide and then spotting Street off his line, an audacious chip by McConnell almost snatched a winner. The Bedford custodian preserved his sides’ point with a full length save from Akanbi and at the death Harvey Beckett sent a diving header narrowly over the bar. Bedford seemed happy to celebrate their title with a single point.
Today’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to GLENN McCONNELLClick Here For Photo Gallery courtesy of Colin Pearson
St Neots Town: Chadwick, Marfo, Smith, Barker, Johnson, Beckett, Marsh Brown, Watkins, Mason, McConnell, Akanbi
Subs: Anderson, Rider, White, Anthony.
Cards: Johnson (Y – 69 mins)
Goals: McConnell (51 min)
Bedford Town: Street, Keane, Miccio, Richardson, Brown, Alban-Jones, Butterworth, Setchell, Walker, Mackail-Smith, Bustamante
Subs: Tomlinson (for Bustamante 46 mins), Donnelly (for Alban-Jones 64 mins), Howe (for Mackail-Smith 67 mins), and Swain.
Cards: Setchell (RED – 69 mins)
Goals: Richardson (42 mins)
Referee: Alan Cox (Coventry)