St Neots welcomed back former Manager Marc Abbott and his Haverhill Rovers team for their second home pre-season friendly and produced another competent performance and a 3-0 victory. Once again, the Cambridge contingent of players were unavailable and the performance will only have made the task of Manager Pete Gill more challenging as he whittles down his squad in preparation for the start of the league season in just over three weeks. There were some familiar names in the visiting line up where several former Saints were included.
A heavy thunderstorm preceded the game which was competitive from the first whistle with St Neots adopting their now familiar patient approach, dominating possession but creating few direct openings. Haverhill soaked up the pressure with neither goalkeeper seriously tested in the first period. Then after 25 minutes a casual defensive clearance set up visiting striker Ryan Weaver with a golden opportunity to open the scoring, but he delayed his shot which was deflected for a corner. In contrast to the first half hour the final period of the first half saw more positive action at both ends. Two chances in a minute for the visitors were lost when an angled shot by Luke Haines rebounded from the inside of the post into the arms of goalkeeper George Whitehall, and then the keeper did well to save at the feet of Weaver. At the other end St Neots could have finished the first half on a high with three clear chances; the first repelled by a brave save by former home keeper James Philp to deny Neo Richard-Noel, the second a low finish by Faruk Ayinde Salimon that rebounded from the woodwork, and finally another weak finish by Ayinde Salimon that sent the sides to the half time break with the match still goalless.
St Neots began the second period in a very positive way with Ayinde Salimon going clear in the first minute, but he could only find the side-netting, however, his persistence paid off four minutes later when his long cross-cum shot sailed over the head of the visiting goalkeeper to open the scoring.
(From the left) Goalscorers Ayinde-Salimon, Tsaguim and Hammond
That goal seemed to set a pattern of St Neots domination in attack and after Oli Yun had gone close to increasing the lead, St Neots reshaped their side introducing seven team changes.
This included three changes in the back four that had been a feature of St Neots domination, but this made no material change to the pattern of play. Ayinde Salimon was tormenting the visiting defence and only the woodwork prevented him from doubling his goal tally, as the reshaped home attack was quickly putting the visors under constant pressure. A swift attack on the right saw Lawrence Hammond cross to the far post when Florium Tsaguim claimed his first St Neots goal after 66 minutes and two minutes from time Lawrence Hammond added his name to the goal scorers list with a crisp finish to round off the victory.
Photo Gallery courtesy of David Richardson @Richinvideo 2021
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