SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
Hertford Town 4 St Neots Town 1
St Neots slumped to their heaviest league defeat for two years as they helped hosts Hertford Town christen their newly laid 3G surface under floodlights. The catalyst for this result was the controversial sending off of Mamadou Jobe after just 14 minutes as he clattered into the back of Viadut Sighiartau in the penalty area. With a penalty kick awarded the dismissal seemed very harsh, as a caution is usually awarded in these circumstances, but St Neots were reduced to ten men for the remaining 76 minutes and an almost inevitable defeat was the result. The victory was their first at home this season and the three points lifted Hertford out of the relegation zone. It was only St Neots second sending-off this season. There was limited good news for St Neots with Callum Anderson back after injury for the first time since 17th September, and Dequaine Wilson-Braithwaite also made a late substitute appearance having been out for much of the season also with injury. The one absentee for the previous match was striker Joe Rider who is now on the injury list.
The Saints began well and looked to be in good form until the loss of Job. They created the first three chances with Kwai Marsh-Brown firing narrowly wide after a mazy run, home keeper Luke Mewitt making a good save to deny Neo Richard-Noel, and then producing a second impressive stop to deny Callum Anderson. Ben Herd tucked away Hertford’s penalty kick and that blow for St Neots altered the pattern of the match. Brendon Shabani was drafted in as an emergency defender and after 22 mins Obinna Ogbonna was twice close to extending the lead seeing his first effort blocked and his second saved by George Whitehall. A spate of bookings for either side set another trend with the fussy Referee very happy to reach for his notebook. St Neots did break to set up Richard-Noel for a late first half chance but again the home keeper was equal to his effort and the half ended with Whitehall saving bravely at the feet of Ogbonna, and Luke Gymer shooting wide of the target after a shot from Ben Weyman had rebounded from an upright.
A goal for the home side just six minutes after the restart seemed to compound St Neots problems when Viadut Sighiartau netted from a narrow angle, but St Neots spiritedly hit back within five minutes as Kwai Marsh-Brown netted only his second St Neots goal after good work by Ben Heal. A third Hertford goal after 62 minutes by Jake Bunyan after clever play by Gymer seemed to take the wind out of St Neots sails and play became very scrappy with more bookings for either side and the home side seemed happy to sit on their lead. However, a fourth goal for Hertford after 74 minutes put the outcome of the match beyond doubt as Brandy Makuendi picked up a through ball from substitute Bunyan, and there was very little significant goalmouth action in the final quarter of an hour although the home side were also reduced to ten men two minutes from time when substitute Jack Hewitt was sent off as he picked up a second yellow card in his brief twelve minutes spell on the pitch.
Tonight’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to LEE WATKINS
St Neots: Whitehall, Marfo, Heal, Anderson, Johnson, Jobe, Cowling, Watkins, Richard-Noel, Marsh-Brown, Shabani
Subs: Sartorius (for Marfo 73 mins), Wilson-Braithwaite (for Anderson 56 mins), Abbott, Steel and Barker
Cards: Jobe (RED 14 mins), Johnson (Y – 37 mins), Marfo (Y – 64 mins), Heal (Y – 65 mins), Shabani (Y – 69 mins), Cowling ( Y – 90 mins)
Goals: Marsh- Brown (56 mins)
Hertford: Mewitt, Smith, Hudson, Payne, Herd, Thompson, Weyman, Makuendi, Sighiartau, Gymer, Ogbonna
Subs: Bunyan (for Payne 57 mins), Hewitt (for Gymer 74 mins), Horsewood, Njorge and Adrian
Cards: Hewitt (RED – 2xY 80 & 88 mins) Thompson (Y – 31 mins), Gymer (Y – 55 mins), Bunyan (Y – 78 mins)
Goals: Herd – pen – (14 mins), Sighiartau (51 mins), Bunyan (62 mins), Makuendi (74 mins)
Referee: Neil Bailey (Woodford)