It was back to the Eyrie at Bedford four days after their FA Trophy defeat, for hardworking St Neots Town who ground out this important victory over Biggleswade FC to move to third in the League table. It was not an impressive performance by the visitors who were unable to make any real headway against a stubborn home side that had to play for the last 75 minutes with ten men after losing a player to an early red card. With little progress on the player injury front, St Neots named an unchanged starting line up for the third successive time, but there a late substitute appearance for Jake Battersby appearing in a St Neots shirt for the first time for almost a year. On the plus side there was an eleventh goal this season for Joe Rider – and that proved to be a welcome winner just four minutes from time.
Much of the early play was in midfield except for one glancing header from Matthew Richardson that flew wide for the home side, who were then reduced to ten men after 17 minutes when Harry Roberts caught Erin Amu with a horror ‘studs up’ tackle. St Neots responded as a through pass from Neo Richard-Noel freed Joe Rider, but his low shot was the wrong side of a goalpost. Biggleswade operating with just one-man up front saw their striker evade two St Neots tackles to shot wide, but as the first half progressed the visitors seemed to become frustrated, unable to capitalise on a much greater share of possession with little significant finish against a well-drilled home defence. Seven minutes before the break the home side almost took the lead when from an Alex Marsh cross, Jack Dreyer forced the save of the match from Louis Chadwick at the expense of a corner. At the other end a low Rider shot faced the same fate and then St Neots were forced into a first half change with Aaron Smith coming on for the limping Ben Heal. As half time approached Myles Cowling weaved through the home defence to set up Rider but his finish again flew wide.
The second half began badly for the visitors when after just two minutes home skipper Alex Marsh opened the scoring with a 30 yards drive through a packed defence with Chadwick possibly unsighted. St Neots responded quickly and after Richard-Noel had been thwarted as home keeper Dan Green dived bravely at his feet, an equaliser arrived four minutes after the opening goal. An attacking move down the left saw Aaron Smith feed Neo Richard-Noel, and despite having his back to goal he wriggled past his marker to beat Green with a low shot. The keeper then saved a rising shot from Lee Watkins, but aided by some loose passing, St Neots seemed to lose the initiative and substitutions by both sides seemed to upset any rhythm. However, St Neots do not seem to know when they are beaten and with the home side tiring as the game wore on, there were just four minutes of normal time remaining when a cross from substitute Jake Battersby was not cleared and Joe Rider pounced to net from close range for what proved to be the winning goal.
The home side, stunned by this setback, threw everything forward in a bid to salvage a point but under pressure the visiting defence held out for all three points.
Tonight’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to Neo Richard-Noel
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