SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
Waltham Abbey 1 St Neots Town 3
A second consecutive away league victory for the first time since September eased St Neots concerns about being dragged into a relegation scrap and lifted them a comfortable twenty-one points above the bottom two sides in the table. An almost settled side from their previous outing saw just one change in the starting line-up with Cambridge United loanee Harvey Beckett replacing Perry White at the heart of the defence. It was their first ever trip to Waltham Abbey for a league fixture, although St Neots had lost 4-2 at Capershotts to their Hertfordshire hosts in the FA Cup in 2000. However, this time there was to be no repeat, and the victory improved on the goalless draw shared by the two sides at the Premier Plus Stadium last November. They next take on promotion chasing North Leigh hoping to avenge a 2-0 defeat suffered in the first meeting of the two sides this season.
There was a slow start to the match with little early goalmouth action. In fact, the home side might have scored with their first significant effort on goal after 17 minutes but the narrow-angled cross from Nathan Koranteng saw a header by home skipper Billy Holland clip the crossbar with Louis Chadwick beaten. St Neots most effective form of attack was from lengthy throws by Aaron Smith into the six yards box that saw some nervous home defending. From one of these debutant defender Harvey Beckett saw a close-range shot blocked with the home keeper on the ground. After half an hour Neo Richard-Noel was brought down on the edge of the penalty area and from Charley Barkers’ free kick, Charlie Johnson headed narrowly over the bar whilst at the other end an Ace Laurent free kick was well saved by Chadwick. Almost inevitably when St Neots did manage a break-through, it came from a long throw by Smith after 36 minutes, flicked on at the near post for Lee Watkins who netted with a low shot – his sixth league goal of the campaign. That strike separated the sides at half time to give the visitors a lead which they just about deserved based on first half possession.
It was the home side that began the second half in a more positive frame of mind. After Chadwick had saved at the feet of Christian Gyamti the home side levelled the scores after 50 minutes. The third of three second half corners proved significant as home skipper Billy Holland met a well struck corner at the near post with a header that gave Chadwick no chance. Once level the home side seemed to grow in confidence and for a quarter of an hour St Neots looked untidy, but Manager Pete Gill quickly reshaped his side with two substitutions – Glenn McConnell and Myles Cowling replacing Neo Richard-Noel and Wynford Marfo. Now St Neots looked more comfortable, but their defence could have been breached after 65 minutes when Gyamti stole in at the far post to head just wide. St Neots third substitution three minutes later saw the significant benefit to the visiting side as Joe Rider replaced Watkins and within two minutes, he had shot narrowly wide. Then just five minutes after his introduction he produced the perfectly weighted pass inside the last defenders to set up Robbie Mason who took a touch before shooting past George Oake to restore St Neots’ lead.
That put a different complexion on the contest as St Neots visibly grew in confidence to boss the remainder of the contest. The icing on the cake came two minutes from time with the home defence absent, as Mason, on the edge of the area, unselfishly laid the ball back to set up Ben Heal for the third goal to seal an important victory.
Today’s Travelling Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to ROBBIE MASON
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St Neots Town: Chadwick, Marfo, Smith, Anderson (C), Johnson, Beckett, Barker, Watkins, Richard-Noel, Mason, Heal
Subs: McConnell (for Richard-Noel 56 mins), Cowling (for Marfo 61 mins), Rider (for Watkins 68 mins),Kwai Marsh-Brown, and White.
Cards: Watkins (Y – 40 mins)
Goals: Watkins (36 mins), Mason (73 mins), Heal (88 mins)
Waltham Abbey: Oakes, Anderson (A), Mongwele, Silverman, Twumasi, Rydings, Koranteng, Holland, Gyamti, Laurent, Asamoah
Subs: Bakalandwa (for Asamoah 62 mins), Michael (for Koranteng 72 mins), Domafriyie (for Laurent 81 mins), Drafu and Cani.
Cards: Asamoah (Y – 6 mins), Laurent (Y – 40 mins), Silverman (Y – 79 mins)
Goals: Holland (50 mins)
Referee: Jamal Horne (Croydon)