SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
Harlow Town 1 St Neots Town 1
In a very entertaining and competitive match St Neots came back from a half time deficit to deservedly share the points with hosts Harlow Town. It ended a three-match winning run for the home side and left the sides third and fourth in the embryonic league table. The only contentious point in a very balanced match came in the 45th minute as home goalkeeper Thomas Middlehurst stole the ball at the feet of Joe Rider but he was off-balance and spilled it. Myles Cowling was quickly in to take advantage, but he was clearly brought down by the keeper, and to St Neots fury the Referee only awarded a corner kick. The sides went to half time with St Neots believing they had been robbed but to their great credit they recovered to have the better of the second half and crown their performance with an equalising goal and a deserved away point. There were two enforced St Neots team changes. Erin Amu had decided to move on after just eight appearances (two as substitute) and Ben Heal had failed to recover from a hamstring strain. They were replaced by Mamadou Jobe, fit again after missing four matches, and their most recent signing Brendon Shabani, a former Leyton Orient academist.
In a bright start both sides could have registered an early goal. St Neots were fortunate when their defence let in Sammy Dadson after seven minutes on the left and his cross found leading home scorer Alexander Read, but with the goal at his mercy from six yards his shot rebounded from a post. St Neots struck back immediately, and a low Joe Rider shot was pushed for a corner by Middlehurst. St Neots defence were again culpable as they allowed Read to go clear and his unselfish cross set up the unmarked Demaray Anyadike who saw his shot deflected for a corner. New St Neots signing Brendon Shabani made an early mark with a 21st minute curling free kick that just passed the far post with the keeper beaten and then at the other end when Wynford Marfo conceded a free kick, Hector Mackie forced a good save from Louis Chadwick. By now, St Neots were beginning to have the better of the exchanges and Rider (twice) brought good saves from the home keeper and Neo Richard-Noel shot narrowly wide. Marfo then joined the attack to exchange passes with Rider and skim the crossbar with his finish but then after 42 minutes from an Demaray Anyadike corner, defender Joshua Steele sent a header into the net via the inside of a goalpost to give the hosts their half time lead.
After the break St Neots were playing into a swirling wind but they adapted well keeping the ball largely on the ground and showing patience as they sought to level the sores. On the hour they decided on a change with Jake Battersby replacing Harvey Steel and he was quickly effective down the left flank. Harlow did get he ball in the net after 63 minutes, but the effort was cancelled out by an offside flag and a minute later St Neots was level as home keeper Middlehurst fumbled a Battersby cross and skipper Lee Watkins gleefully bundled the ball into the net for his first goal of the season. The play continued with both sides still committed to attacking play, but clear chances were limited until Rider nodded down a Battersby cross to set up Richard-Noel who shot wildly over the bar. Demaray Anyadike who had tantalised the St Neots defence had a net bound shot deflected and as the home side looked for a winning goal, Chadwick produced the save of the match to deny substitute Jaedon Phillips. The game ended on a low note for the home side when another substitute, Alfie Attrill picked up a second yellow card in time added and was sent off.
Today’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to Lee Watkins
St Neots: Chadwick, Marfo, Steel, Shabani, Johnson, Jobe, Cowling, Watkins, Richard-Noel, Rider, Barker
Subs: Battersby (for Steel 60 mins), Smith (for Johnson 87 mins), Sutton, Thomas, and Anthony.
Cards: Steel (Y – 59 mins)
Goals: Watkins (64 mins)
Harlow: Middlehurst, Small, Eadie, Simms, Steele, Marku, Anyadike, Gordon, Read, Mackie, Dadson
Subs: Phillips (for Read 52 mins), Attrill (for Marks 71 mins), Wilson (for Dadson 77 mins), Ferguson, and Horgan
Cards: Attrill (RED – 2 yellow 77 mins & 90+4 mins), Mackie (Y – 33 mins), Phillips (Y – 80 mins)
Goals: Steele (42 mins)
Referee: Joseph Gray (Thurrock)