SOUTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION ONE CENTRAL
St Neots Town 3 Aylesbury United 2
St Neots twice came back from behind to earn a vital three points against a side below them in the league table. The victory propelled back into the top half of the league table for the first time since early December to give them a total of 40 points – enough now surely to ensure they place at Step Four next season. They did not make it easy for themselves, however, conceding two goals in the first half hour but they displayed great resilience to fight back against a resurgent opposing side looking for their first league victory since December 11th. Striker Neo Richard-Noel was injured in the previous match against North Leigh but with the rest of his squad to choose from Manager Pete Gill made no fewer that five team changes handing two of his players their debut. Apart from the injured Richard-Noel the other four players not included from the previous match, Charlie Johnson, Charley Barker, Ben Heal and Callum Anderson were all on the bench along with Kwai Marsh-Brown, with Glenn McConnell and Saleem Akanbi marking their debuts, and Miles Cowling, Perry White and Joe Rider returning to the side – the latter after missing the six previous matches through injury. The result gave St Neots only their second league ‘double’ of the season – the other being over basement team Wantage Town. The match got off to a disappointing start for the hosts when in their first attack Aylesbury took the lead as Sonny French fed the unmarked Jamie Rudd on the left flank and he advanced to beat Louis Chadwick with a well-placed shot. St Neots responded very quickly and from the restart a swift attacking move saw Robbie Mason set up Glenn McConnell for the equaliser – his first goal for the team on his debut. From a free kick Harvey Beckett headed powerfully over the bar from a McConnell cross and as St Neots began to gain in confidence Saleem Akanbi brought an excellent save from visiting keeper Archie Davis. However against the run of play on 29 minutes St Neots found themselves behind again when Jamie Rudd claimed his second goal of the match with a shot from the edge of the area. Five minutes later it could have been worse for St Neots when Tyrone Lewthwaite cleverly sidestepped his marker but to St Neots relief his shot flew wide, and the half ended with a booking for Mark Riddick as he upended Myles Cowling as St Neots mounted a breakaway attack.
The half time break allowed St Neots to re-group, and they came out in a more positive frame of mind. For a quarter of an hour they monopolized possession but made little impression on a stubborn visiting defence, but Aylesbury were now definitely on the retreat. The important breakthrough came after 62 minutes when Mason won a corner and McConnell crossed to the far post where centre half Harvey Beckett rose above the visiting defence to head the goal that levelled the scores. That seemed to boost the confidence of the home side and they created chances and nine minutes after their equaliser they scored what would prove to be the match winning goal. The lively Akanbi had seen an effort well saved but then he ran at the retreating defence to force the visiting keeper to parry another shot and the ball fell to Joe Rider who picked his spot to score his first goal for St Neots since 23rd October – ironically in the away match against Aylesbury.
The visitors tried to respond and substitute Harry Jones forced Chadwick into a diving save to preserve St Neots’ advantage, before the visiting keeper Davis also had to produce a brave save at the feet of Mason as he looked to be close to extending the home side’s lead.
Tonight’s Saints Supporters’ Man of the Match was awarded to SALEEM AKANBI
St Neots Town: Chadwick, Marfo, Smith, Cowling, White, Beckett, McConnell, Watkins, Mason, Rider, Akanbi
Subs: Marsh-Brown (for Akambi 79 mins), Anderson (for Mason 87 mins), Johnson, Heal and Barker.
Goals: McConnell (6 mins), Beckett (62 mins), Rider (71 mins)
Aylesbury United: Davis, Ball, Bewley, Wood Jenkins, Ozobia, Rudd, Riddick, Lewthwaite, French, Scott
Subs: Jones (for Rudd 63 mins), O’Connor (for Ozobia 72 mins), Forde (for Bewley 72 mins), and Phillips
Cards: Riddick (Y – 43 mins)
Goals: Rudd 2 (5 and 29 mins)
Referee: Joe Woolmer (Northampton)