St. Neots overcame a disappointing loss away at Louth last week by bouncing back with an emphatic 4-0 win over Spalding.
From the start, St. Neots played with attacking flair as they enjoyed the vast majority of possession throughout the first half. Spalding barely managed to break their way into the St. Neots' half, but when they did, Anthony Holmes and Rhys Edwards were there to clean up. One particularly strong tackle from Holmes led to a Spalding attack lying sprawling on the floor whilst Holmes skipped away with the ball.
It wasn't long before the Spalding defence began to breakdown and conceded a number of penalty corners. Darren Coles and Adam Maltby were chopped to pieces after beating 4 or 5 defenders in quick succession. Saints converted from their second corner after a firm shot from David Humphrey was only half saved by the Spalding keeper; the ball was parried right into the path of Read who slotted the ball home from two yards.
Within 5 minutes of scoring their first, Saints had another. This time Joe Derby was the scorer. A beautiful passage of play from the St. Neots' forwards led to Iain Moor being at the top of the circle with the ball; after beating two defenders he slipped the ball to Derby who just had the keeper to beat and duly obliged.
Once again Saints didn't have to wait long to score again; the floodgates were well and truly opened. A quick break from the Saints defence got the ball out to Chris Butterworth who picked it up on the half way line. A quick burst of pace and an insightful through ball led to Derby with a one on one with the keeper. Derby struck and once again the Spalding keeper could only make a half save and the ball ricocheted out to Brett Nunn. Nunn made no mistake and steered the ball home.
A dominant first half put Saints well in control and out of sight by the half way mark, and all Spalding could do was squabble over who of them was at fault.
Spalding started the second half with far more vigour than previously shown and they created their best chance of the game. An exquisite through ball from midfield left Edwards beaten and his man with a one on one with Saints keeper Charlie Allen. However Allen was not perturbed and came rushing out; so determined not to concede he dived forwards out of his area and made a phenomenal tackle with his swinging stick. Defenders up and down the country would've been proud of such an inspiring and innovative tackle.
As the second half progressed, Saints returned to tyrannize the game in every position. Saints continued to create chances, and if it hadn't been for a manifold of brilliant saves from the Spalding keeper and unfathomable misses from several St. Neots players, Saints would've been 7 or 8 goals up. St. Neots were particularly unfortunate, as from two penalty corners in a row Coles stuck the left upright as the keeper merely stood and watched, well beaten. Saints have now hit the post 6 times from penalty corners this season.
Saints wrapped up the game late with a virtual carbon copy of their first. Again from a penalty corner, a good strike (this time from Coles) was only half saved and again Read was there to mop up the loose ball and see it home.
Inevitably, Read was awarded Man of the Match for his two goals and his overall presence on the field. Saints missed him last week and were glad to have him back in this crucial game.
Saints now have two games left before the Christmas break and currently look in a strong position in third with a game in hand on the top two teams. St. Neots need to keep on winning and that old sporting cliché is so true 'every game is a cup final' from now on.