Struggling Saints lose local derby
Beaconsfield SYCOB 2 Bunting 2,34
Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central (Saturday 13 February)
On a day that saw three of their play-off rivals all drop points against teams in the bottom three, Chalfont's defeat to their close neighbours, disappointing as it was, may not be as damaging as first appears.
Losing, like, winning, becomes a habit and in losing their third successive game for the first time this season, it is a habit that requires an early remedy. Danny Edwards has introduced one or two players in recent games and this has coincided with the run of poor results and while a lot of the momentum of our form before Christmas has waned, there is still time and opportunity to get the wheels spinning once again.
Beaconsfield were fast out of the traps and were ahead before the opening pleasantries were completed. Saints failed to properly clear their lines from a corner and with players caught out of position and not defending the second ball, Callum Bunting was found in open space at the far post and his header put Beaconsfield ahead after just two minutes. The enthusiasm shown by the young Rams suggested there was more to come from the home side as Saints struggled to get a grip on the game. Heavily reliant on the combative and hard working Alan Hedley and Alex Paine, Saints were too pedestrian in too many areas. Lee Togwell always seems to raise his game against his old club and was again the fulcrum around which the Rams operated.
Twenty minutes had passed before Saints began to catch sight of the home goal. Victor Osobu was at the heart of much of the good work with his pace and determination but with Tony Mendy still off the pace and the home defence snuffing out any threat in the air, much of his work out wide went to waste. Alex Paine, Chalfont's most likely goal threat in the recent weeks hit a wonderful shot from distance that thumped the post with Sam Bunting well beaten. It was the closest Saints came to an 'if only' moment in a disappointing half.
It was soon to become even worse for them when they again failed to defend a corner and Callum Bunting was again left in acres of space to head home, this time at the near post.
With nothing changing after the break, Rams were able to defend comfortably and Bunting was only denied a hat trick by a smart save from Michael Power-Simpson with Craig Carby on hand to clear the loose ball off the line. With Alan Hedley having to drop back into the defence to cover the substituted John Sonuga, Saints made things harder for themselves and thus the game drifted to a close with Beaconsfield suitably in control and deserving of their win.
Right now Saints are in the doldrums but a good result next weekend at home to Fleet could well herald a revival of fortunes. The league is that uncertain this season.
Saints: Michael Power-Simpson, Remmel Clarke, Craig Carby, John Sonuga (Jack Hutchinson 62), Adam Kirby, Alex Paine, Victor Osobu, Alan Hedley, Michael Murray, Tony Mendy (Kofi Lockhart-Adams 81), Adam Louth (Craige Tomkins 70).
- Written by Ian
Saints blown off course but look better
Kings Langley 3 Hutton 34, 83 Mullan 39 og
Saints 1 Osobu 84
Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central (Saturday 06 February)
Saints came off second best against their close rivals but gave the performance that was demanded of them after the shambles of the previous week. Two first half goals, both heavily influenced by the strong, gusting wind decided a game in which both sides struggled in the conditions and were well-matched.
Hampered by the late withdrawal of Ryan Wharton, Saints adapted well to the heavy pitch, well sanded after a morning inspection, but found themselves pinned in their own half in the early exchanges as they played into the elements. Tony Mendy was a welcome returnee to the side after his extended absence, as was Victor Osobu, returning after a sojourn with Dunstable Town. Tony had a quiet day but there were signs that once he and Victor get together then there is the promise of mayhem for opposition defences.
There was little to illuminate the first half hour of play but an innocuous foul out wide soon changed that. David Hutton swung a routine free kick into the area only for the wind to grab it and hurl it past the flailing Michael Power-Simpson to put Kings in front. It got worse minutes later when Hutton, this time from a corner, gave the ball every opportunity and again the wind was his friend as what was set up as a clean, clearing header by Jack Mullan instead sailed into the same corner of the net for an unfortunate own goal. Saints two behind and under the cosh.
They reacted well, pushing forward strongly, especially with Alex Paine and Osobu working hard around the Kings goal. Comas had to be alert in the Kings goal to keep his side in front at the break. On a normal day a goalless scoreline would not have surprised anyone.
If anything, the wind increased for the second half and for long periods Kings were pinned in their own half. Duku hit the Saints post, having jumped on a sloppy backpass and confronting Power-Simpson in rare attack.
The introduction of Tyrone Pink added an extra dose of pace to the Saints attack as they pressed on the home attack but, too often, they ran into the rugged defending of Folarin in the left back berth and gave nothing away until Osobu finally escaped his grasp and forced a foul and penalty. Normally Mendy would have grabbed the ball but it wasn't his day and it fell to Michael Murray. A goal then would have seen the momentum swing firmly towards Chalfont but it was a weak kick at a comfortable height and Comas made a good save.
As Saints were forced to add more attacking intent, they were force to leave themselves exposed at the back and Hutton was again the one to impart the pain as he started a move that saw him challenge Power-Simpson for a low cross and with the path to goal blocked, Hutton cheekily backheeled the ball past the prostrate keeper.
With the game seemingly gone at this point, Saints went straight back up the field and a Tyrone Pink cross was neatly turned in by Victor Osobu to set up a strong finish and hopefully a taste of what is to come when the elements settle down and the reviving Saints players are all in tune.
The result saw the two sides swap places in the table but with one third of the season remaining, both are well placed to secure their place in the play offs. It is still all to play for as Saints travel to near neighbours Beaconsfield SYCOB on Saturday.
Saints: Michael Power-Simpson, Lewis Ochoa, Craig Carby (Kofi Lockhart-Adams 75), Alan Hedley, John Sonuga (Tyrone Pink 66), Jack Mullan, Jack Hutchinson, Alex Paine, Michael Murray, Tony Mendy, Victor Osobu.
- Written by Ian
Saints knocked off top spot
With Chalfont's game against Petersfield Town falling victim to a frozen pitch, sides chasing the table toppers took full advantage of their inaction.
All five sides ended the day with wins and so narrowed, or overtook, Saints. AFC Rushden & Diamonds demolished bottom of the table North Greenford United 8-1 to take over top spot and give their goal difference a big boost.
Egham, perhaps the real favourites for the title, cruised to a 3-0 win at Chalfont's next opponents, Aylesbury United, while Royston edged Hanwell Town 1-0 and Kings Langley had a 3-1 home win against Bedford Town.
St Ives Town got right back into contention with a 6-0 demolition of Arlesey Town.
With games on Tuesday, Saints could slip down the table as games in hand are used up.
A win for St Ives against Bedford would see them overtake Saints, but only on goal difference.
A win for either side in the Egham v Royston game would see the victor also overtake Chalfont, Egham by a point or Royston on goal difference. A draw would leave things unchanged.
Things are definitely getting a lot tighter around the top and Saints will have to pick up the pace to stay in the hunt.
- Written by Ian
Knockback for Saints
Saints 1 Lansiquot 86
St Ives Town 4 Cunniff 35, Seymour-Shove 41, Phillips 85, Clark 90+4
Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central (Saturday 9 January)
- Written by Ian
Late double strike sees Saints through
Saints 3 Ochoa 67, Murray 88, Kirby 90
Ware 2 Bishop 3, 62
Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central (Saturday 26 December)
- Written by Ian