Outrageous strikes seal Saints win
Saints 2 Mendy 26, Louth 86
AFC Rushden & Diamonds 0
Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central (Saturday 19 December)
Match photos at: https://flic.kr/s/aHsknUKh2k
Mill Meadow was the again the place to be on Saturday to witness a game stuffed full of all that is good about the game.
A top-of-the table match up between two sides playing wholehearted football with the result not assured until the final minutes and the whole show illuminated by two strikes right out of the top drawer.
Diamonds, fresh to the division but with the weight of expectation on their shoulders from an illustrious past, have shown themselves to be worthy challengers and always travel with a large caravan of support as they make their way around the league. So it was here, as the usual crowd increased fourfold to provide an atmosphere worthy of the occasion.
The early sparring went with the home side and Alex Paine had two chances, one a header and one a shot that demanded a good low save from Matt Finlay in the visitors goal. The probings down the flanks of Richards and Hoban brought Diamonds into the game and an early chance that fell to Tommy Berwick was to set the tone for the afternoon as it brought out a fine stop from Saints keeper Michael Power-Simpson. It was just one of what became a string of outstanding stops by the keeper as the home defence threw everything they had into protecting their goal from an insistent opposition.
Whatever else is going on there is always one man who cannot be ignored and on 26 minutes he exploded into life. Of course, that man is Tony Mendy, Chalfont's own 'part-time Pele' as local radio has dubbed him. Running onto a high through ball into the area he let it bounce before smashing it on the half-volley across Finlay into the far corner. The whole crowd erupted at the beauty of the goal and Mendy went on a triumphal run back to the dugouts to high five the delighted Danny Edwards.
The lead might not have lasted long as Tom Lorraine went down in the area but Saints got the benefit of doubt from the referee as Diamonds continued to press forward. Power-Simpson required treatment after one challenge but he has a history of coming back even stronger after a knock and it was just as well as further bravery was needed to keep the Saints lead intact until the break.
The second half saw the momentum continue to be held with the visitors but despite having much of the play, Saints continued to defend well and they few glimpses of goal Diamonds saw were generally wasted through poor finishing. Using the height advantage they had throughout their side, they relied heavily on high balls into the area, where Jarra and Wharton, and later on, new signing Adam Kirby, gave little away.
Tony Mendy, constantly a threat to a sometimes ponderous back line, had an early chance for Saints but scuffed his shot wide. As time went on, Diamonds had to push on and began to leave gaps at the back. Saints won a number of free kicks around the area but couldn't capitalise on any and the introduction of Adam Louth began to increase the threat level on the Diamonds goal. His cross picked out Alex Paine at the far post and his header was well saved by Finlay. Louth was the recipient of a Mendy cross but couldn't get enough purchase on his header.
The coup de grace arrived in the final minutes as Saints won a free kick right out on the touchline. Swung in by Adam Louth it always looked dangerous but it befuddled Finlay and sailed over the keeper's reach into the far corner.
It was game over and Saints went back to the top of the table. Diamonds, having contributed so much to an excellent game, could feel disappointed as they had controlled large periods of play but lacked the necessary edge in front of goal on a day when Saints rose to the demands of the game and crowned it with two spectacular goals.
Saints: Michael Power-Simpson, Remmel Clarke, Craig Carby, Babs Jarra, Ryan Wharton, Alex Paine, Lewis Ochoa (Adam Kirby 78), Alan Hedley, Craige Tomkins (Adam Louth 67), Tony Mendy, Anthony Thomas (Aaron Lansiquot 61).
Attendance. 262 Star Player. Michael Power-Simpson
- Written by Ian
Mendy double takes the honours
Royston Town 1 Mason 67p
Saints 2 Mendy 19, 90+2
Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central (Saturday 12 December)
After their midweek setback it was crucial for Saints to bounce back strongly on Saturday if they were to maintain their challenge at the top of the table.
Royston, themselves in the play-offs last season and challenging strongly this time, were tough opponents and in a game that was ultimately dicated by the windy conditions, both sides came out with a lot of credit even though it was Saints who grabbed the points in the dying minutes.
Without the influential Jack Mullan, Saints had to reshuffle their lineup and could have gone behind in the opening minutes but Michael Power-Simpson made a sharp save. Royston, unlike Chalfont's midweek opponents, Uxbridge, try to play football and even on a poor surface, both sides tried to move the ball around. Pace on the flanks was the main threat to Saints and Remmel Clarke and Craig Carby had to be on top form to quell the several dangerous breaks that were put together.
So it was against the run of play when Saints took the lead. A headed clearance eveaded the Royston back line, allowing Tony Mendy to run on and put the ball past the keeper with barely 20 minutes on the clock.
Some poor decisions by the officials for both sides raised the temperature on occasion but of concern was the increasing strength of the wind which also changed direct and meant that Saints would be playing up the slope and into the elements in the second half. This should have provided enough impetus to push for a further score before the break but further chances to Mendy and Craige Tomkins were not taken.
As expected, Saints were forced to spend most of the second half pinned in their own half, with most balls above head height being blown backwards towards their origin. Outstanding saves from Power-Simpson, one from a deliciously dipping free kick, backed up the herculean efforts of the defenders. Ryan Wharton, returning to one of his former clubs, was particularly motivated to do well and Babs Jarra put himself on the line several times.
Unable to break through in open play, Royston were handed a lifeline when Adam Louth conceded a penalty on the edge of the area and Rob Mason blasted home the spot kick.
Alan Hedley and Alex Paine strained every sinew in midfield to work the ball to the other end and just as it seemed that both sides would be happy to walk away with a draw, Tony Mendy again popped up to re-write the script. He gave himself a couple of sighters with chances that screamed out for something other than what he eventually did but with the clock well into stoppage time he finally got things lined up correctly and tucked the ball home for a late, late winner.
A huge result for Saints ahead of the big game next weekend when new leaders AFC Rushden & Diamonds visit Mill Meadow in a 1st v 2nd match up.
Saints: Michael Power-Simpson, Remmel Clarke, Craig Carby, Babs Jarra, Ryan Wharton, Alex Paine, Lewis Ochoa, Alan Hedley, Craige Tomkins (Aaron Lansiquot 70), Tony Mendy (Kofi Lockhart-Adams 90+5), Anthony Thomas (Adam Louth 60).
- Written by Ian
Saints mugged by Grant hat-trick
Saints 1 Paine 2
Uxbridge 3 Grant, 30, 75, 90
Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central (Tuesday 8 December)
Saints: Michael Power-Simpson, Rmmel Clarke, Craig Carby, Babs Jarra, Ryan Wharton, Alex Paine, Lewis Ochoa, Jack Mullan (Aaron Lansiquot 17), Craige Tomkins (Adam Louth 58), Tony Mendy, Alan Hedley (Anthony Thomas 79).
- Written by Ian
Saints ease past Hanwell
Saints 3 Mendy 55, Tomkins 78, Louth 90
Hanwell Town 0
Evo-Stik League Southern Division One Central (Saturday 28 November)
Match photos at https://flic.kr/s/aHskq9UaLE
Saints continued their winning form with what was ultimately a comfortable win over a Hanwell side that had threatened in the early stages to create an upset.
Without Alan Hedley, absent as he awaits the joys of impending parenthood, for the first time this season, Saints looked underpowered in midfield, allowing the visitors to press hard against the Saints defence. A string of corners forced Michael Power-Simpson into some high class saves. The returning Danilson Vicente was all effort as he tried to put one over on his former teammates and it was half an hour before Saints began to claw their way back into the game. Tony Mendy, although closely marked, is not a player to be denied and better finishing from him could have given Saints a first half lead. Other chances fell to Craige Tomkins and Aaron Lansiquot and Kofi Lockhart-Adams should have done better to finish with only the keeper to beat.
The second half saw Saints continue to take control and the deadlock was broekn after 10 minutes when Tony Mendy, as only he can, slipped between two defenders in a crowded area and slide the ball past the keeper for goal number 15 in just 12 league games since the start of September. With 17 in total he is clear at the top of league hot shots.
With the threat from Hanwell beginning to dissipate against the disciplined Saints defenders as the second half took shape, the increasing probings of the home side, led by the teasing crosses from Craige Tomkins, began to open cracks in the Hanwell defence. It was Craige Tomkins himself who stretched the lead as he drove straight through the middle to fire home past a bewildered keeper.
By now it was all one way traffic and a late strike from substitute Adam Louth was the icing on the cake.
A three goal winning margin, the cementing of third place and a third successive clean sheet, the first time Chalfont has achieved this in the Southern League, made it a triple success for Saints as they enter a very challenging new month.
Saints: Michael Power-Simpson, Remmel Clarke, Craig Carby, Jack Mullan, Ryan Wharton, Alex Paine, Aaron Lansiquot (Tyrone Pink 77), Lewis Ochoa, Craige Tomkins (Adam Louth 83), Tony Mendy, Kofi Lockhart-Adams (Anthony Thomas 70).
Attendance. 60 Star Player. Craige Tomkins
- Written by Ian