Eaton Socon play at what is now known as The St Neots Interior Stadium, on River Road just to the West of the town of St Neots. In days gone by Eaton Socon was a separate village and was even in a different county, Bedfordshire rather than Cambridgeshire, but has now been consumed by St Neots. There is a reasonably large car park at the ground which, I imagine, normally has plenty of capacity.
Although the clubs have not yet met in a league match, there have been two previous Huntingdonshire Cup clashes. (I know this thanks to the rather excellent and informative matchday programme. Great effort and only £1). The first meeting came in the 2003/04 competition when St Neots scoring late on to secure a 1-0 win. 12 years ago the teams met in the Semi-Final originally drawn to be played at Eaton Socon's ground but moved to Rowley Park. St Neots came out on top again with a 3-0 score line.
This season, Eaton Socon's first in the Spartan League Division One and Saints first in the Northern Premier League structure, has seen contrasting fortunes for the sides. At the start of play Eaton Socon were sitting in fourth in their table, just two points off second place, after only one league defeat in twelve matches. Saints were just a point and a place clear of the relegation spots having won twice and drawn three times in their thirteen outings. That said, with two divisions separating the teams, you would still have to make St Neots favourites for this game. Not only that but St Neots are historically also the most successful team in the competition, having been successful on no less than 38 occasions and were the first winners in 1889.
It was obvious from the very first minute that Eaton Socon were up for this game. They started the match with a vigour that St Neots did not seem capable of matching. The home side had already looked lively when, in the 7th minute, the St Neots offside trap malfunctioned. Declan Nche did not step up as quickly as his teammates leaving Rhys Thorpe loose in the centre. The ball was fed into him and, whilst the Saints defence looked for the flag, the striker ran on to round Jamie Greygoose and slot into an empty net. 1-0 to The Eagles.
Socon had clearly got a game plan. Whilst they looked very capable of playing the ball around, they seemed to be happier getting the ball forward at the earliest opportunity, giving the like of Thorpe chance to either flick on and hold it up for reinforcements to arrive. Probably not a style for the purists but, nevertheless, it was looking to be very effective and appeared to have knocked the rhythm out of Saints.
We had already passed the half hour mark before St Neots began to look like a team two divisions above their opponents. When they did manage to get possession, they knocked the ball around well and, as the half played out, began to look a little more threatening. On 35 minutes they came as close as they had throughout the half when Toib Adeyemis saw his goal bound effort headed off the line b y Ben Hickling. It didn't stave off the the equaliser for long though. With six minutes before half-time, Trey Charles used his strength to ride a tackle before firing past Jeckells. 1-1.
HT Eaton Socon 1 St Neots Town 1. Socon's direct approach caused St Neots a lot of problems in the first 30 minutes. However, Saints continued to play their game and fought their way back into it, getting a deserved equaliser shortly before the break.
Just past the hour mark the home side made it three when their work rate and appetite for the ball paid dividends. They forced a corner on the right. The ball was played towards the back post and not dealt with properly. It was fed back across the box to Jake Alderson who crashed shot past Greygoose to make it 3-1.
The third goal seemed to have put a lid on the game. It provoked some response from Saints but, aside from a few crosses that Jeckells dealt with and one far post cross that Ben Hickling managed to head back to his keeper even though he didn't mean to, the home goal remained under little threat. Then, on 80 minutes, the visitor's fate was sealed when Aaron Smith picked up a second yellow card and was given his marching orders. The only surprise after that was that there were no more goals for The Eagles.
FT Eaton Socon 3 St Neots Town 1. Overall a deserved and historic victory for Eaton Socon. In my opinion they edged the first half but, after conceding late on, I was expecting a struggle in the second. that didn't happen. The home side were much better than their visitors during the second 45 minutes. On Saturday Eaton Socon are at home again as 7th placed Rugby Borough come to town. St Neots face a trip to mid-table Bedworth United
With Socon close to the top of the SSML Division One table and St Neots towards the foot of the NPL Division One Midland Division, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that this fixture could be repeated as a league meeting in the near future. It really does deserve to have a derby name. Any suggestions?
Eaton Socon: Jeckells, Hickling, Dixon, Kane, Roberts, Baxter, Alderson, Reece-Brown, Thorpe, Mason, Joseph. Subs: Irvine, Parratt, Flack, Bactet
St Neots Town: Greygoose, Nche, Jikiemi, Abbott, Smith, Adeyemi, Hasanally, Stokes, Charles, Rider, Osei. Subs: Anderson, Tonks, Stainsby, Clark, Bent
Ground Number: 334