Football
Smith boosts Saints title bid

07/03 Updated: 07/03 15:45

Pilkington XXX 1 Southam United 4

SAINTS came from behind to boost their Athium Midland Combination Premier Division title challenge with striker Simeon Smith leading the way by bagging his first hat-trick for the club.

Saints should have taken the lead after just five minutes when Smith beat the Pilkington offside trap but his touch was too heavy and allowed experienced keeper Neil Leech to save at the edge of box.

The miss proved costly as the home side took a tenth minute lead but Smith atoned shortly after when, from a long throw by Neil Stacey, the ball was headed on by Quentin Townsend and he beat Leech low down.

Smith then shot wide from just outside the area before missing another chance when hitting the ball straight at Leech after good work by Tunde Ajibade.

Oli Manoochehri sent a diving header over the bar and Simon Proctor also went close as Saints were beginning to open up the home defence at will.

On 32 minutes, Stacey went down the right and sent in a pinpoint cross to Smith who powerfully side-footed home.

He then shot over from a good cross by Brad Rees before, with half-time approaching, picking up a loose ball to tap in for his hat-trick and send Saints in at the interval well in command.

Pilkington could have clawed one back in the 57th minute when Jim Stott only partially saved a long shot but Mark Briggs was on hand to clear.

Stacey then headed over before Smith had yet another opportunity with Leech beaten.

The lively Proctor was brought down in the penalty area and Jack Taylor made no mistake from the spot to kill off any comeback hopes for Pilkington.

It could easily have been five, but Leech made a double save, first to deny Proctor and then substitute Ross Jackson who looked sure to score from the rebound.

Manager Luke Fogarty said:”Neil Stacey’s power and set-up play was terrific and his link with Simeon is causing all sorts of problems for sides.

“We need to put a run together now, but the spirit amongst the players is fantastic.”

With the five leading clubs all winning, there are still just four points between them in the title race.

Saints visited Cadbury Athletic last night (Wednesday) before a top-of-the-table clash with Continental Star at Banbury Road on Saturday (3pm).

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