Castle Vale 1 Southam United 4
THIS was always going to be a tough assignment for Saints as, not only were they up against the meanest defence in the league, but had been beaten comprehensively at home by Vale earlier in the season.
But, despite playing nearly two-thirds of the match with ten men, they ran out worthy winners to stay one point behind leaders Continental Star in the Athium Midlands Combination Premier Division title race.
With Charlie Neale out injured, Saints were again forced to ring the changes in defence, with Simon Proctor returning to partner Neil Stacey.
They got off to the worst possible start by conceding a goal in the very first minute when Ahmet Bilgimer capitalised on some defensive hesitancy to give Matt Oliver no chance.
Bilgimer had another chance in the 10th minute but Oliver was quickly off his to save.
Danny O’Callaghan was booked for a bad foul on Mark Briggs before Saints went close when Oli Manoochehri’s shot was pushed wide by keeper Peter Maguire.
Marc Passey was making some good runs down the left to open up the Vale defence and Saints levelled on the half hour when James Hardie won the ball in midfield to set up former Vale striker Simeon Smith who rounded Maguire to score into an empty net.
Saints suffered a blow on 39 minutes when Proctor was sent off for deliberate handball after falling in a tussle with Bilgimer.
But, despite being a man short, they went in front in the 56th minute when Smith headed in from a long free-kick by Stacey.
Conall Powell shot wide from a corner for Vale but it was Saints who scored again as Manoochehri set up Smith for his third hat-trick since joining the club in January.
With four minutes to go, Smith was through again, but this time Maguire saved, only for Tunde Ajibade to follow up and complete the scoring.
It could have been five, but substitute Andy Millan, on for Smith, missed an open goal in the closing stages.
On Saturday, Saints had run out convincing 5-1 winners at Pelsall Villa.
Two goals from Simeon Smith and one from Oli Manoochehri secured a 3-0 half-time lead and James Hardie increased the advantage within a minute of the re-start.
Although Villa pulled a goal back, Smith got a fifth in the 63rd minute to seal victory.
Saints play their fifth consecutive away match at bottom of the table Walsall Wood this Saturday.
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