St Albans City weathered an early onslaught by Frome Town at Berkeley Road on Wednesday night before boosting their Southern League play-off aspirations with a gritty 3-0 victory on a bitterly cold night in Somerset.
Chris Seeby set the Saints on the path to a fourth consecutive Premier Division win – and a fourth in as many games against Frome – with his second goal of the week before the points were made safe courtesy of yet another Chris Henry special and a comical goal in added time by influential captain James Comley.
St Albans made one change from the weekend win over Bideford with 18-year-old James Kaloczi replacing James Gray in the defensive midfield position.
After an uncertain opening Kaloczi excelled in his first Southern League start and Gray later conceded that his return will be delayed if the teenager maintains this form.
But Kaloczi was not the only Saint slow to get into the game and for the first 25 minutes or so Frome suggested that a four-month wait for a home league win could be coming to an end.
For a side that has struggled for so long at home Frome pressed forward with vigour but maybe relied too much upon long throw specialist Josh Brigham.
City, in fact, won most of the balls the amply framed Brigham directed into the visitor’s penalty area, thereby negating much of the Robins threat.
But from one such throw City keeper Nick Jupp punched the ball only as far as Darren Jefferies whose powerful goal-bound shot was blocked by the covering Layne Eadie.
Eadie was also on hand to clear the loose ball after Jupp pulled off a fine save from Matt Smith, while Jefferies slid a dangerous ball across the face of the goal and Brigham went close from a free kick.
Having seeing off Frome’s determined start City opened the scoring on 29 minutes after winning their first corner of the game through Josh Urquhart.
Comley hit the dead ball long for both Richard Graham and Urquhart to have shots charged down and when the ball was returned to the edge of the penalty area by Comley, Seeby chested it down and beat keeper Darren Chitty with a wonderful drive from 16 yards with his supposedly weaker left foot.
Six minutes later and the Robins ought to have been reduced to ten men when Brigham fell towards the ball and used an arm to block Comley’s superb angled pass to Henry.
Although still some 30 yards from goal it was clearly a goal scoring opportunity and the Frome defender was most fortunate to be shown just a yellow card.
Just prior to the break a good chance went begging for the Somerset club when Mike Perrott glanced a Luke Ballinger free kick straight through to Jupp.
City’s second goal, on 50 minutes, was a typically spectacular effort from Henry whose season has been enriched with several such gems.
Comley, to the left corner of the penalty area, played the ball back to Urquhart who slid a good first time pass into the path of Henry.
The striker’s first touch was not perfect but as he chased the ball across the edge of the penalty area a space opened up for him to hammer a cracking right-footed drive high past the static Chitty from 19 yards.
At two-down Frome lost much of their earlier effectiveness although Jupp was required to pull off a flying save to his right to deny Lloyd Matthews, and Brigham headed wide from a Ballinger cross.
With the security of that second goal St Albans dominated the half but, other than for the goals, Chitty had precious little to deal with.
City substitute David Keenleyside probably went closest to increasing the tally when he embarked on a weaving run that saw him drift past Josh Ford, Brigham and Dave Thompson only for Chitty to intervene close to goal.
City’s third goal, deep into added time, merely underlined the Saints second half supremacy as Comley punished some dreadful dithering between Dave Thompson and Chitty to nip between the duo before walking the ball into the most vacant of open goals.
It was the perfect ending for the City captain who again played a leading role and helped wash away the memory of a troubled journey to the west county that led to him and Richard Graham only reaching the ground 25 minutes before the kick off.
St Albans remain in seventh place in the Southern League but are now just one point outside the play off places. The promotion push is likely to face a stiff test on Saturday when the Saints travel to Weymouth, the side one place below them in the table.
Frome Town: D.Chitty, J.Brigham, M.Reaney, J.Ford, D.Thompson, M.Cooper (D.Gilroy 46), M.Smith, L.Ballinger, R.Hulbert (L.Matthews 76), M.Perrott, D.Jefferies, subs; D.Flockton, R.Hobbs, S.Wade.
St Albans City: N.Jupp, C.Seeby, L.Eadie, J.Kaloczi, R.Wharton, J.Bruce, R.Graham, J.Urquhart, B.Wadkins, J.Comley, C.Henry (D.Keenleyside 81), subs; M.Taylor, L.McGovern, C.Dove, J.Patrick.
Goals: 29 0-1 Seeby, 50 0-2 Henry, 90 0-3 Comley.
Referee: Adam Ricketts (Bristol).