Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting st albans to 80360, or email us
Lacklustre Saints clawed back by The Eagles
Three days after destroying Truro with clinical efficiency, St Albans City tossed away two Southern League Premier Division points when arrogant sloppiness was punished by Bedford Town salvaging an unlikely 2-2 draw at The New Eyrie with a late penalty on Tuesday.
City, having overturned an early deficit to lead through headed goals by skipper Ben Martin and teenager Elliot Bailey, looked to be strolling to victory but ultimately paid the price for taking strolling too literally.
Whether it was a case of still floating in seventh heaven after the mauling of Truro, or looking forward to this weekend’s FA Cup tie with Tonbridge Angels, there can be no excuse for such a dire second half performance that allowed a limited, but strongly determined, Bedford to gain only their fourth point in their last six Southern League matches.
St Albans made three changes from the XI that started at Truro with Howard Hall and Mark Nwokeji given a few extra days to recovery from slight strains, while Harrison Georgiou was returned to the substitutes bench after starting in Cornwall.
Ryan Wharton, at right back, returned after suspension but will be absent again on Saturday due to his commitments with the England squad for the MiniEuro 5-a-side tournament in Crete.
Victor Osobu was recalled to the right of the midfield with Bailey joining John Frendo in attack.
Eagles manager Lee Bearman made no less than five changes to his side after going down 4-0 at home to Cambridge City at the weekend. Included in the Bedford squad were former Saints John Sonuga, Curtis Shaw, Claude Seanla and Jordan Patrick.
On a mild evening the game began in cautious fashion with neither side gaining an upper hand.
The visitors first threatened when Lee Chappell exchanged passes with Frendo and sent a good strike along the ground and not far wide of Dan Green’s left hand upright.
Moments later Osobu picked up on an error by Town left-back Jordan Jarrold only to send a wild shot out of the stadium.
Bedford had shown little to suggest that they were going to cause City too many problems when, on 19 minutes, they conjured up a deadly move that resulted in their first goal on home soil in 246 minutes.
Taylor Rhiney was afforded ample space on the right to whip over a near post cross that was smartly headed home by Andrew Phillips after the Eagles skipper had nipped between Wharton and Martin.
Martin was clearly none too pleased at conceding that goal but cheered up two minutes later when he shrugged off Lorenzo Ferrari to meet a James Comley free kick and head the equalising goal over Green from 12 yards out.
Good fortune had appeared to be very much on City’s side with that goal for the award of a free kick in the Saints favour by referee Jon Panconi looked generous in the extreme.
Bedford responded with two efforts from distance by Eugene Asante that both called Paul Bastock into action.
The City keeper pulled off a superb save to palm the ball away from the first shot after it flew at some speed through a crowd of players, while the second was a tamer effort straight at the Bostonian.
At this time, however, St Albans were starting to exert some authority on the game and Bailey, following an Osobu cross, was only denied by the woodwork.
But Bailey only had to wait until the 33rd minute before powerfully heading City into a 2-1 lead after Comley, having received a short corner from Chris Watters, placed a cross into the six-yard box.
That goal should have been the launching pad for St Albans to take complete control and put the game well beyond Bedford’s reach.
Instead, the Saints became lethargic and wasteful, and produced a second half performance that was not even warm enough to label as tepid.
Bedford were not a great deal better and it was really only in the latter stages that interest returned to the game.
Frendo endured a quiet evening and other than having a shot charged down by Sonuga offered little threat before, somewhat surprisingly, being replaced by Greg Ngoyi on 68 minutes.
Rhiney forced Bastock to save low to his right while City substitute David Keenleyside sent a dipping effort over the home goal.
Chappell picked up his first booking of the season when shoving his forearm with some force into the back of Kerran Birch’s head as the duo waited for a throw-in to be taken.
City shuffled their pack on 77 minutes when Locke was replaced by Chris Henry.
Wharton moved inside to partner Martin, while Ram Marwa switched to right-back and Henry stepped in on the right wing. Sadly the changes did little to alter City’s lacklustre mindset.
On 84 minutes Bedford were thrown a lifeline when Shaw threaded the ball through to Phillips who was sent crashing to the ground by Martin.
Referee Panconi had no hesitation in awarding a penalty from which Phillips sent Bastock the wrong way to record his 12th goal in just 13 appearances this season.
Suddenly Bedford believed they could win the game and applied some pressure following a corner but were comfortably repelled.
City’s bid to snatch a late winner saw Keenleyside fire his third shot over the target – and flatten a spectator in the process – while a goalmouth scrambled ensued after Martin met a Watters corner but it was really a case of too little far too late for the Saints.
The draw sees City drop to tenth in the Southern League Premier Division table and the Saints now take a break from league action with the next three matches being in the FA Cup, League Cup and FA Trophy.
This coming Saturday, 12 October, Conference South strugglers Tonbridge Angels are the visitors to Clarence Park in the 3rd Round Qualifying of the FA Cup.
The Angels squad includes former Saints Gary Elphick, Chris Piper, David Ijaha and Ryan Watts.
Kick off is at 3pm.
Bedford Town: D.Green, P.Cooper, J.Jarrold, D.Femiola (O.McLeary-Stephens 77), J.Sonuga, C.Shaw, K.Birch (J.Patrick 74), T.Rhiney (C.Seanla 80), A.Phillips, E.Asante, L.Ferrari, subs; J.Nash, A.Farmer.
St Albans City: P.Bastock, R.Wharton, L.Chappell, R.Marwa, B.Martin, D.Locke (C.Henry 77), V.Osobu (D.Keenleyside 54) J.Comley, J.Frendo (G.Ngoyi 68), E.Bailey, C.Watters, subs; H.Georgiou, J.Kaloczi.
Goals: 19 1-0 Phillips, 21 1-1 Martin, 33 1-2 Bailey, 84 2-2 Phillips (p).
Referee: Jon Panconi (Dunstable).
Comments are closed on this article.