St Albans City coach admits John Frendo's suspension is an opportunity for other strikers

St Albans & Harpenden Review: The Saints celebrate Elliot Bailey's winner on Saturday: Leigh Page The Saints celebrate Elliot Bailey's winner on Saturday: Leigh Page

St Albans City coach Harry Wheeler admits it will be difficult for the team to manage without suspended top scorer John Frendo but has called on their other forwards to grasp their first-team chance.

Frendo starts a three-match ban this weekend and the striker, who has netted 36 goals this season, is a big loss for the Saints.

The third game of Frendo's suspension will be the potentially crucial trip to Stourbridge on March 8 after tonight's game at Biggleswade Town was postponed. 

But Wheeler believes the Southern Premier Division promotion chasers can use this period as preparation in case they have to manage without their star striker later in the season.

Wheeler said: “It’s extremely difficult. I think any team will find it hard to fill the boots of any prolific goalscorer.

“You don’t get many 40 goals a season players in non-league so you aren’t going to get two in one side.

“We’re going to have fill the boots but then that’s an opportunity for us.

“If we end up getting into the play-off final and he’s injured or suspended for some reason then other players are going to have step up on the day.”

He added: “Hopefully we can use it as a positive twist and we can get the wins and score goals without him, so if that situation does arise down the line we know how to deal with it because we’ve already done it.

“Other players are going to get their chance.

“We’re going to look at different forward pairings and hopefully they will step up and take their opportunities.”

The Saints were not at their best on Saturday but still managed to defeat Redditch United 2-1 at Clarence Park.

St Albans opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Lee Chappell sent in a long throw and Frendo stooped to head home.

But the visitors surprised the Saints by netting an equaliser in the 24th minute.

Omari Sterling-James kept his composure to race clear and slot the ball past veteran goalkeeper Paul Bastock.

It looked like the Saints would be frustrated but Elliot Bailey came off the bench and settled the contest with a 74th minute volley which was his first league goal for four months. Wheeler said: “Elliot has come back hungry and looks a better player since he’s come back from his loan at Colney Heath .”

St Albans’ 11th home league win of the season took their points tally to 64 which is the highest since they won promotion to the Conference in 2006.

The Saints secured back-to-back victories after grinding out a win over Chippenham last week.

Wheeler accepts that St Albans need to raise their level but is encouraged by the fact they are still winning matches.

Wheeler said: “Six points over the last week is key and we’ll take that over the performance but the performances need to improve a little bit.

“It’s a good thing when you can see that the performances need to improve and you are still winning.”

Wheeler continued: “The problem is when you are a side up there and teams are struggling at the other end of the table, if you give them any bit of momentum then suddenly you are on the back foot because it lifts their whole side.

“We need to try and kill teams off a little bit earlier and have a little bit more quality in the final third which will take the stuffing out of teams earlier and that will stand us in good stead.”

Redditch have lost all their meetings against St Albans but the Saints coach insists the team are better than their league position indicates and has backed them to upset their promotion rivals.

Wheeler said: “They’ve got a lot of pace and they’re definitely a stronger side than their position shows.

“They’ve got to play four of the top five so hopefully they’ll start taking points off a few of the others around us and do us a favour. I think they’ve got the ability to do that.”

Meanwhile, Danny Green and Chris Watters have joined Hertford Town on dual registration with their first-team opportunities currently limited.

The Saints are next in action on Saturday when they entertain Truro City at Clarence Park.

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