St Albans City need Frome Town point to secure play-off place

St Albans & Harpenden Review: George Sykes celebrates the Saints' winner over Biggleswade Town: Robert Walkley George Sykes celebrates the Saints' winner over Biggleswade Town: Robert Walkley

St Albans City need a point from their final game at Frome Town this weekend to secure a Southern Premier Division play-off place.

The Saints picked up two wins over Easter as they thrashed Banbury United 5-1 away on Saturday before beating Biggleswade Town 1-0 on Monday.

But the Saints have still not secured a top-five finish as they are only three points ahead of sixth-placed Hungerford Town. With a goal difference three better than Hungerford, who face Bideford, St Albans still need to pick up a result in Somerset to avoid an anxious wait to discover their fate.

Speaking after Monday’s victory, joint manager James Gray said: “I think all the other sides won so it’s business as normal for us. We’ve got a job to do and need to go to Frome and get the three points. If we win that game then it will guarantee us the play-offs.”

St Albans found it difficult to break down ten-man Biggleswade after midfielder Lee Allinson received a red card for a dangerous first-half challenge. The Saints’ winner came after 27 minutes when George Sykes’ strike hit a divot on the edge of the six-yard area and deceived the visiting goalkeeper Ian Brown.

Gray said: “The pitch is dry and bobbly so we said to the boys beforehand to try to have some pot shots because you never know and fair play to George because he’s done that. He worked his socks off on Saturday and had five or six easier chances than that, but he’s pulled the trigger and it’s gone in. It’s a valuable three points for us so I’m reallypleased for him and for the boys.”

The Saints were well supported again as 724 fans attended the game at Clarence Park and Gray hopes to deliver promotion for their followers.

“We’ve got the crowds up and that happens when you’re doing well and winning,” Gray said. “The crowds are always going to come out for us because it is a big club and we’re trying to put them back on the map. If we can keep building and get promoted this season then the crowds will probably get even bigger.

“We’re doing our end of the bargain and the fans have been superb. I’d like to give each and every one of them a round of applause for this season so far if I could.”

The Saints boss admitted his side were nervous on Monday but put that down to the pressure of trying to reach the play-offs.

Gray said: “In general we looked a little bit nervy today but you can understand that a bit because we were nervous on the sidelines because it is so important at this time of year.

“There are such fine margins with what we’re trying to achieve and get in the play-offs. The lads played so well on Saturday but coming here in front of a big crowd, I just felt we were a little nervy.

“The lads did not know whether to stick or twist especially at 1-0. Do we bomb on and try to take full advantage and leave ourselves open to the counter-attack or do we try to contain them and take the three points?

“Hopefully we can take the shackles off this weekend at Frome and get the three points in a better manner. Sometimes when you play away from home there’s not so much pressure on you which has proved the case this year.”

St Albans had no such problems on Saturday as they brushed aside struggling Banbury.

Steve Wales opened the scoring after just 57 seconds before Luke Fathers grabbed the equaliser. But a brace from John Frendo made it 3-1 at the break. Lee Chappell and James Comley added second-half efforts.


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