St Albans City boss calls for improvement in both boxes after Sutton United defeat

The Saints had a goal disallowed for offside in their weekend defeat: Leigh Page

The Saints had a goal disallowed for offside in their weekend defeat: Leigh Page

First published in Sport St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by

St Albans City joint manager James Gray believes his side need to improve in both penalty areas after falling to a 4-2 home defeat against Sutton United.

The Saints played their part in an eventful match but were punished for missing several glaring opportunities as the visitors exposed defensive frailties.

It was the side’s second defeat in a row, following the 1-0 loss at Eastbourne Borough last week, and Gray thinks the newly-promoted club are learning lessons from the step up in class in the Conference South.

Gray said: “It is encouraging the amount we have created. If we weren’t creating chances then we would get disheartened but that is not the case because we have had plenty of opportunities. But we have to get better at both ends of the pitch.

“There is no cause for concern or panic. We just need to get better at both ends and improve our concentration levels.”

The Saints boss continued: “They [Sutton] are a good side but we created plenty of chances to go in front. Getting the goal just before half-time set us up nicely but we conceded a sloppy second goal which knocked the stuffing out of us. Defensively we are letting in too many soft goals.

“Sutton are one of the favourites for promotion and we knew that it would be a tough afternoon for us. But I think the finishing proved to be the difference between the sides.

“We’ve had plenty of chances, missed a penalty and had a goal disallowed so it was a bit frustrating.

“Their manager said we deserved something from the game, which you take a bit of confidence from, but we know we have work to do.

“We’re stepping up a level and we have to tighten up our defence and also stick the ball in the net at vital times.”

St Albans have scored eight goals in their opening six league matches but Gray is optimistic his side will find the net with more regularity during the rest of the season.

He said: “I expect a team with Sean Shields and John Frendo in to score plenty of goals. The sides we’re all coming up against are established ones but we have enough firepower. But I would still have expected a few more goals from us by now.”

The Saints have a small squad and the manager is open to the idea of bringing in new additions over the coming weeks.

“We have a small squad at the minute,” he said. “We don’t have 22 or 23 players like last season because we decided to go with a bit more quality.

“I’ve got my eye on a few players and if we have the opportunity to improve the side then we will do. But if not then we’re happy enough with the squad.

“Individually I’m not too concerned but we need to get better collectively. We need to get back on a winning run. If they aren’t able to do it then we will look to change it.”

City’s tough run of fixtures continues this weekend when they travel to Ebbsfleet United before hosting Bromley on Monday night.

The Saints boss said: “We’re playing four games in a row against my picks for the title and it’s just unfortunate that they are coming one after the other. But we have already got nine points and we’re doing better than the other team promoted. Wealdstone have found it even more difficult so far.

“The next two games aren’t going to get any easier but we are just going to go into them looking to win them.

“If we get things right in training then we will give ourselves opportunities and we just need to tweak things so that we can find that consistency which everyone is striving for.”

The club will now be running a team and supporters' coach to Ebbsfleet United for the Vanarama Conference South fixture on Saturday.

The coach will depart at 11.30am from the Clarence Road entrance to the ground. Since there is a limited number of seats avilable, anyone wishing to go should book early. To reserve seats, call Ian Rogers on 07714 145862. The cost for the coach is £10.

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