Get involved: send your pictures, video, news & views by texting st albans to 80360, or email us
Glassboys polish off self-destructing Saints
Two moments of utter madness sent St Albans City spinning to a fourth Southern League defeat of the season as Stourbridge punished City’s benevolence to pick up three Premier Division points from an uninspiring encounter with a 2-1 win at Clarence Park on Saturday.
On chances created Gary Hackett’s side probably deserved victory but the manner in which the Saints conceded the two goals will give Jams Gray and his fellow, though absent, joint managerial colleague Graham Golds nightmares for some time to come.
Stourbridge, one of the pre-season title favourites, arrived at Clarence Park on the back three defeats in four league games and, on this evidence, look a shadow of the side that impressed so much on this ground one year ago.
But given St Albans tendency to self-destruct the Glassboys needed to be no great shakes to add to the Saints growing woes.
The two sides had pretty much cancelled each out during the early stages until City left-back Lee Chappell went to clear a pass by Stourbridge right-back Aaron Drake only to decide to pull away and let the ball run past him.
Glassboys striker Ben Billingham quickly pounced on the error and moved swiftly into the penalty area before drilling the ball with some power inside Paul Bastock’s near, left hand, upright to open the scoring on 19 minutes.
Whilst it is almost possible to understand Chappell’s costly error, a flash of complete stupidity is the only way to describe the manner in which Stourbridge were handed a second goal on 61 minutes.
City keeper Bastock cleanly collected a cross into the penalty area but reacted badly to what appeared to be a fair challenge by Will Richards and kicked the Stourbridge striker as he walked away.
Linesman Ian Corner spotted the offence and after Bastock had been cautioned Stourbridge skipper Sean Geddes drove the resulting kick into the middle of the York Road net for his seventh goal of the season.
Bastock confessed that the red mist got the better of him and whilst there can be no excuse for what happened here, it must be said that without the brilliance of the 43-year Bostonian this season City would have nothing like the 13 points they currently have had he not been around.
City gave a first start to recent acquisition Victor Osobu and on the bench included Leyton Orient midfielder Harrison Georgiou who has joined the Saints on a three-month loan.
Given that wingers Aston Goss and Aryan Tajbakhsh were released during the week after a series of unimpressive displays, Osobu will need to improve quickly to hold down a place on the left flank.
Attacking the York Road goal, St Albans had chances during the opening 45 minutes but demonstrated a lack of confidence to shoot from the edge of the penalty area and ended the half without an on-target shot to their name.
After just five minutes Glassboys keeper Dean Coleman partially cleared a Richard Graham corner as far as John Frendo who tried to hook the ball, first time, back into the goalmouth only for his effort to drift beyond the back post.
After Jordan Fitzpatrick fired high for the visitors Osobu showed his potential when powering his way into the penalty area only to shoot over the top when close in.
City skipper Ben Martin maintained his good start to the season with three outstanding blocks from efforts that appeared destined for the back of the Saints net.
Billingham opened the scoring on 19 minutes and the Stourbridge striker caused Chappell more problems when dancing wide of the City defender before having his shot blocked by the knee of Martin.
Later in the half Martin again stretched well to deny Billingham from ten yards out.
St Albans ended the half with a positive flurry. Chappell controlled a dropping ball with his right foot before sending a left-footed half volley a few yards wide before a good move almost produced a goal.
Graham, like James Comley generally well contained by the visitors, laid the ball wide to Mark Nwokeji and the otherwise anonymous City front-man played a good pass inside to Matt Taylor.
After side-stepping Nathan Bennett, Taylor cut the ball across the face of the goal to Osobu who slid in but failed to apply the touch required to pull the sides level.
City nearly grabbed a scrappy equaliser when Chappell’s long throw-in fell inside the six yard box.
As the ball dropped over Martin’s head Matt Taylor attempted an unusual flick but missed the ball that then bounced off Coleman and was scrambled away as John Frendo moved in.
The half ended with Martin chesting down a Comley cross to Graham who drove his shot over the target.
Whilst the first half was low-key but acceptable, the second 45 minutes were dull but interspersed with occasional flashes of interest.
Glassboys striker Luke Benbow superbly beat Howard Hall and after cutting inside drove low towards the near post but once again Martin lunged in to save the day.
City responded with a spell of pressure that saw Chappell and Graham combine to feed Comley whose delightful chip to the far post was headed wide by Nwokeji when, perhaps, Martin was better placed to head in.
On 59 minutes St Albans finally directed a shot on target when Hall smartly switched from his left foot to his right and, from 22 yards, drew an excellent palm over the top from the watchful Coleman.
A minute later Comley also forced Coleman to make a save but his low effort lacked the power to seriously concern the keeper.
A minute later Bastock had his split second of insanity and Geddes duly put Stourbridge two-up.
Shortly after Georgiou, an 18-year-old who looks younger but comes highly rated from Orient, replaced Graham.
Osobu made way for the alice-band wearing David Keenleyside who quickly picked up a booking following a late challenge on Paul Lloyd.
Super-sub Chris Henry joined the fray on 72 minutes, in place of the unfortunate Taylor, and within a minute embarked on a run that suggested City were going to go down fighting but the new spirit soon evaporated.
Geddes attempted to snatch a sneaky third goal for Stourbridge with a clever free kick from a tight angle that almost crept inside the near post but was hacked away by Hall.
As time ebbed away Chappell fired across the face of the visitor’s goal and Drew Canavan did likewise for Stourbridge.
An intriguing finale was set up when City reduced the deficit four minutes into added time with a fortuitous goal.
Comley broke up a Stourbridge attack and fed Martin who moved forward before sliding a pass up to Henry who in turn found Nwokeji.
His short pass was collected by Georgiou in the middle of the Stourbridge half. The teenager kept the move going forward to Frendo who turned and shot left-footed.
The ball was heading comfortably wide before clipping Drake and flying into the opposite side of the net from which Coleman was heading.
Less than minute later and Georgiou was again charging through the Stourbridge half before being upended by Canavan who collected a booking for his troubles.
Before the final whistle sounded there was just sufficient time for Keenleyside to land the dead ball amongst the supporters on the Hatfield Road terrace.
Following on from the departure of Goss and Tajbakhsh, it has been confirmed that left-back Layne Eadie has decided to leave the club with Isthmian League side Harlow Town believed to be his next port of call.
St Albans City: P.Bastock, H.Hall, L.Chappell, R.Graham (H.Georgiou 62), R.Wharton, B.Martin, M.Taylor (C.Henry 72), J.Comley, J.Frendo, M.Nwokeji, V.Osobu (D.Keenleyside 65), subs; D.Locke, E.Bailey.
Booked: Bastock, Comley, Keenleyside.
Stourbridge: D.Coleman, P.Lloyd, J.Kalena, W.Richards, S.Geddes, N.Bennett, A.Drake, J.Fitzpatrick (L.Broadhurst 70), L.Benbow (R.Rowe 77), B.Billingham, D.Canavan, subs: J.Oliver, G.Washbourne, A.Green.
Booked: Benbow, Kalena, Canavan.
Goals: 19 0-1 Billingham, 61 0-2 Geddes (p), 90 1-2 Own Goal (Drake).
Referee: Anthony Da Costa (Cambridge).
Comments are closed on this article.