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St Albans City boss James Gray believes side can still win league
9:50am Wednesday 18th December 2013 in Local Sport
St Albans City joint manager James Gray believes the Saints still have a chance of winning the league.
The Saints moved within three points of the Southern Premier Division play-offs after a 2-0 win over Bashley on Monday night.
But Gray insists his side, who have games in hand on their promotion rivals, have not given up on top spot.
Gray said: “You just never know in this league. I don’t see why we can’t challenge to win the league. We still have to play the sides around the top of the league and have a massive match against Chesham on Boxing Day.
If we won that and our games in hand then I think we would be in second place. So if we can maintain the form we’ve shown and keep the momentum going then anything is possible.”
The Saints’ opponents Bashley were reduced to ten men in the first minute when Adam Flint blocked an effort with his hands.
John Frendo converted the penalty to give St Albans the lead but they had to wait until the start of the second half when the striker converted his 21st goal of the season.
Gray said: “I think it was just what the doctor ordered. We didn’t play great but it was just a case of getting the three points at this stage of the season.
“We have had a lot of tough games lately and we just looked a bit lethargic. They had a man sent off after 30 seconds and we didn’t perform too well but still coasted home.”
The Saints pushed Conference leaders Cambridge United all the way before a late 2-1 home defeat in the FA Trophy on Saturday.
Nathan Arnold fired the visitors into a 32nd minute lead at Clarence Park but the Saints drew level in the second half when Frendo converted a penalty after a foul on Tom Ward.
But St Albans were stung by a 92nd minute winner when Aaron Pierre fired past Paul Bastock.
Gray said: “It was unfortunate to concede so late on. We would have liked to have taken them up there for a replay but it would have meant we would have fallen further behind in the league.
“We have more than matched the top side in the Conference but now we have to concentrate on our league form.”
The match was soured by two late sendings off for the Saints as they finished with nine men.
Captain Ben Martin protested that the visitors should never have been awarded a corner in the build-up to Pierre’s goal and was shown a second yellow card for dissent.
It got even worse when substitute Chris Henry was sent off for appearing to kick out at Cambridge’s Kevin Roberts.
Gray admitted: “It was purely borne out of frustration. We didn’t feel that it was a corner and felt we weren’t getting the rub of the green.
“Chris should not have kicked out but their manager agreed that it was probably only a yellow card.
“The officials have let us down and we have had to do it the hard way.”
The Saints travel to mid-table Redditch United this weekend where Gray expects his side to continue their climb up the league.
He said: “It’s going to be a tough game but we rested a couple of people on Monday and we expect to get three points if we perform to our ability.”
n There is a St Albans City team and supporters’ coach going to Redditch United for the Calor League Premier Division game this Saturday.
The coach will depart at 10.30am from the Clarence Park entrance to the ground. To reserve seats, call Ian Rogers on 07714 145862. The cost for the coach is £15.
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