St Albans City target unbeaten run after Chippenham Town win

Lee Chappell and John Frendo celebrate the winning goal on Monday

Lee Chappell and John Frendo celebrate the winning goal on Monday

First published in Local Sport

Joint St Albans City manager James Gray has targeted a long unbeaten run after his side responded to a rare defeat with a 1-0 win over Chippenham Town.

The Saints suffered a disappointing 1-0 loss at Bideford on Saturday but bounced back with a deserved victory on Monday night.

Gray’s side have consistently produced a strong response to setbacks this season and he has backed the players to do the same as they battle for promotion.

The Saints boss said: “I thought it was an inept performance on Saturday.

“We didn’t defend great or move the ball well. We didn’t really create any chances and to put it right tonight was good.

“We’ve got ourselves three points now and go into another home game on Saturday. It’s imperative that we keep trying to pick up points because it’s so tight in those play-off positions.

“We know sides around us will drop points but we’ve just got to take care of ourselves.

“We’ve always responded to defeats this season and went on a ten-game unbeaten run last time and hopefully we can do that again this time.”

The goal came after 20 minutes and it proved to be a spectacular winner. Chris Henry sent in a cross and John Frendo struck a stunning volley into the net.

It was the striker’s 35th goal of the season but the Saints will have to manage without him as he starts a three-match ban at Biggleswade Town next Tuesday.

Frendo is also on nine bookings and will face another two game ban should he receive a tenth yellow card.

Gray admitted: “We are going to miss him [Frendo]. It’s going to be one of those where we try and see if we can change the system a bit and try and get some of the other lads scoring because he has been our main threat goalwise.

“But it’s going to be an opportunity for some of the other lads to step up to the plate and see if they can get on the scoresheet and help us out for the few games he’s going to be out for.”

Although Gray did not think the Saints were at their fluent best against Chippenham Town, he was happy with the overall performance and felt they could have won more comfortably.

He said: “I don’t think we were at our best tonight but we got the three points and after travelling down to Bideford and back on Saturday, and such a quick turnaround, I was pretty pleased with the performance.

“On another night it could have been a bit more convincing if we had taken our chances. But we held firm, got the clean sheet and the three points.”

The goals have dried up recently for the Saints with only two in the last three matches but Gray insists he has no doubts in their ability to find the net.

He said: “Sides aren’t easy to break down in this league and we’ve found it difficult in the last three or four games but I wouldn’t be surprised if we got a few on Saturday.

“On any given day we can open sides up for fun and we did it again tonight in the first half.

“I thought we had three or four clear cut chances which we should have put to bed.

“Tonight it didn’t happen but hopefully we’re reserving a little bit for Saturday.”

The Saints’ victory leaves them third in the Southern Premier Division and only behind Chesham United on goal difference.

Both teams are 11 points behind league leaders Hemel Hempstead Town and it is looking increasingly likely they will have to settle for play-off spots.

The Saints are at home this weekend to struggling Redditch United as they look to consolidate their place in the top-five.

“There are no easy games in this league as you saw tonight [against Chippenham Town]. They’re fourth from bottom and caused a few problems because we didn’t put the ball in the net.”


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