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Bailey shines but Truro breeze past timid Saints
St Albans City suffered a bit more than promotion jitters on Saturday as Truro City romped to a highly impressive 3-1 Southern League victory in front of another bumper Clarence Park crowd.
St Albans started slowly then seemed to fizzle out completely well before half time, a rally late in the second half threatened to stave off defeat but overall, a truly dreadful performance got exactly what it deserved, nothing.
Full credit, however, should be paid to Truro, who displayed a welcome positive attitude and fully deserved to wipe from memory the 7-3 reversal they suffered at home to the Saints in October.
Truro’s experienced strike force of Les Afful and Ben Watson posed more problems for the City defence than just about any other attack this season.
And with the Saints midfield completely out of sorts, the visitors dominated in the middle of the park with the right-sided Jamie Lowry quite outstanding and fully supported by fellow midfielder Dan Green, who popped up with two fine goals.
St Albans were without the suspended duo of James Comley and John Frendo.
As good as Comley may have been this season, midfield is not an area where City are short of replacements, although the sooner recent acquisition Sam Corcoran reaches full fitness the better, as his contribution has been muted this far.
It is in attack where City are short on numbers. Mark Nwokeji’s early season goal flurry has been followed by two league goals in four months.
Fellow striker Peter Dean is equally out of touch in front of goal with just three goals to his name in 30 games for City and Wealdstone this season.
The only striker showing the remotest possibility of standing in ably for the 36-goal Frendo at present is Elliot Bailey, who volleyed home in style for the second successive game.
Truro gave an early warning of what was to come when a good run by Cody Cooke ended with his cut-back being driven high over the target by Lowry.
Fifteen minutes into the game Truro punished two pieces of sloppy play by the home side to score the perfect counter-attacking goal.
Following a Lee Chappell throw deep inside the Truro half, firstly Richard Graham and then Ram Marwa, both conceded possession far too meekly.
Truro broke at speed through Lowry who then clipped an excellent angled ball across the penalty area to Cooke who beat Paul Bastock with an exquisitely placed left-footed half volley back across the diving keeper.
City’s second highest Southern League attendance was silenced, and the response on the pitch did little to raise the spirits on a sun-kissed though chilly afternoon.
Dean scooped a half chance wide while a clever over-head effort by Bailey was not far off the mark following Marwa’s head down from a Lee Chappell cross.
Sandwiched between those efforts, Watson fired over for the Cornish side and Bastock saved a well-struck rising shot by Joe Broad.
With little going right for the Saints, the management duo of Graham Golds and James Gray took early action and replaced Graham with winger Chris Henry.
Graham’s reaction, throwing his shirt into the dug-out and heading down the tunnel, suggested that he was not entirely in agreement with the substitution, while Henry was starved of possession until the latter stages of the game.
Just nine minutes into the second half and City looked set to extend their unbeaten home run to a 13th Premier Division game when drawing level.
A short corner routine involving Chappell and Corcoran came to nothing when Paul Kendall headed clear only for Tom Ward and Corcoran to quickly return the ball forward.
The ball bounced onto Dean who chipped a good ball over the Truro defence for the unmarked Bailey to beat keeper Ollie Chenoweth with a stunning and brilliantly controlled volley.
A minute later Bailey led a City charge before sliding the ball into the path of Henry whose low shot was gathered by Chenoweth.
But on 56 minutes 18th placed Truro, much to the delight of their vocal supporters, regained the lead.
Watson had a shot on the edge of the box charged down by Kerrea Gilbert only for the ball to run across the penalty area to Green who shot, right-footed, inside Bastock’s near post.
Now the goalmouth activity increased most notably with Chappell shooting straight at Chenoweth while Bastock thwarted Watson after the former Bognor and Dorchester striker had raced clear of Ward.
At times Truro had to withstand heavy pressure.
None more so than when, following a Henry corner, Chappell had a shot charged down, Kaloczi’s knock back into the middle was headed away to Bailey, whose shot was also headed away but only as far as the diving Marwa whose diving header dipped onto the roof of the net.
Shane White cleared a near post Bailey cross for a corner as Nwokeji waited to pounce.
Truro enjoyed tremendous good fortune when Chappell swept the ball wide to Ward, and as Marwa challenged for the central defender’s cross, the ball broke towards Bailey who hammered a blistering volley into the face of the crossbar.
The ball rebounded to Nwokeji who, from ten yards, showed a complete lack of composure as he smashed his shot wildly over the Hatfield Road terrace.
Nwokeji’s day hardly improved when Chappell fed Henry down the left, and as Nwokeji prepared to sweep the low cross home it took an horrendous bounce off a divot before striking his swinging leg and upper torso.
City’s long awaited dominance was maintained when Bastock, from wide of his penalty area, hit the ball long with Bailey and then Dean helping it inside to Nwokeji.
After shrugging off Kendall, the City striker beat Steve Tully and fired a good shot low to Chenoweth’s left, but with lightning reactions the keeper stuck out a leg and blocked the shot.
Nwokeji did well to get a foot to the loose ball as the keeper attempted to smother it, but it ran on to Marwa whose goalbound effort was blocked by the lunge of defender Warren Daw.
But City came again only this time Chenoweth had few problems in denying Henry.
St Albans were prepared to gamble to save the game, but it was a calculated risk that did not pay off as Truro scored a third on the break, after a Bailey cross had fizzed across the face of the visitor’s goal, in the first minute of added time.
Truro’s initial attack ended when Bastock saved from Ollie Brokenshire but when the City keeper launched the ball downfield Kendall headed clear.
As the ball rolled out to the City left, Lowry did well to beat Chappell and powered towards the home penalty area.
Lowry touched a short pass inside to Green whose first shot was blocked by the dive of Taylor, only for a kind rebound to give Green a second bite, and this time he placed a precise finish high to the left of Bastock.
Truro are the first visiting side to win a league match at the Park since Stourbridge on 21st September.
City visit Stourbridge next Saturday, but before then the Saints travel to Corby Town on Wednesday, and while City were going down to Truro, Corby were beating Bideford 3-0.
St Albans will be without John Frendo for both matches, and skipper Ben Martin is doubtful having come off at half time on Saturday with a recurring hamstring problem.
St Albans City: P.Bastock, K.Gilbert, L.Chappell, R.Marwa, T.Ward, B.Martin (J.Kaloczi 46), R.Graham (C.Henry 33), S.Corcoran (M.Nwokeji 61), E.Bailey, P.Dean, M.Taylor, subs; H.Hall, D.Green.
Truro City: O.Chenoweth, S.Tully, W.Daw, P.Kendall, S.White, J.Broad (J.Copp 89), D.Green, J.Lowry, B.Watson (O.Brokenshire 85), L.Afful (L.Eddy 86), C.Cooke, sub; J.Ash, G.Fisher.
Goals: 15 0-1 Cooke, 54 1-1 Bailey, 56 1-2 Green, 90+1 1-3 Green.
Referee: Jason Richardson (Northwood).
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