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St Albans City joint manager James Gray is confident a win against Poole Town will seal the Saints' place in the Calor League Premier Division play-offs
St Albans City's joint manager James Gray is confident a victory on Saturday will seal his side’s place in the Calor League Premier Division play-offs.
St Albans are currently third in the division and look on course to secure a spot in the top five.
The opposition at the weekend, Poole Town, are still in the play-off chase and Gray said it’s important to dent their opponents’ push.
“We need to keep them at arm’s length in the table,” Gray explained. “They’ve got a few games in hand on us but at the moment it is in our hands.
“It’s still a little bit early to say ‘yes, we are in the play-offs’ but if we are able to get the three points on Saturday then I am confident we will be there.
“It’s important we continue to do our jobs until the end of the season. We want to ensure that we get a home draw in the play-offs. So we are looking to get that third place, that is our aim and it is one which is in our control.”
St Albans produced a resolute defensive display on Saturday to hold league leaders Hemel Hempstead Town to a goalless draw.
It is only the second time this season that Hemel haven’t found the net in a home match and Gray praised his side for their disciplined performance.
He said: “We knew that going there and playing open football wasn’t really sensible. We did that earlier in the season and were beaten 4-3 in the Herts Cup.
“So it was about staying concentrated and everyone did their jobs properly. We had to give them the respect they deserved and we didn’t give much away.
“Perhaps we could’ve opened up a little more and we did have a couple of chances to nick it late on. But we stuck to our structure and make no mistake about it, it was a good point for us and a good display from the players.”
The Saints were without top scorer John Frendo on Saturday as he served the second game of a two-match suspension. The striker, and Paul Bastock, are likely to return to the Saints side for the visit of Poole and Gray believes the two-week break could be beneficial for Frendo.
He said: “Obviously we would have liked to have John available in the last two matches and any side would miss their top scorer.
“But we haven’t lost in the two matches and John has had two weekends off. So he will benefit from that little rest and hopefully he will come back fresher.
“That should help us in the last four matches, or the final six if we get to the play-off final.”
The Saints ended their draw against Hemel with ten men after Ben Martin was dismissed in stoppage time.
Martin was shown a second yellow card in the final moments for dissent after taking a free-kick from the wrong position.
It was a decision that disappointed Gray.
“I thought it was a little bit petty from the referee,” he said. “The ball was a yard away from the right spot and he waited until Ben swung his leg to make the decision.
“It is a shame we will lose Ben but he has been carrying a hamstring injury and has only been able to train once a week. So the break could do him some good.”
Saints fans can cast their votes for the club’s end of season awards at Saturday’s game.
Supporters can have their say in the player of the season, the goal of the season and the Wagstaffe Simmons Award.
The Wagstaffe Simmons Award is given to the person that supporters feel has contributed the most for the Saints over the season, on or off the field.
This will be the only opportunity to participate for this season’s awards so fans are encouraged to cast their vote outside the club shop on Saturday.
Lee Chappell claimed the Harpenden Construction Limited player of the month award for March.
The trophy will be presented to Chappell prior to Saturday’s match by Davy McLean, on behalf of the Saints Thursday night music quiz team.
There is a club and supporters' coach going to the Banbury United league game on April 19. The coach departs at 11am from the Clarence Park entrance to the ground.
To reserve a seat, which costs £10, contact Ian Rogers on 07714 145862 or you can book a place at Saturday’s game.