St Albans City boss James Gray admits it will be a disaster if they fail to reach the play-offs

The Saints suffered a setback against Poole Town: Robert Walkley

The Saints suffered a setback against Poole Town: Robert Walkley

First published in Local Sport
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James Gray insists St Albans City face the biggest weekend of their season and admits it will be a disaster if the side fail to reach the play-offs.

The Saints crashed to a 1-0 home defeat to top-five hopefuls Poole Town last weekend which left the hosts looking nervously over their shoulder.

St Albans looked comfortably on course for the play-offs a few weeks ago but this setback means the team are far from certain to extend their season.

Joint manager Gray said: “If we don't get into the play-offs then we will have no-one else to blame but ourselves. It would be hard to take and if we missed out it would be a disaster but it’s something I don't want to think about.”

The Saints face a critical weekend with a trip to lowly Banbury Town on Saturday before facing Biggleswade Town at Clarence Park on Easter Monday.

Gray said: “We have to come out firing and it makes things interesting. It’s our biggest weekend of the season but we know what we need to do and I fully expect the team to put things right.

“We’re always worried about teams around us and we are still unsure if we are going to be in the play-offs. We’ve been on a good run but we let ourselves down and we need to respond this weekend.”

Gray has targeted two wins over the Easter weekend which would put them in a strong position ahead of the final league game at Frome Town at the end of this month.

Darren Locke should be fit after going off with a back injury on Saturday but they will be without the suspended Ben Martin.

He said: “Banbury had a good start to the season but have been poor in the second half. We will be looking to get maximum points from that. Then we play Biggleswade and that’s always going to be tough.

“But if we play as we can then I would expect us to get two wins which will ensure we know what we need to do from our final game.

“We have got nine points to play for this season and need to win them. If we don’t then we’re going to need results to go our way.”

St Albans produced a very disappointing performance on Saturday and a 58th minute goal from Ekow Elliott ensured Poole Town stayed in the hunt for the play-offs.

Gray admitted: “I wasn’t happy with the performance and it was nowhere near good enough.

“They worked harder than us and that’s been the story when we’ve been beaten this season. The games we’ve lost we've lacked work rate and desire.

“Poole are a good side obviously but we just didn’t turn up.

“I was stressing how important the game was and we had a fully fit squad and a week without playing so there were no excuses. We didn’t really create anything in the second half.”

The St Albans manager was critical of side’s work ethic and felt this was again the reason behind their defeat.

He said: “It’s been a familiar pattern when we have lost this season. They were just a yard quicker than us all day long and it’s difficult to put your finger on why it was such a lacklustre performance but it was really annoying.”

Meanwhile the club's player of the season award will be announced on Easter Monday.

The award will be presented on the pitch straight after the Biggleswade Town match.

Other awards will be handed out afterwards in the Saints Bar. These are the John Wangford Memorial Trophy for the Goal of the Season, the Players’ Player of the Season and the Wagstaffe Simmons Award for the person supporters feel has done most for the club over the season, either on or off the field.

There is a St Albans City team and supporters’ coach going to Banbury United for the Calor League Premier Division game this Saturday.

The coach will depart at 11am from the Clarence Park entrance to the ground. Since the coach has a limited number of seats available, anyone going should book as early as possible. The cost for this coach is £10. There will be a coach going to Frome Town on Saturday, April 26.

To reserve seats call Ian Rogers on 07714 145862. The March player of the month award went Lee Chappell for the second time in a row.

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