Drew Roberts two first half goals secured a barely merited three points for St Albans City on Tuesday as a Dorchester Town side, full of attacking intent, went down to a 2-1 Blue Square South defeat at a chilly Clarence Park.

The victory, which lifts the Saints to 12th in the table, was City’s third in succession at the Park, a feat last achieved in October 2008.

But the Saints paid a high price with right back James Quilter being taken to hospital with a possible broken leg after being caught late in the match by Magpies substitute Jules Emati-Emati.

Emati-Emati late challenge, however, should not detract from what was, particularly during the opening 45 minutes, one of the best performances seen from any side playing at the Park this season.

The Magpies, led by caretaker manager Ashley Vickers, the former City defender, were a breath of fresh air given the way they attacked relentlessly during a ridiculously one-side first half. Only a series of last second interventions and brave defensive headers denied the Dorset side a fully deserved victory.

City went into the match rocked by an injury to midfielder Solomon Shields, sustained at the weekend when playing with friends. The former Leyton Orient youngster suffered a ruptured Achilles and could be facing up to nine months on the sidelines.

The Saints were also without Godfrey Poku and the underused Jonathan O’Donnell, as the pair returned to Luton Town at the end of their loan period.

Even so, Steve Castle restricted himself to just two changes. James Fisher reverted to the midfield after a good run at right back. This paved the way for Quilter, on his 100th game for the club, coming into the midfield alongside highly promising teenager Rob Magwood.

Vickers made three changes with Neil Martin, Jamie Gleeson and Ryan Moss coming into the starting line up after missing a 1-1 draw with Woking at the weekend.

The opening moments set the tone for the half as Jake Beecroft showed determined attacking intent with a positive run through the middle of the pitch only for his crisp strike to drift high over Regan Coward’s goal.

Dorchester responded with a series of flowing attacking waves that had City stretched and a goal for the visitors appeared inevitable.

Inside three minutes a Steve Devlin corner on the Magpies right went beyond the far post where Matt Groves headed square for Moss to head against the crossbar. As the ball bounced around in the goalmouth City just succeeded in scrambling it away.

Although the game was just nine minutes old it was still against the run of play when St Albans took the lead. Beecroft and James Fisher worked the ball into the left hand side of the Dorchester defence and were rewarded with a penalty when the ball struck Town skipper Kevin Hill on the hand.

Roberts competently despatched the spot kick to Regan Coward’s right to open the scoring.

City survived a frantic scramble inside their own six-yard box after Paul Bastock did well to parry a stinging low cross from the Town right. Ross and Groves both went close to forcing the ball over the line, Quilter made one goalline block, before Bastock smothered the ball.

Midway through the half Warren Byerley looked set to equalise following Groves pass only for Peter Smith to steam in with trademark tackle 14 yards from goal.

The pressure, built around fast passing football, was maintained with a long range effort from Mark Jermyn just going the wrong side of the crossbar. On the half hour a snap shot by Byerley, just after the ball had been headed away from goal, went at some speed just wide of Bastock’s right hand upright by the narrowest of margins.

Dorchester’s most impressive approach play paid off on 34 minutes when they were awarded a penalty that Castle believed to be more than a little soft with Gary Cohen penalised for a push on Nathan Walker at one of the ten first half corners won by the visitors.

Groves, in sending Bastock the wrong way, claimed his 11th goal of the season to restore parity.

But Dorchester enjoyed just four minutes on level terms before City struck from their only other on target effort of the match.

Town left back Martin misjudged a through ball that allowed Beecroft to attack down the City right and cut into the penalty area. Just when it looked as though the on loan Rushden & Diamonds midfielder had delayed his pass too long he slid a perfect ball into Roberts path for the midfelder to guide his 12th goal of the season to the right of keeper Coward.

Two minutes later City received a slice of good fortune when Devlin’s free kick was blocked only for the midfielder to seize upon the loose ball and drive a shot to the left of Bastock that the fully extended goalkeeper pushed against an upright.

Unbeknownst to the City keeper a linesman’s flag had been raised for offside.

Chances continued to come and go and right on half time Moss unleashed a glorious half volley that dipped late and Bastock did well to push around the post for the last of Dorchester’s ten first half corners.

The second 45 minutes, with City attacking towards the Hatfield Road goal, fell well short of the thrills of the first half and any addition to the scoreline was little more than a remote possibility as both sides conceded possession far too readily.

But if any side did look to be in with a chance of scoring then it was probably Dorchester as City’s front pairing of Roberts and Ian Dunn received little service from the midfield.

Soon after the restart Jermyn hammered a low drive at the City goal that Adam Everitt, once again in outstanding form, managed to divert over the crossbar and onto the roof of the netting despite being in a prone position in the middle of the penalty area.

Dunn was replaced by James Lindie just before the hour but he, too, could make little headway as the Magpies dominated the midield and cut off City’s supply lines.

That said, the longer the game wore on the more confident Rob Magwood became and at last City began to win some of the midfield battles.

A good chance went begging for the visitors when Nick Crittenden, sent off when playing at St Albans for Weymouth earlier in the season, went on a superb run down the Town right before sliding the ball back to Groves who spooned his shot over the target.

Fisher had a goal disallowed when Coward, clattered into by Cohen at a Magwood free kick, dropped the ball for Fisher to stroke it into the Hatfield Road net. Cohen was penalised for his challenge on the keeper who saw out the remainder of the game with a distinct limp.

The game was petering out tamely, and untidily, when Quilter suffered his injury. Bastock kicked a delightful pass some 40 yards out to Beecroft on the touchline. Fenced in by Dorchester players Beecroft worked the ball back to Quilter who was caught by Emati-Emati as he attempted to play the ball down the touchline.

After prolonged treatment Quilter was helped from the pitch with a couple of minders.

St Albans City: P.Bastock, J.Fisher, P.Smith, R.Magwood, A.Everitt, R.Frater, J.Beecroft, J.Quilter (R.Dedman 86), I.Dunn (J.Lindie 58), D.Roberts, G.Cohen (C.Sullivan 75), subs; M.Peters, P.Lokando.

Dorchester Town: R.Coward, M.Jermyn, N.Martin, W.Byerley (J.Emati-Emati 83), N.Walker, K.Hill, N.Crittenden, J.Gleeson, R.Moss, M.Groves (J.Coutts 63), S.Devlin, subs; G.Bowles, A.Taylor, S.Gilbert.

Goals: 1-0 Roberts 9p, 1-1 Groves 34p, 2-1 Roberts 38.

Booked: Devlin, Emati-Emati, Hill.

Referee: Carl Fitch (Ipswich).

Att: 240.