St. Albans 2-1 Eastleigh


Blue Square South

Report by Ray Murphy

Eastleigh’s two most previous trips to St Albans have ended pointless for them and a disappointed side travelling back to Hampshire.

Unfortunately this trip had the same outcome for the Eastleigh side. Although this was anything but a top drawer Eastleigh display, the record books will show that this was the story of two penalties that brought Eastleigh to their fate.

Striker Brett Williams passed a late fitness test allowing manager Ian Baird to retain the same squad that had scored a five-goal victory at Weymouth some four days earlier. This time though the side barely had five attempts on goal let alone scoring more than one.

St Albans City had recovered from their opening day defeat to score a home victory over Worcester City in the midweek but were without one of their better players in Paul Hakim who this season is unavailable on Saturday's owing to work commitments.

Danny Smith saw a shot pushed away by City goalkeeper Paul Bastock in the fourth minute while three minutes later Solomon Shields, recently released by Leyton Orient saw his effort saved by Jason Matthews.

The next attempt on goal did not arrive until the twenty-second minute again Smith on the volley following a cross from Andy Forbes, which again Bastock had covered.

A minute later Shaun McAuley this time was denied by Bastock following his shot on the turn from the edge of the box.

Williams curled a shot into the arms of Bastock on thirty-four minutes then five minutes later Smith’s low shot from McAuley's pass brought an excellent stop down to Bastock’s right hand post by the keeper.

With the first half appearing to be drifting away to a goalless ending, the tricky Drew Roberts got in behind Steve Clark and as they arrived in the penalty area together ex-City defender Clark produced a clumsy challenge that saw Roberts go sprawling giving referee Adrian Quelch little option than to award City a penalty.

Roberts himself with an unusual approach to the ball took the kick himself, sending Mathews the wrong way with his penalty but the ball still hit the inside of the post before nestling in the back of the net.

There was literally just time to restart the game before the half time whistle blew.

The second period produced few chances with the game being played mainly in midfield.

Both sides showed a lack of penetration up front though home striker Gary Cohen showed plenty of enthusiasm in his leading of the City front line.

St Albans almost gave themselves a two-goal cushion on sixty-five minutes when a powerful twenty-five yard drive from James Fisher cannoned back off the upright with the fully stretched Matthews grasping at fresh air.

Eastleigh produced a swift counter attack and a minute later Eastleigh were level instead of being two goals behind. Forbes laid the ball back into the path of McAuley who strode into the ball and buried a low shot past the diving Bastock for Eastleigh’s equaliser.

For a few minutes it seemed that Eastleigh would go on and win this fixture from this position. Smith had another effort from the edge of the box that went just over the bar then McAuley again tried his luck from thirty yards, which saw another fine stop by Bastock.

With eighty-one minutes played Eastleigh were denied their chance of taking the lead. Cohen bustled his way into the area only to be brought down under a challenge from Aaron Martin. Again referee Quelch was well positioned and pointed to the spot for the second time in the afternoon. Roberts again stepped forward and with the same unusual approach to the spot kick used the same side of the goal again, again sending Matthews the wrong way giving Roberts the same result though this time without the aid of the post.

As Eastleigh threw all forward to search for an equaliser a Smith header from a Brett Poate cross was pushed over by Bastock then Poate himself saw a free kick saved by the City keeper. The game ended though with Eastleigh's second defeat from three games for the season.


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