A Stour-bridge too far for St Albans City

ST ALBANS City suffered their second consecutive defeat in the Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division going down 4-2 to Stourbridge at Clarence Park this afternoon (Saturday).

On Bank Holiday Monday The Saints, who played 85 minutes with 10 men after defender Curtis Ujah was sent-off, were unfortunate to lose 2-1 at Chesham United, however they can have no complaints about their defeat to The Glassboys.

City were chasing their visitors all afternoon and never really got into gear, they twice fell behind, but managed to draw level on each occasion before Stourbridge eventually pulled away to take all three points.

The West Midlanders started brightly with Chris Knight firing into the side netting and Drew Canavan forcing an early save from debutant City keeper Nick Hardy, in for the injured Nick Jupp.

On 13 minutes Knight saw an effort tipped round the post for a corner by Hardy and from the following set-piece they opened the scoring.

Sean Geddes’ kick was met by the head of his captain Paul McCone and he was given too much space to nod past Hardy.

It took a little over five minutes for David Howell’s troops to get back level, scoring in the same style as their visitors.

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Richard Graham’s right wing corner was powerfully headed past keeper Lewis Solly by James Gray for his first goal of the season.

But just after the half-hour mark Stourbridge re-gained the lead.

Stuart Hendrie got the better of left-back Ryan Watts and his ball across the box was turned past Hardy by Leon Broadhurst.

Again the lead lasted for a little over five minutes.

Winger Sean Shields planted a free-kick past the wall and into the bottom left corner after he was pushed on the very edge of the 18-yard box to ensure the score was 2-2 at the break.

In the first attack of the second half Sam Rock jinked his way into the City box evading three challenges before his shot was turned around the post by Hardy, much the busier of the two keepers on show.

From the corner there was a repeat of Stourbridge’s opening goal as McCone was left to head home Geddes’ kick once more.

This time City could not restore parity.

The closest they came was through top scorer Lewis Toomey, who had scored in each of City’s four league games ahead of this one.

A long Hardy kick was misjudged by defender Sam Smith and Toomey was allowed a sniff at goal, but on the turn he fired wide of the target in what was his only real chance of the afternoon.

At the other end Hendrie dragged a shot off target from inside the area.

While City went close twice in a minute through their two former Premier League stars.

Firstly ex-Fulham forward Hayles was denied by Solly and then Micah Hyde, who played in the top tier of the English game with Watford, headed straight to the Stourbridge number one.

Toomey was replaced by Simon Martin on the hour mark ending his hopes of maintaining his continuous scoring streak.

Hardy was alert again to turn Canavan’s fierce drive round the post and then the rookie stopper denied Broadhurst and Geddes in quick succession to keep his side in with a chance of rescuing something from the game.

Stourbridge looked the more likely to add to the goal tally and had it not been for Curtis Ujah’s goal-line clearance they would have done sooner.

Their fourth goal came with 10 minutes left as Knight capitalised on a Ujah slip, his first effort was parried, but a sliced Ujah clearance gifted him with the chance to net, which he did.

Late on City almost pulled it back to 4-3, but Gray shot over after Chris Seeby had headed a Graham cross back across goal.

City are back in action on Monday night as they travel to Hitchin Town.