All aboard the s-express as Shaun, Solomon and Sam help St Albans outshine Oxford
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City got the new Vanarama National League South season off to the perfect start with a 3-2 win away at Oxford City.
Matt Paterson had put the host ahead but strikes from Shaun Lucien, Solomon Sambou and Sam Merson gave City a 3-1 advantage meaning a goal in the last moments of stoppage time by David Pearce was a mere consolation.
Oxford started life on their brand new 3G surface positively as they tried to spread the ball towards the flanks and cause early problems for the Saints.
Zane Banton, however, had the first real sight of goal during the opening quarter of an hour when he picked up the ball in midfield and skipped past a number of defenders before hitting an effort which sailed past Craig Hill in the Oxford goal.
The opening goal of the game came from a harmless looking long ball which had been hit forward by Joe Oastler.
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Tom Bender attempted to intercept the pass but the ball skipped under the boot of the defender and into the path of debutant Paterson who calmly lobbed Dean Snedker to give the hosts the lead.
Lucien almost levelled the game with a free-kick in the 35th minute, but his set piece was deflected inches wide by a well-organised Oxford wall.
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Former Saint Godfrey Poku was next to go close. A ball was played in from the right and the defender curled the ball past Snedker’s right hand post when he should have done better.
St Albans, for much of the first half, had plenty of the ball but struggled to click in the final third as Oxford did well to hold their defensive line and restrict the visitors to play largely outside the box.
As the game ticked over in the 45th minute, the visitors finally found the break through.
Sambou won the ball in midfield and ran towards the area before playing it into the path of Lucien, who with the outside of his boot, slotted it past Hill and into the far corner to send the two sides into half-time level.
It took Saints just 20 seconds to take the lead following the restart.
Kieran Monlouis picked the ball up and played it into Sambou and he curled a superb right-footed effort into the top corner.
St Albans dominated possession with midfielder David Noble in particular at the heart of much of it.
They got forward well but failed to extend their lead as a number of dangerous looking balls into the goal mouth were cleared by the hosts.
Merson was introduced in the place of Charlie Walker in the 68th minute, and Rhys Murrell-Williamson and Percy Kiangebeni also appeared from the bench.
The substitutions added freshness and extra pace to the side, which finally told in the 84th minute.
Lucien, who had posed a threat all afternoon, won the ball on the left of midfield and played the ball into Merson who had found space in the Oxford area.
The substitute took a touch and hit a powerful strike which beat Hill and secured the three points for Ian Allinson’s side.
The home side pushed forward looking for a consolation and scored their second of the afternoon in the final minute of additional time.
Substitute Craig Fasanmade hit a low cross from the edge of the box which caused panic in the St Albans box before it was finally turned over the line by midfielder Pearce.
Despite the late consolation goal, St Albans were well worth the three points and should have won by more than the one goal margin.
St Albans will be looking to make it six points from two games when they host Wealdstone at Clarence Park tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7.45pm.