All square at Wheatsheaf Park
City pegged back after taking two goal lead
Staines Town 2 (Marc Charles-Smith 46, Leroy Griffiths 69)
St Albans City 2 (James Fisher 16, Inih Effiong 29)
THERE was a sense of d�j� vu in the Saints’ camp at Wheatsheaf Park on Tuesday night after they let a two goal lead slip for the second away game running.
Goals from James Fisher and Inih Effiong had put City in a commanding position at the break but Staines Town hit back with two goals in the second half, one in the first 13 seconds of the restart, to make it four draws from four games for St Albans.
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Despite letting a winning lead slip through their fingers, there was much to be positive about for City with James Fisher returning to form and Hassan Sulaiman producing one of his best displays in a City shirt.
Steve Castle made one change to the side that drew 0-0 with Braintree Town on Saturday, brining back Sulaiman for Rob Magwood. The young City midfielder took a place on the bench alongside new signing Sean Shields, an attack minded player formerly with Rushden & Diamonds.
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Castle gave the captain’s armband to Ben Martin to allow Fisher to concentrate on his football.
It was a move that worked for the Saints with Fisher involved in all of City’s good early work.
Robbie Martin had Swans stopper Wells sprawling across his line to keep out a well struck snap shot but there were question marks over the goalkeeper’s efforts when he failed to deal with Fisher’s long range effort that gave City the lead.
From City’s point of view it was an excellent goal, built from a move started by Fisher on the edge of his own box.
The ball was played up to Effiong who went on a rampaging run past two men before squaring to Fisher, who despite not connecting cleanly managed to beat Wells from 25 yards.
The goal visibly lifted the Saints and they began playing with a confidence not seen in the their previous two outings. Fisher and Adam Martin dominated their opponents in the centre of the park and Ben Martin and Adam Everitt dealt with the little that came their way with relative ease.
There was no real surprise when City doubled their lead in the 29th minute with another beautifully worked goal.
Sulaiman battled well to win the ball back midway in the Staines half before setting off on a run into the opposition penalty area. The 24-year-old looked up and delivered the perfect cross, over Wells and to the far post for Effiong to head into the empty net. It was nothing less than City deserved.
Sulaiman perhaps should have extended City’s lead when the ball ran kindly for him in the area but the winger couldn’t adjust his feet and the Swans snuffed out the danger.
Staines’ best chance of the first half came just two minutes before the break. Andre Scarlett, who was to prove a key figure in the second half, was allowed to wander in behind Adam Martin into the City area but thankfully for the Saints, Scarlett dragged his effort across the face of goal and wide of the far post.
Whatever Staines boss Steve Cordrey said to his players at half time certainly did the trick as the Swans halved the deficit straight from kick off.
Scarlett was the architect sending in a ball from the right that wasn’t dealt with by the visitors and Marc Charles-Smith had the simple task of bundling the ball home despite the best efforts of Everitt on the line.
The Swans looked like a different side in the second half, wrestling control of the midfield battle from the Saints.
Despite Staines getting on top in the second half, City still had chances, with Effiong twice trying to flick the ball goalwards when putting his boot through the ball would have been a better option.
With City a little over 20 minutes away from their first win of the season Staines grabbed an equalising goal.
Again the goal stemmed from a right wing cross, that Griffiths beat Bastock and Everitt to at the far post to bundle home.
To their credit City didn’t become despondent and came closest to snatching all three points. That they didn’t go home with the maximum return was due to two outstanding saves from Wells.
The first saw the stopper show excellent reflexes to tip over Sulaiman’s shot after it had taken a wicked deflection off Risbridger.
The second save was just as good and denied Ben Martin his first goal since returning to Clarence Park. Fisher’s free kick picked out the captain at the far post and his header seemed destined for the top corner – that is until Wells sprang across his goaline and diverted it over the bar to ensure the two sides shared the points.
Staines Town: Wells; Jackson, Gordon, Orlu, Steer; Charles-Smith, Risbridger (Chaaban 80), Brown, Scarlett; Griffiths, Butler (Harris 30).
Subs not used: King, Kamara, Taylor.
St Albans City: Bastock; Deeney, B Martin, Everitt, Smith (Frater 77); Sulaiman, A Martin (Magwood 75), Fisher, R Martin (Peters 83); Effiong, Roberts.
Subs not used: Shields, Chaves.
Referee: Ben Knight (Hampshire).