Back-to-back losses for Saints

Chris Henry was a second-half substitue for St Albans City against Corby Town. Picture: Leigh Page

Chris Henry was a second-half substitue for St Albans City against Corby Town. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

St Albans City suffered their second consecutive league defeat on Wednesday evening away at Corby Town, as the home side came out 2-0 victors in a game which saw not only three players sent off, but also City’s play-offs hopes take another blow.

The general tone of the evening for the Saints had already been set around an hour before kick-off, when the managers were told that the car carrying James Comley, Richard Graham and Mark Nwokeji had broken down around half an hour from the ground. As a result, all three only reached the ground, courtesy of a little assistance from the injured Ben Martin, five minutes before kick-off, and therefore could only start on the bench.

The home side started the match fairly brightly, and Claudiu Hobarn was the first to hit an effort toward Bastock’s goal, but his shot was wide of the mark and failed to really threaten the goalkeeper.

The energetic forward came close again ten minutes later, when he found himself on the end of a delivery into the City area, but he could only manage to head the ball agonisingly wide of the target.

Corby were forced into their first substitution with just 29 minutes on the clock, after Courtney Herbert picked up an injury. The Steelmen had to make another substitution before half time, when Nathan Stanton came on for Amen Verma.

However, before the second substitution, Danny Green hit an effort just wide of Paul Walker’s goal, while Howard Hall then followed up with a deflected strike which was straight at the goalkeeper.

Bastock was then called into his first real save of the game when Claudiu Hoban hit an impressive effort from 20 yards out which he tipped just round the post, before he had to make a diving save from a deflected effort a minute into first half injury time.

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After the interval, the Saints came out looking to make a breakthrough, and they decided to bring on James Comley and Mark Nwokeji in place of Hall and Dean within twelve minutes of the game restarting.

However, with 60 minutes played, Corby opened the scoring. The first corner of the match was delivered in by Cleveland Taylor towards the goalmouth, and Bastock, who had up to now had a quiet game, failed to grasp his bearings and completely missed his attempt to claim the ball, allowing substitute Tommy Wright to head the ball home.

That goal forced James Gray and Graham Golds into using their final substitution to take off Sam Corcoran and bring on Chris Henry, as they looked to add some pace to the attack and stretch the game.

On 69 minutes, the first of three red cards was dished out be referee Shaun Barry. Andrew Wilson, who had earlier come on as a substitute, received his marching orders after taking down Henry, a tackle which left the referee with no option but to show the Corby man his second yellow of the evening.

The Steelmen won another corner 15 minutes from time, and it was a moment of madness from Bastock which virtually put the game beyond the Saints. Cleveland Taylor again delivered the ball towards the goalkeeper, and as it reached the six yard box, Bastock seemed to shove a Corby player in the face after feeling that he had stamped on his foot. The referee saw the incident, and duly sent Bastock off, leaving the visitors with 10 men, and centre-half James Kaloczi in goal.

The resulting penalty was easily dispatched to Kaloczi’s right by Greg Mills, and bar a bizarre final quarter of an hour, the Saints seemed to be heading for a second defeat in two games.

With just under 10 minutes left, a second sending off for Corby gave City a slither hope of pulling off a remarkable comeback. Caludiu Hoban, who had earlier been booked, went down under the challenge of Danny Green in the St Albans area, but the referee waved play-on. During a break in play thirty seconds later, the referee walked over to the forward, and showed him a second yellow, this time for diving.

The Saints pushed forward, but failed to test Walker in the Corby goal, with Henry only managing to run into touch after rounding the goalkeeper, while James Comley, in the third minute of time added on, hit an effort well wide of the goal, summing up an already miserable evening for the away side.

It was a deserved three points for Corby, and St Albans need an immediate response away at Stourbridge on Saturday if they are to stay alive in the hunt for the play-offs. Kick-off at the War Memorial Athletic Ground is 3pm.

St Albans line-up: Bastock; Gilbert; Chappell; Marwa; Ward; Kaloczi; Corcoran; Hall; Bailey; Dean; Green. Subs: Taylor; Graham; Henry; Comley; Nwokeji.

Corby line-up: Walker; Thomas; Jelleyman; Malone; Carruthers; McGowan; Mills; Verma; Herbert; Taylor; Hoban. Subs: Stanton; Carpenter; Wright; May; Wilson.