Bastock off but City earn a point
Basingstoke Town 1 (Matt Warner 34p) St Albans City 1 (Drew Roberts 22) James Ronayne at The Camrose TEN-MAN City held on for a point at sixth-placed Basingstoke despite playing for 57 minutes without goalkeeper Paul Bastock. The City stopper was shown
Basingstoke Town 1 (Matt Warner 34p)
St Albans City 1 (Drew Roberts 22)
James Ronayne at The Camrose
TEN-MAN City held on for a point at sixth-placed Basingstoke despite playing for 57 minutes without goalkeeper Paul Bastock.
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The City stopper was shown a straight red card by referee Tony Serrano after bringing down Robbie Rice in the box despite the Town man having already shot at goal. The impressive Matt Warner dispatched the penalty cancelling out Drew Roberts' 22nd minute opener.
Following Bastock's dismissal City turned in a fantastic rearguard action marshalled superbly by Ryan Frater and Mark Peters at the heart of the defence.
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Injuries to several first team regulars forced Steve Castle to shuffle his pack with youth team left back Conner Baker making his debut. Peters returned at centre half in place of Justin Clayton who has returned to Southend United while Jonathan O'Donnell was elevated to the starting XI at the expense of the injured David Galbraith.
City's bench also featured several new faces with Rob Magwood, Danny Johnson and Lamine Sagna all taking their place in the City first team squad for the first time.
Basingstoke started the game in the ascendancy and put the City defence under pressure. David Pratt got in down the right but his cut back was cleared by Peters. Basingstoke picked the ball up on the edge of the box and Godfrey Poku was penalised for a foul 20 yards out. From Warner's first attempt James Fisher was cautioned for encroaching and from the retaken kick Gary Cohen got the block in.
A good pass from Fisher released Drew Roberts down the right and although he was able to cut inside his man his shot was deflected taking the sting out of it and giving Ross Kitteridge in the Town goal an easy save.
Jahson Downes got free of James Quilter and although the City right back did well to recover and block Downes' shot the ball fell kindly to Basingstoke captain Rice who really should have hit the target with his effort from 20 yards.
City took the lead in the 22nd minute and it was all thanks to Gary Cohen's industry. The striker chased Fisher's ball and as Ashley Mitchell tried to shepherd the ball out Cohen slid in a cross which Roberts had the easy task of heading into the empty net.
The goal gave City a boost but they were dealt a massive blow when Bastock was given a his marching orders. A Bailey corner was claimed easily by Kitteridge and his quick throw released Downes. Downes brushed past Poku and crossed for Rice who after shooting wide went down under Bastock's challenge. The referee gave the penalty and showed Bastock a straight red. Bailey was withdrawn for Michael Emery whose first action was to pick Warner's penalty out the back of the net.
Nine minutes later Warner stood up a great cross for Pratt but Basingstoke's top scorer headed wastefully wide when well positioned.
Pratt continued to keep the City defence on their toes in the second half and Frater did well to block the striker's effort after he'd been released in the right hand channel.
City got lucky when Frater's long ball was sliced to Roberts. City's goalscorer did well to get past his man inside the box but his shot was blocked. However the ball ran kindly to Jonathan O'Donnell who with his right foot bent a shot narrowly wide.
It was then Emery's turn to take centre stage. The stopper pulled off a good save to push Warner's bobbling shot wide on 62 minutes and the young goalkeeper, who was celebrating his 19th birthday, was called into action again a minute later when he produced a good reflex save to deny Jide Ogubute from 12 yards after City had only partially cleared a cross.
Warner was a threat all afternoon and when he ghosted past Roberts and crossed Pratt really should have done better but once more the striker's effort was off target.
City probably should have found themselves behind when Ryan Stephens latched onto Downes' clever through ball but the substitute, who'd only been on the field a few minutes, dragged his shot wide.
With time running out Castle replaced O'Donnell with another debutant, Magwood but the youngster had little time to make an impression with referee Serrano blowing for full time shortly after his introduction.
Basingstoke Town: Kitteridge; Franks, Mitchell (Frewin 40), Christon; Rice, Ogunbote (Stephens 76), Jones, Laidler, Warner; Pratt, Downes.
Subs: Finlay, Ruggles, Atkinson.
St Albans City: Bastock, Quilter, Peters, Frater, Baker; Bailey (Emery 32), Poku, Fisher, O'Donnell (Magwood 89); Cohen, Roberts.
Subs: Johnson, James, Sagna.
Referee: Tony Serrano (Hemel Hempstead)
Man of the Match: Mark Peters