Bruce double is bonus for City
PAUL Bruce was on the spot twice as St Albans City were handed a boost in their battle against the drop by hosts Weston-super-Mare in the Blue Square South on Saturday. City boss Steve Castle recalled Hasim Deen to the midfield for the suspended James Qui
PAUL Bruce was on the spot twice as St Albans City were handed a boost in their battle against the drop by hosts Weston-super-Mare in the Blue Square South on Saturday.
City boss Steve Castle recalled Hasim Deen to the midfield for the suspended James Quilter and handed a start to goalkeeper Paul Bastock, back with the club from Rushden & Diamonds. Left back Marcel McKie replaced Scott Cousins and Castle continued with strike pairing Wasiu Akanni Sunday and Paul Hakim. Jonathan Hunt, the former Birmingham City, Derby County and Sheffield United player, was on the bench for the first time since signing.
The Seagulls had won 3-0 at Clarence Park in October but with Barry McConnell and Charlie Comyn-Platt out injured and impressive striker Ashan Holgate since having departed their form had dropped alarmingly in recently weeks.
The Saints took control from the start with Sunday firing wide on two minutes when he was presented with a chance after Curtis Ujah slipped. Hakim then looked set to open the scoring on 14 minutes only for his effort to strike Ujah on the arm and referee Andy Newell pointed to the spot. City skipper Paul Bruce easily beat Ryan Northmore from the penalty kick for 1-0.
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Weston forced the first of seven corners on 17 minutes and Wilfred Domoraud fired narrowly wide on the near post from James Palmer's cross.
St Albans were awarded a second penalty on 22 minutes, with the home side again left feeling aggrieved. Ujah went down to cut out a low cross from the left after Hakim combined with McKie, and with Mr Newell indicating the ball hit his arm, City had the chance to take control. Bruce stepped up and again easily beat Northmore for 2-0.
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Weston managed just one effort in response before the break with Elvis Ewruje firing a free kick over the cross bar on 30 minutes.
Both sides had to make changes either side of half time as the injured McKie departed for City, replaced by Scott Cousins and Ben Willshire came on for Marc McGregor for Weston.
City emerged from the break in confident mood and the excellent Cousins linked superbly with Bruce who fed Hakim. The ball was expertly helped on to Sunday but he was denied by a fine tackle from Michael Green.
The Seagulls made further changes when Lewis Powell took over from Palmer on 55 minutes with Gareth Hopkins going to midfield, where he did well. Powell partnered Domoraud who switched up front and later Jason Burt came on for former Wycombe Wanderers left back Micky Bell.
By then, St Albans were in total control having scored again on 66 minutes when substitute Lee Clarke played a neat one-two with Hakim and drilled a 15-yard effort past Northmore.
Saints kept the pressure on and had the luxury of handing a second City appearance to Hunt, more than 17 years after his first, for the final 10 minutes.
The winning margin could and should have been great but Northmore brought off two superb point-blank saves to deny Clarke and Hakim.