Butcher saves City's bacon
St Albans City 1 (Simon Martin 15) Newport County 1 (Sam Foley 80) James Ronayne at Clarence Park LEE Butcher did his chances of retaining the number one jersey no harm with a string of fine saves to earn City a point in this typical end of season mid-t
St Albans City 1 (Simon Martin 15)
Newport County 1 (Sam Foley 80)
James Ronayne at Clarence Park
LEE Butcher did his chances of retaining the number one jersey no harm with a string of fine saves to earn City a point in this typical end of season mid-table clash.
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With Paul Bastock hoping to be back for next Saturday's trip to Thurrock, boss Steve Castle faces a difficult choice.
However 20-year old Tottenham loanee Butcher showed that he had no intention of relinquishing the shirt, with three superb stops in the second half including a 49th minute penalty save.
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City started like a steam train firing out of the blocks and finding space in behind the visiting defence on several occasions.
Jonathan Hunt's corner fizzed across the face of goal agonisingly in front of the on-rushing Simon Martin who had been selected ahead of Gary Cohen.
City had to wait just 15 minutes to break the deadlock and it was Martin who got the goal.
Paul Hakim and Solomon Shields linked up well on the halfway line and although winger Kris Leek dispossessed Shields, the 19-year old Leyton Orient loanee harassed Leek forcing the Newport man to play a weak back pass that Martin seized upon. The striker raced clear of the defence entered the box and produced a superb finish to loft the ball over the diving goalkeeper.
Within sixty seconds Hassan Sulaiman found himself in behind the fullback but his shot was well saved by Glyn Thompson.
A second goal would have killed the game off for City but they couldn't find the breakthrough and as the half progressed Newport began to dominate.
Sam Foley was proving a handful for the City defence, a defence that looked hesitant and nervy and not a defence that came into the game on the back of five consecutive clean sheets.
Thirteen minutes before the interval Foley went down in the box under the close attention of Ben Martin but referee Stephen Child dismissed Newport's penalty appeals.
However four minutes after the break it was a different story.
With City failing to clear a Newport attack the ball bounced around in the box and when Foley went down under James Quilter's challenge Child immediately pointed to the spot.
After a short delay, Danny Rose stepped up to take the spot kick but Butcher dived low to his left to push the shot away to safety.
The goalmouth action was all at one end now as Newport County pushed for an equaliser and only some last ditch defending prevented them from getting it.
Ben Martin blocked an effort from Foley and captain Aaron Cook saw a header saved by Butcher.
Castle threw on Hector Mackie and Gary Cohen in place of Sulaiman and Hakim and Cohen had a glorious chance to double City's lead.
A long ball out from the back by Quilter found Cohen free between Cook and Martyn Giles but unfortunately for the Saints Cohen's volley was well wide.
Rose had a venomous effort saved by Butcher and Mackie went close with a curling effort that flew just over the bar.
As it was, City's failure to kill off the tie proved costly.
With the ball bouncing around outside the City box Foley pounced to fire a glorious shot into the top corner of the net. Butcher could do nothing about it and it was a well deserved equaliser for Dean Holdsworth's men.
Two minutes later Foley defied the City offside trap to race into the box. Butcher forced the striker wide forcing him to play the ball back to Rose whose effort was fantastically repelled by the retreating Butcher before Ben Martin could clear.
The game had an edge to it now and City nearly found a winner when Cohen's cross-cum-shot squirmed through Thompson's hands and was cleared off the line by Giles.
Foley continued to threaten and when he rounded Butcher in injury time, many City fans would have been fearing the worst. Thankfully Ben Martin was on hand with a perfectly timed challenge and both sides were left to settle for a point.
St Albans City (4-4-2): Butcher; Bailey, B.Martin, Quilter, Cousins; Sulaiman (Mackie 61), Fisher, Shields, Hunt; Hakim (Cohen 61) S.Martin. Subs not used: Frater, Effiong, Everitt.
Newport County (4-4-2): Thompson; Bignot, Cook, Cochlin, Giles; Leek (Smith 90+2), Turk, Davies, Rose; Armitage (Cooper 64), Foley. Subs not used: Jenkins, Lyons, Blackburn.
Referee: Stephen Child (Beckenham).