City disappoint but embargo lifted

Steve Castle’s side turned in a poor performance in final pre-season game at Hemel but spirits lifted after embargo removed

Hemel Hempstead Town 1

St Albans City 0

ST ALBANS City’s pre-season preparations ended with a disastrous performance at Hemel Hempstead Town and a 1-0 defeat.

Steve Castle’s side never recovered following Dave Deeney’s fourth minute own goal and injuries to captain Ryan Frater and Pete Smith compounded a frustrating day for the Saints.

There was one ray of light for the club’s fans with boss Castle confirming that the club’s transfer embargo, in place since March this year, has been lifted.

“Budget permitting, there’ll be a couple of new faces,” the City boss told the club’s official website.

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“There is a real skeleton squad, but I’m not complaining. There will be a few additions, whether they’re loan additions, it may be sooner rather than later.”

The Saints boss has signed up 16 players so far including several new faces. Robbie Martin, an attack minded player formerly with Braintree Town, and namesake Adam Martin have signed Conference South forms with the club as have Dave Deeney and giant striker Leon Simpson.

Also included in Castle’s initial 16 man squad are youngsters Aidy Chaves, Jack Ashcroft and striker Inih Effiong who has impressed during pre-season.

Despite this positive news Castle was far from pleased with his side’s showing at Vauxhall Road and has suggested he may add another training session this week prior to this Saturday’s Blue Square Bet South opener at Thurrock.

“I don’t know what’s gone through a few of the lads’ heads really,” Castle said of the Hemel performance.

“We wanted to build on the performance against Crawley which was a solid performance albeit not any goals but we went backwards on that one.

“We’ll have two very strong training sessions between now and Thurrock, maybe even three to be honest with you. Pre-season games, results, they pale into insignificance – it’s performances and that was a poor performance. Too many of those (performances) and we won’t be getting many points that’s for sure.”

Despite the impressive pre-season form of Effiong, goals still look in short supply for City and Castle admitted getting in an experienced front man is problematic because of budgetary restraints.

“They cost money don’t they?” the City boss added.

“With all due respect to the people who are up there, I think we’ve said this, I think we’re going to have a very solid team we’re going to have to work on set plays and things like that. It would be nice to chip in with a few lads from midfield scoring.”

The Saints ended Saturday with injuries to Robbie Martin, Frater and Smith but Castle believes all three should be available for Saturday’s trip to Ship Lane.

“I think Robbie will be ok, he’s turned an ankle, there’s a hole over there he’s decided to go down,” explained Castle.

“Ryan’s got a hamstring problem that been plaguing him for a couple of weeks but touch wood he’ll be ok.”