City emerge from the Dragons’ lair victorious

Effiong and Smith on target in victory

Blue Square Bet South

Basingstoke Town 0 St Albans City 2

THIS was a result built on the foundations of sheer hard work. St Albans City simply wanted the three points more than their hosts Basingstoke Town and were duly rewarded for their endeavour.

The midfield duo of Adam Martin and Dave Deeney harassed their opponents from start to finish, snapping at their heels and not giving them time on the ball.

When Martin was withdrawn to be replaced by the returning Sol Shields just after the hour mark the former Leyton Orient man carried on where his colleague had left off.

As has been the case for much of the current season, City had to do it the hard way overcoming the loss of Ollie Palmer and Dave Hutton, two key components of the recent run of good form, during the week.

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Palmer has returned to Woking to try and force his way into the reckoning of new manager Garry Hill while Hutton has headed to Spain after securing a place in the Glenn Hoddle Academy.

Palmer’s vacant spot was filled by Spanish striker Pelayo Gomez after a spell back at parent club Brentford but his afternoon was cut short by injury right on the stroke of half time. However in the face of adversity City battled manfully.

They were helped by a forceful start. From referee John Scott’s first whistle they took the game to their hosts and had Gomez’s third minute cross been just a few inches lower Fisher may have had himself an early opener.

Such was City’s level of intensity Basingstoke were finding hard to get out of their own half.

Only the linesman’s flag denied City a 13th minute opener, Deeney correctly called offside after Ben Martin had knocked down Adam Everitt’s long free kick.

After 15 minutes of almost one-way traffic Basingstoke came into the game and forged several sights of goal.

Paul Bastock could only punch David Pratt’s cross out to Nathan Smart but the Town man took a touch allowing Everitt to block his shot. The ball fell to centre-half Ross Adams in a well advanced position on the edge of the box but he blasted the follow up wide.

With Basingstoke looking to get on the front foot City were able to take advantage of the space in behind the home defence.

Inih Effiong won the ball inside the City half and sent Smith racing clear down the left. The former Poole Town man miss-hit his cross but it nearly caught Simon Locke out, the ball skimming the top of the ‘keeper’s crossbar at the near post.

At the other end Bastock was beginning to see more action producing a couple of good saves to keep the home side out and when he was beaten Ben Martin was on hand to save the day.

A long cross from the right found Matt Warner unmarked at the far post but Bastock could only push his volley back into the danger zone. With the City goalkeeper prone on the floor the ball fell to Matt Pattison who looked certain to score only for Ben Martin to dive across the line and deflect the midfielder’s shot away from danger with his knee.

With half-time approaching City made the all important breakthrough. Fisher’s cross towards the far post appeared to be over-hit but Smith did incredibly well to reach the ball and head it back into the six yard box. Gomez headed goalwards only for Locke to push the effort out but Effiong was on hand to hammer the ball into the roof of the net.

The goal was the fast-improving striker’s ninth of the campaign and in this sort of form you wouldn’t bet against him adding to that tally.

City’s plans were disrupted when Gomez picked up a knock to his ankle and despite the Spaniard trying to run the injury off during half-time he was replaced by Dom Petrucci.

The home side started the second half the better but without causing City any problems and after 10 minutes on the back foot Steve Castle’s side regained supremacy.

Effiong did well to hold the ball up out on the wing before laying it into the path of Adam Martin but the midfielder’s curling effort fizzed wide of the far post.

It was to be the former Slough Town midfielder’s last action as he was replaced by Sol Shields, the former Orient man making his first league appearance after 11 months on the sidelines.

Basingstoke should have drawn level when Jay Gasson stormed down the left wing and crossed for the unmarked Smart but he erred and shot wide of the target.

With 18 minutes left the Saints gained the security of a second goal. Sol Shields won the ball back in midfield and released Effiong with a great defence-splitting pass. The Saints’ striker got to the byline and showed great awareness to cut the ball back for Smith who made no mistake slamming the ball past Locke.

The final 15 minutes proved comfortable for City as they closed out the win. They could have added to their tally when Sol Shields linked with namesake Sean only for the latter to fire across the face of goal.

The home side should have had a consolation goal late in the day but Smart’s miserable day continued to the end when he stabbed Stuart Lake’s cross wide of goal.

Basingstoke Town: Locke; Rice, Adams (Downes 81), Reynolds, Gasson; Pattison, Lake, Ogunbote (Laidler 46), Warner; Pratt (Draper 69), Smart.

Subs not used: Finlay, Williamson.

St Albans City: Bastock; Hocking, B Martin, Frater, Everitt; Fisher (Sean Shields 81), A Martin (Sol Shields 66), Deeney, Smith; Gomez (Petrucci 46), Effiong.

Subs not used: Peters, Galbraith.

Referee: John Scott.

Att: 303.