City halt Bromley’s perfect start

Smith sees goal controversially chalked off to deny 10-man City first win

Bromley 1 (Tony Finn 45+2)

St Albans City 1 (Mark Peters 51)

WHAT a difference a week makes. Just seven days after their lacklustre showing in the home defeat to Woking, St Albans City turned in a good all round team showing to become the first team to take points off early season pacesetters Bromley.

In fact Steve Castle’s side should have made their way home along the M25 with all three points after birthday boy Pete Smith’s early contender for Goal of the Season was disgracefully chalked off for offside.

Smith, who was deployed as a left winger, picked up the ball midway inside the Bromley half before embarking on a mazy run that split the Bromley defence and then sending the ball inside Wes Foderingham’s far post.

As Smith ran off to celebrate his first goal for the club referee Colin Lymer went along to consult with his assistant and after a long deliberation denied City the goal because Inih Effiong was in an offside position. Quite how Effiong had a helping hand in Smith’s solo effort nobody except the officials seemed to know.

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Smith’s goal would have been just reward for a fine first half performance that saw City unsettle their hosts. Rob Magwood, who overcame an ankle injury that made him unable to train all week, was restored to midfield and harried the opposition and was sensible when in possession.

The defence was rarely troubled, even after Ben Martin was forced out of the action with another hamstring injury and even Adam Martin’s late dismissal failed to unsettle City.

Bromley soon found out that City hadn’t come to settle for a point as the visitors began on the front foot. Jean-Michel Sigere should have done better with an effort that rolled past the far post after Hassan Sulaiman had seized the ball in midfield before Smith’s goal was controversially denied.

The former Poole Town man, who was 25 on Saturday, nicked the ball midway inside the Bromley half before jinking past several would be tacklers. As he entered the box he pulled the trigger and dragged his shot across Foderingham and inside the far post. Effiong, although probably in an offside position, was nowhere near the goal and definitely not stopping a defender from getting in a challenge.

Smith put his disappointment behind him and continued to cause Bromley problems, picking out Effiong with a precise cross but the striker headed over.

Effiong got on the end of a Sulaiman cross soon after but lifted that one over the bar too.

Just as City appeared to be heading into the interval on top, Bromley scored a goal out of nowhere. The move started with City on the attack but Sigere’s shot was weak and easily collected by Foderingham. The goalkeeper punted the ball upfield to McBean whose pass split the City defence open and was latched onto by Finn. The midfielder skipped past Dave Deeney and then Paul Bastock before rolling the ball into the empty net.

Ben Martin and referee Lymer exchanged words at half time before Castle came in to diffuse the situation. As the City boss was leaving the referee’s room, Lymer informed the City boss that he would have to watch the second half from the stands.

Castle took up a place on the terrace and would have been delighted with the start his side made to the second period.

Just six minutes after the restart Sulaiman forced Jerome Sobers to concede a corner. From the set play Smith found Mark Peters unmarked at the far post and the City assistant boss powered home a header to draw the visitors level.

Smith had a right-footed effort easily held by Foderingham while at the other end Finn stung the palms of Bastock who did well to hold onto the shot.

Chances continued to come at both ends as both sides pushed for the win. Magwood played the ball up to Effiong and although the young striker was halted the ball ran to Sigere but his shot was blocked by Foderingham.

With 63 minutes gone Magwood was withdrawn with a tight calf and replaced by Adam Martin.

With 25 minutes remaining Bromley stepped up the pressure but the City defence dealt admirably with everything thrown at them. When they failed to deal with a corner Nic McDonnell was twice denied by blocks from Deeney. The ball ran to substitute Sam Butler who went down in the box and when referee Lymer blew his whistle City feared the worse. Thankfully for the Saints the referee found in their favour and booked Butler for diving.

In the dying minutes Bromley should have snatched all three points when John Scarborough was left unmarked to meet Finn’s free kick but he headed inches wide. It was a lucky escape for City but their performance, against all the set backs, merited a large slice of luck.

Bromley did have the ball in the City net once more before full time when McDonnell turned it home after Bastock had spilled Harrison Dunk’s shot but the assistant referee’s flag came to the rescue.

The final action of the contest saw City reduced to 10 men when Adam Martin was given two yellow cards in quick succession for dissent towards referee Lymer but Castle’s side held on for a deserved point.

Bromley; Foderingham; Graves, Sobers, Scarborough, Dunk; Finn, Daly, Henriques, Dolby (Butler 60 (Greene 83)); McBean, Vines (McDonnell 60).

Subs not used: Fray, Boyle.

St Albans City: Bastock; Deeney, B Martin (Peters 36), Frater, Everitt; Sulaiman, Magwood (A Martin 63), Fisher, Smith; Effiong (Roberts 66), Sigere.

Subs not used: Shields, R Martin.

Referee: Colin Lymer (Surrey)

Att: 891