City Maid to pay
ST Albans City crashed to their heaviest defeat against Maidenhead United at Clarence Park on Saturday. Caretaker boss Steve Castle was without the services of centre back Ben Martin, captain Lee Clarke and midfielder Paul Bruce due to suspension. Jomo Fa
ST Albans City crashed to their heaviest defeat against Maidenhead United at Clarence Park on Saturday.
Caretaker boss Steve Castle was without the services of centre back Ben Martin, captain Lee Clarke and midfielder Paul Bruce due to suspension. Jomo Faal-Thomas was recalled to the starting XI at right back, with Hasim Deen switching to centre back alongside Ryan Frater. Paul Hakim moved into the attack, with Oaklands prospect James Archer in central midfield and Dean Cracknell asked to fill the void on the right flank.
Maidenhead boss Johnson 'Drax' Hippolyte picked former MK Dons frontman John Hastings to lead a three pronged attack in a 3-4-3 formation. Hastings failed to score in six appearances during a loan spell with City in the Conference last term.
Maidenhead dominated from the kick off and Frater had to clear from behind goalkeeper Nick Eyre. Cousins held off Hastings and Eyre raced out to head the ball only as far as midfielder Jack Bradshaw who hit the ball towards goal where Frater headed out for a corner kick.
In the 16th minute, Hastings linked up well with impressive United debutant Gavin James, who drilled a shot wide of Eyre's left hand post.
City created an opening on 29 minutes when Cousins tricked two defenders with a nice dink pass to Simon Martin who crossed for Archer to send a first-time volley spinning wide of the post. Three minutes later, Hakim squared the ball for Archer to thump a half volley that forced Maidenhead United goalkeeper Louis Wells to dive to his right and gather.
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Free scoring Maidenhead striker Manny Williams signalled his intent in the 37th minute when he threatened to run clear, only for Deen to slide in with a stunning last ditch challenge.
On the stroke of half time, the visitors grabbed they lead with a goal they had been threatening. Ashley Smith fired a simple free kick into the box which was cleared only as far as United defender Lee Kersey. He looped a header back in and, with the City defence asleep, Hastings was able to turn the ball past the advancing Eyre for 1-0.
Early in the second half City imploded, crushing their feint hopes of salvaging a rare home result. Maidenhead striker Manny Williams notched his 22nd goal of the campaign and probably the easiest. City goalkeeper Eyre had come out to the left edge of his box and was robbed by the forward who composed himself and whipped his shot into the empty net.
In the 52nd minute James powered forward on the right flank and pulled the ball back to Hastings who thumped a shot against the woodwork.
City lacked any sort of cohesion between midfield and attack and paid for the loss of skipper Clarke, sidelined after his glut of poor bookings. When holding midfielder James Quilter took it upon himself to burst forward and fire an excellent ball across the box, no striker was rushing to get on the end of it. Defender Kersey then beat Hakim to a dangerous Cousins cross and cleared for a corner kick.
Walshe's set piece delivery was lacking his usual spark until the 66th minute when he curled a dangerous free kick from the right flank. The ball narrowly floated over Frater and flashed wide of the far post.
City should have had a consolation goal in the 73rd minute when Cousins found space and crossed superbly, only for Simon Martin to head well wide of the target.
Maidenhead responded by adding to the misery with a deserved third goal. Bradshaw crossed from the right and Smith, at the second attempt, was able to tuck the ball left footed into the bottom corner, with Eyre well beaten.
Hakim had the final tame effort for impotent Saints when he shot straight at Wells after a strong run forward.