City skate off with the points thanks to Henry’s intervention

Sub hits late winner at Redditch

Southern Premier Division

Redditch United 3 St Albans City 4

CHRIS Henry stepped off the bench to hit a late winner as St Albans City snatched all three points in the freezing conditions at Redditch on Tuesday evening.

The recent recruit needed just two touches to make his mark collecting the ball following Sam Adkins’ poor touch and bending an effort that took a nick off a defender before slipping through the grasp of Redditch’s replacement goalkeeper Jake Bedford.

It was no less than City deserved, despite the visitors being guilty of some shoddy defending and relying on the excellence of goalkeeper Nick Jupp on more than one occasion.

The pitch had been given the thumbs up following a 3pm pitch inspection and despite the conditions it took David Howell’s side just six minutes to find their feet when Sakho Bakare gathered the ball following a long Jupp free kick and fired past the static Dean Coleman for his 12th goal of the season.

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The visitors had the ball in the Redditch net for a second time just 60 seconds later but captain James Gray was flagged for offside.

Howard Newton had been denied a debut goal against Bedford on Saturday thanks to a fine save from Ian Brown and it was a similar story at The Valley Stadium as the Guyana international met Narada Bernard’s free kick only for Coleman to divert the ball past the post.

From the resulting corner the home side hit City on the counter attack and Bernard was lucky to see only yellow when, as the last man, he took Luke Benbow out although the striker still had a lot of work to do.

Redditch gradually worked their way back into the tie and only a world class save from Jupp denied Jimmy Deabill an equaliser. City stood off Redditch right-back Aaron Stringfellow down the left-flank and his cross looked to have been steered into the top corner by Deabill only for Jupp to get a hand to the ball and claw it around the post.

Deabill was proving a handful for the City defence and it came as no surprise when he drew Redditch level after the home side had caught their visitors cold on the counter-attack. City were guilty of over committing numbers at a corner allowing Deabill a clear run on goal and the striker calmly steered the ball past Jupp and into the unguarded net.

Things took a turn for the worse for David Howell’s side two minutes later as Redditch gained the lead for the first time. Benbow breezed past both Gray and Cedric Ngakam out on the right flank and although his shot came back off the crossbar Jake Jones was on hand to confidently fire the ball past Bernard on the goal line.

That double-salvo gave life to the home side and they made it hard for City to build. Ten minutes after surrendering their lead David Ijaha tried his luck from some 30 yards and ‘keeper Coleman had to tip the ball over the bar. From the resulting corner Ryan Watts picked out Ngakam at the near post to head home his first goal for the club and draw City level.

It looked as though the two teams would go into the interval all square but Redditch had other ideas and they edged ahead for a second time when Deabill netted his second right on the stroke of half-time. Not for the first time on the night City were caught napping at the back with Ngakam trying to head the ball back for Jupp only for the Redditch front man to nip in and loft the ball over the goalkeeper and into the net.

City regrouped during the interval and started the second half on the front foot but they were indebted to ‘keeper Jupp for keeping them in the contest with a treble-save to deny Benbow after Lee Osborne’s storming left wing run and cross had picked out the diminutive frontman.

That was as close as the hosts got to adding to their tally but City were struggling to forge clear-cut openings of their own on a pitch that was fast becoming something more suitable for the contestants of Dancing On Ice. They were handed a boost when goalkeeper Coleman was forced off with a foot injury and eight minutes later City were level as Simon Martin stabbed the ball into the path of David Ijaha who finished emphatically, giving Bedford no chance from 18 yards.

By this time City were operating with a front three of Martin, Bakare and Aaron Lansiquot and with just four minutes remaining Henry was introduced in place on Martin. It proved a masterstroke from Howell as the former Tonbridge player settled the game with his first involvement. City had further chances to put the game beyond doubt but they couldn’t find the finishing touch. It may not have been pretty but it was certainly mission accomplished for Howell’s Saints.

Redditch: Coleman (Bedford 64); Stringfellow, Osborne, Warmer �, Grimes, Robinson, Jones, Halsall, Deabill, Benbow, Adkins.

Subs not used: Moses-Garvey, Travis, Lacey, Hurdman.

City: Jupp; Seeby, Gray �, Ngakam, Bernard; Newton (Lansiquot 64), Ijaha, Hyde, Watts; Martin (Henry 86), Bakare.

Subs: McGonigle, Blackwood.

Referee: Thomas Harty (Wolverhampton)

Att: 84