City win battle of Water-leigh Park
Havant & Waterlooville 0 St Albans City 1 (Drew Roberts 56) James Ronayne at Westleigh Park DREW Roberts 56th minute strike was enough for St Albans City to end Havant & Waterlooville s seven game unbeaten run and give the Saints a valuable three point
Havant & Waterlooville 0
St Albans City 1 (Drew Roberts 56)
James Ronayne at Westleigh Park
DREW Roberts' 56th minute strike was enough for St Albans City to end Havant & Waterlooville's seven game unbeaten run and give the Saints a valuable three points.
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That the game went ahead was remarkable, the pitch was waterlogged and there were sections of the pitch where the ball didn't bounce but referee Nigel Lugg deemed it playable and Saints took full advantage.
Steve Castle's men rolled up their sleeves and gave it their all, right the way through from Paul Bastock at the back to Drew Roberts and Ian Dunn up top.
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Castle recalled Ryan Frater and Adam Everitt at the heart of the City defence giving James Quilter and Mark Peters time to rest up their knocks, and Everitt and Frater made the most of their return with a mammoth performance.
City started on the front foot with Roberts having two efforts from distance but neither troubled Aaron Howe.
Havant started to find their feet and Everitt had to be on his toes to block Wes Fogden's effort with nine minutes gone.
City looked threatening on the break with Gary Cohen's pace a real weapon down the left wing. Several times City got away in wide positions but each time there was a Havant defender there to clear the cross in the middle.
Bastock then earned his money with two fine saves in as many minutes. The first came when Manny Williams flicked on Howe's long kick to Fogden who skipped inside James Fisher but was denied by a good save low down from the City stopper.
The second was just as good getting across well to divert Ian Selley's 25 yard free kick behind for a corner.
Mustafa Tiryaki skipped past two City challenges but crashed his shot into the side netting and McDonald blazed over the bar as Havant enjoyed a spell on top.
The closest City came to scoring in the first half was from a viciously struck free kick by Roberts. Around 30 yards out and to the left of goal City's leading marksmen let fly with an effort that missed the bar by no more than an inch.
With half time approaching Cohen sped away and crossed for Roberts who spun his marker but couldn't beat Howe.
City had a scare in first half stoppage time when Williams was allowed to tee up Joe Tabiri but he hit the bar from six yards out.
Buoyed by that late effort Havant started the second half in commanding style, pegging City back in their box and making the most of their set plays. In McDonald they have a Rory Delap like throw in expert to test the best of defences but City passed the test with flying colours with the back line more than willing to put their bodies on the line for the cause.
In such a fierce contest, brief respite was offered as Bastock laid down in a huge divot in his goal mouth much to the amusement of the 552 spectators. The City stopper continued to enjoy lively banter with the home support for the remainder of the match.
Then came the all important goal. A poor pass from McDonald was intercepted by Jake Beecroft who cleverly released Roberts with a first time pass. The City striker beat the offside trap and despite appearing to have gone too wide showed great composure to beat Howe for his 10th goal of the campaign.
Now all City had to do was hold out as Havant laid siege.
McDonald fired in a free kick that looked destined to connect with Ian Simpemba's head that was until Everitt intervened to head behind for a corner.
Havant enjoyed a large slice of the possession but had run out of ideas and when they did look like threatening up stepped the City defence to hold on.
On a brief sortie in to the Havant half, City could have doubled their lead. Cohen twisted and turned creating half a yard in which he swung over a delightful cross. Sub James Lindie beat his man but couldn't get enough power on his header to turn it towards goal.
Lindie and fellow sub James Quilter both did more than their fair share of defending as City slammed the door firmly shut in the host's face.
When Havant did get the better of the City defence Williams fired into the side netting and Steve Walker volleyed wide and all that was left was for referee Lugg to bring an end to the game and one of City's best performances of the season.
Havant: Howe; Newton, Simpemba, MacDonald, McDonald; Hinshelwood (Walker 63), Selley (Jusufi 80), Tabiri, Fogden; Williams, Tiryaki.
Subs not used: Pearce, Medley, Gasson.
St Albans City: Bastock; Fisher, Frater, Everitt, Smith; Beecroft, Shields (Quilter 82), Poku, Cohen; Dunn (Lindie 62), Roberts (Sullivan 89).
Subs not used: Magwood, Dedman.
Referee: Nigel Lugg (Chipstead)
Man of the Match: Adam Everitt