Debutants impress as City bounce back from disappointing draw

St Albans City line-up ahead of their match against AFC Totton at Clarence Park.

St Albans City line-up ahead of their match against AFC Totton at Clarence Park. - Credit: Archant

City responded to a disappointing 1-1 draw at Chippenham Town on Saturday by dismantling AFC Totton at Clarence Park tonight (Monday).

After a goalless, and sometimes lifeless, first-half, which involved only one talking point, a possible red card for Totton, City showed what they are capable of in the second.

Goals from Jamal Lowe, debutant Kerrea Gilbert, John Frendo and Lee Chappell capped a City display that, at times, was back to their scintilating best.

The first half was characterised by the indecisiveness in the final third that had joint manager James Gray annoyed after the Chippenham game. Too often City tried to walk the ball through the defence or, when they chose the right pass, fail to get the pass to intended player.

It wasn’t a first half without incident, though. The other debutant, Connor Calcutt, missed the best chance of the half as his shot from a narrow angle hit the side netting. Lowe also had a glorious chance to score but he blazed his shot over the bar.

The biggest talking point of the first 45 minutes saw Lowe pulled back by the last man but the referee kept his cards in his pocket, much to the despair of City’s management and the fans.

For Totton, Luke Roberts had their best chance, in the 40th minute, but his 25 yard shot cleared the crossbar but they were otherwise held in check but Ben Martin and Darren Locke.

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The goal the Saints had been unable to find in the first period arrived shortly after the break as Frendo and Matt Taylor combined to set up Lowe from close range.

The lead was short-lived though as City conceded a sloppy goal. Roberts latched onto a deep free-kick into the box and steered the ball past Bastock.

Again City struck back and after a handful of missed chances – the best falling to Calcutt – the fullbacks, Chappell and Gilbert combined to put St Albans back in the lead. The debutant challenged the goalkeeper to Chappell’s out-swinging cross and got the vital touch to get the ball over the line.

Suddenly, City had found their shooting boots and the third goal wasn’t long coming as Frendo netted after a goal-mouth scramble.

The fourth was somewhat fortuitous but that won’t bother Chappell in the slightest. His corner cleared everyone and curled inside the back post.

The introduction of Mark Nwokeji, David Keenleyside and Chris Henry added speed to exploit Totton’s tiring defence but it was the return of the host’s slick forward movement that caused more problems for the visitors.

The urgency that Gray and Golds have instilled in the side was suddenly evident as their side poured forward and spent the last 15 minutes camped in Totton’s half.

The fifth goal may have never come, and Roberts added a second for Totton, but Saints’ bosses will sleep easy having seen City reproduce the form they have become accustomed to. Add that to a superb display from Ben Martin and Darren Locke, plus excellent debuts from Gilbert and Calcutt, and there is a lot to be excited about at Clarence Park ahead of Saturday’s game against St Neots.