Effiong on song but Saints lose out

Striker Inih Effiong scored a brace for City at Brackley Town on Wednesday evening but that wasn’t enough to stop the home side running out 4-2 winners

Brackley Town 4 (Frater OG 34, Green 37, Winters 68, Bradley 80)

St Albans City 2 (Effiong 43, 57)

TWO expertly taken goals from striker Inih Effiong were the highlight of City’s 4-2 defeat at Brackley Town on Wednesday evening.

The striker has impressed this summer following his return to Clarence Park after a spell with rivals Boreham Wood and showed he knows the way to goal with a fine brace at St James’ Park.

Effiong’s first strike was a well executed volley after Leon Simpson had flicked on Adam Everitt’s cross while the second was a clever near post flick from a James Fisher corner.

Steve Castle fielded his strongest possible XI for the game with only Pete Smith and Drew Roberts missing out on the trip to Northamptonshire. Smith failed to travel after picking up a toe injury while former Brackley man Roberts was on holiday.

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Brackley have signalled their intent this summer with a series of marquee signings and it wasn’t really a surprise that Jon Brady’s side started the encounter on top.

Left winger Tom Winters proved a handful all night for City and it was the Brackley man who forced Paul Bastock into the first save of the contest. Winters seized a loose ball in midfield before unleashing a fierce drive from 30 yards that the Saints stopper could only parry. Striker Jason Bradley picked up the loose ball and bundled it home but the goal was chalked off because Bradley was offside.

There was no let off for City 16 minutes later though as the home side opened the scoring. Owen Story showed a great turn of pace to get in behind the City defence and his low cross was sliced past Bastock by City captain Ryan Frater.

Before City had time to recover they found themselves 2-0 down. Former Oxford Untied striker Francis Green was sent racing clear and although Bastock blocked the striker’s effort, the ball rolled across the line.

City showed good character to bounce back from this setback and they were rewarded for their efforts with a goal of their own two minutes before the interval. Everitt picked up the ball just inside the Brackley half, fired in a cross that was flicked on by Simpson and Effiong rifled the ball past goalkeeper Ashley Peyton-Bruhl and high into the roof of the net.

After the break City enjoyed their best spell of the game with a period of controlled possession.

An injury to Everitt forced the former Bromley man off just two minutes into the second period, youngster Josh Urquhart coming on in his place.

Good play from City involving rightback Joe Clemo and Fisher resulted in the City midfielder feeding a ball in behind the Brackley defence for Effiong but the City striker dragged his effort across the face of goal.

Effiong made no mistake 60 seconds later though as he drew City level. Fisher won a corner out on the City left which the former Northwood man took himself. Fisher’s near post delivery was met by Effiong who flicked the ball home for a well deserved second.

With an hour gone City began to withdraw their first team players bringing on a series of young trialists.

Brackley took advantage of the inexperience in the City camp, regaining the lead with a little over 20 minutes remaining. Defender Urquhart got caught out by Carl Palmer’s pass to Winters and the Brackley winger cut into the City box before lashing the ball past Bastock.

The home side then wrapped up proceedings with a fourth 10 minutes from time with a beautifully simple goal. Jamie Gould played the ball up the line for the impressive Winters who breezed past Urquhart and crossed for Bradley who headed emphatically past Bastock from inside the six yard box.

The scoreline was harsh on City but was more a reflection of the side’s inexperience at the death. Castle’s side played some good football in patches and the goalscoring form of Effiong was a real bonus and something the Saints will be hoping he takes into the new Blue Square Bet South campaign.

St Albans City: Bastock; Clemo, Peters (Chaves 46), Frater (Magwood 77), Everitt (Urquhart 47); Fisher (Johnson 60), Brookes, Magwood (Hill 60); Effiong (James 71), Simpson (Baronet 71) Kweme (Ahmed 60).