Effiong treble raises hopes of the great escape

Young striker nets hat-trick to see off Dorchester

Blue Square Bet South

Dorchester Town 1 St Albans City 3

IT was a night to remember for Inih Effiong at the Avenue Stadium as the young striker hit his first hat-trick to seal a memorable win for the Saints.

Effiong displayed some composed finishing to net his first and third goals either side of a confident penalty after Glodi Kweme had been fouled in the area.

With the news that Ben Martin had left the club to join Welling United, Steve Castle’s threadbare squad was stretched to the maximum and City had to call upon James Fisher in the centre of defence.

It looked like being a long night for the visitors as Dorchester piled on the pressure from the start and only the fingertips of Paul Bastock stopped Nathan Walker opening the scoring.

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Steve Devlin’s corner was thrown right into the mix and Walker got up unchallenged but Bastock tipped the ball onto the bar and over. The hosts forged several more corners but were unable to work Bastock before out of nowhere City took the lead. Fisher picked the ball up in the centre circle and prized open the Dorchester defence with a sublime pass for Effiong. The striker bounded into the box before calmly rolling the ball inside Regan Coward’s far post.

Despite having the advantage City were unable to take control of proceedings and it was the home side who continued to look the most likely to score.

Bastock denied Ryan Moss after the striker connected well with Jake Smeeton’s cross and then the striker fired over the bar after he’d turned captain Adam Everitt 20 yards from goal.

City should have found themselves with not only the lead but also a numerical advantage when Gary Bowles struck Pete Smith around the head but referee Lee Swabey took the bizarre decision to book both players. It was a decision the Plymouth based official was to repeat in the second half much to the dismay of the travelling Saints.

The Magpies’ eventually got the goal their dominance suggested. City were caught on the break and a slip by Smith left Chris Flood with a clear run down the wing. City looked to have recovered but Flood’s cross nicked off Everitt looping the ball over the stranded Bastock giving Neil Martin the easy task of heading in at the far post.

The goal signalled the start of increased pressure on the Saints goal and Bastock had to be at his best to deny Moss twice after crosses had found the striker unmarked.

The half time break appeared to come just at the right time for City as although Dorchester continued to dominate possession they failed to really test Bastock.

The Saints were forced to replace Smith with Aidy Chaves five minutes after the restart after the full-back failed to shake off an injury picked up when he slipped in the build up to Dorchester’s goal.

City’s best hope of getting all three points looked like getting in behind the Dorchester defence and Jonathan O’Donnell should have taken more time after being put clear by substitute Dom Petrucci.

The moment that swung the game in City’s favour came in the 62nd minute when winger Glodi Kweme went on a mazy run only to be scythed down by Smeeton inside the penalty area. Effiong immediately gathered the ball and fired the spot kick straight down the middle to restore City’s lead.

That goal took the stuffing out of the hosts and City’s victory was completed six minutes from time when Effiong secured his hat-trick.

Petrucci produced another excellent through ball to get Effiong clear of the ailing Dorchester defence and despite a tight angle Effiong delicately lobbed the ball over the diving Coward to complete a fantastic away day for the Saints.

Things could have got worse for the home side when Crittenden threw O’Donnell to the floor however again Swabey decided to put both players’ names in the book but not even that could dampen the buoyant mood in the City camp as they made the long journey home.

Dorchester: Coward; Bowles, Walker, Vickers, Smeeton (Symes 80); Connolly (Crittenden 61), Jermyn �, Devlin, Martin; Moss, Flood.

Subs not used: Taylor, Gleeson.

St Albans City: Bastock; Dedman, Fisher, Everitt �, Smith (Chaves 50); Kweme (Shields 78), Magwood, Kelly, O’Donnell; Battersby (Petrucci 61), Effiong.

Subs not used: Flavin, Abdulai.

Referee: Lee Swabey (Plymouth)

Att: 372.