Five-star City beat Burnham

Chris Watters scores a penalty. Picture: Bob Walkley

Chris Watters scores a penalty. Picture: Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

St Albans City put in a much-improved performance to beat Burnham 5-2 at Clarence Park.

Ben Martin’s goal cancelled out Lewis Driver’s opener for Burnham but City put in a scintilating second half performance, which was capoped by two goals from Steve Wales and singles from Chris Watters and George Sykes, much to the delight of the 640 fans in attendance.

City gave Warren Whitely his full debut and Steve Wales retained his place in the side after an impressive showing against Bashley.

The hosts started the game brightly and took the early impetus but it was Burnham who took a nint-minute lead.

Tom Ward conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area after catching Nicky Kebamba in the head with a high foot. A tame set piece trickled through the wall and Lewis Driver was on hand to prod the ball past Tom Coulton from three yards.

The Saints survived a number of scares before hitting back in the 20th minute. A corner from Chris Watters presented Ben Martin with an easy tap-in and the captain obliged to level the score.

Watters’ came within a finger-tip of giving City the lead but Adam Lawrence pulled off a diving save to deny his half-volley. His next chance should have seen him give City the lead but he couldn’t turn Howard Hall’s cross into the net from three yards.

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The hosts were building pressure and Steve Wales was next to try his luck but David Steven’s knee diverted his shot off target. But for all their possession and time in Burnham’s half City were unable to increase their lead and the teams went into the break level.

City resumed the game invigorated but Lawrence was in inspired form to push Chappell’s thunderous drive wide of the post. From the resultant corner Ben Martin blasted wide.

Whitely then had his best chance of the game but he hesitated before firing a shot towards the back post that just evaded Sykes’ outstretched leg.

City’s inevitable second goal finally came in the 58th minute. Chappell and Watters linked up down the left side before the former whipped in a low cross which was touched on by Sykes and blasted home by Wales on the line.

A third nearly followed shortly after but Sykes’ goal was ruled out for a foul. They did not have to wait long to build a two-goal cushion. Whitely flicked on a header to Wales down the right, his ball in to the box found Sykes who took a touch and fired past Lawrence.

The last 30 minutes saw City put in an assured and confident performance, something that has been missing at Clarence Park for six weeks. It wasn’t a complete removal from what has become the norm though as Kebamba was given time and space in the box to score a 90th minute goal for Burnham. The goal came seconds after Watters had missed his third glorious chance of the game.

But while City have panicked in the past, this time they hit straight back. A handball and second yellow card for Stevens gave Watters the chance to score from the spot and despite Lawrence getting a hand to it the ball hit the net.

The goal scoring was not done there. Wales was brought in to score goals from midfield and his 94th minute long-range strike could have been the most pleasing aspect for James Gray and Graham Golds.

The win felt like it could have been a turning point in City’s stuttering performances.

St Albans City starting line-up: Tom Coulton; Howard Hall; Lee Chappell; Ram Marwa; Tom Ward; Ben Martin; Steve Wales; Sam Corcoran; Warren Whitely; George Sykes; Chris Watters. Subs: Chris Henry; Kerrea Gilbert; James KAloczi; Matt Taylor; Danny Green.

Burnham starting line-up: Adam Lawrence; George Pilbeam; Ryan Upward; David Stevens; Ashley Smith; Lee Togwell; Aaron Couch; Lewis Driver; Nicky Kebamba; Ryan Blake; Miles Hippolyte. Subs: Antonio Tomas Abreu; Sam Boultwood; Aron O’Brien.