Five talking points from St Albans City’s draw at Dartford
- Credit: Archant
In a new feature Herts Advertiser’s Neil Metcalfe casts his eye over St Albans City’s first away trip of the National League South season, a 1-1 draw round the M25 at Dartford. After making it through the road closures on the way back, this was what he decided.
1) Defensively better (again) - I feel like Alan Hansen at times but I love some good quality defending and the back four been tremendous in the opening two games.
Yes the goal conceded could have been defended better but for the rest of the time they were solid and complemented each other perfectly.
The two games have seen different challenges thrown at them, but ones they have risen to. And while Chippenham went for brute force, Dartford had a bit of pace about them with Luke Allen trying to slip in the speedy Luke Wanadio whenever he could.
They'll face another stern test against Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday but so far, so good.
2) Selection dilemma - This could be a regular point in this feature judging by the opening two games.
Joe Howe was available for this one after missing the Chippenham game but manager Ian Allinson decided to stick with David Diedhiou in the right-back. The boss also has Tom Bender back from suspension on Saturday but would you really want to break up that back four?
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As I've already discussed, they continue to be very impressive and Oli Sprague, the man most likely to be replaced should Bender get the nod, was arguably my man of the match.
Up front Joe Iaciofano scored and if Allinson sticks with one up top for the away games then it may mean Merson is back on the bench. That'll be tough on Sam, who enjoyed a wonderful cameo and almost won it with a screamer, but surely the competition for places can only be a good thing for the team?
3) The noisy twins - Like the press box at Clarence Park, the one at Dartford should come with a restricted view warning. It is quite literally the front row of the stand down at pitch level and I half-expected the baldy heads of myself and Saints' social media man Jake Ellacott to attract footballs like some kind of freak show coconut shy.
It is also quite literally next to the away bench which meant I was up close and personal with both Ian Allinson and Glenn Alzapiedi.
While they often blocked the view, the seat offered a fascinating insight to how the pair interact with each other, the players and the officials. When David Noble went off there was a third voice added to the mix.
The one overriding thing I took away though was that sometimes this squad, or maybe footballers in general, need led through a game. The late flurry of corners and long throws was a perfect example with the bench imploring somebody to get on the keeper and prevent him from easily claiming the cross.
4) The pitch - The Princes Park playing surface was in immaculate condition, as it should be really at this time of the year, but it showed the benefit of good drainage and a system that can deliver a lot of water to all areas of the pitch.
Drainage isn't a problem at the Park, in fact if anything it is too good with any rainfall not staying in the ground too long, making it a hard surface.
But last year's prolonged hot weather did loads of damage to all pitches around the country, except those without superb sprinklers. If City can't attract the players through wages, then a playing surface which is like a carpet will have to do.
That though would be yet more expense.
5) Princes Park - Built in 2006, the home of the Darts only has a capacity of 4,100 but provides plenty of cash for the club.
The academy is their biggest earner while the artificial pitches outside generate income. They even lease the running of their bar which means a guaranteed income and no need to pay staff etc.
Generating money is obviously high in the thoughts of most Saints fans at the minute and the long-hoped for new stadium is the golden egg promised to do the same in Hertfordshire.
And it's a clever stadium too, with all the built-in environmental features such as solar panels and water recycling system.
But I just find it a little bit soulless and in my head, having the look of a supermarket distribution centre. If and when City do move out of Clarence Park, I just hope the new stadium still has a bit of character about it.