Castle hopes for hat trick

PUBLISHED: 17:04 21 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:12 06 May 2010

Bradley Gray fires in the equaliser. Pictures Rob Walkley

Bradley Gray fires in the equaliser. Pictures Rob Walkley

ST Albans City manager Steve Castle is looking for a hat trick of wins to end the season with a flourish. The Saints hit form on Saturday to stun play off hopefuls Eastleigh

ST Albans City manager Steve Castle is looking for a hat trick of wins to end the season with a flourish.

The Saints hit form on Saturday to stun play off hopefuls Eastleigh with two goals from striker Akanni-Sunday Wasiu and one from young attacker Bradley Gray. Castle's men are now four points clear of Weston-super-Mare in the final relegation spot with six points to play for. City travel to Maidenhead United on Tuesday for what could be a crunch fixture, depending on the result between Weston and Basingstoke Town tonight (Monday). Weston must claim at least a point or they will be relegated with City safe. If Weston draw or win then City know that if they can match the Weston result at Maidenhead the final round of fixtures would be irrelevant. Maidenhead picked up their third straight win on Saturday to secure their own safety with a 2-0 success at Havant & Waterlooville.

Eastleigh led at the break at Clarence Park with a dubious first half penalty when former City winger Matt Hann crumbled under a challenge from James Fisher who appeared to get something on the ball. Andy Forbes stepped up to score and sent the large contingent of Eastleigh fans into raptures.

City came out purposefully after the break and got the boost they needed on 61 minutes. Bustling midfielder Luke Thurlbourne forced his way into the box and the ball rolled into the path of Gray who swept home a superb left foot to level.

The joyous hosts were soon celebrating again as Sunday picked up a pass from Paul Hakim and weaved around two players before firing his shot across goalkeeper Jason Matthews into the far corner.

Eastleigh were stunned and crucially Sunday had his wits about him to rob hesitant goalkeeper Matthews and gleefully find the net for 3-1 on 73 minutes.

The game was not over though, and former City striker Steve Watts showed his undoubted class with a fine run away from Lee Clarke and superb 25-yard finish.

City had to battle to hold on and escaped when an offside Watts headed straight at Bastock. Lightning quick Eastleigh substitute Mark Marshall then burst clear of the defence only to be forced to check out to the left by Bastock and his cross drifted wide of the far post.

After the 3-2 win City boss Castle hailed his side and outlined his hopes to finish a tough campaign on a high. He said: "I said to the lads before the game that I have been proud of their efforts. We have done so much to get ourselves in this position and I am proud again of their performance against a good team. We owe Maidenhead one. They won here when we put in a poor performance. They were the better team. No disrespect to any of the teams in this league, I don't want to rely on anything else. We want to get three wins out of three if we can."

19. St Albans City played 40 goal difference -26 points 40

20. Weston-super-Mare played 40 goal difference -30 points 36

Fixtures

Monday, April 21 Weston-super-Mare v Basingstoke Town, 7.45pm

Tuesday, April 22 Maidenhead United v St Albans City, 7.45pm

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