City draw a New Year blank

PUBLISHED: 09:56 02 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2010

Hampton & Richmond Borough 0 St Albans City 0 James Ronayne at The Beveree THE NEW Year started the same way the previous one ended for St Albans City as they drew with Hampton on New Year s Day. The game was subject to a pitch inspection but it was pas

Hampton & Richmond Borough 0

St Albans City 0

James Ronayne at The Beveree

THE NEW Year started the same way the previous one ended for St Albans City as they drew with Hampton on New Year's Day.

The game was subject to a pitch inspection but it was passed fit by referee Lee Collins which was good news for the large number of away fans who'd made the trip.

Like the Boxing Day encounter, the game was very tight with little to separate the two sides and a whistle-happy referee, who awarded 43 free kicks during the course of the game, stopping the flow of the play.

Steve Castle made one change to the side that held Hampton to a 2-2 draw just six days earlier, replacing Simon Martin with Hassan Sulaiman, with Sam Hurrell and James Quilter returning to the bench. Hampton made three changes to their side dropping top-scorer Ben Wright as well as Ryan and Stuart Lake from the side that started at Clarence Park.

The game was very scrappy to begin with, as neither side retained possession for any length of time.

Hampton's Ian Hodges had the first attempt on goal but he dragged his shot wide of Paul Bastock's far post after getting in behind the City defence.

City's first effort came in the 17th minute when Hampton failed to clear a corner and Jonathan Hunt's vicious strike flew across the face of goal and behind.

The hosts then went close when Bastock was beaten to Barrie Matthews free-kick by Hodges but the striker headed over from two yards out.

City had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring when Lee Clarke's intelligent pass was knocked down by the impressive James Fisher to Paul Hakim but City's leading marksman guided the ball the wrong side of the post. Another City corner was only half cleared by the home side and Fisher delivered a cross to the far post where Ben Martin rose above the goalkeeper but saw his header go over the bar.

A long ball over the City defence four minutes before the break found Lawrence Yaku who took the ball past the advancing Bastock, leaving the striker with the easiest of finishes but he somehow contrived to fire the ball over the bar. It was a real comedy of errors and something that long-standing Hampton president and Steptoe & Son scriptwriter Alan Simpson would have been proud of.

With just a minute of the first half remaining the Saints struck the woodwork when Hakim's beautifully-flighted free kick struck Matt Lovett's right-hand post.

The Saints continued to attack after the break and Fisher will have been disappointed with his effort, shooting over the bar from eighteen yards out following Hakim's centre.

Hampton had chances of their own with Graham Harper fizzing a shot across the face of Bastock's goal after been afforded too much space on the right-hand side of the City defence.

Saints' best chance of taking all three points came in the 66th minute when Fisher stole the ball and played it to Clarke who set Hakim free in the box but his effort was tame and easily saved by Lovett.

Hampton were eager to find a winner to stay in touch with league leaders Chelmsford and they introduced Wright in an attempt to steal the all important goal.

Wright's impact was instant and Ryan Frater did well to block his effort after the striker had surged into the area.

With just ten minutes remaining Francis Quarm set Wright clear and although the stirker's effort beat Bastock the ball cannoned off the underside of the bar before being cleared to safety.

Wright then turned provider, crossing for Shaun McAuley but he could only get the slightest of touches and Bastock easily gathered while, at the other end, Clarke fired over the bar following Sulaiman's lay off.

Both sides gave it their all as they looked to snatch a vital three points but it was to no avail.

There were plenty of positives for City to take from this game with Fisher continuing to excel in his new central midfield role and Chris Seeby coming through another full 90 minutes.

The City defence coped extremely well with a lively Hampton strike force and Bastock didn't have too much to deal with. This performance will give the team plenty of confidence as they start to enter the business end of the season.

Hampton: Lovett, Harper, Jeffrey, Wells, Scarborough, Fernandes, McAuley (S.Lake 83), Quarm, Matthews, Hodges, Yaku (Wright 72). Subs not used: Kember, Tyson, R.Lake.

St Albans City: Bastock, Seeby, B.Martin, Frater, Cousins, Sulaiman (S.Martin 83), Fisher, Clarke (Quilter 83), Hunt (Hurrell 75), Cohen, Hakim. Subs not used: Everitt, Munday.

Referee: Lee Collins (Woking).

Att: 687.

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