Frendo nets first goal in draw with Hitchin Town
JOHN FRENDO scored his first league goal but St Albans City escaped Top Field with a point after a sub-par performance against Hitchin Town.
The Canaries were the better side and perhaps deserved a goal but Paul Bastock continued his fine form, making difficult saves look routine, and every player defended valiantly, frequently putting their bodies on the line to stop the shots.
Coming into the game without an away win, City started the game frantically but took the lead in the 16th minute, and it was the moment Saints fans have been waiting for. Frendo found a yard of space and rolled the ball with aplomb into the bottom corner.
The goal spurred Hitchin into action and they began to turn the tide, keeping possession and crafting out chances. If not for Bastock they could have equalised earlier but it took something special from Michael Noone to level the game.
Thirty yards out from goal, Noone’s shot took a wicked deflection and nestled in the top corner, just out of reach of a diving Bastock.
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Saints failed to settle and their frantic play resulted in a yellow card for an off-the-ball incident and subsequent substitution of Ayran Tajbakhsh, but it could have been worse on another day.
On came Ryan Ashe to join the midfield or Richard Graham, James Comley and James Gray but still Hitchin enjoyed more of the ball, and if not for stout defending the score could have been in Hitchin’s favour at half-time.
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As it was, the break came at the right time for the visitors.
After the interval and more settled City side emerged and almost took the lead; Frendo beating the offside trap but firing a tame shot straight at Tajh Bell.
The rest of the half was dominated by heavy challenges – City picked up five bookings – and players looking for a match winning pass that too often went astray.
Henry came off in the 70th minute – the time he usually is introduced and changes the game – for Aston Goss but Hitchin were again in the ascendency, although they couldn’t find the winner.
The best chance came with the last opportunity of the game; Noone’s corner found Stuart Pearson unmarked but he sent his header wide and the teams shared the spoils.
Frendo’s first league goal will more than likely paint over City’s poor performance, but Gray and Graham Golds will be looking more a much better display against AFC Totton on Saturday.