Frendo returns to face play-off rival

John Frendo leaps for joy after opening the scoring.

John Frendo leaps for joy after opening the scoring. - Credit: Archant

John Frendo is “raring to go” for his return for St Albans City this Saturday in a possible play-off warm-up as Poole Town come to Clarence Park.

The Saints’ top goalscorer has missed the last two games after picking up his 10th yellow card in a goalless draw against Biggleswade.

The ban came on the back of another enforced absence after a red card against Bideford saw him miss three games, which included two losses and prompted the club to bring in strikers Warren Whitely and George Sykes as well as attacking midfielder Steve Wales.

Without a run in the team, the last of Frendo’s 27 league goals - he is the division’s fourth top scorer - came in the 2-1 win over Redditch at home on February 22.

Now that he’s back in the team and doesn’t have any suspensions on the horizon, Frendo is focused on getting back among the goals and making sure City hit the play-offs as the form team.

“Personally, I’m really looking forward to this Saturday,” he told the Herts Ad.

“I’m anxious to get back but I can’t wait to get going again after suspension after suspension. I’m fresh after the break and looking forward to getting us into the play-offs.

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“I’ve been off the pitch but it’ll all come back on Saturday and I can’t wait to score in front of the home fans.”

Poole go into Saturday’s game sitting six points outside the play-offs, but with two and three games in hand over those above them, they could have a say in the race for the second promotion spot come the end of the month.

A win would go a long way towards, cementing City’s place in the top five, said joint manager James Gray last week.

Frendo, though, is eyeing wins in all four of the Saints’ remaining games to ensure they enter the play-offs in form.

“That’s what normally happens; the team that hits the play-offs with form wins it,” he said.

“We have got four games to win so we go in with all the momentum.”

If City are to establish themselves as the team to beat when the season reaches the business end, the fans will need to reproduce the atmosphere that rocked Vauxhall Road during the goalless draw with Hemel Hempstead, starting this Saturday against Poole.

The game was the last of Frendo’s suspension but he was on the sideline and admitted he was ‘gutted’ to miss the chance to go up against the league leaders.

“The atmosphere at the Hemel game was brilliant; it made me miss it even more,” conceded Frendo.

“The fans were a massive part of it - they were really good behind the goal. We want the same against Poole because it really does help the players.”

Frendo is not the only key player returning this Saturday: goalkeeper Paul Bastock has served his suspension for a red card he picked up at Corby Town and could retake his position in between the posts.

And, with David Keenleyside and Darren Locke returning from injury, Saturday is the first time in months that joint managers Gray and Graham Golds will have a full-strength squad to pick from.

n Saturday’s game at Clarence Park will kick-off at 3.07pm, preceded by a minute’s silence, as a mark of respect to the 96 fans who lost their lives in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.