Green off the mark to down Ebbsfleet

Jack Green scores the only goal of the game for St Albans City against Ebbsfleet United. Picture: Bo

Jack Green scores the only goal of the game for St Albans City against Ebbsfleet United. Picture: Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

St Albans City’s hottest prospect, Jack Green, fired them to victory over Ebbsfleet United, the Vanarama Conference South’s biggest spenders, in the final home game of the season.

The 17-year-old prodded home the only goal of the game and his first for the club in the 22nd minute as the Saints picked up another of the league’s biggest scalps.

For all their resources - Ebbsfleet have a rumoured weekly wage bill of £22,000 - the visitors were disappointing, rarely testing Joe Welch and being held in check by Darren Locke and James Comley, St Albans’ centre-back pairing for the fourth game running.

It was an excellent way for the club to end its home fixtures and the 777 fans in attendance may well have been persuaded to come back, even if it’s just to see rising talent Green.

Joint managers James Gray and Graham Golds made one change to the team that beat Gosport Borough 2-1 last weekend, with Steve Wales making way for Jo N’Guessan.

The management kept faith with the ever-impressive Green and he repaid their trust with the opening goal. Brandon Hall, Ebbsfleet’s goalkeeper, can consider himself unlucky after making an excellent double save, first diving to his left to stop a powerful drive from Lee Chappell and then keeping out Green’s follow up, before the youngster poked the ball home.

It was a goal the game badly needed after a nondescript opening in which neither team could sustain spells of pressure. Matt Godden had come the closest before Green found the net. A flick-on from a quick throw in gave him a clear run at goal but Welch got down low to save from point blank range.

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The match heated up following the goal, with both teams picking up a booking. Stuart Lewis flew in on Sam Corcoran and deservedly got a yellow, although, on a different day and with a different referee, it could have been worse. Then, near the end of the half, John Kyriacou lunged in on Adam Cunnington, who was offside at the time of the foul.

The defenders were on top for much of the second half, with St Albans’ Comley and Locke and Ebbsfleet’s Matt Johnson and Anthony Acheampong dealing with any threats. City were, however, indebted to Welch who got down expertly to his right to push Lewis’ shot behind. Then, from the resulting corner, the Saints’ big shot-stopper saved a header from point-blank range.

Jamie Day introduced former Saint Sean Shields and Michael West to the fold with 20 minutes to go. Shields ran with the same trickery as he did at St Albans but, for the most part, was held in check by Kyriacou and Comley.

Simon Thomas had a chance to kill the game in the 83rd minute following an excellent run and pass from Green but he hesitated and Acheampong got a foot in to poke the ball away. It was Thomas’ last involvement as he made way for John Frendo, who had the ball in the net minutes later only for the referee to call play back for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Ebbsfleet threw caution to the wind in the final minutes but Welch confidently caught a corner at full stretch and Locke cleared with his head to clinch an excellent win.