Hakim rescues point for Saints
Bishop s Stortford 1 (Lewis Smith 33) St Albans City 1 (Paul Hakim 63) James Ronayne at Woodside Park THE clich� a game of two halves was coined for games like this one. For 45 minutes Bishop s Stortford bossed the game and City were relieved that t
Bishop's Stortford 1 (Lewis Smith 33)
St Albans City 1 (Paul Hakim 63)
James Ronayne at Woodside Park
THE clich� 'a game of two halves' was coined for games like this one.
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For 45 minutes Bishop's Stortford bossed the game and City were relieved that they went into the interval just one goal down. However, in the second half the roles were reversed and the Saints will be disappointed to have only come away with a point.
City boss Steve Castle was forced into changes with Ryan Frater returning and taking up the captain's armband in place of the suspended Ben Martin, while Danny Charge came in for Chris Seeby and debutant Soloman Shields replaced James Fisher.
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Maybe the disruption and two weeks without a game was the reason that City were second to everything in the first half but Stortford have suffered similar circumstances and they were energetic and inventive.
That's not to say that City didn't create chances with Paul Hakim and Gary Cohen linking well and posing the Blues defence numerous problems but former Saints goalkeeper Nicky Eyre was never called into action during the first period.
An indication as to what City were going to face was given after just four minutes when the two Dagenham loanees Harle Deen and Bai Mass Lettejallow combined with Lettejallow's effort from 25 yards going just past Paul Bastock's post.
Danny Green also went close for the Blues with a beautifully curled effort as Stortford looked to take advantage of their dominance.
City's best chances in the first half fell to Charge, who saw a left-footed volley fly just the wrong side of the post and then the youngster fluffed his shot following a Hakim cross.
Hakim then crossed for Cohen who couldn't connect and Jonathan Hunt fired over from the right hand edge of the box.
At the other end Lettejallow fed Lewis Smith and, although his shot was deflected, Paul Bastock was able to claim with the ball with ease.
Stortford took the lead after 33 minutes when Mark Wright's long ball over the City defence found Smith, who jinked into the area and exchanged passes with Danny Harris, before firing into the bottom corner for the goal their early dominance deserved.
City should have levelled five minutes before the interval when Eyre spilled the ball under pressure from Hakim and Charge, with an open goal at his mercy, rolled the ball wide of the goal.
Things could have been a whole lot worse for City at the break as the home side had two golden opportunities to extend their lead in the space of a minute.
First captain Paul Goodacre rose highest at the far post to meet a Wright corner but his header crashed off the bar and then a Wright free kick fell to Goodacre five yards out and, despite Bastock laying on the floor, the veteran 'keeper pushed the shot away to safety.
Clearly unhappy with his team's performance Castle sent his players out for the second half early and it seemed to do the trick as City immediately went about restoring parity.
Cohen used his pace to get to the byline and his cut back found Hakim, who unfortunately missed his kick.
Shields played Hakim in down the left wing and his cross was met by Cohen but his volley flew past the post and then Hassan Sulaiman crossed for Charge but he headed over.
Adam Everitt was booked for hauling down Smith and Bastock had to be at his best to keep out Wright's fiercely struck free kick. The save was made even better by the fact that City's stopper pushed the ball away from the crowd of attackers and into an area of no danger.
Bastock was in fine form for the Saints and, at the other end, the man who he replaced in the City goal, Eyre, was having a game to forget as an awful howler from him gifted the visitors an equaliser.
A long ball over the Blues defence saw Eyre rush out of his area but he missed the ball and clattered into one of his team mates allowing Hakim a free run on goal to roll the ball into the net.
Stortford felt they should have had a penalty when Bastock came out to meet Smith and the pair ended up in a heap on the floor but 20-year old referee Anthony Coggins waved play on.
Desperate for their first win in 11 games, City went in search of a winner and only a superb save from Eyre denied Hakim from heading home a second.
The Blues introduced Roy Essandoh, famous for his FA Cup heroics with Wycombe Wanderers, and he had the last chance of the game but his long range effort was gathered by Bastock at the second attempt.
So it was honours even in the Hertfordshire derby but disappointingly for City they are still without a win in 2009 and if they are to get that win they have to stop their habit of only playing for 45 minutes.
Bishop's Stortford: Eyre, Jones, Goodacre, Cooper, Wright, Green (Howell 58), Deen, Lettejallow, Barnard, Smith (Essandoh 87), Harris (Jackman 75). Subs not used: Mason, Champion.
St Albans City: Bastock, Sulaiman, Frater, Everitt, Cousins, Hunt (Seeby 37), Shields, Quilter, Charge, Cohen, Hakim. Subs not used: Au.Byfield, Mortimer, Jackaman, Effiong.
Ref: Anthony Coggins