Hard work the key for St Albans says Ian Allinson

Ben Martin rises to head the Saints in to an early lead. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Ben Martin rises to head the Saints in to an early lead. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

Ian Allinson’s 13th game in charge defied superstition as his St Albans City side cruised to a 6-0 win over fellow relegation candidates Havant & Waterlooville at Clarence Park.

After last week’s draw with rivals Hemel Hempstead Town moved City out of the drop zone on goal difference, the Saints roared to a vital win in this relegation six-pointer.

The drastic improvement in St Albans’ fortunes since Ian Allinson took over in mid-February has been put down to “hard work” a common theme running through the thoughts most at the club.

Ben Martin had missed the away game at Hemel as an old injury had flared up, with St Albans conceding two late goals in his absence. And he looked set to miss this crucial match against Havant too, only feeling fit on the day of the game.

“I felt Ben and Charlie in that last 20 minutes at Hemel on Tuesday night might have been the difference in us seeing it out,” said Allinson.

“So it was a nice thing to wake up to at 8 o’clock this morning to get a text from [Ben Martin] to say ‘knee’s ok’. But even then when you’ve got someone with a knee like that you just don’t know what can happen between 8 o’clock and this afternoon.”

Martin said: “I’ve had problems over the years with my knee. On Tuesday morning I woke up and went to work but by 10.30am it had swollen up and obviously I couldn’t play on Tuesday night.

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“Ever since then I’ve just iced it and rested it and it was 50/50 this morning but I thought I’d give it a go and to be fair it got better during the game.”

Prior tothe game the centre-half joked with children around the tunnel that he was going to score an overhead kick.

That might have been a bit ambitious, but he did put the Saints ahead after just three minutes, nodding home a Lee Chappell long throw to put Saints on their way to a comfortable win.

“Lee Chappell’s throw-in is such a weapon, and I’ve scored from it before,” said Martin.

“It was great to get a goal and start us off. I think scoring early really set them back and lifted us and we just went on and on from there.”

The boss agreed, happy that his team were setting the pace rather than catching up and thought that it was a good team performance overall.

He said: “It was important we got a good start in that sort of game, we wanted to make sure we were on the front foot.

“In the last couple of games we’ve not started that sharply and we’ve had to go and chase it.

“It’s just hard work, organisation and getting players to play to their strengths. I don’t think there’s any magic formula.

“It’s what I demand in terms of performance from my players, some players find it hard work sometimes, but it’s like Michael Thalassitis today – he got a little bit tired late on but we needed more from him and then he’s gone and got his second.”

It helps that Allinson has a few players in the yellow and blue who already know his methods and expectations from his time at Borehamwood, as he says he knows their strengths and weaknesses too.

The players and staff are full of praise for the man orchestrating St.Albans City’s late bid for survival in the National League South.

Chairman Nick Archer congratulated the team on a “great result” saying that Allinson had clearly brought a bit of magic to the dressing room.

And Martin agreed, saying: “He’s given us a bit of confidence. He’s come in and demands that respect and he’s a great guy and everyone wants to play for him.

“He’s brought in a couple of big players, and he’s moved Theo out onto the left which has been a revelation.

“He’s got that experience, he’s been there and he’s done it, and it shows in the results.”

The general consensus is that one more win should be enough to secure City’s position in the league for another year.

But as long as the Saints keep working hard, there is no reason why they can’t continue defying the odds and complete their great escape.