Howell feels Arlesey tricked officials into Watts’ dismissal

Plus details of tonight’s CITYLIVE coverage at Bedford

ST ALBANS City boss David Howell felt the officials had been fooled by Arlesey Town in the incident that led to Ryan Watts’ dismissal on Saturday.

The Saints left-back was given his marching orders for an alleged off-the-ball incident with Blues full-back Cameron Mawer – an incident that was only spotted by the assistant referee – and Howell believes that the visitors’ screaming and appealing tricked referee Nick Cooper and his assistant into sending Watts for an early bath.

“Barrie (Matthews) got booked after about five seconds and I said be careful because they are a side that appeal for everything,” explained Howell afterwards.

“They shout, they scream, you think they’ve been wronged and they’re trying to influence the referee. One of the unfortunate things about the game is that some teams feel they have to do that when they are struggling in other areas. I felt that was one of things that the reports that I’ve had about them was quite clear; they are quite old school in that they appeal and shout and scream and pressure the referee on everything.

“I made a point of speaking to the referee at half time as we left the pitch and I said ‘look my lads are good lads, they won’t do anything untoward they’re honest but the opposition we’re up against aren’t honest; they’re trying to get Barrie (Matthews) sent off and they’re trying to get our players sent off to make the task easier for them’ and the ref said ‘no I’ve been around a long time, I won’t be fooled by that, don’t worry, don’t worry’ but unfortunately it doesn’t matter how long he’d been around for, he got fooled by it.

“The incident with Ryan; Ryan said to me the bloke was pulling him and all he did was push his hands away so he could run to get back but the bloke fell over and screamed out and the linesman thinks Ryan kicked him.”

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The Saints looked well set to take all three points from Saturday’s clash having opened up a two-goal lead courtesy of Rob Haworth and Jerome Walker only for Town to hit back with two goals in as many minutes from Chris Dillon and Chris Marsh. Watts’ dismissal with 10 minutes left made it even more of a struggle for City but Howell was pleased with how his side responded to that setback.

“The game’s about confidence and believing in yourself and for that spell we lost concentration and the confidence went a bit but then the lads came back,” said Howell.

“I know we had a two-goal start initially but once they got back into the game at 2-2 and we’re down to 10 men the writing looked like it was on the wall for us but to be fair I thought that’s where the lads showed a little bit more passion, a bit more commitment and a bit more about themselves and in the end I thought we were well worth a point.”

Saturday saw Howell hand a debut off the substitute’s bench to new loan signing Kosi Nthle. The 17-year-old has joined the Saints from npower Championship outfit Peterborough United and gave a solid display in his first 20 minutes in City colours and Howell admitted he was close to handing the youngster a start straight away.

“I probably would have started him and played him straight in their to replace Nathan (Ralph),” he said, “but I just felt that some of the players had a point to prove and I needed to give them the opportunity to get back out on the park and try put a few wrongs from Tuesday night.”

The Saints head to Bedford Town tonight looking to record their first league win in three attempts but Howell’s outfit head to the Eyrie with a growing list of absentees. Rob Haworth, James Bent, Brian Haule, Paul Furlong and Tobi Jinadu are all absent for the trip to Bedford meaning the City boss will be forced to shuffle his pack.

For those of you who are unable to make it to Bedford tonight, CITYLIVE updates will begin from 7.30pm.