Hunt ensures Welling pay the penalty
Blue Square South Welling United 0 St Albans City 1 David Willacy at Park View Road ST Albans City extended their winning run to four league matches on Tuesday night when they dismissed Welling United with a penalty from Jonathan Hunt
Blue Square South
Welling United 0 St Albans City 1
David Willacy at Park View Road
ST Albans City extended their winning run to four league matches on Tuesday night when they dismissed Welling United with a penalty from Jonathan Hunt midway through the first half.
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The three hard-earned points consolidated their position in the top half of the league table.
After an abject start to the season successive wins against struggling clubs had been a relief but Welling, above them in the table and with successive wins to their credit, was a sterner test and Steve Castle's team passed it. Just.
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Castle has been patient with his main striker, Paul Hakim, but his inability to convert a single chance since August cost him a starting place. Gary Cohen partnered Simon Martin in attack on merit and, for an hour at least, fully justified their selection.
On an increasingly cold night in Kent both, sides played at a tempo which pleased the managers and entertained the crowd. City should have scored in their first attack when Jonathan Hunt sent in Cohen but the striker chose to square the ball to Simon Martin instead of shooting and the chance was lost.
After that let off, Welling took command. Firstly, Paul Bastock got nowhere near a corner but Matthew McEntegart also missed it with the goal defenceless and then Jerome Anderson flew past James Fisher but was denied by Luke Thurlbourne. The hard-working midfielder blocked a well-struck free kick by Ellis Green and then Ryan Frater blocked a shot on the turn from Charlie Sheringham. Frater was unsurprisingly outpaced by Anderson, the Stevenage Borough loanee but Bastock spread himself and the ball was cleared.
The relief from this latest scare turned to joy within seconds as Cohen was fouled by Matthew McEntegart. After some delay, Hunt calmly sent the Welling goalkeeper the wrong way with a perfect spot kick.
City were resurgent. Hunt had a free kick palmed away, Cohen had a shot blocked, Scott Cousins' 30-yarder skidded and was pushed past a post and then Lee Clarke and Simon Martin were unlucky not to score in a goalmouth melee. A handball was claimed but not given.
Before the break, Sam Hurrell showed skill and pace to get past his defender and cross from the left and neat interplay between Fisher and Hunt on the opposite flank showed a renewed confidence.
The second half was just as hectic as the first and Charlie Sheringham's dad Teddy, watching from the stand, must have itched to get on and calm things down. That was left to Bastock. Not only did he make two fine saves just before the hour but his easy-going manner when taking goal kicks irritated the anxious and vociferous home fans. As it was, Fisher was penalised for time wasting and was ill-advised to make his feelings known to Mr Bampton. Fisher was cautioned and will one day regret it.
Castle made changes. Mackie came on for Hurrell and Hakim replaced Cohen out of choice while James Quilter replaced Frater after the impressive centre back damaged an ankle when he fell awkwardly. Welling also used their substitutes and one of them, Sancher Ming, might have equalised but for Bastock's fine double save ten minutes from time. The City legend was at full stretch to save Anderson's angled drive and quickly got to his feet to beat out the substitute's goal bound drive.
The three points made no difference to City's league position of 10th but they can now start to look upwards towards the play offs instead of downwards towards the relegation places, especially if they can rediscover a way of scoring more goals. Bastock cannot always perform minor miracles to keep the sheet clean.
Castle is looking forward to the clash with Bath City at Clarence Park on Saturday as his team bid to make it five straight wins. Following the win at Welling the manager acknowledged that his side have yet to get the balance right and need to make better choices. Castle praised the impressive Bastock for his heroics to secure a third clean sheet in four league matches.