Hunt helps City turn the corner after FA Cup exit
Basingstoke Town 1 St Albans City 2 ST Albans City picked up second successive away win in the Blue Square South as two second-half goals condemned struggling Basingstoke Town to defeat
Basingstoke Town 1 St Albans City 2
Ruggles 44, Hunt 55, Watkins OG 66
David Brawn at the Camrose
ST Albans City picked up second successive away win in the Blue Square South as two second-half goals condemned struggling Basingstoke Town to defeat at the Camrose.
City boss Steve Castle selected Gary Cohen and Lee Clarke to lead the attack with Paul Hakim lining up wide on the right of a midfield four. James Quilter replaced the injured Luke Thurlbourne to partner Ben Bowditch in the centre and Rod Hicks dropped to the bench alongside the returning Ryan Frater and recent signing Sam Hurrell.
Basingstoke Town included former Saint Sean Hankin at centre back and paired Mitchell Bryant with Phil Ruggles in attack.
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City moved the ball swiftly in the early stages, playing against the strong wind and a swirling cross to the back post from Jonathan Hunt was headed wide by Hakim.
On eight minutes Cohen pulled wide and beat his marker for pace before striking his low cross into the arms of Basingstoke goalkeeper Ross Kitteridge.
Basingstoke used the wind to their advantage on 12 minutes when Sam Tucknott clipped a measured ball forward which evaded the City defence and Ruggles cracked a shot into the side netting.
The City defence was exposed again on 16 minutes. Ruggles beat Fisher to go clear and his shot was expertly blocked by the alert City goalkeeper Paul Bastock.
Midfielder James Quilter succumbed to injury on 17 minutes and was replaced by striker Simon Martin, with Lee Clarke withdrawn from the attack into a midfield role.
Clarke missed the only real clear chance of the half for City on 29 minutes when he lashed well over the cross bar from eight yards after meeting a superbly executed corner kick from Ben Bowditch.
City threatened again with a sweeping move involving striker Martin and Hakim which set up Cohen. The striker burst down the right and his cross from the right was met by a header from Basingstoke defender Rob Watkins with the ball flashing across the goal to safety.
Basingstoke needed to strike while they had the tough conditions in their favour and did so on 44 minutes. Carl Botham crossed in a dangerous free kick and after a flick on striker Ruggles rose in the box to glance a superb header into the far corner for 1-0.
The second half started slowly before City struck a wind-assisted equaliser on 55 minutes. Jonathan Hunt curled a dangerous deep corner into the box and the ball sailed over goalkeeper Kitteridge and straight into the net at the far post.
Basingstoke looked to lively substitute David Tarpey to create some spark and his dangerous cross was miscued over his own cross bar by Ben Martin.
City took the lead in the 66th minute when Bowditch delivered a superb corner kick to the back post where centre back Watkins, when challenged by Ben Martin, diverted the ball into his own net. Home claims for a foul by Martin did not interest referee Matt Foley.
Boss Steve Castle replaced the Alex Bailey with centre back Ryan Frater, making his first appearance after recovering from a fractured leg sustained in pre-season, and the aerial powerhouse helped repel home threats in the final stages.
Against the wind and rain, Basingstoke had little answer to going behind and a weak shot from Ruggles which failed to trouble Bastock after Frater missed his clearance was the best the strugglers could muster.
Basingstoke Town: R. Kitteridge, A. Aimable, R. Watkins, S. Hankin, J. Lovegrove, S. Jombarti, S. Tucknott, T. Williamson, M. Bryant, P. Ruggles, C. Botham. Subs: Warner for Hankin (46), Tarpey for Tucknott (52), Shulton for Botham (82). Unused subs: Gibbs, Ogunbote.
St Albans City: P. Bastock, A. Bailey, S. Cousins, B. Bowditch, B. Martin, J. Fisher, G. Cohen, J. Quilter, P. Hakim, L. Clarke, J. Hunt. Subs: S. Martin for Quilter (17), Frater for Bailey (75). Unused subs: Hicks, Hurrell, Adams.
Referee: Matt Foley.