Identity-less Saints beaten by rapid Eastbourne Borough

Simon Thomas is unable to convert probably the best chance for the Saints. Picture: Leigh Page

Simon Thomas is unable to convert probably the best chance for the Saints. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

Eastbourne Borough utilised their rapid front line to beat a St Albans City side that seems to be suffering an identity crisis.

Borough played perfectly to their strengths, hitting the ball in behind the defence and letting the front three of Elliott Romain, Jack Evans and Gavin McCallum. It resulted in the only goal of the game as Romain raced onto a through ball and beat Joe Welch.

St Albans, on the other hand, don’t have an identity.

Last season, it was clear what City wanted to do: get the ball down and let the creativity of Sam Corcoran and James Comley win them games.

The brief remains the same. The managers want to play the ball on the ground but Simon Thomas is counter-intuitive to that approach as City launched long balls in his direction. With a big front man, getting balls into the box should be imperative but, in Lewis Hilliard and Luke Allen, the Saints don’t have the width or speed to attack down the wings.

All in all, it resulted in a side that lacked cohesion and the understanding of each other that hopefully will come in time. In needs to, and quick if City are going to get points on the board in August.

James Gray and Graham Golds, St Albans City’s joint managers, named an unchanged side from Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Ebbsfleet United. James Comley retained the right-back spot ahead of John Kyriacou and Louie Theophanous and Simon Thomas formed a two-pronged attack.

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Confidence was high going into the game after both teams stuttered out of the blocks to start the season - Eastbourne had picked up three points, two more than the Saints.

As such, it was a breathless start to the half as Hilliard cleared Ian Simpemba’s shot off the line and Allen flicked the ball over the bar after a mazy run down the right from Theophanous.

The pace of Eastbourne’s front three caused City’s defence all kinds of problems. There were at least three warning shots before the opening goal in the 28th minute. A long ball was flicked past the defence for Romain to race on to. Welch rushed off his line but luck shined on the front man as the ball deflected into his path and he had an easy finish.

St Albans had their moments when they got the ball down on the pitch, which was few and far between, but Lewis Carey, Eastbourne’s goalkeeper, remained untested by the time the half-time whistle blew. The majority of the time the ball was in the air and City looked to ab lib a chance rather than build through the middle.

St Albans used two subs before the second half. Sam Corcoran was replaced by Kyriacou in the 33rd minute after picking up an injury and Jack Green came on for Allen at the break. Fifteen minutes into the half, Billy Medlock came on for Simon Thomas as St Albans tried to find a way back into the game. But there was no way back.

Rarely does a team dominate a half like Eastbourne did. They had the majority of possession, better chances and were, quite simply, the superior side. The final score flattered St Albans; they were thoroughly beaten and could have been on the wrong end of a much more one-sided score-line.


St Albans City: Welch, Comley, Chappell, Thomas, Gayle, Martin, Allen (J Green 45), Corcoran (Kyriacou 33), Theophanous, Thomas (Medlock 58), Hilliard. Subs: Locke, Sow.

Eastbourne Borough: Carey, Stone, Beale, Worrall (Watts 53), Simpemba, Khinder-John, Haysman (Baptista 78), Collier, Romain, Evans, McCallum. Subs: Nehemie, Bosma, Pinney.

Attendance: 437