James Gray on Monday’s Hitchin game and other talking points
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City held off an attacking assault by Hitchin Town on Monday night at Clarence Park to win 2-1 and extend their unbeaten run to nine games.
Goals from Ryan Wharton, his first for the club, and a John Frendo penalty, his 14th of the season, have City a cushion but a 70th minute goal from Dan Webb set up a tense finish.
Saints seemed unable to stem the flow of cross fired into their box but some last-ditch defending saw them secure three points.
After the game City’s joint manager James Gray said: “Three points, job done, go home.
“The performance wasn’t great; we looked a bit leggy and tired. We’ve had a lot of game, and a lot of Saturday-Monday games. We looked exactly the same at Bedford and dropped the points so I’m glad we got three points tonight.
“We could have scored another goal in the first half; that would have it [more comfortable]. Two-nil is a horrible score and I feared the worst after their goal. We didn’t play to our potential but it’s not a bad thing to not play well and win.”
City’s last two league games saw them drop four points after Bedford and Hemel Hempstead scored late equalisers, so Gray was pleased to see his side see out a close contest.
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“It’s a step closer to where we need to be. At Bedford, we didn’t see it out but tonight we’ve done that and got three points. It’s a feather in our cap because it looks like we can weather a storm.
“We defended gallantly and, yes, we rode our luck a little bit but it’s good to know we can not perform and get the points.
“We couldn’t afford to lose any more points. We have got a lot of cup games so every time we play in the league we need to try to maximise our points.”
Other talking points from Gray’s post-match interview:
• On Hitchin Town: “Hitchin’s work rate is phenomenal. They don’t let you have a second on the ball; the energy in the middle took its toll on us and they were quicker to every ball.
“That’s why I think they’ll pick up some good points. Mark Burke has got them firing so I’m happy to escape with three points.”
• On Hitchin goalkeeper David Hulman’s potential red card after bringing down John Frendo in the box: “I don’t want to see anyone get a red card. He was just inches away from getting the ball. I wouldn’t want to see Paul Bastock sent off for something like that.
“Thankfully Frendo put the ball in the net.”
• On Wharton’s first goal for the club: “He said before the game that he was going up for corner so I told him, ‘Don’t go up there just to make up numbers.’
“It was a great cross from Chris Watters and a great header. I’m glad he took on board what I said and got his first goal for the club.”
• On the team’s injury situation: “Darrren Locke has some kind of muscle damage. He did it last Thursday, soldiered through Saturday and wanted to play tonight but after 30 minutes he said he didn’t feel right. We brought on James Kaloczi and I thought he did very well.
“Ben Martin hasn’t gone 100 per cent yet but I’m hopeful he’ll available for Saturday and Comley had a tight hamstring.
“We have got so many niggling injuries and it’s one of those things that takes its toll on players. We need to get our big players back and freshen up a little bit.”