Jets blasted away as Wheeler passes first audition

Kevin Krans made an impact from the bench as City beat Oxhey. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Kevin Krans made an impact from the bench as City beat Oxhey. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

Caretaker boss Harry Wheeler has thrown his hat into the ring for the vacant St Albans City manager job – and his first audition produced a comfortable success.

Speaking after the 5-0 win over Oxhey Jets in the Herts Senior Challenge Cup, Wheeler left nobody in doubt as to his intentions.

He said: “Outside circumstances could dictate differently but in terms of do I want it? Of course. Always would. Yes.

“I never say never. I always have confidence in myself and always think I can do something and affect it.”

Owner Lawrence Levy has said the club will not be rushed in to making a decision on who takes over from Jimmy Gray and Graham Golds, and said if there is no appointment by the weekend, Wheeler would be in charge for the visit of Margate in a vital Vanarama National League South fixture.

If that game goes as well as this, Wheeler could jump to the top of the list as far as candidates go.

The caretaker made no surprises with his team but there were changes to the formation.

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Jernade Meade played left back with Lee Chappell moving into midfield.

James Comley started right of the three, Sam Corcoran in a deeper role, with Billy Gibson in a more advanced central role than usual.

Wheeler explained after the game that the changes were designed to give the team more energy and they had the desired effect as Saints controlled proceedings against their Spartan South Midlands opponents.

Chappell, Comley and Gibson all had chances before City took the lead on 19 minutes.

A quick break saw Comley combine with Louie Theophanous and the top scorer curled a beauty in off the post from the edge of the area.

It should have been two moments later but an unmarked Harry Crawford headed wide.

Corcoran had the ball in the net, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag, before Crawford had a glorious chance to make it two.

His penalty was hit to the corner but at a good height for Davis Boateng, who pushed it round the post.

Crawford was clearly lacking in confidence as, after superbly winning the ball off the keeper, he passed up a chance to lob into the empty net, choosing to pass instead.

However Saints did go into the break two up, Meade heading home after Boateng had missed a Theophanous cross.

City didn’t start the second period as quickly and Jets thought they had pulled a goal back when Luke Wells shot beyond Welch.

But like Corcoran, he was deflated by an offside flag.

The second period sprung into life on the hour.

Comley extended Saints lead with a dipping effort from 25 yards but as the players lined up for the kick off, the referee brandished a straight red card to Crawford for dissent.

Wheeler had already decided to make a double substitution and the move proved inspired, preventing the loss of Crawford from causing Saints a problem.

On came Kevin Krans and new loan signing from Peterborough, Jonathan Edwards.

The pair soon combined with the Posh striker just firing wide on 67 minutes and he had an even better opportunity moments later, firing over from close range.

A third chance also went begging before he finally made his mark.

Again it was Krans with the through-ball and Edwards this time made no mistake, shooting low beyond Boateng.

And it was the same combination a minute later, this time Edwards rounding the keeper before rolling it into the unguarded net.

He had two further chances to grab a hat-trick, a mazy dribble was blocked by a defender before a diving header just went wide.

But it was a fine win and a most welcome performance.

And if it continues on Saturday with Wheeler in charge, it may be the first of a brand new regime.