Julian saves a penalty as Sutton down City
- Credit: Archant
John Frendo missed a penalty and James Comley had a goal disallowed as St Albans City lost 4-2 to Sutton United at Clarence Park.
Alan Julian pulled off a magnificent save to deny Frendo from the spot and the assistant ruled out Comley’s free-kick, both with Sutton leading 1-0 after an early goal.
The Saints found a way back into the game through Sean Shields just before the interval but Sutton scored three second-half goals against a poor City side to seal all three points.
Frendo gave City hope with a goal in the 90th minute to bring them within one but ultimately their mistakes throughout the game cost them dearly.
The mistakes started early as Sutton hit the hosts on the counter attack to take a fifth-minute lead. Shields’ corner was headed clear at the front post, fed to Marvin Williams down the right wing and he whipped in a low cross for Jamie Taylor to tap home from close range.
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City should have been level in five minutes later when Danny Green put Shields through on goal but, with only the goalkeeper to beat, he hooked his right-footed shot wide. His next effort was on target but too tame to worry Julian.
The Saints engineered another excellent chance in the 13th minute as Lee Clarke found Frendo with his back to goal. The striker turned his man and poked a through ball to Steve Wales who miscued.
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At the other end, Dale Binns’ pace won Sutton a corner which was hit wide by captain Charlie Clough. Then, Joe Welch had to be quick off his line to pounce on Clough’s knockdown before denying Taylor at the front post.
St Albans did have the ball in the net in the 26th minute but the assistant’s flag ruled it out. Comley’s in-swinging free-kick looked to have missed everyone and bounced into the top corner but Darren Locke was near the delivery and the linesman had his flag up early.
Joint managers James Gray and Graham Golds were forced into a early change as Darren Locke had to be replaced by Tom Ward, who was making his first appearance since his injury.
St Albans were given a way back into the game when Frendo was tripped in the penalty area. Last year’s top-scorer put the ball to the goalkeeper’s right but Julian guessed right to pull off an excellent, full-stretch save.
The Saints finally found an equaliser in added time. Ward headed a clearance back towards Sutton’s goal and Callum Hart mistimed what should have been a routine header, allowing the ball to skim off his head and into Wales’ path. Julian thought about coming out but changed his mind and Wales to cross to Shields who scored his first goal since joining the club on loan.
Shields nearly had his second within a minute of the restart as he pounced on some slack defending to lift the ball over Julian but the ball bounced off the top of the bar.
Such was the nature of the game that, with City looking more likely to break the deadlock, Sutton scored their second. Clough got a run on Ward and headed an out-swinging corner from Matt Lockwood past Welch.
Frendo flashed a half-volley over the bar and James Comley was robbed of a chance by the referee’s whistle before City rung the changes by bringing on Loick Pires and Matt Taylor.
City squandered another chance when Frendo found himself five yards out and with Julian to beat and it proved one missed opportunity to many as Sutton padded their lead. Substitute Reindorf was sent clear, rounded Welch and passed the ball into an empty net.
They did pull on back at the end of 90 minutes as Frendo poked home after a goal-mouth scramble but Sutton restored their two-goal advantage through Kane Haysman minutes later.
St Albans City starting line-up: Welch, Kyriacou, Chappell, Green, Martin, Locke, Clarke, Comley, Frendo, Shields, Wales. Subs: Ward, Pires, Taylor, Buchanan, Keenleyside.
Sutton United starting line-up: Julian, Evans, Lockwood, Spillane, Hart, Clough, Williams, Dundas, Wellard, Taylor, Binns. Subs: Haysman, Reindorf, Ruddick, John, Lovelock.