Lack of cutting edge costs Saints two points

Sam Corcoran scored on his return to the team following a two-match suspension. Picture: Bob Walkley

Sam Corcoran scored on his return to the team following a two-match suspension. Picture: Bob Walkley - Credit: Archant

St Albans City’s inability to convert their chances cost them two Vanarama Conference South points against Basingstoke Town at Clarence Park on Valentine’s Day.

The Saints dominated the majority of the game but only had Sam Corcoran’s 13th-minute goal to show for their industry, which was cancelled out by Manny Williams at the start of the second half. It also cost St Albans their first clean sweep over a league opponent.

City’s struggles in front of goal have been well-documented this season, but they did manage to hold on for a point, something that has scarcely happened this season.

There were positives; most notably the performances of Corcoran, who pulled the strings in his first game back from suspension, and James Kaloczi, who looks like the next Ram Marwa. It’ll be little consolation, though, especially when they should have won three points.

The Saints started at a frenetic pace, pressing high and attacking at speed, as Basingstoke struggled to get the ball out of their own half. They had already knocked on the door twice before Corcoran burst through it. David Ray’s intercepted pass was played to John Frendo on the left. He surged into the box and cut the ball back for Corcoran who scored at the second time of asking.

It could have been two just minutes laster but James Harper hooked the ball out from under his own bar.

Basingstoke found a footing in the game but their unwillingness to play through the middle resulted in few chances as City’s defence held firm. Their best chance fell for Shaun McAuley but his glancing header missed the target.

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The rest of the half was all St Albans and only the heroics of Stuart Moore, Basingstoke’s goalkeeper, kept the advantage to one. He pulled off two text-book saves to deny Corcoran and Jamal Lowe and two instinct saves to thwart Frendo and Kaloczi as Basingstoke narrowly hung in the game. Frendo had a clear sight of goal at the end of the half but Louie Soares tracked back brillantly to dispossess him before he could pull the trigger.

All the Saints’ good work was undone in six second-half minutes as Nathan Smart whipped in a delicious ball towards the back post for Williams to score. The full-back repeated the trick four minutes later but Chris Flood headed over Joe Welch’s goal.

The pattern of the game may have swung in the opposite direction but Moore was still frustrating the hosts. After a goalmouth scramble that somehow stayed out, Lowe cracked a shot that the goalkeeper parried to safety.

St Albans just couldn’t find a second goal, as Corcoran and Lowe were denied before the former Barnet man whipped in a cross that only needed a touch. In the end, St Albans’ inability to convert more of their chances, especially in the first half, cost them two points and the win they thoroughly deserved.


St Albans City starting line-up: Welch, Hall, Chappell, Locke, Gayle, Kaloczi, Corcoran, Beckles, Frendo (Soetan - 90), Wales (Malcolm - 70), Lowe. Subs: Gorman, Taylor, Keenleyside.

Basingstoke Town starting line-up: Moore, Smart, Bird, Harper, Dickie, Ray, Soares (Jenkinson - 85), McAuley, Enver-Marum, Flood (Macklin - 68), Williams (Cox - 89). Subs: Rice, Case.

Attendance: 608