Late equaliser snatches two points from City
St Albans City were unlucky not to take all three points at Clarence Park as local rivals Hemel Hempstead nicked a last minute equaliser in a thrilling 2-2 draw.
The front pairing of John Frendo and Mark Nwokeji were once again on the score sheet, having established a fine partnership up top for Saints.
But it was former Saint Moussa Diarra whole stole the show, netting a 91st minute equaliser for Tudors, who were reduced to 10 men halfway through the second half.
Hemel started the brighter of the two teams, enjoying the best of the opening exchanges.
The visitors crafted the first chance with just a minute on the clock as the ball fell lose on the edge of City’s area, only to be blasted way over Paul Bastock’s goal.
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Hemel continued to press for an opener, but it was the home side who clinched the lead inside ten minutes with a close range finish from Nwokeji.
Frantic defending from the league leaders failed to clear their lines and it was the in form striker who pounced on the ball first to put City 1-0 up against the run of play.
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The momentum started to shift in City’s favour as the boys in yellow attempted to capitalise on their early lead.
Darren Locke was unlucky to see his goal disallowed by the linesman’s flag as he turned in a sumptuous cross from David Keenleyside.
Strong challenges from Rambir Marwa and James Comley continued to unsettle the Tudors usual passing rhythm with St Albans looking good value for their lead in the opening 20 minutes.
An injury to Howard Hall in the 30th minute saw him replaced by Harrison Georgiou, but still City poured forward in search of a second goal; Frendo coming closest.
Although Saints were enjoying a great deal of possession as halftime approached, it was Hemel who found the net.
Former City man Lewis Toomey arrived late at the back post to nod home David Hutton’s free kick, sending the teams into the interval at one a piece.
The second half began in a similar fashion to the first with Hemel out the blocks first, intent on remedying a below par first half performance.
A succession of chances fell Hemel’s way but did little to trouble veteran keeper Bastock. With City disrupting the visitors’ passing fluency, a frustrated Hemel knocked a series of lofted passes down the field with little success.
The crowd favourite Diarra came closest to putting the Tudor’s in front with a header that glanced narrowly wide of Backstock’s left post.
The talking point of the second half came with 20 minutes to go as Hemel’s Danny May was controversially dismissed for what the referee deemed as a dangerous challenge on Richard Graham.
With Hemel down to ten men the advantage swung in City’s favour, quickly exploited by substitute Chris Henry who burst down the left flank to gift Frendo an easy finish inside the six-yard box.
A heated last 10 minutes saw a feisty finish to the game. A nervous City were living dangerously on the edge of their 18-yard area conceding a host of corners and a fatal free-kick.
A floated ball was clipped into the area, finished by Diarra whose header beat Bastock, although he looked to have been fouled.
The Hemel fans poured on to the pitch as Diarra rescued the visitors a point with celebrations that were reminiscent of a title winning victory.