Late goal blitz stuns City
Blue Square South
St Albans City 3
ST ALBANS City squandered a two-goal lead for the third time this season as a remarkable spell of six goals in 16 minutes ended with Weston-super-Mare taking all three points.
City looked to be cruising when Jean-Michel Sigere tapped home from close range to add to Mark Peters’ opening goal but Marcus Duharty struck back instantly sparking an unlikely goal fest.
Sahr Kabba drew the Seagulls level just two minutes later only for Effiong to restore City’s lead a further 60 seconds later.
Unfortunately for City, they were unable to hold onto the lead. Kane Ingram was afforded the freedom of the box to draw Weston level for a second time before the visitors seized the lead for the first time in the 89th minute when Kabba outpaced Peters before firing past Paul Bastock.
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It was a remarkable turn of events that left City pointless after looking so comfortable for 75 minutes.
Manager Steve Castle stuck with the same personnel and formation that served the Saints so well in Monday’s FA Cup replay victory over Kingstonian. Drew Roberts and Rob Magwood both missed out on a place in the matchday squad as did Ben Martin who turned out for the reserves in a bid to get more match fitness under his belt.
Prior to kick off the ground observed a minute’s silence in memory of former St Albans City boss Colin Lippiatt who sadly lost his battle with cancer on Friday afternoon.
The first real opening of the contest fell to the home side with a move started and finished by James Fisher.
The midfielder stole the ball in midfield and released Pelayo Gomez on the right of the Weston penalty area before continuing his run into the box where he headed the Spaniard’s cross wide of the target.
Dean Grubb was enjoying plenty of freedom down the City left but it was his brother Dayle who had the visitor’s first sight of goal, a volley from 20 yards that was easily held by Bastock.
With just over half an hour gone City broke the deadlock. Gomez won a free kick out on City’s right flank and Robbie Martin’s cross was floated perfectly for Peters at the far post who beat Weston ‘keeper Lloyd Irish from close range.
City really should have doubled their lead two minutes before the interval but Gomez was unable to connect with Hassan Sulaiman’s cross.
Weston skipper Craig Rand was caught in possession midway inside the Weston half allowing Sulaiman to gallop into the open space in front of him. The former Bishop’s Stortford winger dinked the ball into the six yard box for Gomez but the ball somehow evaded the striker.
The Saints continued to enjoy the better of the play after the break with Dave Deeney testing Irish with a low shot from 25 yards but the ‘keeper was equal to the effort.
Then Gomez spun his marker and created space for a shot but fired wide from outside of the area.
With an hour gone Caslte introduced Jean-Michel Sigere to the action and the French striker made an immediate impact. Robbie Martin did well to bring the ball down in the centre circle and his accurate pass sent Sigere racing clear of the defence. The 33-year-old evaded a last ditch tackle from Weston but unselfishly rolled the ball across goal to Moses Odubajo who somehow, despite having the goal at his mercy, struck the outside of the post from six yards.
Good link-up play between Sigere and Pete Smith freed the City wide man to run at the Weston defence. Smith ran across the face of the 18 yard box before pulling the trigger just inside the penalty area but his right foot shot was blocked by Irish with Rand completing the clearance.
The second goal City’s possession warranted duly arrived in the 74th minute courtesy of Sigere. Adam Martin collected the ball on the left flank, drove to the byline and drilled the ball low into the path of Sigere who bundled the ball home from close range.
Such was City’s control of the game you felt it was game over but it was only just getting started.
Weston immediately reduced the deficit when the ball was allowed to reach Duharty on the right hand side of the penalty area. The Seagulls’ top scorer needed no invitation to shoot, beating Bastock from 18 yards with a shot that flew into the roof of the net.
The goal gave Weston confidence and just over two minutes later they were level. A clever throughball helped sub Kabba beat the offside trap and he confidently rounded Bastock before slotting the ball into the empty net from an acute angle.
The goals continued to come thick and fast, though, with City instantly regaining the lead. A Weston attack broke down and Fisher was allowed to stride forward in possession. The midfielder looked to have over-run the ball but his cute pass found substitute Inih Effiong free in the box. The striker pulled the trigger only to see his shot hit the far post before nestling in the side netting inside the near post.
However, just when you thought it was safe to draw breath Weston levelled for a second time in the contest.
Kabba nicked the ball past Ryan Frater out on the left wing and looked up to see Ingram free in the area. The pacy forward rolled the ball into Ingram’s path and although Sulaiman got back to block the shot it only helped take the ball into the back of the net.
The action kept coming with Adam Martin rising highest to meet Sulaiman’s cross only to see his effort smash the cross bar but it was Weston who struck the fatal blow grabbing the lead for the first time in the game in the 89th minute.
A long punt downfield found Peters isolated against the quick Kabba and the Weston forward shrugged off the City man before slotting the ball past Bastock to cap a remarkable comeback from the visitors.
The Saints could have gained a point from proceedings when Irish dropped the ball on the edge of his penalty area but just as Sigere went to shoot the former Lewes striker lost his footing and Weston were able to clear.
The result is a disappointing prelude to next Saturday’s big FA Cup clash with Luton Town and one which raises questions about City’s defending after conceding eight goals in their last two home league games.
City: Bastock; Sulaiman, Frater, Peters, Smith; R Martin (Effiong 67), Fisher, A Martin, Deeney, Odubajo (Everitt 64); Gomez (Sigere 59).
Subs not used: Dedman, Shields.
Weston: Irish; Price, Rand, Villis, J Laird; Dean Grubb (Kabba 67), Dayle Grubb (Slocombe 84), Gilbert (Mawford 43), Ingram; Duharty, Porter.
Subs not used: Farmer, Cureton.
Referee: Chris Miller (Kettering)