St Albans City drop into the bottom two with poor loss to Eastbourne Borough
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City stopped short of conceding four for the third successive game but that was the merest of silver linings as they surrendered meekly to Eastbourne Borough in a 3-1 defeat.
They had shipped four at Weymouth seven days ago in the FA Cup with four coming at Maidstone in their last National League South game.
Weymouth had also scored four in the last league game at Clarence Park in the middle of September but it all looked rosy when Joe Iaciofano put them ahead on five minutes.
But by half-time goals from James Ferry and Elliot Romain had put Eastbourne in front and Michael West completed the away win after the break.
Defensively this was poor with Borough players getting far too much time and space for all three goals.
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Confidence might be low but you would still expect better from a side that had started the year looking sound at the back.
To run salt into the wounds, results elsewhere drop St Albans into the relegation zone.
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The hope was Non League Day would bring more bodies into the ground and produce an atmosphere that would lift the belief of the City players.
And if Saints could have booked the perfect start then this would have almost been it.
Ahead in five minutes, even if the goal was horribly scruffy, and looking like a side who could go on and run up a hatful.
Iaciofano was credited with the goal although it could well have been an own goal.
He picked up the ball inside the penalty area after a long punt forward by Dean Snedker and after turning the defender he had a brief glimpse of goal.
His touch was heavy though and allowed Sergio Torres to come in with a sliding tackle.
What happened next was the ball trickled inside the near post but who got the last touch will be one for the video.
But it gave City a lift and playing with a twin strike force that saw Merson partner the goal scorer, they looked better than they have done in a good few weeks.
Joe Howe tested Tom Hadler with a low drive and there was a shout for a penalty that manager Ian Allinson was convinced should have been given.
But Borough were slowly coming back into it when they equalised.
A deflected cross found the hugely impressive Romain who, in what would became a frustratingly frequent trend, was given too much time to turn and cross.
That zipped low across the face of goal and Ferry turned it home ahead of the defence.
Romain was a constant threat to the back four and raced through after the ball was given away in midfield.
Fortunately Snedker forced him wide and the subsequent shot from Nicky Wheeler was off target.
But City failed to heed those warnings and with three minutes to go before half-time, Eastbourne scored one of the easiest goals they will get all year.
A free-kick from the right was thrown deep to the back post where the unmarked Kristian Campbell nodded it back across goal to the equally unmarked Romain for the simple finish.
It could have been oh-so-different had Solomon Nwabuokei not missed a glorious chance 11 minutes earlier.
Slipped in by Zane Banton after a quick throw, he just had to pick his spot from 12 yards. Somehow though, presumably by taking his eye off the ball, he scuffed it wide.
An injury to Iaciofano looked worrying, not only for the remainder of this game but also for the next few weeks.
But there were slight signs of promise for City in the opening minutes of the second half.
Nwabuokei did well to fashion the first chance for Scott Shulton who drove in but was denied by a smart save by Hadler.
From the corner Banton got some space for himself but fired over from the edge of the box.
Eastbourne continued to look threatening and first Willis fired wide on the break and then Snedker had to be aware to field another shot, this one after the ball was given away deep in the City half.
But the visitors would not be denied and with the yellow shirts simply melting away in front of him, West ghosted in from the left for a simple finish.
And that was that. Any comeback never looked like coming and indeed it was only a matter of if Eastbourne would score again.
The crowd was announced at 835. They had responded in deathly silence to the half-time whistle, there was little more acknowledgement at the end bar a smattering of applause.
It was not a performance to entice them back.
St Albans City: Snedker, Howe, Bender, Shulton (Noble 79), Kaloczi, Longe-King, Miles (Foxley 78), Iaciofano (Georgiou 32), Merson, Banton, Nwabuokei.
Subs (not used): Diedhiou, Sprague.
Goals: Iaciofano 5
Booked: Howe 77, Bender 90+4
Eastbourne Borough: Hadler, Debrah, Nditi, Gayle (Khinda-John 46), Wheeler (Luer 56), West, Torres (Walker 80), Willis, Ferry, Romain, Campbell.
Subs (not used): Cox, Gharbaoui.
Goals: Ferry 17, Romain 42, West 69
HT: St Albans City 1 Eastbourne Borough 2
Referee: Isaac Searle (Herne Bay)