Merson’s late strike hands St Albans City deserved draw with Maidenhead United

Sam Merson. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Sam Merson. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

A last minute Sam Merson goal saw St Albans City recover from 2-0 down to earn a point from a 2-2 draw against league leaders Maidenhead United.

The impressive Sam Barratt struck in the 18th and 50th minute for United and it looked like his side were on course for victory.

However, Tom Bender netted a header in the 72nd minute to pull one back for Saints, they then piled on the pressure and were rewarded as Merson found the bottom corner in the dying stages.

Saints boss Ian Allinson handed home debuts to new signings Tom Gardiner, Jack Saville and Charlie Walker who arrived at the club in the week.

Following three consecutive National League South losses, the hosts started the game well and leading scorer Louie Theophanous fired over from distance with the opening chance of the clash.

Bender whipped in a dangerous cross which a diving skipper Lee Chappell then just failed to connect with.

The full-back delivered another ball into the box, which flashed across goal and fell to Walker who bobbled an effort to away keeper Carl Pentney.

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With their first opportunity of the game Maidenhead took the lead as Barratt found himself with just keeper James Russell to beat and he did so emphatically.

Bender looked to get an immediate response for his side, but saw his shot from 25 yards turned round the post by Pentney.

Maidenhead, who had a penalty claim turned down after Marks tussled with Ben Martin, created further efforts of their own as they tried to double their advantage before the break.

Dean Inman headed a Dave Tarpey cross over, Barratt curled wide and Mulley could not convert Tarpey’s delivery.

The start of the second half saw Chappell appeal for a penalty denied as he went to ground in the box.

However, at the other end it was Maidenhead who struck as Barratt headed home Ryan Upward’s cross from the right.

The visitors thought it was 3-0 on the hour-mark as Marks tucked home, but was flagged offside.

Russell then saved well from Kieron Forbes to keep his side in the game.

Allinson made three attacking substitutions in 10 minutes and they proved decisive.

Shaun Lucien added width on the right, while Jamie Cureton and Merson added further threat up front.

It was defender Bender, presented with the player of the month award for December ahead of kick-off, who headed home for 2-1 with 18 minutes to go.

St Albans then piled on the pressure for the remainder forcing a hosts of free-kicks and throw-ins deep in the United half.

Eventually the deserved equaliser came as a Noble corner was half cleared, Theophanous’ shot was blocked, but fell to Merson who took his time to find space and then rifle into the corner of the net.

In injury time Saints could had nicked it as Martin headed just wide, but a share of the spoils were in the end a fair result.