Missed chances cost City
ST ALBANS City go into the Festive period desperately in need of a win after they slumped to their fourth straight defeat. Two goals in four minutes gave struggling Havant the points as City continue to miss gilt-edged chances. Manager Steve Castle reinst
ST ALBANS City go into the Festive period desperately in need of a win after they slumped to their fourth straight defeat.
Two goals in four minutes gave struggling Havant the points as City continue to miss gilt-edged chances.
Manager Steve Castle reinstated Sam Hurrell, Simon Martin and Lee Clarke to the starting line-up in an attempt to shake things up and for the first twenty minutes City enjoyed the upper hand.
Charlie Henry had the host's first attempt on goal when he cut in off the left wing and fired a shot that bounced in front of Paul Bastock, but the veteran goalkeeper was able to hold onto the effort.
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City had the ball in the back of the net after just nine minutes when Jonathan Hunt's free-kick from the right sailed through the goalkeeper Kevin Scriven's hands and into the net. However referee Justin Amey disallowed the goal after spotting a foul by Simon Martin on the goalkeeper.
Havant were awarded a free kick on the edge of the City box and they quickly took it to Henry but the diminutive winger's effort was beaten away by Bastock.
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City's best chance fell to Paul Hakim, who picked up Simon Martin's pass and beat Gary Elphick, only to see his shot saved by Scriven.
Hunt then crossed for Simon Martin who was afforded a free header but he could only guide the ball over the bar when he should have done a lot better.
Havant and Henry in particular were enjoying success down the left wing. With 28 minutes gone, Henry and left back Brett Poate combined to deliver the ball into the box for Robbie Matthews who was bundled over by Ryan Frater. Referee Amey had no hesitation in pointing to the spot but captain Jamie Collins' effort crashed off Bastock's left-hand post and away to safety.
The reprieve lasted all of eight minutes as Havant took the lead against the run of play. St Albans failed to clear a corner and as the ball bounced around in the six-yard box, Craig Watkins pounced to steer it towards goal and with the help of a deflection or two, into the back of the net.
The goal buoyed the home side and they increased their lead four minutes later when City gifted them a second.
Frater slipped, giving the ball to Matthews and although his cross was cut out by Fisher, he was then robbed by Gary Holloway who raced into the area before placing his shot inside the far post.
City's response was immediate and the hard-working Hakim was unlucky to see his 20-yard effort spectacularly repelled by Scriven.
The second half was very open as City pushed on, trying to get back into the game and Havant happy to try and hit their visitors on the break.
Lee Clarke played a delightful ball in behind the Havant defence for Hakim but the striker couldn't get the ball under control with just the 'keeper to beat.
Holloway supplied a pass to substitute Paul Booth but Bastock stood up to the striker and blocked his shot, with Ben Martin hooking the ball away from goal.
Clarke played another telling pass behind the Havant defence and although Scriven beat Hakim to the ball, the Havant 'keeper's clearance cannoned off the City front man and straight back towards the goal. However, as is City's luck at the moment, the ball hit the post and denied Hakim a deserved goal.
Clarke did well to last 78 minutes but his lack of match fitness saw him make an early exit, with debutant Rob Nicholls coming on to replace him.
Henry continued to cause the City defence problems, twice running at them and delivering crosses that no one could quite get a telling touch to.
City's best chance of the second period fell to Simon Martin with three minutes remaining. Fisher delivered the ball to the near post and Martin beat his man but somehow turned the ball over the bar from three yards out.
Fittingly the last chance of the game fell to the outstanding Henry. Matthews knocked the ball down to the winger but his right-foot effort from the edge of the box flew past the post.
This result was Havant's first league win since September 13 and was a much needed three points as they look to move away from the dreaded relegation zone. City continue to miss chances with this their third league match in row without a goal, something that they need to address if they are to stay in touch with the leading pack.