National South: Zane Banton strikes late as St Albans City grab point at Hemel Hempstead
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City continued their unbeaten run but they left it late to rescue a point at Hemel Hempstead Town with a 1-1 draw.
Zane Banton sent the travelling fans and the bench into rapture after Joe Howe had seemingly brought revenge to the Tudors, still smarting from their Boxing Day defeat at Clarence Park.
Both teams will think they should have taken the win but the result was probably fair enough on balance.
St Albans ended up with limited options when it came to selection with Ben Herd and David Noble out injured, Clovis Kamdjo suspended and Josh McLeod-Urquhart unavailable.
Tom Bender was named on the bench but manager Ian Allinson admitted prior to the game that he would rather not risk him if he could get away with it.
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That said the purple-shirted Saints will have gone in at half-time pleased with their endeavours over the first 45 minutes but not happy with the 0-0 score.
They were definitely on top in terms of possession but despite increasing the number of shots from previous weeks, they failed to really test Laurie Walker in the Hemel goal.
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The closest they came best effort was a flicked header from a Sam Merson throw that came back off the crossbar and Lewis Knight’s effort from the rebound was blocked by Darren Ward.
Their best chance ironically came right at the end of the half when Merson connected superbly with a volley that looked to be arrowing into the net.
However, team-mate Percy Kiangebeni was the player that couldn’t get out the way in time and inadvertently blocked the shot.
Hemel weren’t anywhere near their best but they were well contained by the likes of Solomon Sambou and Jordan Sanderson, making his first start in City colours.
You expected a response from the Tudors after the break and there was an increase in their tempo, even if Dean Snedker wasn’t under too much pressure.
All that changed midway through the half with probably their first shots on target.
The City keeper made a sprawling save to stop the first effort but Howe was following up and stuck the rebound away.
Saints finally upped the tempo following that goal as they looked to get the all-important equaliser.
The frustrations were visibly noticeable among the Saints players as Hemel employed plenty of time-wasting tactics, Kyle Connolly in particular openly laughing as he slowed down two throw-ins.
But that smile was soon wiped from the home side’s faces as with four minutes to go Zane Banton took a touch in the middle of the box and coolly slipped it beyond Walker.
The ball had arrived to him from a Merson pullback and the striker had two good chances to win it, the first effort drawing a save from Wright while the second hit the side netting.
Sambou had the final chance as Saints finished strong but Walker beat that one away.
St Albans City: Snedker, Diedhiou, Clark, Kiangebeni (Da Costa 79), Knight, Sanderson, Wyatt, Sambou, Merson, Moyo, Banton.
Subs (not used): Herd, Bonfield, Bender, Gardiner-Smith.
Goal: Banton 86
Booked: Clark 60
Hemel Hempstead Town: Walker, Howe, Swain, Parkes, Ward, Yakubu, Tomlinson (Sanchez-Watt 55), Shulton, Cawley, Sinclair, Connolly.
Subs (not used): Kaloczi, Snelus, Knowles, Paulin.
Goals: Howe 66
HT: Hemel Hempstead Town 0 St Albans City 0
Referee: David Spain