Opening day loss for City

St Albans City Football Club

St Albans City Football Club - Credit: Archant

St Albans City’s first game of the new Conference South season ended in a 1-0 defeat to Hayes and Yeading.

Matty Harriott scored a 14th minute opener which City were unable to overturn.

St Albans stuck with the team that impressed throughout pre-season, meaning there were no places for Ben Martin and Lee Clarke in the starting line-up.

Hayes enjoyed the better of the opening 10 minutes, albeit without testing Joe Welch, as City struggled to retain possession in the final third. The hosts received an early warning when a cross just missed the unmarked Pat Cox, who would have been denied by the offside flag.

Loick Pires had the first chance of the game, cutting in on his left foot and curling the ball just the wrong side of the far post. But City’s promise of scoring the opening goal quickly dissipated as Hayes went up the other end and scored, Matty Harriott with the final touch to give the visitors a 14th minute lead.

The Saints were lucky not be to two behind in the 20th minute as Frankie Merrifield expertly headed the ball into the net but the assistant’s flag gave them a reprieve.

Pires’ attacking partner Buchanan had his first sight of goal in the 25th minute as he created a yard of space on the edge of the box but his shot was deflected behind for a corner.

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Suddenly St Albans were finding a cutting edge going forward. Sam Corcoran got a shot off on the turn from 12 yards out which looked destined for the net but for the top of a defender’s head. From the corner Pires headed just wide.

Led by John Kyriacou and James Comley, St Albans found a sense of urgency in the final five minutes of the half, and with it their best chance. Steve Wales put in a cross that was left by everyone except the onrushing Lee Chappell but he sliced it over with his right foot.

It was the final chance of a faster, more physical half than City had seemingly expected and they went into the break 1-0 down.

The Saints continued their up-tempo play in the second half and Chappell had the first chance but fired over. At the other end, Tom Ward made an excellent challenge to deny Hayes a shooting chance in the box from a counter attack.

Wishmart should have had Hayes two up in the 54th minute but, after powering through the defence, he sent his shot high over the bar.

In the 60th minute Hayes’ goalkeeper Calum Kitcha, who was booked for time wasting, made an easy save from Kyriacou before Saints brought on David Keenleyside for Steve Wales as they went in search of an equalising goal.

City then changed their front line by introducing Warren McBean to the game in place of Pires. And his first chance should have been a goal after Chappell’s long throw was flicked on to him at the back post but he scuffed his shot.

City made their final sub in the 68th minute and added another attacking option with Matt Taylor on in place of Danny Green.

The substitution had its desired effect as St Albans were camped in Hayes’ half for the final 10 minutes. But each time they lacked a final ball, the visitors were able to clear their lines and the game ended 1-0.