Oxford City add to The Saints’ woes

Sixth defeat in 10 games for Howell’s team

Southern Premier Division

Oxford City 3

St Albans City 1

ST ALBANS City’s depressing run of form continued on Saturday as they slumped to their sixth defeat in 10 matches, this time at Oxford City.

David Howell’s side just can’t buy a win at present and this proved to be the case again at Court Place Farm. Any hopes The Saints may have had of Oxford looking ahead to next weekend’s FA Cup clash with Redbridge were soon diminished as striker Lee Steele handed the home side a 21st minute lead.

Midfielder Nick Chrysanthou, handed his first league start of the season, was caught in possession after collecting a throw from Michael Lewis and one-time Leyton Orient striker Steele made no mistake by beating Nick Jupp from the edge of the area.

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Howell had handed a debut to City Midweek Youth coach James Gray at the heart of the defence and handed Barrie Matthews the captain’s armband but these changes had little effect as Oxford dominated.

Sean Shields had gone close with a curling effort early on in the half but sights of goal were at a premium for the visitors and it was the home side who looked most likely to add to their tally.

Andy Ballard headed over the bar from a Felipe Barcelos free kick and Wayne Blossom twice forced Jupp into action with headed efforts on goal.

Chrysanthou was withdrawn from the action at half time and replaced by Danny Hart who quickly got into the game testing Oxford’s giant goalkeeper, Jason Mooney, low at his near post.

It took Oxford eight second half minutes to increase their advantage as James Clarke’s long floated free kick into the box was knocked across goal by Adam Learoyd to Ballard who powerfully headed home.

Despite St Albans enjoying more of the game after the break they were never really able to test Wycombe loanee Mooney and it was the home side who continued to threaten the most.

Darren Pond looked to have made it three when he was picked out by Jack Ashton but the midfielder’s effort through a crowded box cannoned off Jupp’s upright and away to safety.

The hosts didn’t have long to wait for goal number three though as Steele grabbed his second of the game. The Saints defence afforded the experienced front man far too much space to collect Ballard’s long throw in and fire home his sixth league goal of the season.

Shields grabbed a consolation for The Saints three minutes from time when his effort from 20 yards took a nick off a defender and beat the despairing dive of Mooney.

The Saints’ top scorer Sakho Bakare went close with a 30-yard free kick that whistled past the post before referee Andrew Roberts bought a halt to proceedings.

Amazingly, The Saints, whose five league wins this season features only one away from Clarence Park, still sit only eight points off the play-off places.

Oxford City: Mooney, Clarke, Learoyd, Ballard, Pond, Blossom, Lyon (Heapy 83), Martin (M Clark 78), Barcelos (Fleet 78), Steele, Ashton.

Subs not used: Basham.

St Albans City: Jupp, Lewis, Watts, Ijaha, Cutchey, Gray, Ehui (Bakare 59), Chrysanthou (Hart 45), Furlong (Walker 76), Shields, Matthews.

Subs not used: Haisley, Viner.

Referee: Andrew Roberts (Surrey)

Att: 241.