Petrucci strikes as City hold leaders

Striker nets his first goal for the club

Blue Square Bet South

Braintree Town 1 St Albans City 1

ST ALBANS City’s resurgence continues after Dom Petrucci’s first goal for the club earned the Saints a share of the spoils at league leaders Braintree Town.

Substitute Petrucci notched the goal eight minutes from time to ensure the Saints didn’t leave Cressing Road empty handed and in the process extend City’s unbeaten run to three games.

For a team that has led the way for a long time, Braintree were far from the most impressive side the Saints have come up against this season. Despite this, it was the home side who started with the upper hand and Paul Bastock denied both Scott Shulton and Nathaniel Pinney early on.

The City stopper has been in impressive form of late and this game was to be no different but there was nothing the 40-year-old ‘keeper could do to stop on-loan Crystal Palace man Pinney from opening the scoring.

Most Read

The forward still had a lot to do when he received the ball out on the left wing, but with no City player closing him down the youngster made the most of his space to drive inside and fire a right footed shot past Bastock from the edge of the area.

The home side didn’t have it all their own way and goalkeeper Nathan McDonald matched Bastock’s brilliance.

Inih Effiong and Jonathan O’Donnell combined well just inside the penalty area and when O’Donnell’s cross found Ollie Kelly the midfielder’s header looked destined for the corner of the net only for McDonald to spring across his line and claw the ball to safety.

Braintree threatened to put the game beyond City and they probably should have but for some Sunday league finishing.

Defender Adam Bailey-Dennis was allowed to march unchallenged deep into City territory but his shot was palmed wide by Bastock before Cliff Akurang and Jai Reason exchanged passes only for the latter to fire into the side netting.

Pinney then turned provider when his neat back heel put Shulton into acres of space but with plenty of time on his hands the former Bishop’s Stortford man fired over the bar and out of the ground.

McDonald continued to frustrate City producing another good save to divert Tony Battersby’s effort behind for a corner before Bastock produced the save of the day.

Reason was the architect, his deft flick playing in Kenny Davis whose first time chip looked destined for the top corner that was until Bastock got his fingertips to the ball to push it over the bar.

Bastock continued to be the busier of the ‘keeper’s after the break using all of his experience to deny Pinney after Akurang had sent his strike partner in on goal. Akurang then had a chance of his own when Reason robbed O’Donnell in midfield but Bastock stood strong and saved.

Saints boss Steve Castle threw on Petrucci and Aidy Chaves in a bid to change his side’s fortunes and it was a move that worked.

James Fisher’s deep corner found Ryan Frater whose header was deflected over and then Battersby’s dink into the box fell to debutant Malik Abdulai but the midfielder could only shoot at McDonald.

Braintree could have had the three points sewn up but Bastock had other ides producing a great save to tip Pinney’s shot wide of the post. Bailey-Dennis should have made amends for that miss from the corner but his free header sailed over.

With less than 10 minutes to go Petrucci made the home side pay for that profligacy with a composed finish.

It was his fellow substitute Chaves that created the goal sliding the ball through the static Braintree defence for Petrucci who knocked the ball out of his feet before slipping the ball through McDonald’s legs with the outside of his boot.

It was no less than City deserved and keeps alive their hopes of escaping relegation.

Braintree: McDonald; Peters, Bailey-Dennis, Paine, Jones �; Shulton (Sullivan 74), Davis, Symons (Thorne 90), Reason; Akurang (Calver 78), Pinney.

Subs not used; Quinton, Poole.

City: Bastock; Fisher, Frater, Everitt �, Smith; Kweme (Petrucci 67), Magwood (Abdulai 60), Kelly, O’Donnell (Chaves 71); Battersby, Effiong.

Subs not used: Shields, Dedman.

Referee: Neil Hair (Peterborough, Cambs).