Play-off push gets a boost at Bashley

Kerrea Gilbert celebrates scoring for St Albans City at Bashley. Picture: Bob Walkey

Kerrea Gilbert celebrates scoring for St Albans City at Bashley. Picture: Bob Walkey - Credit: Archant

St Albans City’s push to secure a play-off position received a boost on Saturday afternoon, when they came out as 2-1 victors in a tight affair at Bashley’s Huborne Field.

The match started brightly for the visitors, who were first to unleash an effort on target, but Lee Chappel’s powerful drive was well palmed away by Nic Jones.

John Frendo was next to test the Bashley custodian, when he received the ball on the edge of the area and took a touch before turning and unleashing an attempt which Jones had to tip round the post.

The resulting corner from new signing Steve Wales, who joined on Friday afternoon from Chesham United, was easily cleared by the home side, and they soon found themselves on the break when a ball was played towards the energetic Manny Soetan. Kerrea Gilbert appeared to have intercepted the pass, but Soetan battled with the defender before winning the ball and running into the area, but stand in goalkeeper Tom Coulton was on hand to block Soetan’s strike with his legs.

Bashley were beginning to come into the match, and went close again in the 22nd minute, but Captain Jack Odam’s header at the back post drifted over Coulton’s goal.

With 29 minutes gone, a goal kick from Jones, caught in the strong breeze, floated all the way to Jack Odam close to the City box, and he quickly turned Gilbert before unleashing a curling effort which deflected off of St Albans defender Tom Ward, and flew into the top corner, well beyond the stretching Coulton.

After a brief lull, St Albans soon found an equaliser. George Sykes battled on the left wing before delivering a ball towards Gilbert, who leaped above a Bashley defender, and he saw his header bounce off of the bar and onto the line, which was then cleared, but despite Frendo smashing in the rebound, the linesman on the far side awarded the goal to Gilbert.

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The Saints went into the interval on top after Gilbert’s goal, and started the second period looking dangerous.

It wasn’t long until the away side’s second goal of the afternoon came. Mounting pressure on the Bashley goal ended in a ball being played to John Frendo, who took a touch, before hitting a strike, which courtesy of a touch off of a Bashley defender, looped over the goalkeeper and into the net.

The Bash, however, came back into it almost immediately, when Odam broke away, but he saw his effort blocked by Tom Ward, before Coulton rushed out and smothered the ball.

St Albans started to find more space, and started to find more chances fall their way. Frendo saw a first time effort fly well wide of the target, and the forward also attempted a volley three minutes later, but Jones gathered easily.

The City defence, marshalled by Ben Martin, repelled the majority of Bashley’s attacks, with Soetan looking the most likely to pose a threat, but he failed to receive effective support when going forward.

James Gray and Graham Golds looked to secure all three points by bringing on Chris Henry, in place of George Sykes, and debutant Warren Whitely, who came on for Chris Watters.

The Saints were unfortunate not to find a third with just seven minutes left on the clock, when a corner found substitute Whitely, who having just come on, saw his effort was cleared off the line, before Frendo’s follow-up was again cleared away from the same area by some last ditch defending.

Peter Dean was brought on in place of Frendo with 86 minutes gone, and while Bashley searched for an equaliser, the home side failed to test the St Albans defence.

Having held out for victory, St Albans now move six points of fourth place, and will be hoping to continue their recent run of victories when they face Burnham at Clarence Park next Saturday.

Attendance: 192

Bashley line-up: Jones; Rolls; Flint (Manders 71); Ansell; Marden; Bulpitt; Roberts (Joyce 86); Soetan; Kenna; Odam; Strickland. Subs: Morris; George; Brookes.

St Albans line-up: Coulton; Gilbert; Chappell; Marwa; Ward; Martin; Wales; Corcoran; Frendo (Dean 86); Sykes (Henry 75); Watters (Whitely 75). Subs: Hall; Kaloczi.