Preview: Saints bring season to a close at Hayes

The Saints go close as the ball flies across the Hayes and Yeading six yards box

The Saints go close as the ball flies across the Hayes and Yeading six yards box - Credit: Archant

St Albans City bring their remarkable, frustrating and ultimately successful season in the Vanarama Conference South to a close on Saturday when they travel to Hayes and Yeading.

It’s a great way to round off the season for the Saints against the team that beat them 1-0 at Clarence Park on the opening day.

For all the optimism and zest around the club after their promotion from the Southern League, City were flat and lifeless against Hayes and Yeading, who weren’t much better but got the win back in August.

It was a dreadful performance and had many wondering what the next nine months would entail. Few would have guessed what did happen: spectacular performances in taking some the division’s biggest scalps, awful cup losses, club favourites moving to pastures new and inconsistency that was enough to drive any fan mad.

St Albans got their revenge in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup when Lee Chappell of all people scored the only goal of the game.

And now, with the play-offs gone and survival assured, joint managers James Gray and Graham Golds have got their side playing possibly their best football of the year, all with James Comley at centre-back.

Few would have guessed that.

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The awards have been handed out so there really is nothing to play for on Saturday except three points, and that should be enough to motivate the players. That, and the possibility to end the season with four straight wins, hit all of their targets, and head into the off-season on a wave of positivity.

The higher the Saints finish, the easier it is to recruit players is the rhetoric coming from Gray, who has already stated that he wants the entire squad to return for pre-season training, although how much can be gleaned from that, I’m not sure. There are definitely areas to improve and Saturday is the last chance for the current crop to stake their claim for a place in next season’s squad.