Preview: Will Saints respond from St Neots loss against Barwell?

Josh Urquhart in action against St Neots.

Josh Urquhart in action against St Neots. - Credit: Archant

IT will be interesting to see how St Albans City respond against Barwell after last Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to St Neots at Clarence Park.

Joint bosses Graham Golds and James Gray looked to have steered their team out of the depths of despair, following a two abysmal performances against Weymouth and Gosport Borough, only to fall even further.

City looked good for a point against St Neots – it could so easily have been three – making Kyle Asante’s 94th minute winner that much harder to swallow, especially after Chris Comley had missed a penalty only 60 seconds earlier.

After the game Golds said it was “more about the performance that the result” but admitted he, Gray and the team were “gutted” to lose a game they deserved something from.

The manner of the loss took also some of the shine off great individual performances – in particular from Josh Urquhart, Richard Graham, Ryan Wharton, Layne Eadie and new signing Darren Locke – but it should have filled the City management with optimism that they have talented players at their disposal.

All-in-all it makes the trip to Barwell and intriguing prospect. Will City’s players shrink into the rut they previously resided in or will they come out galvanised?

There is no question fourth-placed Barwell will pose a difficult challenge for City but one thing is for certain: this will be very a different fixture to the dramatic 4-4 draw at Clarence Park in October.

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Saints were leading 10-man Barwell with 15 minutes left but the visitors reduced arrears and then snatched an injury time equaliser.

But, this is a very City different team. Hat-trick hero Moussa Diarra from the first meeting has left, as has Micah Hyde, David Ijaha, Lewis Toomey and Sean Shields to name but a few.

Despite the exodus following the arrival of the club’s new owners and ex-manager David Howell’s swift exit, there is no doubt City have the players to trouble Barwell, but Gray and Golds will have to put them in a position to succeed.

Personally, I believe City should start with the same 11, allowing them to build on last week’s performance. There may be an urge to call up Chris Henry from the bench but his pace was lethal in the last 30 minutes against St Neots, and it won them the penalty that could have sealed the win.

Also expect Chris Seeby to be back after being rested.

There is no doubt a win against one of the league’s top sides could lift the cloud of pessimism that has descended on Clarence Park of late and establish City as a team that can still make an 11th hour play-off push and be a force next year.