Preview: Win and in for Saints in season finale at Frome
- Credit: Archant
A win for St Albans City in their season finale on Saturday at Frome Town will see them cement their place in the play-offs and possibly set up a home tie at Clarence Park in the first round of the post-season.
The fourth-placed Saints sit one point below Cambridge City in the Southern League with one game left, but are just a single point ahead of Stourbridge in fifth and three above Hungerford, who as things stand will miss out on the play-offs.
A draw on Saturday at the Blindmans Brewery Stadium will also be enough to ensure City extend their season by at least one more game, but an away tie at Chesham United, Stourbridge or Cambridge will await them on Tuesday in the play-offs.
A loss, however, could see them drop out of the top five and ensure another season in the Calor Southern League if Hungerford Town beat Bideford and overturn a three-goal difference.
For joint manager James Gray the equation is simple: win and in.
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“It’s business as normal. We have a job to do - go to Frome and win the game which will guarantee us the play-offs,” he said.
“Of course we’re looking to win the game. When we lost against Poole [Town] we knew we needed five more wins to get into the Conference South and nothing has changed.
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“There’s no point in playing for a point; we’re not good at it and I wouldn’t know how to set a team up to draw a game. We’re going to try and win it.”
The last time the teams met Jamal Lowe, James Comley, David Keenleyside and John Frendo steered City to a 4-0 win.
Gray insisted that victory has no bearing on his side’s preparation for Saturday’s game.
“That game is gone,” he explained.
“You have to take the next game on its merit. I have contacts down there so we’ll know enough about them but we have to do our job, just like we did at Banbury and, at times, against Biggleswade. We need to keep the ball, take our chances when they come and keep a clean sheet.”
With a confidence-boosting 5-1 win over Banbury and a hard-fought 1-0 triumph against 10-man Biggleswade over the Bank Holiday, City’s confidence is up, according to Gray.
“We are confident, especially since we’ve picked up in the last couple of games,” he said.
“We’ve got to get the job done, which won’t be easy but I fully expect us to get three points.”
With a place in the play-offs on the line and the potential to wrap up a home-tie, the Saints boss is hoping the club’s fans travel to the game.
“We’d like to get as many down there as possible,” he said.
“The away day support has been superb all season; it does spur us on. We’re doing our end of the bargain and they crowd his been fantastic.”
He added: “We’ve got the crowds up; that happens when you’re doing well. This is a big club and we’re trying to put it back on the map. Hopefully we can get promoted and get the club back to where it belongs.”