Rowe double sinks St Albans City at Stourbridge

Striker scores twice in six second half minutes after Haworth puts City in front

Southern Premier Division

Stourbridge 2 St Albans City 1

TWO goals in six second half minutes by Stourbridge striker Ryan Rowe extended St Albans City’s poor away form in the Southern Premier Division to four defeats in five games.

All looked rosy for City for an hour after they had taken a 10th minute lead through Rob Haworth’s excellent header but two defensive lapses were punished to the maximum by a Stourbridge side determined to defend their unbeaten home record.

It was a final result that didn’t look like materialising as the Saints’ defence stood strong but the withdrawal of Jerome Walker on the right wing left Nathan Ralph exposed and tricky winger Sam Rock took advantage playing a hand in both goals that were finished off by Rowe.

Stourbridge were third in the table prior to kick off but displayed little quality in the opening stages as City took an early lead despite Drew Canavan going close with a long range free kick that nearly caught out a surprised Nick Jupp.

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The Saints had looked dangerous from set plays against Berkhamsted on Tuesday evening and they carried on in the same vein at Stourbridge. Ryan Watts had already gone close with a free kick that he bent around the wall and past the post when Haworth escaped the attentions of his marker with a perfectly timed run towards the near post to meet Barrie Matthews’ corner and steer the ball over goalkeeper Lewis Solly and into the net.

Stourbridge had chances to draw level in the first half but they found Saints goalkeeper Jupp in good form.

Some poor defending from a corner gifted Leon Broadhurst with an excellent opportunity to level but Jupp spread himself to block the midfielder’s close range toe-poke.

Haworth was winning a lot of the ball against his marker but debutant Ben Seymour-Shove struggled to make an impact as the Stourbridge defence bullied him off the ball. As a result set plays were City’s best chance of extending their lead and captain David Ijaha went close with a powerful drive from 20 yards after a corner had only been partially cleared by the home defence.

St Albans were proving a tough nut to crack and Stourbridge’s frustrations saw winger Josh Craddock earn a lecture from referee Thomas Harty.

Another Matthews’ corner should have provided City with a second goal when Tobi Jinadu blazed high and wide from 15 yards out but the defender produced a more telling contribution at the other end in first half injury time.

The Saints were again guilty of sloppy defending from a corner handing Broadhurst another sight of goal but for the second time in the half the Stour man was denied by an excellent save from Jupp and Jinadu was on hand to slide in and block Rowe’s follow up effort as Saints went into the break with their noses in front.

The Saints produced a disciplined display in the opening stages of the second half with Walker and Rob Magwood on the wings tucking in narrow to provide City with a compact and solid middle four.

The crucial moment came when Haworth had what many considered a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out for offside. The striker appeared to time his run to perfection to get in one-on-one with Solly before lifting the ball over the ‘keeper and into the net but City’s celebrations were cut short by the assistant’s flag.

Walker had struggled to make an impact going forward but had provided a good shield for Ralph at right-back but when the winger was withdrawn from the action and replaced by Sean Shields Stourbridge found they had the room to cause City problems.

Just 60 seconds after the change had been made Rock left Ralph in his wake and when Jupp failed to deal with his low cross Rowe was on hand to fire home at the second attempt after Watts had blocked the initial effort on the line.

When Haworth was withdrawn from the action with a tight groin muscle Saints’ attacking threat evaporated and any hopes of a useful away point went with it two minutes later.

Again Rock was City’s tormentor causing panic in the defence and forcing Ryan Moran into a clearance that fell to substitute Aaron Drake. The midfielder was easily able to pick out Rowe who wriggled free in the box and placed the ball inside the far corner of Jupp’s net.

Stourbridge effectively closed the game out from that point, a task made easier by Paul Furlong’s early departure through injury that forced City to play the final few minutes with just 10 men having already used all their substitutes.

Stourbridge: Solly; McCone, Bennett, Smith, Griffiths (Lloyd 75); Dyson � (Dovey 58), Broadhurst; Craddock, Canavan (Drake 58), Rock; Rowe.

Subs not used: Griffin, Slater.

St Albans City: Jupp; Ralph, Jinadu, Moran, Watts; Walker (Sean Shields 61), Ijaha �, Matthews, Magwood (Alebiosu 74); Howarth (Furlong 66), Seymour-Shove.

Subs not used: Cutchey, Bent.

Referee: Thomas Harty (Wolverhampton).

Att: 320.