Saints edge Arlesey at the Armadillo
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City and Arlesey Town played out their second five-goal thriller in as many weeks at the Armadillo Stadium on Tuesday night.
City won the first meeting 5-0 and although the three points went the same way the result was a lot tenser with Saints weathering a comeback to win 3-2.
On a cold night on a difficult pitch, St Albans decided to test Arlesey keeper Jack Bonham early and often with John Frendo and Mark Nwokeji both getting off shots within the opening five minutes.
The first goal arrived soon after but it was a more than a little fortuitous. Darren Locke cleared the ball from inside his own half only to see the wind get hold of it and loop over Bonham.
City may have had more shots but Arlesey showed a ruthless efficiency, scoring from their first foray into the visitors’ half. Barry Hayles, who was sent off in the first meeting between the teams, reacted fastest after City failed to clear the ball from their own area to poke it past Paul Bastock, Saints captain for the night in the absence of James Comley, who sat out the game with an injury, and Ben Martin, who only made the bench as he comes back from injury.
The early flow of the game resumed after the goal with City getting off shots and Arlesey looking to exploit the counter-attack with a direct style.
Neither tactic found success in the remaining half an hour of first-half football and the teams went into the break level at one-all.
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City had the better chances a take the lead into the interval though, all of which came in the final five minutes.
Richard Graham and Chappell linked up down the left wing before the latter found Nwokeji in the box. He set up Kaloczi but his shot was blocked.
Then Frendo had the ball in the net only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside before he dragged a shot just wide when well placed.
Kaloczi to try his luck and almost added to his season’s six goal tally with the last effort of the half but his header from Chappell’s corner was cleared off the line.
Goalscorer Locke didn’t make it to the half-time break, having to be substituted after 38 minutes with a suspected fractured cheek bone. Martin came on to replace him at the heart of the defence alongside Tom Ward.
City followed the blueprint of the first half and scored an early goal in the second. A long free-kick forward by Martin found Matt Taylor who tuned his man before firing across Bonham and into the bottom corner of the net.
Kevin M’Bala was lucky to stay on the pitch after he kicked out at Frendo but the referee decided a yellow would suffice. City’s marksman had the last laugh though as from the free-kick Taylor provided him with an easy tap-in to make it 3-1.
Hayles made a menace of himself the whole game and he gave Arlesey a glimmer of hope with his second goal of the game. Stuart Farrell provided a fantastic ball into the box for Hayles. His first shot was blocked by Chappell but the rebound gave Hayles an open goal to pass the ball in to.
Arlesey had the momentum and they could have equalised after Ward presented Farrell with a chance but Bastock saved at his feet. City’s custodian was called on again soon after and he answered with a diving save to deny Hayles.
Saints brought on Chris Henry for Graham and Peter Dean for Nwokeji in an effort to turn the tide and put pressure on Arlesey’s goal but still the chances fell to the home team.
They were unable to convert any of their chances though, handing City three points which keeps them in fourth place.
St Albans’ starting line-up: Paul Bastock ©, Kerrea Gilbert, Lee Chappell, Ram Marwa, Tom Ward, Darren Locke, Matt Taylor, James Kaloczi, John Frendo, Mark Nwokeji, Richard Graham. Subs: Chris Henry, Peter Dean, Howard Hall, Ben Martin, Jamal Lowe.
Arlesey Town starting line-up: Jack Bonham, Jamie Carey-Morrell, Sam Willett, Christian Tavernier, Andre Maltay, Kevin M’Bala, Jonny McNamara, James Hatch ©, Barry Hayles, Stuart Farrell, Martel Powell. Subs: Luis Medina, Juan Mouko Nsue, Liam McGovern, Hallelujah Basmel, Yannick Makiese