Saints end season with fourth straight win
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City signed off their first season back in the Vanarama Conference South with 3-0 victory away to Hayes & Yeading United.
After a season of inconsistency, the Saints have hit form recently, and with today’s victory, made it four wins from four to end the season.
The management team, however, were forced into two changes from the team which defeated big spending Ebbsfleet United a week ago. John Frendo replaced Simon Thomas, who picked up an ankle injury last weekend, while Omar Beckles, coming in for his first start in five games, was Jo N’Guessan’s replacement, as the wide man returned to his parent club Stevenage this week.
Hayes, playing at Maidenhead United’s York Road while they complete construction on a brand new stadium, started the brighter of the two sides, and could’ve been leading within the opening quarter of an hour. Luke Williams delivered in a teasing ball which was headed toward the City net by defender Christian Smith, but Joe Welch, who was voted as supporters and players’ player of the season last weekend, somehow got a hand to the ball, palming it away from the goal line, before it was cleared by his defence.
Dylan Kearney, who is the top scorer for Hayes & Yeading’s Under 18 side, was next to test the City defence with a dangerous ball, but George McLennan, despite being unchallenged, could only direct his header wide of Welch’s right hand post, when he could have done better.
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Michael Malcolm went closest for St Albans prior to the half time whistle, but his ambitious overhead kick was easily saved by Grant Smith.
With neither side having much to play for, it looked at half time that the match was destined for a rather drab 0-0 draw.
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However, Jimmy Gray and Graham Golds, who will be pleased with their first season of management at this level, introduced Jamal Lowe in place of John Kyriacou with 55 minutes on the clock, as they looked to inject some pace into the team.
While Lowe’s impact wasn’t immediate, it soon became clear that the Saints had established a foot-hold in the game, and began to run at an unsure looking Hayes & Yeading defence.
John Frendo, having not started in four matches, almost opened the deadlock with 72 minutes on the clock, but he failed to find a way past Smith in the home goal having played an exquisite one-two with Malcolm.
With the pressure mounting on the home goal, it soon became a matter of when, not if, the Saints would open the scoring.
That goal came five minutes later, when John Frendo was fouled around 30 yards out. Lee Chappell looked to bend the resulting set-piece over the wall with his left foot, but it took a deflection off of a Hayes man, which sent it looping into the path of Malcolm, who from four yards out, struck an effort across the face of goal, and past Smith into the opposite corner of the net. It was a smart finish from the ex-Hayes forward.
Welch, looking for his third clean sheet in four games, was called upon with ten minutes left on the clock. A long ball forward found Jim Fenlon, but Welch was quickly off of his line to block the effort with his face. While it wasn’t the most conventional body part to make a save with, it stopped what looked certain to be an equaliser.
That save proved to be crucial, as nine minutes later, it was two-nil to the visitors. Jamal Lowe broke with speed, attacking the left side of the Hayes defence, before unleashing a wicked strike across the goal which bounced off of the woodwork. However, Steve Wales, who came on for 17 year old Jack Green, saw the rebound fall to him, and made no mistake, powering the ball into the roof of the net to all but secure the three points.
With six minutes of additional time indicated by the officials, the Saints continued to push forward, and rounded off the scoring with a third in the sixth minute of time added on. Lee Chappell took a quick throw to Corcoran, and the midfielder delivered in a ball which reached John Frendo, who with time and space on his side, easily rounded the Hayes goalkeeper, before placing it into the net.
It was a comfortable victory for the Saints in the end, and it finishes off a positive first season back in the Vanarama Conference South.
However, work will soon begin in preparation for next season, as the club looks to continue to build both on, and off, the pitch.
Hayes & Yeading United: G. Smith; J. Fenlon; E. Monthe; C. Smith; D. Inman (J. Thomson-Wheeler 75) ; G. Morgan; D. Green; D. Kearney (R. Matthews 64); L. Williams; G. McLennan (R. Murrell-Williamson 69)
Unused Subs: G. MacDonald; C. Kitscha.
St Albans City: J. Welch; J. Kyriacou (J. Lowe 55); L. Chappell; D. Green (J. Kaloczi 71); D. Locke; J. Comley; O. Beckles; S. Corcoran; J. Frendo; M. Malcolm; J. Green (S. Wales 65).
Unused Subs: M. Taylor; H. Hall.
Goals: Malcolm 77, Wales 89, Frendo 90+6.