Saints end winless run
ST ALBANS CITY 3 (Paul Hakim 6, Gary Cohen 10, James Fisher 33) BASINGSTOKE TOWN 0 James Ronayne at Clarence Park GOALS from Paul Hakim, Gary Cohen and James Fisher helped City end their long winless streak with a morale-boosting win over relegation bat
ST ALBANS CITY 3 (Paul Hakim 6, Gary Cohen 10, James Fisher 33)
BASINGSTOKE TOWN 0
James Ronayne at Clarence Park
GOALS from Paul Hakim, Gary Cohen and James Fisher helped City end their long winless streak with a morale-boosting win over relegation battlers Basingstoke Town.
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It would be hard to argue that City's first two goals weren't helped by defensive uncertainty but following their recent run of bad luck who would begrudge them that welcome slice of fortune?
With the squad down to the bare bones Steve Castle's options were limited with the only change from Saturday seeing Hector Mackie come in for the injured Ryan Frater.
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City started like a steam train. With six minutes on the clock, Hakim received the ball from a throw in just inside the visitors' half. Excellent control saw him escape the attention of two defenders and as he entered the box, the goalkeeper Ross Kitteridge and covering defender Joe Dolan ended up in a heap on the floor allowing City's leading marksman to roll the ball into the net.
Buoyed by the early goal, City continued to lay siege to the Town goal and were rewarded with a second four minutes later.
Jonathan Hunt's corner was only cleared as far as Soloman Shields who lofted the ball back into the box. There was hesitation in the Basingstoke defence, who let the ball bounce, and Cohen took advantage to nip in and head home from six yards out for his sixth goal of the campaign.
Basingstoke regrouped and came close to reducing the deficit on 25 minutes. Matt Warner hit a vicious free kick which Paul Bastock punched clear. Sido Jombarti sliced the ball out wide to Phil Ruggles, who smashed the ball across the face of the goal but the cross was hit so hard that Allan Tait couldn't adjust his feet in time and Bastock smothered the ball.
Just a minute later Ruggles met a Warner corner at the far post but his volley was straight at Bastock.
City continued to look dangerous on the attack with Hakim and the industrious Cohen proving too much for the three-man Basingstoke defence.
Cohen slalomed his way through the Town defence but just as he went to pull the trigger the ball bobbled and he sliced his shot wide.
Cohen's miss was soon forgotten as City scored a wonderful third goal.
A Basingstoke throw-in was intercepted by Hunt, whose header found Hakim. He sped to the byline and delivered a cross to the near post where Fisher was on hand to fire home.
It was Fisher's first goal in 49 games for City and was richly deserved following his good run of form.
City could have added a fourth five minutes before the interval. Scott Cousins hit a long diagonal pass to the edge of the Basingstoke box which Cohen knocked down to Hakim and his shot was pushed round the post by Kitteridge.
The second half proved to be an anti-climax following the first 45 minutes with City keen to shore up the back and not concede and Basingstoke seemingly accepting defeat.
Warner's set plays were proving dangerous and a curling free kick was met by the head of defender Rob Watkins but his effort was off target.
City's best efforts of the second half fell to Fisher but his first effort was off target and then his volley from a Hunt corner was pushed behind by Kitteridge.
This was a strong all round performance. Ben Martin again led the defence well and James Quilter had one of his best games in a City shirt. In midfield Fisher was industrious and the clever short-passing of Shields has helped City of late. Mackie gave a solid display despite his lack of match action and up front Hakim and Cohen's partnership continues to develop.
This was City's first win since November 8 when they beat Fisher Athletic and they'll be looking to make back-to-back wins when they travel to Bognor Regis Town on Saturday.
St Albans City (4-4-2): Bastock, Sulaiman, B.Martin, Quilter, Cousins, Hunt (Mortimer 90), Shields, Fisher, Mackie, Hakim (S.Martin 71), Cohen (Effiong 81). Subs not used: Seeby, Palmer.
Basingstoke Town (3-5-2): Kitteridge, Aimable, Dolan, Watkins, Maledon (Stephens 53), Jombarti, Williamson (Ogunbote 68), Hankin, Warner, Ruggles, Tait (Tucknott 63). Subs not used: Tarpey, Jones.
Referee: Chris Knowles (Kislingbury, Northants)