Saints escape Clarence Park with a win against Hitchin Town

St Albans City held on off a surging Hitchin Town side to register a narrow 2-1 win at Clarence Park on Monday night.

A Ryan Wharton header and a John Frendo penalty had given City a 2-0 lead but a scrappy second half from the home side let the Canaries back in the game, Dan Webb scoring with 20 minutes to go.

Whereas in recent games City have wilted under the pressure, they held firm and refused to let Hitchin score a late goal that would have won them a point.

In what is becoming an unwanted, yet frequent, occurrence, City started slowly as Hitchin created chances, albeit none to seriously worry Paul Bastock.

After 10 minutes of pedestrian play, Saints sprung to life and took the lead. Wharton got a clear run on Watters’ corner and thundered a header into the net.

City were in the ascendency after the goal and could have scored a second before they did; Chappell whipped in a cross too far ahead of Frendo before the striker set up Mark Nwokeji but his shot was blocked.

The second goal came after 38 minutes and it was Frendo who was the thorn in his former team’s side. Nwokeji, who linked up with Frendo well in the first half, put a through ball into the box for his striker partner who touched it past David Hulman before being hauled down.

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Frendo brushed himself off to dispatch the penalty to give City a two-goal cushion. Hulman received a yellow card but it could have been worse on another day.

City were dealt a blow just before half-time when Darren Locke, who came into the game nursing a groin strain, was substituted for James Kaloczi. It was an injury City can ill afford with Ben Martin sidelined.

The second half quickly saw the game descend into a lacklustre affair, with neither team able to retain possession of create any clear cut chances.

City slowed their tempo to a crawl and Hitchin punished them with a goal to half the deficit. Sam Barker put in a dangerous cross and after the first chance was blocked, Webb headed the rebound into the net.

Suddenly the hosts had the bit between their teeth and City struggled to seam the tide of crosses into their box. If not for some last ditch defending, Hitchin would have snatched a point, but as it was, City held on to claim all three points.