Saints extend unbeaten run to three

Hutton on target in draw

Blue Square Bet South

St Albans City 1 Bromley 1

IT says a lot about the progress made by St Albans City in the last week that they came away from their game with second-placed Bromley slightly disappointed with only a point.

David Hutton’s first goal in the gold and blue of St Albans put Steve Castle’s side ahead just eight minutes into the contest but hopes of a third straight victory were dashed when Leon McKenzie slammed the ball past Paul Bastock in the 65th minute despite the striker appearing to be in an offside position.

On reflection a point apiece was the right result. The visitors were technically one of the best sides seen at Clarence Park this season, orchestrated by midfielder and captain Wes Daly who was outstanding, but the Saints went toe-to-toe with their opponents and answered all the questions asked of them.

Despite starting the game on the back foot it was the Saints who broke the deadlock with the game still very much in its infancy.

Most Read

The move started from a City throw-in in front of the dug-outs which found its way to top goalscorer Inih Effiong. The forward exchanged passes with strike partner Ollie Palmer but with the goal in his sights he sliced his shot. However when you’re on a good run you often get the rub of the green and so it proved as the bell fell nicely at the feet of Hutton who placed the ball confidently past Holloway.

The goal came against the run of play and Bromley retaliated with a series of chances to draw level. Harry Harding was the man providing the worry for City. First he won possession on the right flank and picked out McKenzie but the striker headed over.

Next the midfielder sprung the City offside trap only to be denied by a great last ditch tackle from Everitt.

Harding was becoming an influential figure in proceedings from his position on the right side of midfield and it was his pass that led to Bromley coming within a width of the post away from drawing level. With City slow to close Harding down on the wing, the midfielder picked out Daly 20 yards from goal but his thunderous effort, despite beating Bastock, kissed the outside of the left hand up-right.

Despite Bromley’s pressure, City looked lively on the break and from one such counter-attack should have doubled their lead. Effiong has made a blistering start to 2011 with three goals in two outings and he nearly made it four from three when he played a one-two with Palmer only to see his low effort repelled by Holloway.

City were dealt a blow when they lost Matt Hocking to a calf injury midway through the half. He was replaced by Ross Dedman but the youngster was off the pace and Bromley picked up on this giving left winger Ryan Dolby plenty of the ball.

The away side had the ball in the net in the 32nd minute but Leon McKenzie was adjudged to have been in an offside position when he turned home Dolby’s pass and then Bastock had to react smartly to smother the ball after Warren McBean had won possession on the edge of the box.

City’s best chance of another goal continued to be on the counter-attack with Hutton, Palmer and Effiong giving the Lilywhites’ defence plenty to think about.

Hutton received the ball on the right and played the ball into Effiong whose precise pass picked out Palmer on the edge of the Bromley box. The on-loan front man took the ball into the box but his low effort was deflected a whisker wide of Holloway’s near post.

Both sides made changes as the break with David Galbraith replacing Dedman as City looked to stem the flow of attacks.

The change didn’t have much effect, though, as Bromley continued to control the midfield battle. McBean looked to have been sent clear of the City defence only for Ben Martin to recover and disposes the striker on the edge of the penalty area and Harding had an effort flash across the face of goal and wide of the post.

At the other end Hutton stung Holloway’s palms with a free kick from 25 yards but the ‘keeper reacted quickest to pounce on the loose ball ahead of Everitt.

Just minutes later Adam Martin produced a great run from deep to get on the end of a cross from Palmer but he headed over the bar from 10 yards.

But with just 25 minutes left for City to hold out for their third straight victory, Bromley delivered a hammer blow.

Daly’s long range effort was charged down by Everitt but the ball fell kindly to McKenzie who rifled past Bastock to draw the visitors level. The City defence was incensed that there wasn’t a flag raised against the suspiciously offside McKenzie and Ryan Frater earned a yellow card for his protestations to the officials.

The Saints could have found themselves behind almost immediately as McBean was allowed to advance into the box but his cross-cum-shot bobbled wide of the far post and behind for a goal kick.

The home side’s best chance of a winning goal actually came from the boot of a Bromley player but Tutu Henriques was relieved to see Holloway grab the ball after the defender had sliced Effiong’s cross towards his own goal.

The chances continued to come as the game edged towards it conclusion. Arron Fray’s deep cross forced Bastock to tip the ball over the bar and from the resulting corner Neil Sharp headed over the bar.

At the other end City pounced on Bromley’s failure to clear a long throw from Everitt but Effiong’s ball back across the face of goal evaded everyone.

The final opportunity when the way of the Saints when Everitt connected with a Galbraith corner but the City man headed over the bar.

In truth a point was a fair reflection on proceedings but the home side were disappointed the lineman’s flag didn’t come to make it three wins from three in 2011.

City: Bastock; Hocking (Dedman 25 (Galbraith 46)), B Martin, Frater, Everitt; Hutton (Sean Shields 77), Deeney, A Martin, Smith; Palmer, Effiong.

Subs not used: Peters, Petrucci.

Bromley: Holloway; Fray, Sobers (Finn 46), Sharp, Patterson; Harding, Daly, Henriques, Dolby (Dunk 53); McBean (Vines 76), McKenzie.

Subs not used: Greene, Boyle.

Referee: Antony Coggins (Bicester).

Att: 347.