Saints go back to basics
ST Albans City assistant manager Andy Edwards is hoping a solid defence will prove the key to success as the battle intensifies at Clarence Park. Defeat at Maidenhead United on Bank Holiday Monday has left Saints without a win in their opening five games,
ST Albans City assistant manager Andy Edwards is hoping a solid defence will prove the key to success as the battle intensifies at Clarence Park.
Defeat at Maidenhead United on Bank Holiday Monday has left Saints without a win in their opening five games, tempering hopes of a bright campaign following the strong end to last season.
City went six games without a win last season, setting the tone for a disappointing campaign before recording their first three points at Bishop's Stortford. This season, Stortford again represent the seventh fixture of the season (at Clarence Park on Tuesday, September 2) and if City succumb to Eastleigh on Saturday they will match the results of the opening six games last term, with four defeats and two draws.
Assistant boss Edwards took control on Bank Holiday Monday at Maidenhead with manager Steve Castle away and believes that, with better defending and the eventual return of powerhouse centre back Ryan Frater, who fractured his leg in pre-season, results will improve. He said: "You can take the fact that the lads worked very hard and the attitude was spot on. That was something we were disappointed with on Saturday (against Chelmsford City). They applied themselves well and it was a game where the first goal was always going to win it. We had a couple of half chances and if we could have put those away it might have been a different story.
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"It is quite obvious how much we are missing Ryan Frater. For 75 minutes we defended well at Maidenhead, the back four were excellent which was one plus and consolation but you are disappointed with any goal you concede and you can always point the finger at someone."
Big defender Ben Martin went closest to scoring for Saints when he crashed a header off the bar after timing his run superbly to meet a fizzing cross from Jonathan Hunt. City were undoubtedly in the ascendancy for large parts of the first half but lacked the real sharpness in attack to break the deadlock.
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Maidenhead gradually got on top of the game in the second half without looking in anyway an unbeaten team that had amassed 10 points from their opening four fixtures. Eventually City succumbed to the pressure when a simple through ball from lively United substitute Bobby Behzadi split the visiting defence wide open. Former Havant & Waterlooville forward Richard Pacquette, guilty of earlier misses, was left clear to thump the ball low into the corner for the only goal.
City threw giant defender Tobi Jinadu into the attack in the second half and the former Sutton United man caused problems on his debut but it was too late for a riposte and City sank to their third defeat in five matches.
Concerns about a relegation fight for the third successive season maybe premature but City are perilously close to the foot of the table and must pick up that elusive first win soon. Edwards knows the squad have to prepare for a battle. He said: "Any team not winning games loses confidence. We played Worcester City off the park and lost 2-0 and at the moment we are trying to get the defensive side of things right. We have tried to go back to basics. If we can do that we are confident we can get a goal with the quality we have got in the team. We have got to dig in and graft. We are not scoring many goals but we are a decent side and we need to build on a good defence.