Saints pay the penalty as East Thurrock draw means league lead slips away

Rhys Murrell-Williamson had fired St Albans City into the lead at East Thurrock United. Picture: BOB

Rhys Murrell-Williamson had fired St Albans City into the lead at East Thurrock United. Picture: BOB WALKLEY - Credit: Archant

St Albans City missed the chance to go back to the top of the Vanarama National League South after they were held to a 1-1 draw at East Thurrock United.

Tuesday’s game saw Rhys Murrell-Williamson fire Saints ahead with his fourth league goal of the season before a debated penalty, converted by Sam Higgins, gave the hosts a share of the spoils.

The penalty was the fifth penalty conceded by St Albans this year and manager Ian Allinson was left a little disappointed that it overshadowed to a point City’s performance.

He said: “In the end we have to be satisfied with a draw but some of that football in the first 25 minutes was the best, not just this season, but since we’ve been here.

“We moved the ball so quick, were on the front foot and deservedly in front.

“But then the game changes on a decision that for me is very dubious.

“I spoke to the lads and they said it wasn’t a handball.

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“There were a lot of bodies in there and for the referee to give a decision from 25 or 30 yards away is a tough one to make.

“The players felt frustrated at half-time but we came out nice and bright again but full credit to East Thurrock

“It was never going to be easy coming here and taking all three points, they’ve been excellent all season but I’ve got to be pleased with the way we’ve played.

“I’ll be the first to criticise how we played on Saturday [against Whitehawk]. I didn’t think we played with any purpose, any sharpness, but tonight we’ve changed it around.

“It keeps up going where we need to go; its points here, points there, but it keeps pushing us up the league and we can see where we are in the Christmas period and see what we need to do.”

City get a break from their league challenge when Bridport, from three divisions lower, visit Clarence Park in the FA Cup third qualifying round on Saturday.

Allinson said: “I saw enough when I watched them to know they can cause us problems if we don’t approach it right and don’t apply ourselves.

“They did a good job against Cadbury Heath, I felt they were outstanding in the first half.

“And we have to match their endeavour, their enthusiasm and their quality, because they do have quality, otherwise we could be on the end of a shock.”