Saints rue their luck at Farnborough

James Smith’s 76th minute winner defeats City

Blue Square Bet South

Farnborough 1 St Albans City 0

WHEN you are down at the bottom luck certainly doesn’t seem to go your way as St Albans City found out at Farnborough on Saturday.

Twice Steve Castle’s side were denied by the woodwork before succumbing to James Smith’s 76th minute winner, which had more than a large slice of fortune about it.

The goal came about after City had failed to clear their lines from a Dale Binns cross. Jack King headed the ball back into the middle where Paul Bastock appeared to be impeded by Kezie Ibe before Smith bundled the ball into the empty net.

It was a bitter pill to swallow for a Saints side that had looked comfortable against a side with hopes of promotion.

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The Saints defence, which included debutant Aidy Chaves in place of the suspended Pete Smith, looked solid throughout with the returning Matt Hocking having his best game in a City shirt.

Ben Martin continued in his makeshift centre-forward position alongside Inih Effiong and while he struggled to have the same impact he did at Eastleigh last week, the front two still had enough about them to create some good opportunities.

The home side had the better of the early opportunities but Bastock wasn’t over worked between the sticks.

The goalkeeper dealt easily with Anthony Thomas’ shot despite a deflection off Rob Magwood while Owen Price was off target with two free kicks.

Dean McDonald went close to breaking the deadlock when he received a short corner from Price but the striker’s effort was deflected wide of the far post.

The two sides had played 30 minutes before City got their first shot on goal though Adam Everitt’s long range effort was easy enough to deal with for Michael Jordan.

Good link up play between Ben Martin and Effiong carved open the Farnborough defence but Steve Robinson recovered superbly to get a tackle in on Effiong after the forward had latched onto his partner’s threaded pass.

There was nothing the veteran defender could do though when Effiong collected Chaves’ superb pass and raced in on goal three minutes after the interval. Despite Robinson having a large chunk of the City man’s shirt, Effiong held off the defender’s challenge only to see Jordan tip his shot onto the right hand upright.

City appeared to grow in stature as the game progressed and Effiong probably should have scored when Ben Martin headed a corner down into the six yard box. However, on a sticky surface, Effiong lost his footing and could only stab the ball at Jordan.

Tempers flared 20 minutes from time when referee David Woolford penalised Bastock for picking up a back pass from Ryan Frater. The decision was harsh but Bastock’s failure to give the ball to Farnborough saw the handbags come out earning Adam Everitt and Ibe yellow cards.

From the resulting free kick City did well blocking King’s effort and clearing the rebound for a corner.

The winning goal came just six minutes later though. Binns’ corner appeared to be over hit but Gary Holloway returned the ball into the danger area and King directed the ball goalwards. Bastock’s attempts to get to the ball were blocked by Ibe allowing Smith to prod home his fifth goal of the season.

Despite the setback, City weren’t to be knocked from their stride, and were denied by the woodwork for a second time.

Ryan Frater, in his 121st appearance and still looking for his first goal for the club, came within the width of the up right from breaking that duck when his 25 yard free kick beat both the wall and Jordan only to cannon off the post and to safety.

Substitute Dom Petrucci went close with a 20 yard effort that flashed wide of the post and a header from James Fisher corner that was also wide of the mark.

Farnborough wound the clock down with that dreadful tactic of holding the ball in the corner denying the Saints the chance of earning a deserved point.

Farnborough: Jordan; Braham-Barrett, Robinson �, Smith, Ciardini; Price (Binns 56), Holloway, King, Thomas (Bubb 56); Ibe, McDonald (Booth 69).

Subs not used: Sankofa, Malcolm.

St Albans City: Bastock; Frater �, Peters, Hocking; Fisher, A Martin (O’Donoghue 79), Magwood, Everitt, Chaves (Sean Shields 69); Effiong (Petrucci 75), B Martin �.

Sub not used: Kweme.

Referee: David Woolford (Amesbury, Wilts)

Att: 601.