Saints scrap to third successive win
Blue Square South St Albans City 1 Bognor Regis Town 0 ST Albans City were made to work hard to achieve a third successive league victory by a hard working Bognor side who now find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table.
Blue Square South
St Albans City 1 Bognor Regis Town 0
Adrian Bach reports from Clarence Park
ST Albans City were made to work hard to achieve a third successive league victory by a hard working Bognor side who now find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table.
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With a number of key players still struggling with injuries Jonathan Hunt was switched to his favoured central midfield role alongside the battling Luke Thurlbourne. A debut was handed to recent signing Sam Hurrell who provided an energetic performance down the left as City started brightly.
With Ryan Frater returning from injury to partner Ben Martin in the centre of defence the Saints looked solid and threatened in wide areas thanks to Hurrell and former Grimsby man Gary Cohen whose desire to drive forward down the right hand side caused problems for Bognor.
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City's midfield began confidently, moving the ball at pace and creating some early chances. Forwards Simon Martin and Paul Hakim were getting plenty of service but struggling to find the back of the net. The deadlock was almost broken on 20 minutes after good work from Cohen who delivered a perfectly chipped ball through for Hakim at the back post, but the former Stevenage man failed to trouble the keeper heading wide.
The Saints confident start was rewarded on 22 minutes after more good play from the midfield quartet. Hunt and Cohen exchanged passes before the ball was worked wide to the feet of Thurlbourne whose slide pass into the feet of Martin was expertly turned round the corner into the path of Hurrell. The former Chelsea trainee latched onto the ball and finished coolly slotting the ball underneath the on rushing Chris Tardiff.
St Albans nearly doubled their advantage on 34 minutes when a Simon Martin flick on was met by Hurrell who crossed first time to the back post. Cohen was on hand to score but the referee ruled that Paul Hakim had obstructed the keeper.
At this stage it looked as though City's slick passing football was going to be too much for a struggling Bognor side. After bringing in a number of new signings the team looked disjointed and struggled to string two passes together.
Yet the team from the south coast managed to go into half time with just the one goal deficit as City began to lose their early momentum.
The second half became a scrappy affair in which both sides struggled to get hold of the ball. A bad mistake from Paul Hinshelwood allowed Hakim to steal the ball off the defender and run through for a clear sight at goal, but the City striker was denied by Tardif who came out quickly and made a smart save.
Hakim has struggled for goals in recent times and was subbed on 55 minutes with a slight knock to be replaced by Lee Clarke. The switch meant Clarke took up a midfield role with Hunt pushed to the right and Cohen asked to support Simon Martin up top.
Both sides showed plenty of energy but the quality was sadly lacking as the game became a scrappy one. Bognor were largely restricted to half chances with Jordan Hughes and Tom Clark both blazing over.
City goalkeeper Paul Bastock was never really tested - a fizzing strike from 30 yards courtesy of Clark was as close as the visitors came - as the chances of an equaliser became less and less likely.
Steve Castle will have been impressed with the display of Cohen who worked tirelessly throughout and showed glimpses of real talent. With around 10 minutes left to play Cohen picked the ball up on the edge of the box and skipped around two defenders before getting his shot away. Bognor goalkeeper Tardif again got down well to the low strike and prevented City from extending their lead.
Bognor manager Mick Jenkins tried to influence the game by making two changes but was not able to affect the final scoreline as the Saints ran out 1-0 winners. All involved at Clarence Park will realise that they will require a much better performance next week against a strong Bath City outfit.
St Albans City: P. Bastock, J. Fisher, S. Cousins, L. Thurlbourne, B. Martin, R. Frater, G. Cohen, J. Hunt, S. Martin, P. Hakim S. Hurrell. Subs: Clarke for Hakim (55). Unused Subs: A. Byfield, J. Quilter, T. Oham-Strachan, H. Mackie.
Bognor Regis Town: C. Tardif, P. Hinshelwood, K. Wills, S. Pearce, J. Whiskin, G. McDonald, T. Clarke, D. Smith, J. Hughes, S. Gaisie, C. Pettefer. Subs: Castues for Whiskin (63), Savage for Gaisie (85). Unused Subs: T. Broadbent.
Referee: Adrian Sannerude (Lowestoft).