Saints stunned by Sutton

ST Albans City lost ground in the battle against relegation after going down in a sensational clash with Sutton United at Clarence Park on Saturday. The match delivered on drama and entertainment with two penalties, three red cards and an injury time winn

ST Albans City lost ground in the battle against relegation after going down in a sensational clash with Sutton United at Clarence Park on Saturday.

The match delivered on drama and entertainment with two penalties, three red cards and an injury time winner.

Caretaker boss Steve Castle called up Turkish/Irish youngster Hamza Twomey, from the Oaklands College academy, for his first league start. The winger replaced recent signing Solomon Henry who joined academy prospects James Archer, Austin Byfield, Chris Haslam and Kwame Asamoah on the bench. Lee Clarke was pushed back into the attack alongside Jon Stevenson with Richard Butler still a week away from fitness and loan player Daniel Chillingworth also injured. With three left backs at his disposal Castle elected to push the impressive Marcel McKie into midfield and switched talisman Scott Cousins to central defence to cover for the again absent Ben Martin.

Sutton United manager Ernie Howe, beginning to mastermind a revival for his side, selected former Saint Warren McBean on the left flank and picked Craig Dundas and Jason Henry to lead the attack.

Twomey showed well for Saints as they dominated early on and, after Scott Cousins curled in a deep cross, centre back Ryan Frater blasted a shot goalwards which referee Ian Crouch adjudged to have struck the arm of winger McBean. The decision offered a helping hand to the hosts with just five minutes gone but Clarke tried to be too clever from the spot. When his dummy on the run up sparked no reaction from goalkeeper Phil Wilson, the City top scorer simply lofted a tame penalty into the grateful arms of the Sutton custodian.

The City players shrugged off the blow with some expansive football on the playing surface which had been immediately widened following Dave Anderson's departure.

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Frater saw his powerful header from a Paul Bruce corner kick cleared off the line by striker Henry. Vargas then attempted to find Stevenson and Sutton defender Jack Haverson emphasised the nervousness on show when he hooked the ball past 'keeper Wilson and narrowly wide of his own goal.

On 33 minutes, City were unfortunate not to take the lead. Bruce curled a high free kick into the box and defensive midfielder Hasim Deen rose supremely to thump a downward header off the base of the post.

Vargas almost released Clarke with a good forward pass only for the striker to miscontrol and lunge in on the goalkeeper and covering defender, picking up his ninth booking of the season as a consequence. Stevenson soon followed Clarke into the book with his fourth of the campaign.

The industrious Saints were certainly the more accomplished passing side and, following some nice football involving Deen and McKie on the left, defender Haverson had to be alert to clear as Clarke waited to pounce.

The only real danger for Saints came just before the half-time whistle when Deen had to clear from inside his six-yard box after the cumbersome Dundas headed goalwards from a fine Paul Honey cross.

The match deteriorated in the second half, with the hard-working Twomey forcing a rare bright moment for Saints when he again chased down a long ball. Both City strikers were unable to manoeuvre a shooting chance and the ball eventually came back to Twomey who fired high and wide from a difficult angle.

Sutton finally managed a shot on target in the 65th minute when Scarborough shot at December Player of the Month Nick Eyre who made a comfortable save.

On 69 minutes, left winger McKie lashed a shot high over the crossbar after a corner kick from Scott Cousins. Wilson then relied on some good fortune to tip away a searing drive from Frater for another City corner.

Referee Ian Crouch took centre stage again on 72 minutes when he decided that both City midfielder Paul Bruce and Sutton substitute Nicky Greene should be given straight red cards following a clash near the halfway line. Greene appeared to throw a punch at Bruce who reacted by grabbing the Sutton player's shirt. The decision appeared very harsh on Bruce who trudged off contemplating a five match ban with a red awarded for violent conduct added to his collection of 10 yellow cards this term.

City shrugged off the disruption with a fine move which led to the overdue opening goal on 77 minutes. McKie swung a deep cross over from the left flank and Stevenson rose well at the back post to nod home what looked like a precious effort.

Sutton replied when Bashiru Alimi burst through the City defence and went down under a challenge from Faal-Thomas. The referee pointed to the spot and Faal-Thomas, booked earlier for throwing the ball away, was promptly red carded for a second bookable offence. Craig Dundas showed Clarke how to do it from the penalty spot, sending Eyre to his left and firing low into the other corner for 1-1 on 82 minutes.

With nine men and having given away their lead, Saints were always destined for disaster and Eyre twice had to save from the increasingly threatening Dundas on 88 minutes.

Eyre also saved a shot from distance from Alimi but, in the 93rd minute, Sutton landed the dramatic winner. Substitute Harry Ottaway burst through two tired City challenges and then crossed low for unmarked defender Scarborough to fire the ball home from close range for 2-1.