Another home draw for St Albans City as they are held by 10-man Hampton & Richmond Borough
- Credit: Archant
Last week’s 1-1 draw with Chelmsford will have raised the hopes among the long-suffering Saints fans of a brighter future – this week’s similar score against Hampton & Richmond Borough will be met with huge frustrations.
Simply put this was a game they should have won, especially since the visitors to Clarence Park were reduced to 10 men with 25 minutes to go.
But costly misses, from Sam Merson and substitute Josh Oyinsan in particular, the last one right at the death, meant they had to settle for a share of the points.
The positives will be this was once more a step in the right direction but with a tough run of fixtures over Christmas looming on the horizon, the lack of three points could prove very costly.
The first half was very similar to last week's game against Chelmsford. Hampton had started slightly better but slowly the game became far more even.
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Neither side was really creating too many moments of panic for either goalkeeper although Dean Snedker, fresh from collecting his player of the month award for November prior to kick-off, had to get down low to push a Ryan Hill effort wide of the post on 12 minutes.
At the other end there were half chances for Sam Merson and Joe Iaciofano, both time the defence got the upper hand, while City had two shouts for penalties as first Zane Banton and then Iaciofano went to ground.
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The referee had no interest in either of them but a challenge by Charlie Wassmer on Merson with six minutes to go did catch his eye.
There was a definite coming together with the defender's arm ruled to have taken down the Saints striker.
While the referee sorted out the ensuing melee and booked the Hampton man, Joe Iaciofano was told in no uncertain terms to hand the ball over to Bender by manager Ian Allinson.
And the boss was proved right as City's longest-serving player hit the ball with power and confidence to Dan Lincoln's right as the keeper went left.
It had been a raucous affair for 45 minutes with four bookings for some overly-strong challenges and in a fixture that has a tendency to see red cards it was no surprise when Wassmer got one 20 minutes after the restart.
It was a stupid foul on halfway, clattering Merson again after the striker had spun away from him, and it was always going to end in a second yellow.
Fortunately for Hampton they were back on level terms by that point with a lovely team goal that was passed around the left wing but delivered low to the edge of the six-yard box for Matt Young to come in and sweep home.
The response though from Saints to the setback was good and Merson could have had two goals before he was crudely stopped by Wassmer.
He was denied the first by a wonderful block by Hampton skipper Luke Ruddick who slid in to divert the effort over the bar.
The second really should have been converted but after Iaciofano had beaten the offside trap and delivered it on a plate eight yards out, Merson failed to connect properly and the ball skewed away and wide.
Frustratingly though, once the home side had the numerical advantage the chances dried up.
Too often they went long or gave a sloppy pass away in midfield and lost any momentum. It always seemed the crossing ability of Jamie Fielding from the right was going to be the key to unlocking a winner.
That idea finally got to the players with just over four minutes of normal time to go and Merson should have finally got his goal.
However, his header from six yards hit the upright.
Hampton looked to have created the last chance, Bender producing a great clearance, but City still had one golden opportunity in the final minute of injury time.
Somehow though Oyinsan completely fluffed his kick just a few yards out.
St Albans City: Snedker, Fielding, Bender, Longe-King, Musonda, Nwabuokei (Shulton 85), Noble, Sundire, Banton, Iaciofano (Oyinsan 85), Merson.
Subs (not used): Kaloczi, Diedhiou, Sprague.
Goals: Bender (pen) 41
Booked: Musonda 30, Sundire 37
Hampton & Richmond Borough: Lincoln, Farrell, Inman, Wassmer, Cox, Donaldson, Ahmidi (Soares 90+2), Orsi-Dadomo (McAuley 74), Hill (Lewthwaite 81), Young.
Subs (not used): Louis, Brown.
Goals: Young 54
Booked: Young 31, Wassmer 41, 65, Donaldson 79
Sent-off: Wassmer 65
HT: St Albans City 1 Hampton & Richmond Borough 0
Referee: Ross Martin (Bristol)