Shields signs off with a winner

Sean Shields celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game. Picture: Leigh Page

Sean Shields celebrates after scoring the only goal of the game. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

Sean Shields’ winner ended his St Albans City spell in fairy-tale style, securing their first home win since September against Havant & Waterlooville in the Vanarama Conference South.

Joint top scorer John Frendo had several guilt edged chances in either half but came up against an inspired performance from keeper Ryan Young.

James Comley went close for the hosts with Jonathon Hooper and Josh Huggins providing most of the away side’s attacking forays in a physical contest.

The game looked to be heading for a stalemate but the 22-year-old loanee, in his second spell at the club, secured all three points with a late winner to end St Albans’ barren home run.

The ninth placed Saints, without a home win since beating Maidenhead United two months ago, made one change from last’s week’s home defeat to Farnborough with loanee Joel Nouble replacing the ill Charlie Gorman.

The fifth placed away side, known as the Hawks, have suffered just one defeat in six games in all competitions, whereas their hosts have picked up just six points from 18.

After joint manager James Gray described their last two performances as ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, he would have been encouraged with his side’s start when Frendo and Comley went close for the hosts as they edged the game’s opening salvos.

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In a game of limited chances and play with more style than substance, crunching challenges thundered in from both sides and another one flew in from Omar Beckles who was booked.

The visitors began to get a foothold in the game and were a whisker from taking the lead through a Jonathan Hooper pile-driver and a Josh Huggins header.

On the half hour mark St. Albans produced their best moment of the game following a wonderful flowing move but Frendo wasted a glorious opportunity as he blazed over from eight yards and soon after he brought a superb reaction save from Young as the half ended goalless.

Almost instantly after the restart the through on goal Hooper poked wide in what proved to be his list action of the game as the striker went off injured.

In a low key start to the second half, Shields, making his last appearance for the club before returning to Dagenham & Redbridge, entered the fray but his usual trickery was lacking.

The Saints were starting to build some momentum and after Frendo went close again it looked to be a fitting finale for Shields after he swept home a left footed finish in the 84th minute.

The expected onslaught from the away side never came as a galvanised St Albans looked to finish in style and almost did but Shields was denied by Young.

The final whistle was greeted with a huge roar and perhaps an ever greater sense of relief as St Albans ended their Clarence Park hoodoo at long last.