Slideshow: Bruce spot on as super Saints sink Weston
PAUL Bruce converted two penalty kicks as St Albans City struck a vital blow in the battle for Blue Square South survival. Hosts Weston-super-Mare gave the Saints a helping hand twice in the first half with referee Andy Newell awarding City two spot kicks
PAUL Bruce converted two penalty kicks as St Albans City struck a vital blow in the battle for Blue Square South survival.
Hosts Weston-super-Mare gave the Saints a helping hand twice in the first half with referee Andy Newell awarding City two spot kicks. Defender Curtis Ujah was harshly penalised both times for handball and Bruce cashed in, easily netting on 14 minutes and 22 minutes, for a comfortable 2-0 lead.
Weston had won 3-0 at Clarence Park in October but with Barry McConnell and Charlie Comyn-Platt out injured and impressive striker Ashan Holgate since having departed their dismal recent form continued.
City, boosted by the return of talismanic goalkeeper Paul Bastock from Rushden & Diamonds, controlled the play for long periods and added a third in the second half. Substitute Lee Clarke, again unable to merit a starting birth, provided a timely reminder of his scoring prowess when fired home for 3-0 following an exchange of passes with Paul Hakim.
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Weston goalkeeper Ryan Northmore made spectacular saves to deny Clarke and Hakim as super Saints eased to victory.
Steve Castle's team are now lying just one point behind Welling United in the Blue Square South table. The City manager had admitted his side could need nine points from the away fixtures at Weston, Welling and Bognor Regis Town and with three banked, and Bastock back in the side, Saints fans can have new optimism that a tortuous campaign could end with a dramatic escape.
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City have 10 games remaining and will be looking for only their second home win of the campaign when they face Basingstoke Town on Saturday. The momentum must be built on with a strong home display before the tough away trips to Lewes and Thurrock.
Experienced former Birmingham City, Derby County and Sheffield United player Jonathan Hunt made his second appearance in a City shirt when he came off the bench in the second half. Hunt, who made his previous appearance for Saints in August 1990, had replaced the departed Dean Cracknell in the 16. Former number one Nick Eyre was left out of the squad but Hasim Deen returned to action after his recent absence replacing the suspended James Quilter in midfield.