Slideshow: Hakim strikes but Saints fail to prise open Dor to victory

Blue Square South Dorchester Town 1 St Albans City 1 PAUL Hakim got off the mark for the season as St Albans City picked up their second draw in three opening league fixtures at Dorchester Town on Saturday.

Blue Square South

Dorchester Town 1 St Albans City 1

David Brawn at the Jewson Stadium

PAUL Hakim got off the mark for the season as St Albans City picked up their second draw in three opening league fixtures at Dorchester Town on Saturday.

Manager Steve Castle was disappointed with the manner in which City conceded their brilliantly created advantage and while backing Hakim to embark on a scoring spree the boss was again left feeling that a chance of victory had slipped away. He said: "I have a bit mixed emotions. It was not the best of goals to give away. I could be objective about it and say they played reasonably well and the goal came from one of their better moves.

Yet again we had a good few chances and as an away team we have more than justified a draw and arguably a win.

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"We had a few chances that went rasping across the goal. The one that sticks in my mind was the ball over from Hassan Sulaiman from the corner. Lee Clarke said he was inches away from it. I am really pleased for Paul Hakim and the goal came from a great bit of work by Simon Martin. Paul is a goalscorer and I will be amazed if he is not between 15 and 20 goals even plus that, at the end of the season. "

The opening goal for City was beautifully crafted with Sean Ridgway, Jonathan Hunt and Scott Cousins all involved before Hakim combined superbly with Martin. This could have been enough for victory against an injury-hit Dorchester outfit but a quick equaliser exposed some lightweight City defending.

Castle named the same starting XI for the third match in succession. Lee Clarke was deemed fit enough to earn a place on the bench and former Sutton United defender Tobi Jinadu came in to the 16 as cover for centre back James Quilter who retained his place despite suffering with illness.

Unbeaten hosts Dorchester Town were missing Mark Jermyn, who scored an own goal in the 3-0 City win at the Avenue Stadium last season, along with Roy O'Brien, Jamie Gleeson and Portuguese striker Ivan Forbes. Summer signings Jame Mudge and Ryan Moss were paired in attack.

In contrast to their opening two fixtures of the campaign City made a sluggish start to the contest and it was against the run of play when Hakim struck on 10 minutes. Ridgway won the ball in midfield and found Hunt who spread the play to the ever-willing Cousins. The left back knocked forward an angled ball which found Hakim who turned and played a neat exchange with strike-partner Martin. The Dorchester defence was sliced open and Hakim took the ball around goalkeeper Gareth Stewart before sliding home his first goal of the season.

Dorchester replied on 14 minutes with their first meaningful attack since going behind when former Weymouth winger Nick Crittenden set up Mudge to run clear and easily beat Bastock with a measured finish for his first Dorchester goal.

Town number one Stewart, signed in the summer from Bournemouth, had to parry a deflected free kick from Hunt and then dived low to fumble out a stinging effort from Ridgway. Defender Quilter picked up the loose ball and fired at goal from a tight angle only for the 'keeper to recover and block well.

City were again wasteful after getting into good areas and in first half injury time Hunt lashed high and wide after a great pass across the box from Hakim.

On 66 minutes City should have regained the lead. Dorchester midfielder Kevin Hill headed the ball beyond his own defence and Hakim was in yards of space only to fire across the goal and well wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Lee Clarke, back in action after his back injury, came agonisingly close to connecting with a sensational cross from Hassan Sulaiman which somehow evaded all the City attackers.

Hill headed well over the top from a Crittenden corner and Mudge ran clean through only to be denied by the outrushing Bastock with substitute Mitchell Nicholson lobbing the rebound over the cross bar.

In the third minute of injury time, the hard working Clarke almost plundered the Magpies when he blocked a clearance from goalkeeper Stewart and swept the ball onto the outside of the post and wide from a narrow angle.

Goals apart both sides struggled to show any sort of potency in the penalty area and a point in the end proved a fair outcome from a match that never quite sparkled as it threatened to in the early stages.

Dorchester Town: Stewart GK, Peprah-Annan RB, Smeeton LB, Clay CM, Liburd CB, Bowles CB, Crittenden RM, Hill CM, Moss CF, Mudge CF, Osei LM. Subs: Marsh-Brown for Peprah-Annan (45), Nicholson for Osei (77). Unused subs: Browne, Watts, Coward.

St Albans City: Bastock GK, Fisher RB, Cousins LB, Bowditch CM, B. Martin CB, Quilter CB, Sulaiman RM, Ridgway CM, Hakim CF, S. Martin CF, Hunt LM. Subs: Clarke for S. Martin (66), Hicks for Ridgway (81), Archer for Sulaiman (90). Unused subs: Jinadu, Youngs.

Attendance: 490.

Referee: Mr MT McCoy (Worthing).