Slideshow: Point Well made by Saints
Blue Square South Welling United 0 St Albans City 0 ST Albans City made the trip to Welling United on Saturday for the clash of the form sides in the Blue Square South.
ST Albans City made the trip to Welling United on Saturday for the clash of the form sides in the Blue Square South.
Newly crowned Blue Square South Manager of the Month Steve Castle selected James Quilter at centre back to replace the suspended Ryan Frater. Midfielder Jonathan Hunt continued in the side with flu victim Paul Bruce alongside Hasim Deen, back from an ankle injury, on the bench.
Welling United boss Andy Ford went for Sam Gargan in a lone attacking role with trickery winger Orlando Smith charged with providing the main support from the left flank.
Teenage midfielder Luke Thurlbourne had the first effort for Saints with a header from distance which ran comfortably through to Welling goalkeeper Jamie Turner.
Defender Max Ellison-Hustick then made a vital block challenge to halt Akanni-Sunday Wasiu after a fine diagonal ball from Hunt as Saints continued to press.
Scott Cousins teed up Lee Clarke with a well delivered free kick but the City skipper saw his effort blocked. The loose ball fell kindly for giant defender Ben Martin who struck a curling shot from 20 yards out which Turner comfortably held.
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Welling posed a threat for the first time on 14 minutes when Smith delivered a precise cross and Gargan glanced the ball goal-wards only for City right back James Fisher to clear at the back post.
City responded and Sunday found Sulaiman on the right and the former Arsenal academy winger cut in drove a cracking low left foot shot which flashed just the wrong side of the far post with Turner beaten.
Gargan looked lively when he did receive service and, after picking up a Michael Kamara throw via flick on from Joe Howe, he lashed a dangerous cross shot from the right which split the six yard box and went out for a throw in.
The match threatened to spark into life as Quilter blocked superbly to deny the purposeful Smith and at the other end some direct running from Paul Hakim created space for Hunt to hit a deflected shot at goalkeeper Turner.
Hakim appeared to have the pace to rip apart the Welling defence but after another driving run he lost momentum following an exchange of passes with Sunday and the final touch left the Welling defence in position to clear.
On 30 minutes, City lost Sulaiman to a hamstring injury and replaced him with Oaklands teenager Hamza Twomey. The Saints continued to look the most likely scorers and Welling goalkeeper Turner had to make a brave clearance with an outstretched arm to deny the gargantuan Ben Martin as he rose in the box after a Fisher free kick.
Bastock, largely a vocal spectator during the game, was called into action when a slalom run from speedy Welling midfielder Sonny Cobbs evaded Martin and Clarke. The Blue Square Player of the Month for March was alert and scampered off his line to gather.
Welling goalkeeper Turner went down for length treatment on an injury before the break and City looked to capitalise only for promising moves involving Twomey, Hunt and Hakim to lack the end product required.
The limping Turner was almost caught out early in the second half, only to escape when his miscued clearance landed perfectly for defender Chris Moore to hook the ball clear.
On 51 minutes City put together a swashbuckling move with Hakim surging forward and finding Twomey who delivered a low cross with perfect trajectory only for City to lack the marksman required in the box to sweep the ball home.
With the Welling attack, inspired by the mesmeric Smith, becoming an increasing force in the game, Quilter rescued his centre half partner Martin with a telling tackle to halt Gargan. Smith then lashed a shot wide after evading Thurlbourne.
On 64 minutes, left back Robbie Ryan saved Welling with a vital block as Twomey attempted to knock the ball home at the back post from a Scott Cousins cross. City half heartedly appealed for a penalty as the ball appeared to strike Ryan on the arm but there was no intent.
Welling created their best chance of the game on 65 minutes when Smith danced his way forward on the left and pulled the ball back for Cobbs to stab a first time shot wide.
The match almost swung in City's favour in injury time when substitute Simon Martin turned and fired a low shot which Turner fumbled only to recover well and gather on his line.
The lively Martin went close again with the last chance in the third minute of injury time as he reached a high ball and lofted his shot over the advancing Turner. The ball appeared to be bouncing into the net only for defender Moore to hack the ball clear as the referee blew his whistle wrongly for a high foot against the City striker.