Slideshow: Saints fail to sauce goals and miss chance for vital victory
ST Albans City must sharpen up their finishing after a disappointing defeat at Worcester City in the Blue Square South on Monday. Chances galore were spurned by the Saints
Blue Square South
Worcester City 2 St Albans City 0
David Brawn at St George's Lane
ST Albans City must sharpen up their finishing after a disappointing defeat at Worcester City in the Blue Square South on Monday.
Chances galore were spurned by the Saints leaving the lively contingent of away fans bemused by the tally of just one point and one goal from the two opening fixtures.
Manager Steve Castle made just one change from the 16 selected for the opening draw with Havant & Waterlooville with Rod Hicks named on the bench instead of Hamza Twomey.
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Worcester City, switched from the Blue Square North to the South, pinned their hopes again on new striker Marco Adaggio who had blasted home a 90th minute winner on his debut against Bognor Regis Town on Saturday.
City were quickly in the ascendancy on the slick surface moisturised by a downpour on kick off at St George's Lane. The vibrant attacking football left the home defence clinging on at times but Saints were unable to find the correct chemistry to trouble Worcester goalkeeper Danny McDonnell.
Hassan Sulaiman worried the hosts with his driving runs down the right flank and won numerous dangerous free kicks. Jonathan Hunt flashed one such free kick just wide of the far post from the edge of the box on 16 minutes.
Worcester took the lead against the run of play on 21 minutes when right back Graham Ward arrowed the ball into the box and Adaggio was allowed time and space to control the ball and then acrobatically fire an overhead kick in off the underside of the cross bar.
It was a lesson in finishing for the Saints but not one they yielded. Midfielder Sean Ridgway fired straight at goalkeeper McDonnell from 20 yards after an excellent spin following good work from Sulaiman and right back James Fisher.
Ridgway should have broken the home resistance on 25 minutes when he found himself in a glorious position. Simon Martin's shot from a fine Sulaiman cross was blocked to the former Hayes & Yeading United midfielder but, with McDonnell on the deck, he could only slap the ball straight at the Worcester number one who gathered.
The hosts began to threaten on the break as gaps appeared in the increasingly frustrated Saints rearguard. Adaggio appealed in vain for a penalty after a forceful body charge from Ben Martin but there was more controversy at the other end right on half time. Worcester delayed the taking of a throw in by kicking the ball away without punishment. When the ball was returned to St Albans, Hakim played in Ridgway only for the referee to blow for the break as the midfielder surged clear before firing into the net.
Worcester made a change after the interval with pocket dynamo Troy Wood on to replace Matt Dodd and the Saints suddenly looked less assure. Adaggio drifted wide left and struck a sizzling cross to the back post where Matt Dinsmore arrived to plant a header high into the net for 2-0 on 54 minutes.
Paul Hakim went close to an immediate riposte but his venomous 25 yard curling effort lashed just wide of the far post.
On the hour Hakim was sent clear by Fisher and with strike-partner Martin peeling to the back post the former Stevenage Borough man could only hit a poor cross straight into the arms of goalkeeper McDonnell.
Worcester upped the intensity with confidence flowing after so many left offs. A looping shot from 35 yards from Owen dropped just wide before Fisher then sliced the ball over his own cross bar as the pressure mounted.
The Saints to their credit still looked sharp and incisive through midfield and after a blockbusting run from Sulaiman, striker Hakim again failed to find the target.
Bastock made a brilliant save to deny Owen on 69 minutes as the play swung from end-to-end while the hard working Sulaiman continued his efforts to set up a rare City effort on target. On 79 minutes the Saints finally seemed sure to halve the deficit when Sulaiman superbly beat his marker, burst inside and pulled the ball back to Hakim. The striker controlled superbly but could only stab his right foot shot the wrong side of the post with goalkeeper McDonnell beaten.
On 88 minutes City substitute Hicks galloped down the left flank leaving two defenders in his wake before delivering a stunning cross which fellow replacement Tom Youngs was agonisingly just a yard short of diverting home for, what would merely have been, a consolation effort.
The 2-0 reverse offered no indication of the rewards the winless Saints should have been enjoying after an enterprising and entertaining opening to the new campaign.
Owen F Adaggio F
Dinsmore LM Price CM Walker CM Dodd RM
Khan LB Barnes CB Richardson CB Ward RB
Subs: Wood for Dodd (50), Richards for Dinsmore (75). Unused subs: Tyack, Fitzpatrick, Lester.
St Albans City
S. Martin F Hakim F
Hunt LM Bowditch CB Ridgway CM Sulaiman RM
Cousins LB Quilter CB B. Martin CB Fisher RB
Subs: Protheroe for Quilter (60), Youngs for S. Martin (75), Hicks for Hunt. Unused subs: Adams, Archer.
Referee: Mr Simon Knapp (Bristol).