Spirited Saints pick up point at Chelmsford

Beautyman nets first goal for club

Blue Square Bet South

Chelmsford City 1

St Albans City 1

ST ALBANS City turned in a much improved display on recent weeks as they garnered a deserved point from their trip to Chelmsford City on Monday evening.

The Saints had actually looked on course for all three points after Harry Beautyman had swooped to head home debutant David Hutton’s cross but a mistake from the otherwise excellent Paul Bastock allowed Anthony Cook to grab the home side an unlikely equaliser.

It was harsh on a Saints side that had defended well throughout a contest that lacked the sparkle of the fireworks going off in adjacent fields.

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Saints captain Ryan Frater was outstanding at centre half and goalkeeper Bastock proved why he is still one of the league’s outstanding ‘keepers with a string of splendid saves.

It was Steve Castle’s Saints who enjoyed the better openings in the first half with Dave Deeney going close to grabbing his second goal of the season. Hutton’s corner was well met at the near post by the former Luton Town man but his effort was cleared off the line by the outstretched leg of Chelmsford goalkeeper James Pullen.

The home side should have broken the deadlock less than a minute later when Sam Higgins got in behind the Saints defence but the striker sliced his shot wide of Bastock’s goal.

Higgins is Chelmsford’s leading scorer this season with six goals and he went close to adding number seven when he latched onto Cook’s pass in the area only to see his thunderbolt superbly held by Bastock at the near post.

City debutant Hutton had seen very little of the ball in the opening 40 minutes of the match but suddenly burst into life in the minutes leading up to half time.

First the former Tottenham man exchanged passes with Jean-Michel Sigere on halfway before displaying the acceleration of a sprint champion. As the diminutive winger reached the edge of the hosts’ box he played the ball across the face of goal to Robbie Martin who really should have hit the target with his effort.

Hutton then came within a whisker of opening his account at the first time of asking with a superbly struck free kick that whistled inches past Pullen’s far post.

The home side upped their game after the break but still struggled to break through City’s resolute defence.

Matthew Lock did manage to worm his way through the Saints’ backline but he screwed his shot wide of the target with just Bastock to beat.

The Saints were to make no such mistake five minutes later as Beautyman headed home his first goal for the club.

Hutton did extremely well to escape his marker’s shackles and deliver a beautifully hung cross to the far post that was met by a diving Beautyman who headed past Pullen.

With 20 minutes remaining Bastock sprang into action diving at the feet of substitute Ricky Modeste after the forward had beaten the offside trap and looked odds on to score.

Unfortunately for the Saints they weren’t able to keep out their hosts as Cook crashed home an equaliser.

A ball into the City box was cleared only as far as Cook on the edge of the box who fired the ball back through the crowded penalty which snuck under Bastock’s body and into the back of the net.

The home side bombarded the Saints’ goal in the final 10 minutes but were unable to further breach the goal.

A spell of pinball in the penalty area looked like gifting Chelmsford another goal but Bastock blocked from Cook then the goalkeeper denied Lock after the midfielder had been played in by Billy Bricknell.

A counter attack from St Albans engineered an opening for Inih Effiong but the substitute’s shot lacked power and Pullen gathered easily and Deeney headed a Hutton corner wide of the far post.

Despite having to withstand nearly seven minutes of added time and a succession of corners the Saints held on for a valuable point.

Whilst this was very much a step in the right direction fro Castle’s side, the harsh reality is that if they don’t start getting ‘W’s next to their name the pressure will continue to mount. The fixture compilers have been unkind to the Saints during November with tough games with Welling United, Farnborough and Eastleigh ahead in the coming weeks but a point at Melbourne Park has got them off on the right foot.

Chelmsford City: Pullen; Nunn, Tann (Haines 64), El-Abd, Rowe; Cook, J Martin (Reed 72), Lock, Ake; Higgins (Modeste 67), Bricknell.

Subs not used: Cooper, Mulley.

St Albans City: Bastock; Fisher, Frater, Everitt, Smith; R Martin (A Martin 90), Beautyman, Magwood (Dedman 67), Deeney, Hutton; Sigere (Effiong 62).

Subs not used: Shields, Kweme.

Referee: Charles Breakspear (Walton on Thames)

Att: 738