Iaciofano returns to leave St Albans City frustrated with draw

St Albans City's Shaun Jeffers saw two good chances missed in the first half against Braintree.

St Albans City's Shaun Jeffers scored his 30th of the season against Oxford City. - Credit: DANNY LOO PHOTOGRAPHY

Joe Iaciofano returned to frustrate St Albans City with his late penalty earning new employers Oxford City a point.

Another Shaun Jeffers goal had looked enough to give Saints what what have been a valuable three points against a fellow National League South play-off rival.

The strike, his 30th of the season, had put the home side ahead four minutes into the second half and he had chances after that to double the lead.

However, Iaciofano, top-scorer in the aborted 2019-2020 season, was given his opportunity after a foul over on the Saints left and he put it into the bottom corner past the diving Michael Johnson for a 1-1 draw.

It was better after the break from City but they were ultimately the only ones to blame after not closing out the game.

They have moved up one place to sixth but with 12 games to go, they know they need to start turning these performances into wins and quickly.

There were three changes from the side who lost to Eastbourne. In came Mitchell Weiss, Alex Lankshear and Joy Mukena replacing Michael Clark, Liam Sole and Callum Adebiyi.

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For two play-off chasing teams, the first half was a drab affair, littered with mistakes as both teams gave the ball away with alarming regularity.

There were chances at either end but, crucially, neither keeper was tested.

Saints had chances but Jeffers and Lankshear were both off target and although John Goddard did get one through to Ben Dudzinski, it wasn't hit with any power.

The last two of them both came from the two moments of genuine exciting play from the hosts.

Goddard was involved in both, creating them simply by running at the opposition defence.

Lankshear was perhaps surprised to get his opportunity, Jeffers passing when most thought a shot was coming.

The top scorer's effort that went over the top also saw him looking to pass but midfield support was a long way behind.

The returning Iaciofano had Oxford's best opportunities but he seemed to be trying too hard and never caught anything properly, even when he was found in behind the home defence.

The game was crying out for something and it got it four minutes after the restart.

Again it needed to be won back buy Mukena did that five yards inside the Oxford half.

From there it was moved quickly with Joe Neal picking it up on the right-hand side of the area.

He clearly thought about the shot but decided better of it and his low cross into the middle was turned into the roof of the net by Jeffers. 

The goal gave Saints the desired lift and with Oxford still making mistakes, they had a good spell.

Jeffers put a low corner from Goddard straight at Dudzinski, the set-piece having been won by a driving run to the edge of the box by Weiss that the keeper pushed behind.

The visitors responded by making all three substitutions before the midway point of the half , including Jacob Bancroft who had a brief but ultimately forgotten spell at Stevenage last season.

Oxford did get forward from time to time but that just left space for Saints to exploit.

Jeffers should have put the game to bed with 19 minutes to go but from a similar position to his goal, Weiss this time supplying the cross, he sliced it with the side of his foot and it went well, well wide.

Iaciofano's spot-kick was the last goal but there were still chances for St Albans and after Jeffers had prodded one wide moments after the equaliser, he thumped a cross way too hard across the box and away from his strike partners.

St Albans City: Johnson, Bender, Wiltshire, Jeffers, Weiss, Lankshear, Mukena, Goddard, Jones, Green, Neal.

Subs (not used): Brown, Sole, Noble, Diedhiou, Dawson.

Goals: Jeffers 49

Booked: Mukena 69

Oxford City: Dudzinski, Asare, Harmon, Ashby, Matsuzaka, Fleet, McEachran (Coyle 65), Iaciofano, O'Donkor (Bancroft 55), Clark (Owusu 65), Kyprianou.

Subs (not used): Rowan, DaSilva.

Goals: Iaciofano (pen) 84

HT: St Albans City 0 Oxford City 0

Referee: Jason Riichardson (Ruislip)

Attendance: 927