St Albans City's season ends with more disappointment and another defeat

Michael Clark scored the first St Albans City goal against Tonbridge Angels.

Michael Clark scored the first St Albans City goal against Tonbridge Angels. - Credit: GAVIN ELLIS/TGS PHOTO

St Albans City brought the curtain down on their National League South season with defeat at home to Tonbridge Angels.

It has been a season of very-high highs and some disappointing lows but Monday's defeat at Oxford City ended their hopes of a play-off spot.

And despite goals from Michael Clark and John Goddard there was to be no light at the end of the tunnel as Angels completed a 3-2 win in front of another four-figure crowd at Clarence Park.

It was perhaps a game that was a reflection of the season as a whole for Saints. There were some good moments, full of attacking endeavour, there were moments of cringeworthy mistakes, but for the most part, it was a performance that promised much but failed to deliver. 

With nothing but pride left to play for, manager Ian Allinson had promised opportunities for some of his squad and he brought in long-serving trio Tom Bender, Zane Banton and Dave Diedhiou.

Calum Adebiyi, Joy Mukena and Mitchell Weiss were the three to drop out.

Tonbridge meanwhile arrived in turmoil. Manager Steve McKimm and assistant Barry Moore had seen their eight-year stay at the club ended on Tuesday, a decision that brought with it plenty of acrimony.

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McKimm blasted the way he the sacking was communicated, telling Kent Live it was "done without showing me the respect I deserved" and the end-of-season awards ceremony, scheduled for their return to Kent after this game, was cancelled "at the request of the players".

One of the players, Tom Parkinson, took the reins at Clarence Park and he made four changes from the side who had secured safety with a 2-0 home win over Eastbourne Borough on bank holiday Monday, including dropping himself to the bench.

If they were affected by the issues of the week then they found Saints as very gracious hosts in the opening three minutes.

The Angels won two corners in the opening 60 seconds, were given a third after Michael Johnson fumbled a shot and then went in front as Bender, making his 250th appearance for the club, turned a cross into his own net.

But once Saints got hold of the ball, they did start to push forward with purpose and they got their noses in front before the clock reached 20 minutes.

The first seemed to be a mark of gratitude from the Tonbridge defenders as they swung a couple of feet at a cross from the right without making contact and it allowed the ball to reach Clark in a central position.

He took a touch and rifled it into the roof of the net.

Goddard got the second seven minutes later, although this was down to Saints' forward-thinking mentality. Jeffers slipped the ball in behind the defence and the midfielder picked his spot high to the left of Jonathan Henly in the Angels goal.

City were playing with a bit of swagger and with Alex Lankshear and Joe Neal as advanced wing backs and it led to plenty of promising positions.

It also brought feelings of melancholy at the thoughts of what might have been had they opted for this approach 10 games from the end of the season.

The closing of the half though saw them less inclined to go forward and they were punished just before the break as Tonbridge equalised.

It came moments after Johnson had palmed an Aaron Smith-Joseph shot away , a cross from the left finding its way right across the face of goal with Adam Coombes supplying the finishing touch at the back post.

Kyran Wiltshire also picked up his fifth booking in five games in the lead-up to the goal, equalling the record for number of yellow cards in one season by a Saints player.

The second period saw a change in formation, Diedhiou moving to right-back in a flat back four with Neal pushed even further forward into a wide forward role.

It didn't work so well early on as Tonbridge had three chances in the opening five minutes to retake the lead.

Joseph Turner put one wide and another over while Johnson had to come out to smother a third.

And the game continued to meander along in front of a muted crowd, with just a few flashes of excitement.

For Saints, the best moment came from a Huw Dawson effort that hit the foot of the post flush and bounced back out. He had to react quick after a low Johnny Goddard cross came to him and with an bit more time, he might have been able to steer it a fraction to the left.

But in keeping with the goals in the first half, when one finally arrived it came from a couple of defensive errors.

Diedhiou coughed up the ball on the half-way line and allowed Turner to pick the ball up.

His advance to the penalty area was then stopped crudely by Dawson and after he picked himself up, Turner smashed the spot kick high and to the left of Johnson.

There was time for David Noble to enter the fray, perhaps for one last time in City colours, and although Diedhiou forced a save from Henly, there was to be no late goal for Saints to finish the year.

Match stats

St Albans City: Johnson, Bender, Wiltshire (Noble 77), Clark, Jeffers, Banton (Sole 77), Diedhiou, Dawson, Lankshear, Goddard, Neal (Weiss 68).

Subs (not used): Adebiyi, Mukena.

Goals: Clark 12, Goddard 19

Booked: Wiltshire 41

Tonbridge Angels: Henly, Fielding, O'Sullivan, Taylor, Miles, Tyrie, Smith-Joseph (Embrey 90+3), Loft, Beere (Woodhouse 68), Combes (Olutade 84), Turner.

Subs (not used): Green, Parkinson.

Goals: Bender (og) 3, Coombes 42, Joseph (pen) 73

Booked: Loft 90+4

HT: St Albans City 2 Tonbridge Angels 2

Referee: Marc Whaley (Plymouth)

Attendance: 1,457