St Albans City close the gap in National League South promotion chase with Margate win

Ryan Johnson headed City in front at Margate. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Ryan Johnson headed City in front at Margate. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

Goals from Ryan Johnson and Junior Morias gave St Albans City a 2-0 win away to Margate – and closed the gap on Vanarama National League South leaders Maidenhead United to six points.

Both goals came in the second half of what became a frantic game of football, although the first 45 minutes gave no indication of the drama ahead.

The pitch was not conducive to good, open football with bounces being erratic and footing being hard to maintain.

But City’s biggest problem in the first half was the gap between the front three and the midfield.

With Scott Thomas, Lee Chappell and David Noble more defense-minded by nature, it meant support was lacking for any ball played forward that needed holding up.

When Saints did get it wide, crosses were dangerous but also well-dealt with by the Gate defence, and Brett Johnson in particular.

And the longer the half went on, the visibly Margate gew in confidence.

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Their best chance came after a bit of pinball in the box but St Albans managed to block it.

For City a shot by Louie Theophanous on the turn was padded out by the gloves of Valery Pajetat and Junior Morias couldn’t get onto the rebound.

The second half, however, was a much more feisty affair.

By the time Johnson had nodded Saints in front, Margate’s players and supporters had been incensed by what they saw as two miscarriages of justice.

First a 50/50 tackle saw a foul given against the hosts and Thomas limp off.

Then the linesman flagged Daniel Akindayini offside as he raced through one-on-one on James Russell’s goal.

The goal gave the game what it needed, a much needed boost of energy, and Margate were determined to right the ‘wrongs’.

Their pressure gave City chances to break and Morias curled one over after a good bit of link-up play with Tom Bender.

New signing, 41-year-old Jamie Cureton, came on for his first appearance, becoming City’s third oldest debutant, and showed plenty of energy.

Margate almost drew level with five minutes to go but after a game of pinball in the box, the ball bounced off the post with Russell beaten.

Theophanous had also hit the woodwork when Pajetat dropped a cross but City were grateful for Morias for killing the game off in the last minute.

City: Russell, Herd, Bender, Chappell, R.Johnson, Hill, Lucien (Cureton 69), Thomas (Montgomery 54), Theophanous, Morias, Noble (Ball 89)

Subs (not used): Iwediuno, Martin

Goals: Johnson 55, Morias 89

Margate: Pajetat, Taylor, Fox (Williams 89), Phipps, B.Johnson, Moore-Azille, Richeford, Donnelly (Osei 73), Akindayini, Banya (Rowland 89)

Subs (not used): Henly, Foster


HT: Margate 0 St Albans City 0

Referee: Adam Ricketts

Attendance: 364