St Albans City down the Hawks
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City made it three wins on the bounce with a 3-1 victory over Whitehawk at Clarence Park on Saturday afternoon, writes Jake Ellacott.
Whitehawk went into the game having picked up five points from their opening five games, and the visitors were looking to continue their unbeaten run and pick up their second victory of the season following successive draws with both Ebbsfleeet and Wealdstone.
The Hawks began the game brightly with midfielder Mike West having the first sight of goal as he picked up the ball on the edge of the St Albans box before unleashing a well struck first time effort which sailed just wide of the Clarence Park end goal.
Whitehawk looked to control the ball in the middle of the field, but the Saints battled well and quickly found a footing in the game as the pace of City’s attack began to cause problems for Pablo Asensio’s new-look defence.
On-loan defender Ryan Johnson saw his header from Josh Hill’s cross well saved by Adria Fernandez in the Whitehawk net with 20 minutes on the clock.
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However, the home side soon found themselves ahead as last season’s top scorer struck his second of the new season.
Louie Theophanous, having opened his account against Wealdstone two weeks ago, picked up the ball around 25 yards out and dragged it past two Whitehawk defenders before hitting a low effort towards the York Road End goal which beat Fernandez at his near post having been unsighted by the forward’s speculative effort.
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The Saints looked to double their lead as half-time approached but Fernandez had other ideas, as the Whitehawk goalkeeper made a succession of impressive saves from City’s forward line including Junior Morias’ 30-yard free-kick which looked destined for the top corner until the Spaniard tipped the effort over the bar.
City keeper James Russell, who had otherwise been untested, was called upon to make a smart save down to his right just before half-time as Whitehawk substitute Wilfred Tagbo, on for the injured Rodrigo Mann, attempted to find the far corner following an impressive break, but the forward saw his effort palmed away before the Saints eventually cleared their lines.
City wasted no time in scoring their second of the afternoon following the interval.
Morias picked up the ball in the Whitehawk half and looked to launch a quick counter, muscling off one defender before playing a well-placed pass into the path of Theophanous who with two touches controlled the ball and calmly slotted the ball past Fernandez to claim his second of the afternoon and third of the season.
The Saints will feel they should have had a three-goal lead on the hour mark when Morias received the ball in the box and turned his man, but the forward failed to beat Fernandez who made himself big and made an important save for his side.
That save looked to be crucial with less than quarter of an hour left when a defensive mix-up allowed the visitors to grab a life-line.
A tame Hawks attack looked to have been dealt with by the Saints when Hill and Scott Thomas looked to leave the ball for one-another to deal with, allowing Sergio Torres to pounce and advance into the City box unchallenged before slotting past Russell to give his side a life-line.
However, despite reducing the deficit The Hawks struggled to pose a real threat to the City defence, and it was in-fact the home side who had the clearest cut chances as full-time approached, with Theophanous seeing his curling effort palmed away before he was substituted with six minutes to go.
The Saints, who had posed a constant attacking threat throughout despite their lack of possession made sure of the three points with less than two minutes left on the clock.
A long ball reached substitute Sam Merson, who with his impressive leap controlled the ball on his chest and out-muscled two Whitehawk defenders before striking a volley from 20 yards out which nestled into the far corner.
St Albans City: Russell; Herd; Bender; Hill; Johnson; Lucien; Thomas; Theophanous (Rees 84); Morias (Hoenes 89); Akinyemi (Merson 75). Unused Subs: Ball; Iwediuno.
Whitehawk: Fernandez; Mann (Tagbo 39); Miloski-Lucas; Favarel; M’Boungou; West; Torres; Mills; Abdulla (Agostini 58); Infante-Idalgo (Soures Da Silva 71). Unused Subs: Llenga; Santos-Rodrigues.
Referee: Christopher Pollard