St Albans City draw with Crystal Palace XI

Connor Calcutt sets up Jack Green to open the scoring for the Saints. Picture: Leigh Page

Connor Calcutt sets up Jack Green to open the scoring for the Saints. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

Crystal Palace capitalised on a glaring error from Joe Welch to earn a 1-1 draw with St Albans City in an even game at Clarence Park tonight.

Jack Green scored inside two minutes and it took a dreadful error from Welch, who threw the ball staight to the front man, in the second half for Palace to get back on level terms.

All in all, it was a fairly even game, with City holding their own against a Palace XI that featured Scottish international Barry Bannan, World Cup player Adlene Guedioura and Keshi Anderson, who hit the headlines in January after signing from Barton Rovers following a six-minute hat-trick in a trial game.

City’s management continued to kick the tyres on trialists. Former captain Ben Martin started in defence with an eye to signing him, and Kieran Bishop and Connor Calcutt, who was at Stevenage last season, led the attack.

For all Palace’s Premier League credentials, it was St Albans who took the lead. And it took all of 80 seconds. Sam Corcoran’s corner wasn’t cleared properly and Martin knocked the ball down to Jack Green to prod past Chris Kettings, the Palace goalkeeper.

As expected, Palace had the majority of the possession in the first half and plenty of chances to get back on level terms, but each time their strikers failed to beat Tom Coulton. Their best chance fell to Guedioura but Darren Locke got back to clear his deft lob off the line.

Bannan showed his class with an outrageous piece of skill to get around Danny Green but the attack ended when Coulton smothered the pull back.

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At the other end, Bishop was guilty of missing a easy chance. Corcoran played an inch-perfect ball over the defender to the former Hornchurch striker. His first touch was excellent but, with just the goalkeeper to beat, his second was poor and Kettings saved comfortably.

City rung the changes after the break, with Joe Welch and Greg Ngoyi coming on for Steve Wales and Calcutt.

After failing to take advantage of a number of good chances in the first half, Palace were presented with a gift for the equaliser. The Saint’s number one, Welch, made a glaring error, throwing the ball directly to Anderson who teed up Jacob Berkeley for an easy tap in.

The substitutes came thick and fast after that, with Rod Young, Jordy Ndjeka, Kayode Bola and David Longe-King all coming on. There was also a great moment for the club when Gerardo Smaldone was introduced. The right-back has come through the ranks at St Albans City Youth since U8. City ended the game with six youth products on the pitch.

While not affecting either side’s rhythm, the changes didn’t bring about many chances for either City or Palace, although Welch had to be on alert to made two good saves from Spencer Forte, and the game ended all square at 1-1.