St Albans City hit by late equaliser on return to football at Billericay Town
- Credit: DANNY LOO
St Albans City were denied all three points on their return to National League South action with a late equaliser from Billericay Town ending the game in a 2-2 draw.
The division took a two-week hiatus to allow the worst of the current COVID-19 wave to pass and also allow off-field arguments over funding, the use of loans rather than grants, to be resolved.
The latter though is still rumbling on with the outcome of a full National League vote still undecided.
Some clubs like Dulwich Hamlet have refused to play their fixtures, citing "the League’s inability to resolve the reason for the suspension" as the reason.
Billericay too released a statement, and while they said they would fulfil the fixture "to allow time for more clarity on both the vote of the league continuing and on the potential funding situation", they opted to utilise their U23 team "to ensure that our contracted players can remain furloughed with income".
Five of their youngsters took to the field against Saints but it was one of their more-experienced hands that put them in front on 37 minutes.
Rowan Liburd, the 28-year-old former Stevenage striker, got it, capitalising on hesitation at the back between defender Joy Mukena and goalkeeper Michael Johnson to slip in and roll the ball into empty net.
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It had been even up to that point and should have been even at the break but Shaun Jeffers, standing four yards out in front of goal, failed to connect with a Solomon Nwabuokei cross.
City were much improved after the break, Munashe Sundire testing Billericay goalkeeper Harry Palmer with a long-range effort.
And the next shot on goal brought the equaliser.
A free-kick from Tom Bender bounced around the box before landing at the feet of Jeffers, and his turn and low shot found the corner of the net.
Seven minutes later St Albans were ahead, Nwabuokei tapping in after James Kaloczi had nodded a Zane Banton corner in his direction.
But instead of pressing home their advantage, the visitors sat back and it allowed the hosts to grab an equaliser four minutes from time.
A ball down the left reached substitute Gabriel Ipanga Mbambo, and after getting inside the box, a looping cross was misjudged by Johnson and sailed over the keeper and in.