Case for the defence as Jeffers earns three points for St Albans City at Eastbourne Borough
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City have developed that very favourable trait that is present in all successful sides – they don’t know how to lose.
They stretched their unbeaten run in the National League South to eight courtesy of a 1-0 success at Eastbourne Borough and a seventh goal in all competitions for Shaun Jeffers.
It wasn’t pretty but as it has been throughout their start to the league season, it was hugely efficient.
And, for the first time in many a season, it is St Albans’ defence that is rightly getting the plaudits.
They had conceded just four goals in their opening seven league games and kept four clean sheets, two of the them in their previous two outings.
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That is now three in a row and at times this year they have looked impregnable.
They had moments of pressure thrown against them at Priory Lane but bar one sloppy minute towards the start of the game and in added time at the end of the second half, Eastbourne never looked like putting a mark in the against column.
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If they can keep that going then there is the distinct possibility that they can climb even higher than the third place they currently occupy.
The first half of this clash was not one for the purists of the beautiful game with quality in short supply.
The one good flowing move saw City score. Munashe Sundire lifted a high ball from the right deep to the back post.
Zane Banton nodded it back across goal where it found Jeffers unmarked, and after taking a touch he tucked it in the corner between Franco Ravizzoli and the keeper’s right-hand post.
City’s only other hances were a deflected effort from Jeffers that bounced off the back of Joe Kay and dropped over the bar, and a curling shot from a tight angle by Mitchell Weiss that also went harmlessly over the top.
Borough’s opportunities were even fewer and came within 60 seconds of each other.
James Kaloczi presented the first one to former Stevenage striker Greg Luer with a poor clearance. However, he redeemed himself by getting a head to the shot, the deflection spinning just wide of the post.
The second saw ex-Saint Charlie Walker shoot low from a narrow angle, Michael Johnson kicking that one away.
The rest of the half was slow and ponderous although it did seem as if the pitch played its part there, the artificial surface looking full of rubber crumb which slowed the ball down and also caused players to slip on a couple of occasions.
The first 10 minutes hinted at something better without ever truly delivering.
Saints started slightly quicker but apart from one overhit cross from Sundire and a poor corner that was cleared easily at the front post, there were no chances to speak off.
Johnson’s only exertion came with collecting a deflected cross following good defence by Kaloczi to deny James Hammond.
The City keeper was thankful for a couple of very good blocks in front of him to prevent any shot on goal not long after, Kaloczi and Wiltshire to the fore in that, but once that flurry was over it was back to the status quo.
The home side still had plenty of possession but the vaunted City rearguard remained unmoved.
Even when the up-to-that-point excellent Joy Mukena was bested by James Ferry, the defender did enough to put the man in red off and he shot tamely wide.
The pressure was naturally ramped up late on as Ian Allinson attempted to disrupt the flow of the game with late substitutions.
Seven added minutes gave Eastbourne hope and it was in the first one of these that Johnson pulled off a superb save to deny Luer’s flicked header.
It was the last chance for either team and the three points went back to Hertfordshire.
St Albans City: Johnson, Bender, Wiltshire (Stanley 90+1), Kaloczi, Clark (Diedhiou 89), Nwabuokei, Jeffers, Banton, Weiss (Warner-Eley 90+3), Sundire, Mukena.
Subs (not used): Onokwai, Chidyausiku.
Goal: Jeffers 22
Booked: Johnson 78
Eastbourne Borough: Ravizzoli, Vaughan, Kay (Lambert 89), Ferry, Dickenson, James, Cox, Hammond, Luer, Walker (Whelpdale 63), Kendall (Rollinson 74).
Subs (not used): Blackmore, Glover.
Booked: Walker 7, Whelpdale 82
HT: Eastbourne Borough 0 St Albans City 1
Referee: Jack Packman (Margate)