Stalemate between National League South form teams St Albans City and Hungerford Town
- Credit: Archant
There were no goals but plenty of action as St Albans City were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Hungerford Town.
The pair have been the unlikeliest of form teams this season having finished the last campaign bottom in the case of the visitors, and third from bottom for Saints.
The hosts came into the game as the only remaining undefeated side in the National League South while Hungerford were sitting second.
But after a bright and promising opening for Saints it became a slog, with the visitors increasingly getting more and more on top.
They had a couple of good chances in the second period and St Albans were left hanging on at times.
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They couldn’t have asked for a much better start to the contest mind you, an opening that didn’t hint at what was to follow.
City dominated the opening 20 minutes and the only way they would have topped that is by scoring.
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It was the one thing lacking as Tom Bender, Munashe Sundire and Kyran Wiltshire were all off target with efforts from distance, the latter fizzing a low effort just wide of Luke Cairney’s right-hand post.
Shaun Jeffers, hero of the midweek win at Princes Park, had one effort that did test the Hungerford keeper, although it was straight at him, while an effort from a centrally-placed free-kick forced the Crusaders’ number one into a sprawling save down to his left.
The change in momentum came with a couple of fouls that had the home team feeling hard done by but it slowed the tempo down and allowed Hungerford to get a toehold in the game and a few sights of goal.
Craig Fasanmade, their slight but rapid forward, was a danger and one shot on the turn brought a good stop from Michael Johnson in the home goal.
James Kaloczi stretched to turn a counter-attack behind for a corner that then eluded Keith Emmerson.
A Ryan Seager free-kick that brushed the side netting on its way behind was the final real chance of the opening 45 minutes.
Saints needed a quick start after the interval, and certainly needed to get their foot on the ball again and start stringing passes together.
That never happened though, not in the opening exchanges anyway which, while not being the exact opposite of the first half did see Hungerford on top.
Fasanmade was again the scourge, bringing two saves out of Johnson and getting behind the defence far too much for Ian Allinson’s liking.
The City boss did make an early change, Luke Warner-Eley returning from his self-isolation to replace Romeo Akinola who had made a rare start.
The screw continued to be turned with substitute Matt Partridge being guilty of a glaring miss, slicing wide at the back post after a deep cross had bypassed the entire St Albans defence.
Another cross had Johnson in trouble, getting just one hand to it and allowing to drop into the danger zone. He was grateful to see a frantic clearance.
And to be honest a lot of the defending was becoming frantic as Hungerford really began to turn the screw. Their bench were definitely confident they could snatch a winner, their encouragement becoming louder and louder.
Allinson had already bellowed “pass it” and “keep the ball” and the introduction of David Noble was designed to enhance that.
Joy Mukena and the boss were involved in an exchange of opinions over one incident just after.
Seager flicked one header over the bar and Tom Bender deflected another cross behind before Saints suddenly snatched the three points.
A scramble from a Noble corner ended with Bender’s shot being deflected behind.
Four added minutes came and went without any further incident and while both sides will take the point, Saints will be the happier of the two.
St Albans City: Johnson, Bender, Wiltshire, Kaloczi, Clark, Akinola (Warner-Eley 57), Jeffers, Diedhiou (Noble 74), Weiss (Chidyausiku 86), Sundire, Mukena.
Subs (not used): Stanley, Onokwai.
Booked: Sundire 39
Hungerford Town: Cairney, McGrory, Angell (Partridge 61), Emmerson, Rusby, Jones, Wilmouth, Seager (Hopper 88), Fasanmade (Tooze 90), Bayley, Berry-Hargreaves.
Subs (not used): Harding, Edwards.
Booked: Berry-Hargreaves 59
HT: St Albans City 0 Hungerford Town 0
Referee: Philip Staynings (Cricklade, Wiltshire)