St Albans City get back into the winning groove with Welling success
- Credit: PETER SHORT
St Albans City provided the perfect response to their first National League South defeat with a 2-0 win away to Welling United.
Shaun Jeffers got both the goals in the first-half at Park View Road to push the memory of the 2-0 loss against Chelmsford City on Saturday out of the mind.
Getting any positive result would have been the very minimum they would have wanted but they would have arrived in south London probably expected to claim the three points against the league's bottom side.
And while there were a few moments of worry, this was a sign that they were finding their feet again after the COVID-19 outbreak over the festive period.
They may have needed to make an instant response but manager Ian Allinson opted for just the two changes from the weekend, Michael Clark and David Noble coming in for Devante Stanley and Dave Diedhiou.
He would have been delighted with the 2-0 advantage at half-time although whether it was fully deserved is up for debate.
Not for the first time this season they were grateful for Michael Johnson.
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Three times the goalkeeper was called on to make a save in the eight minutes after Saints had taken the lead. The first saw him time his dive low to his left perfectly to tip away a Lionel Ainsworth effort while the next two denied Joe Taylor.
It had been a good response from the hosts to going behind on 30 minutes.
Luke Warner-Eley's deliveries from the left had already tested the Wings defence and when he popped a couple more into the box, the ball ran off a deflection straight to Jeffers.
The top scorer made no mistake with a good finish, struck firmly from the left across Reice Charles-Cook and into the opposite corner.
It was the same area he put his spot-kick a minute into added-time, a penalty awarded to the surprise of the limited number of people in the ground.
Mitchell Weiss and a defender chased a ball down the left-side of the box and it looked like an innocuous collision. The referee thought differently though and whether for a foul or handball, as was suggested by one person at half-time, the decision stood and City stretched their lead.
St Albans had left the field subdued despite the two-goal lead but their much-praised defence was obviously lifted by the score and looked way more solid after the break.
They didn't need to be in top gear but they were put under the microscope as Welling pushed forward.
And there were chances for the hosts, both for Taylor. The second of them was the better of them but from Rhys Murrell-Williamson's cross, he guided an unmarked header wide.
That was the former Saint's last action as he was substituted, Diedhiou coming on for Noble at the same time.
That disrupted the flow slightly and allowed City a foothold again.
And it should have seen a third as Mitchell Weiss raced in. However, he took it too far and ended up making the angle too tight for himself, shooting wide with Charles-Cook guarding the near post.
Ricky Shakes too could have scored but volleyed over when in a good position but the half eventually petered out with Saints controlling the ball and the clock.
They will now look at regaining their top spot, starting with their next game away to Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday.
St Albans City: M.Johnson, Wiltshire, Kaloczi, Clark, Jeffers (Chidyausiku 90+2), Shakes, Noble (Diedhiou 66), Weiss (Akinola 90+1), Sundire, Mukena, Warner-Eley.
Subs (not used): Stanley, Kinoshi.
Goals: Jeffers 30, (pen) 45+1
Booked: Mukena 32
Welling United: Charles-Cook, C.Johnson, Della-Verde, (Bennett 46) O'Mara, Murrell-Williamson (Simons 66), Blackman, Taylor, Ainsworth (Akinyemi 79), Mvembe, Shokunbi, Strachan.
Subs (not used): Hobbs, Ilic.
Booked: Blackman 48
HT: Welling United 0 St Albans City 2
Referee: Michael Ryan (Brighton)