St Albans City held by Barwell in eight-goal thriller

ST ALBANS City threw away a two-goal lead against 10-man Barwell to draw 4-4 in a thrilling clash at Clarence Park this afternoon (Saturday).

The Evo-Stik League game looked dead and buried with the Saints 4-2 up with City centre-half Moussa Diarra grabbing a hat-trick and Barwell reduced to 10-men after the dismissal of full-back Jack Edwards on.

However, the visitors reduced the score to 4-3 and then grabbed an injury time equaliser to earn a share of the spoils.

A disastrous start saw City go a goal down after just six minutes.

Jamie Towers whipped in a cross from the right and City skipper Danny Gordon stuck out a leg diverting the ball past his own keeper Nick Jupp.

The early frustration seemed to get to midfielder David Ijaha who dived into a needless tackle on Richard Lavery picking up a booking on nine minutes.

Barwell continued to take the game to the hosts with Tom Bates firing a rising shot over and Guy Hadland headed in a Bates free-kick only for the linesman’s flag to rule it out for offside.

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The Saints first sight of goal came with Chris Henry shooting on to the top of the Barwell net on 15 minutes.

City got back on level terms just before the half-hour mark as a Richard Graham corner was headed on by Gordon to Moussa Diarra who slammed the ball home from eight yards.

The goal lifted the hosts and Micah Hyde went close to putting City ahead when his half-volley crashed against the legs of Barwell keeper Liam Castle.

Lewis Toomey tried a curler from 18 yards on 38 minutes, but didn’t have the pace to trouble Castle.

Sean Shields was next to have a go from outside the box.

His 25-yards attempt was heading for the bottom left corner until a diving Castle turned it out for a corner.

The set-piece was whipped to the far post by Graham and Diarra nodded in his second of the day.

City’s advantage was not to last long as Barwell levelled as Guy Hadland clipped the ball into Towers on the edge of the box.

He controlled and played in skipper Scott Hadland who powered a shot at goal, Jupp took the sting out of the drive but it still bounced up and into the goal to send the sides in on parity at the break.

Just before the hour mark City earned the first of two quick-fire penalties.

Firstly Shields was tripped in the box by Edwards, who was sent-off after picking up a second booking.

Hyde strode forward and placed his spot-kick into the bottom left corner putting his side 3-2 up.

Just a minute later Toomey was shoved in the back in the area and again the referee again pointed to the spot.

Hyde went the same way, but keeper Castle guessed right and turned the effort away.

It was 4-2 on 70 minutes as a Graham short corner was eventually knocked low into the box and Diarra was lurking to rifle into the net for 4-2.

The action continued with Shields firing over from 18 yards.

At the other end Barwell still threatened on the break and substitute Matthew West chipped Jupp on one such counter-attack only to see the ball bounce off the top of the cross-bar.

With 12 minutes remaining the away side reduced the deficit to 4-3 as Jupp saved from Scott Hadland before Luke Barlone slotted in the rebound.

With 10 minutes to play Barwell pushed for the leveller despite being a man light.

West headed over from a Towers cross before another break saw the later go close.

Towers exchanged passes with West on the halfway line, he raced clear, rounded Jupp but shot into the side-netting with five minutes to go.

In added on time the equaliser did come as keeper Liam Castle pumped a free-kick from halfway into the City box.

Home keeper Jupp seemed to have collected the ball, but it squirmed free and Guy Hadland popped up to convert to send both teams home with a point.