St Albans City left heartbroken after Hemel Hempstead fightback to grab draw

Michael Thalassitis' header made it 2-0. Picture: BOB WALKLEY

Michael Thalassitis' header made it 2-0. Picture: BOB WALKLEY - Credit: Archant

St Albans City surrendered a two-goal lead at Hemel Hempstead Town to draw 2-2 – but the result does lift them out of the Vanarama National League South relegation zone.

An own goal by Hemel captain Kyle Connolly had put Saints on their way just before the break and Michael Thalassitis struck early in the second period to give City a 2-0 advantage.

But goals from Ibra Sekajja and an injury-time equaliser from Adam Bailey-Dennis broke Saints’ hearts.

The first half was very similar to Saturday’s affair with Maidenhead, with neither team wanting to over commit for fear of losing.

A shot from Oliver Thorne was tipped wide by Joe Welch, continuing his good form, and from the resulting corner Jack Kelly headed over.

Hemel had possession but failed to test the Saints stopper for the remainder of the half and it was City who looked more likely to open the scoring.

Eddie Oshodi had sent a shot in the turn inches wide early on and Lee Chappell forced Jamie Butler into a good stop, racing from his line, as the midfielder broke through the middle.

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The goal though came from the best passage of play.

Harry Anderson picked it up in the middle and his pinpoint pass to the left wing found Thalassitis.

And his first-time cross was turned into the net by Connolly, with Chappell and Louie Theophanous closing in.

Hemel started the second half brightly as expected but couldn’t create a clear-cut chance.

And a quick break 10 minutes into the second half seemed to mark the beginning of the end for Hemel.

Sam Corcoran’s cross was headed back across goal by Thalassitis and Hemel cleared for a corner as Harry Anderson closed in.

But from the corner Thalassitis rose highest, as he had all day, and headed St Albans into a 2-0 lead.

Butler just got enough on a Theophanous shot to prevent a third and it looked all over.

Sekajja’s turn and shot after City though failed to clear changed that.

Hemel pressed and pressed but for a while St Albans looked like they would survive.

However, Bailey-Dennis got up from a corner to finish a breathless second-half.

City: Welch, Thomas, Bender, Kaloczi, Oshodi, Locke, Anderson, Corcoran, Theophanous, Thalassitis (Gibson 82), Chappell

Subs (not used): Allinson, Iwediuno, Udoji, Green

Goals: Connolly (og) 39, Thalassitis 55

Hemel: Butler, Herd, Kelly (Montgomery 53), Mitchell-King, Connolly, Spring (Pappoe 60), Wellard, Thorne (Hickford 60), Sekajja, Ferrier, Bailey-Dennis

Subs (not used): Comas-Leon, Richens

Goals: Ferrier 69, Bailey-Dennis 90

Attendance: 973