St Albans City lose to Dagenham in pre-season opener

Simon Thomas battles for the ball. Picture: Leigh Page

Simon Thomas battles for the ball. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

St Albans City opened their pre-season campaign with a 4-0 loss to Dagenham and Redbridge at Clarence Park.

It wasn’t a great performance from the Saints, but, being the first friendly of the season, very little can be gleaned from it about how the team will look when the real action begins on August 8.

In truth, the game showed, more than anything else, how much a professional, full-time team can achieve in a week compared to a semi-professional outfit. Dagenham looked close to game speed while City were a long way off it, and it showed as Ashley Williams scored two soft goals within the first 10 minutes.

Joe Welch had already made two excellent saves by then and went to make a handful more. Last year’s player of the season looks like he’ll be his reliable self again this year, which is very good news.

The surprise of the night was David Longe-King. The 19-year-old centre-back spent most of last season at Dunstable Town on dual registration and looked very good in the second half. He won most of his headers, tackled well and his distribution was simple. The one black mark on his performance was the penalty he gave away, which trailist Bayan Fenwick scored. It was a brash challenge but came late in the game when most of the team were struggling to keep up with their League Two opponents.

The management got their first in-game look of new signings Lewis Hilliard and Billy Medlock last night. Medlock looked bright and full of running in the first half and should provide a good foil for Simon Thomas. Hilliard never really got into the game, but he had only arrived in the country in the morning and was suffering with a toe injury.

Jack Lampe missed the game with a chest infection but should be back in contention for the Barnet match on July 14.

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Of the trialists, former Saint Greg Ngoyi looked the best. He had two bad misses but showed off his impressive jumping skills to win contested headers. Kieran Bishop, formerly of Hornchurch, had his moments and tested Daggers’ goalkeeper Liam O’Brien with a low shot in the second half. Former Stevenage midfielder Michael Richens started off excellently in defensive midfield, breaking up play and opting for easy passes, but got caught in possession in the latter stages of the game. Ex-Hemel Hemptead Town midfielder Luke Allen started the game alongside Danny Green and played fairly well.