St Albans City manager full of praise after Gosport win

Lee Chappell celebrates his opening goal of the afternoon. Picture: Leigh Page

Lee Chappell celebrates his opening goal of the afternoon. Picture: Leigh Page - Credit: Archant

James Gray gushed with praise for his St Albans City side after they shocked play-off chasing Gosport Borough 2-1 at Clarence Park.

Lee Chappell scored a superb free-kick in the 21st minute but the Saints couldn’t hold on to a half-time lead as, after Darren Locke limped off injured, Justin Bennett equalised just before the break.

After the interval, St Albans showed off their defensive stubbornness and attacking threat as, led by 17-year-old Jack Green, Omar Beckles stabbed home a goal-mouth scramble and they held out to hand Borough just their fifth loss of the season.

Speaking after the game, joint manager Gray said: “They’re a good, experienced side. They’ve had a good season, they’ve hardly conceded, they’ve scored goals and beaten teams left right and centre – that was the team talk,” he said.

“That’s not to take anything away form our boys. We said ‘if we get the chance to play then we will and if we defend better than against Hemel Hempstead then we’ll give ourselves a chance’.

He added: “They will have seen that five or six first teamers are not involved and they might have taken their foot off the gas a little bit. You can’t do that at this level. You could say they took their foot off the gas but we didn’t let them settle or play and we moved the ball well. All the lads put a shift in.”

Sunday’s win was St Albans’ first in four games, bringing an end to a terrible festive period where they picked up just one point from 12. Gray had preached that his side needed to find a way to win games, today they did.

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“We worked our socks off, the boys did their jobs, we threw bodies on the line, died for the cause and everyone played for the shirt and me and Graham,” he said.

“It’s been a tough couple of games – the performances haven’t been bad – but today was exceptional. The fog descended on Clarence Park today but the fog in my mind has lifted a bit. The overriding feeling is today we got our tactics spot on but the lads put in a real shift and I’m pleased for them.”