St Albans City’s Vanarama National South play-off hopes take another dent with Hungerford Town defeat
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City’s manager Ian Allinson had called for a reaction from his players and urged them to work much harder than of late and he got it at Hungerford Town – but only for the first half.
David Noble put them ahead from the penalty spot only for Louis Soares to equalise.
But the second-half was a complete no-show from City who slumped to a 3-1 defeat with Soares going on to complete his hat-trick.
After their loss at home to Truro City on Saturday this was the last thing Saints needed in their pursuit of promotion.
The thing is for the first half they were pretty good.
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Allinson made a switch in formation, possibly forced on him because of injuries, but the five-man defence with Ben Herd and Percy Kiangebeni operating as wing-backs, worked a treat.
It gave City much more of a cutting edge going forward and allowed City to get the ball forward much quicker, something Allinson has also been wanting.
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Noble gave them the perfect start on six minutes, converting a penalty for handball despite keeper Marcus Beauchamp getting a hand on it.
The award of the penalty, if given against you, would make you furious.
Yes, it did strike a hand so by the letter of the law it’s a foul, but it seemed like the defender knew little about it.
But any sense of injustice was soon transferred onto the visitors with a left-wing cross by Soares sailing over the head of Dean Snedker and into the net completely unintentionally.
That came after 15 minutes and for the remainder of the half the play switched from end to end.
Antonio German had City’s chance after a good flowing move with Noble involved, but he lashed his shot over.
Beauchamp held onto a Tom Gardiner and Herd and Kiangebeni both got forward at the same time with the latter just beaten to the former’s cross.
At the other end Snedker had to make a smart save low down from another shot from the left side.
But you felt City were edging matters and even a half-time substitution, Sam Merson replacing Charlie Walker, you didn’t feel like that would change in the second half.
But Hungerford started brightly after the break and not long after Snedker had made a good save from a clever corner routine, they took the lead.
Soares just wanted it more, it was simple as that, as he burst through a static Saints defence and fired low across the keeper into the corner.
Four minutes later it was game over as the referee whistled for a foul by Snedker on Nicholas Bignall and Soares stroked home the spot-kick.
Saints sacrificed Tariq Moore-Azille not long after that together with goalscorer Noble, throwing Harvey Bradbury and Shaun Lucien into an attacking foursome with Merson and German.
But barring plenty of huff and puff St Albans never looked like pulling it back.
Form and momentum is rapidly disappearing from City at just the wrong time and if they really want to make the play-offs, then Saturday’s trip to Concord Rangers takes on even greater significance.
If the players do want it, and can produce a performance with the energy and desire of the first half, then the end of season showdown is still very much on the cards.
But only if the players want it.
City: Snedker, Herd, Kiangebeni, Noble (Lucien 68), Moore-Azille (Bradbury 67), Sendles-White, Walker (Merson 46), Sambou, German, Monlouis, Gardiner
Subs (not used): Banton, Murrell-Williamson
Goal: Noble (pen) 6
Hungerford: Beauchamp, Clark, John, Rusby, Herring, Rees (Partridge 66), Rodgers, Whittingham, Fragata (Tyler 81), Bignall (Lynch 88), Soares
Subs (not used): Wall, McCready
Goals: Soares 15, 57, (pen) 61
HT: Hungerford Town 1 St Albans City 1
Referee: Matty Bounassisi