St Albans City still deep in trouble after Dartford come back for victory
- Credit: Archant
St Albans City remain rooted in relegation trouble at the bottom of National League South after a 2-1 home loss to Dartford.
It'll be remembered as a game of four penalties, two given and two not.
The first spot-kick had put Saints into the lead, Joe Iaciofano with a calm conversion, but after Liam Nash had drawn the visitors level, Darren McQueen put them ahead with their own goal from 12 yards.
St Albans will feel they should have had at least one more after Sam Merson and Iaciofano both went down within a minute of each other, and both had the crowd and the bench up in arms, but neither were given.
And despite a late push they couldn't find an equaliser meaning they remain second from bottom of the table in the final relegation place.
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There wasn't a lot of positivity prior to the game, especially with Dartford's impreoved form under Steve King, but that had changed by half-time after a much improved and promising display.
They started with a lot of attacking intent and had most of the pressure in the opening 10 minutes.
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Zane Banton had a shot early on and Harry Forster, in more of a central position, was seeing a lot more of the ball allowing him to test the Darts defence.
There was still chances at the other end and after a goal was ruled out for offside, Dean Snedker made a diving save to tip a Jack Jebb free-kick around the wall.
But it was Saints who took the lead with a penalty, a goal that came just as the early pressure had petered out.
Iaciofano had got himself in a good position down the left and when he cut inside the ball struck the hand of Tom Bonner.
There was no doubt it was a penalty and Iaciofano coolly struck it to the left of the keeper as he went to the right.
But the visitors were level six minutes later.
It was seemingly a nothing shot from Amrit Bansal-McNulty hit low from right to left which Snedker got down to but could only push it out into the middle of the box.
Nash was the one man reacting and he tucked it home with a simple finish.
There were chances for both sides before half-time, David Diedhiou driving a low effort wide for City while a superb last-ditch tackle from David Longe-King prevented Darts from taking the lead.
But any of that positivity among the Saints fans was dismissed after just a few minutes of the second period.
Elliot Romain jinked into the box and had his ankles clipped for the second definite spot-kick of the game.
And as with the one in the first-half, the goalkeeper went right while the ball went the other way, confidently hit into the roof of the net by McQueen.
Forster was continuing to look like the one who would get Saints back into game with his pace a definite spark but it was needed at the other end as he got back to block a McQueen shot on the break.
Both managers made substitutions, Merson coming on for the home side, and he was immediately involved with a huge penalty shout.
He got in front of the defender before going to the floor and it had the entire City bench racing to the touchline with their arms up.
The referee was just as sure there was no push though and he was also certain about another appeal moments later when Iaciofano went down, booking the Saints man for a dive.
The final push did come late on and they almost grabbed an equaliser with a wonderfully-hit strike from outside the box that flew through the crowd of players but bounced firmly off the post and came out,
But that was as close as they came and they now have two vital games against Braintree Town and Dulwich Hamlet, sides down in the mire with them, to recover the situation.
St Albans City: Snedker, L.Gordon, Longe-King, Musonda, Bender, Diedhiou (Merson 63) , Noble (Nwabuokei 77), Sundire, Forster, Banton (Louis 77), Iaciofano.
Subs (not used): Clark, R.Gordon.
Goal: Iaciofano (pen) 22
Booked: Iaciofano 68, Bender 85
Dartford: Smith, Wynter, Barham-Barrett, Bansal-McNulty (Wanadio 73), Hill, Bonner, Jebb, Husin, Romain, McQueen (Crook 63), Nash (Vint 82).
Subs (not used): Hyde, Ming.
Goals: Nash 29, McQueen (pen) 49
Booked: Wynter 8, Hill 66
HT: St Albans City 1 Dartford 1
Referee: Carl Brook (Hastings)