City draw with St Neots Town

PUBLISHED: 12:57 19 January 2014 | UPDATED: 08:25 20 January 2014

Mark Nwokeji celebrates after scoing for City against St Neots Town. Picture: Bob Walkley

Mark Nwokeji celebrates after scoing for City against St Neots Town. Picture: Bob Walkley

Archant

St Albans struggled to a 1-1 draw with 19th placed St Neots Town on Saturday afternoon at Clarence Park in front of a crowd of 812, the biggest home league attendance since relegation to the Southern Premier League.

City went into the game on the back of a confident 4-2 victory over AFC Totton on Monday night, and were looking to make it back to back victories against St Neots. However, the visitors had other ideas, and came out of the blocks on the front foot.

The side from Cambridgeshire had the majority of the early possession, and despite a shot from Frendo in the 18th minute which was easily gathered by Nathan Abbey, St Neots posed the biggest goal threat, with Simon Thomas and Matt Nolan troubling the home defence for long periods of the first half.

St Neots’ first clear sight of goal came in the 25th minute, when Nolan found himself with the ball on the edge of the home area, and exchanged passes with Thomas, before Thomas, who had managed to create acres of space unleashed an effort which looked to be going in, but Darren Locke had scrambled onto the goal line, and he cleared the shot off of the line and away from danger.

St Albans did briefly fight back, and saw two long range efforts in as many minutes threaten Abeey’s goal. Taylor’s drilled strike from around 25 yards out flew just wide of the Clarence Park End goal, while Abbey was then called upon to deny Nwokeji’s ambitious low strike.

While this brief period instilled some promise in the home crowd, St Neots scored almost immediately after the resulting corner from Abbey’s save was dealt with by the defence. Abbey took a quick goal kick, which found Lorenzo Ferrari outwide on the left, and he ran towards the box before crossing it into the centre of the area. City midfielder Ram Marwa was on hand to clear the ball away, but he could only slice his clearance straight to Simon Thomas, and the forward made no mistake this time by firing the ball low past the stranded Bastock to give his side the lead in the 32nd minute.

The home side did not, however, have to wait long for an equaliser. James Comley delivered a corner towards the back post, and it was headed towards a mass of bodies in the 6-yard area, and after a brief goal mouth scramble, Mark Nwokeji managed to stab the ball home to bring the Saints back on level terms.

The teams went into half time level, and after the break, neither team settled immediately as a result of a number of substitutions. St Albans managers James Gray and Graham Golds were forced into bringing Howard Hall in for Ben Martin who picked up a slight hamstring injury, while Graham, who has been suffering with an illness during the past week, along with a number of other players in the squad, came off for Chris Henry.

The only clear-cut chance during the second half fell to Ram Marwa in the 81st minute. The ball was cleared from the St Neots area, and Marwa unleashed a first time strike which Abbey had to tip over the bar to preserve his sides point.

The final ten minutes of the match saw City push forward and mount the pressure on the St Neots area, but the visitors defended resolutely, and threatened themselves during added time when catching the hosts on the break, but they could not make the most of it, and the game ended in a draw, a fair result on the afternoon.

The Saints, weather permitting, travel to local rivals Hemel Hempstead on Tuesday evening in the Herts Senior Cup Quarter Final, before league football returns to Clarence Park on Saturday, January 25 when Arlesey Town are the visitors.

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