Five talking points from St Albans City's draw with Chippenham Town

PUBLISHED: 07:12 04 August 2019 | UPDATED: 15:30 04 August 2019

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - St Albans City's Dave Diedhiou battles with Dean Evans of Chippenham Town.


Picture: Karyn Haddon

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - St Albans City's Dave Diedhiou battles with Dean Evans of Chippenham Town. Picture: Karyn Haddon

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In a new feature Herts Advertiser's Neil Metcalfe reflects and analyses St Albans City's 0-0 draw with Chippenham Town on the opening day of the National League South season. Paraphrasing the title of an Ian Dury song, this is what he found.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Joe Iaciofano in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Joe Iaciofano in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

1) Defensively better - They managed 11 clean sheets last year but conceded 64 goals in the league so to get a nil this early on will be a huge positive going forward.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Joe Iaciofano in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Joe Iaciofano in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Yes, there were a few shaky moments in the first half, especially with balls swung in from free-kicks or corners, but they rode their luck and came out much stronger after the break.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Solomon Nwabuokei in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Solomon Nwabuokei in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Ian Allinson revealed at the fans forum on Thursday that it's going to be a back four this year and the centre two, James Kaloczi and David Longe-King, looked a fine partnership.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Joe Iaciofano in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Joe Iaciofano in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

The rest are all solid no-frills defenders too, something you'll never hear this old centre-half complain about, but all showed a willingness to play out from the back too.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Solomon Nwabuokei in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Solomon Nwabuokei in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

2) Selection dilemma - Quite possibly. Beforehand I thought the selection may be tricky with a number of players competing for certain places until I realized that City were minus five players due to injury, suspension or holidays.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Bobson Bawling in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Bobson Bawling in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

But one of the expected missing quintet, Scott Shulton, was on the bench (although he never got on) and Joe Howe's holiday ended yesterday so both could be back for Tuesday's trip to Dartford.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Darren Foxley in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Darren Foxley in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Allinson admitted the final choice for right back and other places could be difficult and Shulton has proven that his combativity in the middle dovetails beautifully with Taylor Miles' creativity.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Oli Sprague in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Oli Sprague in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

It's possible that away from home he may also go with one up top which would mean three in the middle.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Darren Foxley in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Darren Foxley in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

So if Shulton is still not 100 per cent does that open the door for David Noble?

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Taylor Miles in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Taylor Miles in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

And I haven't even got to Tom Bender who returns for Dulwich on Saturday and would have seen Oli Sprague have a decent game. Plenty of things to mull for the manager.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Darren Foxley in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Darren Foxley in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

3) Clue to the future - Can you read anything into the game that will help predict Saints' final position this season? Well no, far too early really but the lack of a cutting edge was a worry.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Oli Sprague in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Oli Sprague in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Yes, there are a lot of new faces and there will be the obvious gelling period but Chippenham should be a team that you would expect to beat at home if you fancy yourself as a play-off contender.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Manager Ian Allinson.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Manager Ian Allinson. Picture: Karyn Haddon

However, the flip side to all this is that defensively it was half-decent and this is exactly the type of fixture where Saints would have tripped over their own feet in the last couple of years.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Ground View.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Ground View. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Certainly there's no need to fear a relegation battle just yet, wait until at least the end of this month before deciding whether that could happen, but one thing that does look likely from glancing at the results elsewhere is that this season could be the most open in recent memory.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Manager Ian Allinson.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Manager Ian Allinson. Picture: Karyn Haddon

4) Zzz factor - As opening games go, this one was instantly forgettable. In fact as a game at any time of year it was a snoozefest.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Ground View.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Ground View. Picture: Karyn Haddon

There are reasons for this and there will obviously be ongoing tweaks needed to both formation and instructions given to individual players.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Joe Iaciofano in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Joe Iaciofano in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

I felt the wingers were coming inside to allow space for the full-backs to overlap. Asked the boss and he said it wasn't the tactic, just their style.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Darren Foxley in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Darren Foxley in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

What it meant though was the midfield got crowded and with Chippenham not fancying breaking out too much, especially in the second-half, most attacks floundered.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Oli Sprague in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Oli Sprague in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

And that's a shame because this year's crop has tonnes of ability and can open up most defences on their day.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Dean Snedker makes a save for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Dean Snedker makes a save for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

It will get better but wasn't the best advert for the season ahead.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - David Longe-King in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - David Longe-King in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

5) The crowd - The official attendance was 549, just 17 shy of the number that saw Saints host Hungerford on the opening day of last season.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Dave Diedhiou in action for St Albans City.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Dave Diedhiou in action for St Albans City. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Whether that did include all season ticket holders, regardless of attendance, is unsure. I was told that the new system would allow for the club to only include those who cross the threshold.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Solomon Nwabuokei battles Luke Haines in the air.


Picture: Karyn HaddonSt Albans City V Chippenham Town - Solomon Nwabuokei battles Luke Haines in the air. Picture: Karyn Haddon

Either way, after the increase in prices during the off-season and subsequent uproar it was always going to be a point of interest.

Some fans did stay away but the club will no doubt be delighted with the number that did turn up.

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