Preview: St Albans City vs Basingstoke Town
PUBLISHED: 11:00 13 February 2015
With today's cinema release of Fifty Shades of Grey, the Saints' own Mr Gray, and Mr Golds, will be channelling EL James' fictitious character in the aim of giving Basingstoke Town a good spanking at Clarence Park.
St Albans City shackled this Saturday’s opponents at the Camrose back in November, winning 1-0 thanks to Charlie Smith’s first-half strike. And they will be hoping to leave the play-off chasing side red-cheeked once again.
It’s been a while since City well and truly whipped a team – Lee Chappell’s hat-trick in a 4-1 victory over Maidenhead on September 13 springs to mind – and they will have to be at their very best if they are to do the same to Basingstoke.
Jason Bristow’s side have beaten teams at the top (Boreham Wood) and bottom (Maidenhead United) of the Conference South table in their last two games, pushing themselves up to fourth. And, with as many as three games in hand over the teams around them, a good run of form could see them challenging for top spot.
That’s the obstacle standing in front of Jimmy Gray and Graham Golds as they vie for their 50th league win since taking over at St Albans – Tuesday night’s goalless draw with Havant and Waterlooville was their 100th league game in charge.
They may have conceded their play-off hopes, but there is still plenty to play for. A bad run could suck City into a relegation fight whereas a win over a top team will help the managers convince new players to join the club next season.
There are also the small matters of pride and dignity. Something St Albans’ Mr Gray and Mr Golds will hope to take away from Basingstoke this Saturday at Clarence Park.
The back five – goalkeeper Joe Welch, Chappell, Howard Hall, Darren Locke and Ian Gayle, who is playing his final game before returning to Dagenham and Redbridge – look set to retain their places after impressing on the south coast in midweek.
There could be changes in midfield with the return of Sam Corcoran from a two-game suspension. The Saints fielded Charlie Gorman, James Kaloczi and Omar Beckles at Havant. While talented, none of them offer the play-making ability and attacking momentum of Corcoran. Depending on how Gray and Golds want to tackle Basingstoke, will depend on the midfield personnel.
In front of the home fans, Gray and Golds may go more attacking, in which case John Frendo, Michael Malcolm and Jamal Lowe look most likely to start.
Predicted XI: Welch, Chappell, Hall, Locke, Gayle, Corcoran, Kaloczi, Beckles, Frendo, Malcolm, Lowe.