Much better from Saints at Dartford but it ends in another stalemate

PUBLISHED: 21:46 06 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:14 07 August 2019

St Albans City draw 1-1 away to Dartford in the National League South.

St Albans City draw 1-1 away to Dartford in the National League South.

Archant

St Albans City are still searching for their first win this season but the 1-1 draw at Dartford came with plenty of positives.

It saw the first goal of the campaign, scored by Joe Iaciofano, and although it also saw the first conceded, the defensive side was once again impressive.

So to was the late resilience, especially after conceding just past the hour.

And there were chances, City finishing with a flourish and showing, as Ian Allinson has been saying, that their fitness levels are as good, if not better than everyone else.

They will take the draw even if the win was on offer and will head to Dulwich Hamlet on Saturday with much more confidence.

Ian Allinson made one change to the side that drew against Chippenham, bringing in David Noble for Sam Merson.

He dropped to the bench where he was joined by Joe Howe, available after a family holiday.

Missing was Scott Shulton who was in a protective boot after a tendon problem under his heel flared up on Sunday morning.

Rest and taking the weight of his foot is the prescribed treatment.

After Saturday's dull draw Saints fans travelled with hope that their season would finally be ignited in a blaze of glory.

The first half that followed, however, was not what they would have wanted to see.

Aside from the goal City didn't test Mark Smith once. The only other shot was a curling Bobson Bawling effort that went high and wide. The right idea no doubt but lacking the right execution.

Defensively though they were sound, a pleasing sight for those that remember last year's problems.

David Longe-King and James Kaloczi are forming a very dependable and safe centre-back pairing while Dave Diedhiou and Oli Sprague provide more than adequate support from the full-back areas.

And they needed to be on top of the game with former City man Luke Allen pulling the strings for the home side.

It was causing plenty of shouts from the away bench as they pleaded with someone, anyone, to pick him up.

Almost begrudgingly at times Taylor Miles was the man who did that job.

Saints were also giving it away too much. As admirable as the idea to build up slowly from the back and play through the middle is, sometimes there needs to be an old fashioned lump into the corners for the wingers and striker to chase.

However, for as much Dartford were enjoying plenty of the ball, Dean Snedker only had two saves to make, both given a good hard shove away from the danger area with both hands.

Iaciofano had taken his goal very well. The striker showed his quality with a lovely spin and turn off the shoulder of the last defender and was found by a equally delightfully lobbed pass by Noble.

From there one touch and a low drive from the right of the area across Smith and the ball nestled in the bottom corner.

The visitors did have a couple of shots in the opening 10 minutes of the second half but it was Dartford that were noticeably in charge.

They had City pinned back for long periods and it needed some good defending again to keep them out.

However, they were finally undone in the most innocuous of shots from Adam Cunnington.

It seemed to travel in slow motion, through the legs of Kaloczi, but it still needed Sendker to get a hand to it at full stretch.

This time unfortunately he couldn't push it far enough, perhaps because he saw it late, and Luke Wanadio slammed the rebound home.

That lit the blue-touch paper and suddenly we had an end-to-end contest.

City's response to be fair was excellent with Iaciofano getting on the ball much more.

It wasn't in an area to get a shot in but both he and Darren Foxley put in dangerous crosses that needed cleared.

The chances continued to come at the end defending by St Albans though.

Lost possession gave Ben Greenhalgh a sight of goal and his rasping drive went inches above the stanchion.

Wanadio, who was proving a livewire in the second half, then got clear of Bobson Bawling and clipped a shot wide of the keeper and fortunately for Saints, wide of the post.

But with the pace of the game continuing until the final whistle, it was St Albans who had the chances.

Sam Merson had the best of them after Solomon Nwaboukei had burst into space. The substitutes thumping drive from the edge of the area crashed off the underside of the bat and bounced to safety.

Numerous long throws peppered the area but even though balls dropped loose, nobody could turn them in.

St Albans City: Snedker, Diedhiou, Sprague, Miles, Kaloczi, Longe-King, Bawling, Nwaboukei, Noble (Howe 73), Iaciofano (Merson 83), Foxley (Murrell-Williamson 83).

Subs (not used): Bonfield, Adu.

Goal: Iaciofano 12

Booked: Foxley 14, Miles 35

Dartford: Smith, Wynter, Warner-Eley, Bonner, Allen, Wanadio, Greenhalgh, Hill, Cunnington (Pugh 83), Nasha, Wabo.

Subs (not used): Oduadu, Vint, Hayes, Brodie.

Goal: Wanadio 62

Booked: Wabo 55, Bonner 72

HT: Dartford 0 St Albans City 1

Attendance: 919

Referee: Lee Brennan (Queens Park, London)

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