Dull and dour offering but St Albans City open with draw against Chippenham Town
PUBLISHED: 17:07 03 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:29 03 August 2019
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It was a tale of two halves as St Albans City hosted Chippenham Town in the opening game of the National League South – although neither tale in the 0-0 draw was going to worry the top of the bestsellers’ chart.
A clean sheet will be pleasing after some of the horror shows in defence last season but after half-time Chippenham offered very little as an attacking force.
However, neither did St Albans who, even though they had a lot more of the ball after the break, only really had the one clear-cut chance.
The first half started tentatively with both sides feeling their way back into full, competitive action.
Saints had the first real opportunity and it was a glorious one too.
The ball was fed into the area and after a couple of one-touch passes it fell to Bobson Bawling.
The flag stayed down too but his finish was side-footed high over the bar from only eight or so yards out. In hindsight the game needed it to go in.
And from there Chippenham began to turn the screw.
Karnell Chambers was allowed to run a long way and get a shot in from a tight angle but it flew across the face of the goal and out to safety.
But still they pressed, with balls in from set-pieces a good source of chances.
City failed time and again to deal with them and it was no surprise when David Pratt headed home from close range.
Fortunately for the home side it was ruled out for offside.
Pratt then turned provider after escaping the attentions of Ollie Sprague. He had time to pick out his cross and it was the diving Luke Hopper who he chose.
Again fortune favoured the Saints though as the silver-haired striker sent his diving header just wide when arguably he should have scored.
Neither bench was happy with the officials and both managers waited to speak to him as the teams trooped off.
But talk in the home dressing room would have probably centred on defending the crosses and working out how best to get use of their wingers.
Both Darren Foxley and Bawling were spending a lot of time squeezing inside to give room to the two marauding full-backs.
That, however, was just congesting the middle and not giving Sam Merson and Joe Iaciofano a chance to breathe.
The second half saw no real change to that tactic but did see St Albans enjoy more of the ball.
But while Chippenham didn't have a single chance, they upped the intensity of tackles and the physical play to the point that they began to almost bully the home side.
Saints did try and respond and they did get into some promising positions. However, poor touches or the wrong choice of ball, and in some cases a lack of a shot, all contributed to a poor display.
Bawling again came the closest with 15 minutes to go. The ball had dropped to him just outside the area and had sat up beautifully for a shot.
The volley flew just over though.
A late Darren Foxley free-kick was also off target as the game finished as tamely as it had been throughout.
There will be positives aside from the clean sheet, one of which was the return of David Noble after a hellish end to last season.
There will need to be much more positives at Dartford on Tuesday night if the entertainment value is to be increased.
St Albans City: Snedker, Diedhiou, Sprague, Miles, Kaloczi, Longe-King, Bawling, Nwaboukei, Merson (Adu 81), Iaciofano (Noble 90+3), Foxley.
Subs (not used): Bonfield, Murrell-Williamson, Shulton.
Booked: Nwaboukei 90, Iaciofano 90+2
Chippenham Town: Puddy, Tyler, Richard, Parselle, Foulston, Evans, Haines, Gunner (Klukowski 65), Pratt (Jarvis 79), Hopper, Chambers.
Subs (not used): George, Youssef, Ossai.
Booked: Haines 23, Gunner 24, Hopper 90, Evans 90+5
HT: St Albans City 0 Chippenham Town 0
Referee: Ross Martin (Bristol)