Seventh heaven for St Albans City as East Thurrock United are thumped at Clarence Park

PUBLISHED: 21:41 27 January 2018 | UPDATED: 22:07 27 January 2018

Sam Merson enjoys his man of the match performance by celebrating the opening goal. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Sam Merson enjoys his man of the match performance by celebrating the opening goal. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

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St Albans City did what they have threatened to do many times this season – by thumping seven goals past East Thurrock United in a 7-2 win.

Zane Banton gets a shot away under pressure from Michael Clark and Reece Harris. Picture: LEIGH PAGEZane Banton gets a shot away under pressure from Michael Clark and Reece Harris. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

It was an outstanding performance by Ian Allinson’s side and a statement of intent to the rest of the Vanarama National League South.

However, the star of the show was Sam Merson who bagged himself a four-goal haul, taking him up to 17 for the season.

Sam Merson slots the ball into the back of the net. Picture: LEIGH PAGESam Merson slots the ball into the back of the net. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Percy Kiangebeni, Charlie Walker and Zane Banton got the others as City climbed into the play-off places.

East Thurrock had an early sight of goal just three minutes into the game when Lewis Smith latched onto a long ball and struck a half-volley from a tight angle that sailed across goal.

Sam Merson slots the ball past Lukas Lidakevicius. Picture: LEIGH PAGESam Merson slots the ball past Lukas Lidakevicius. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

But the opening goal came with a quarter of an hour gone at Clarence Park.

Banton cut in from the left and found Merson who, from the edge of the area, struck an effort that took a heavy deflection off of a defender and nestled into the top corner.

Kieran Monlouis in action against East Thurrock United. Picture: LEIGH PAGEKieran Monlouis in action against East Thurrock United. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

That goal appeared to galvanise the visiting side, who equalised just eight minutes later through Smith.

A Sam Higgins free-kick was wall saved by Snedker, however, the ball fell straight to the waiting Smith and the forward calmly converted.

Rhys Murrell-Williamson lets fly. Picture: LEIGH PAGERhys Murrell-Williamson lets fly. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

East Thurrock continued to push forward and found themselves in the lead with 29 minutes gone. Montel Agyemang’s corner from the left caused havoc in the City box and caught out Snedker, who attempted to punch the ball away but ended up sending the ball into his own net.

However, despite a nightmare six minute spell, the Saints received a boost almost immediately from the kick-off.

Solomon Sambou battles to keep hold of the ball. Picture: LEIGH PAGESolomon Sambou battles to keep hold of the ball. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Marvin Ekpetita, who had been booked 10 minutes earlier for a foul on Kieran Monlouis, brought down Banton on the near side touchline.

Referee James Durkin produced a second yellow card and gave the East Thurrock man his marching orders.

Sam Merson in action against East Thurrock United. Picture: LEIGH PAGESam Merson in action against East Thurrock United. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Merson, who returned to the starting line-up after missing out against Eastbourne Borough through illness, levelled things up with 42 minutes gone when he picked up a loose-ball and took a touch before sending a well-struck effort under Lidakevicius and into the far corner.

He should have grabbed his hat-trick when he sent an audacious lob over the goalkeeper but his effort struck one post, bounced across the line and rebounded off the opposite piece of woodwork before the East Thurrock stopper scrambled back and gathered the ball.

Zane Banton fires the ball towards goal only to see Lukas Lidakevicius pull off a fine save. Picture: LEIGH PAGEZane Banton fires the ball towards goal only to see Lukas Lidakevicius pull off a fine save. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Just as the game appeared to be going into the interval all-square, Kiangebeni stepped up with an outstanding strike.

The midfielder received the ball just outside the opposition area and turned delightfully before curling the ball into the far corner and past the out-stretched Lidakevicius.

Sam Merson strikes the first goal of the game. Picture: LEIGH PAGESam Merson strikes the first goal of the game. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

The hosts extended their lead two minutes after the break.

Solomon Sambou broke into the box and was brought down by the goalkeeper. Merson, on a hat-trick, took a long run up and confidently placed the penalty into the bottom-right hand corner of the goal.

Zane Banton lays the ball off to set up Sam Merson for the opening goal. Picture: LEIGH PAGEZane Banton lays the ball off to set up Sam Merson for the opening goal. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

East Thurrock almost reduced the arrears when Sam Higgins latched onto a poor Ben Herd back pass and looked to beat Snedker but the City stopper managed to get a hand on the ball, which slowed it down significant enough for Kiangebeni to get into position and clear it off of the line.

Despite that scare, the Saints continued to look confident going forwards and Merson added his fourth when he brilliantly beat an East Thurrock defender and powered into the area before calmly picking his spot and sending a strike past a stranded Lidakevicius.

Shaun Lucien sends in a screamer. Picture: LEIGH PAGEShaun Lucien sends in a screamer. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Tom Gardiner replaced Kiangebeni while Shaun Lucien came on in place of Monlouis and four goal man Merson was replaced by Walker.

Walker was only on the pitch for a matter of minutes before he added City’s sixth.

Lucien struck a dipping effort that the goalkeeper could only parry into the path of Walker, who had the simplest of finishes from five yards out to extend his side’s lead.

The scoring was finally completed with three minutes left on the clock when David Noble played in Banton, who, with all the space in the world, struck a rasping drive past a diving Lidakevicius and into the far corner.

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