St Albans City out of relegation places with vital victory over Braintree Town
PUBLISHED: 17:03 14 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:03 14 March 2020
If this is the last game for some time – or even for the rest of the season – then it was one to be happy with for St Albans City as they won 1-0 at Braintree Town.
Joe Iaciofano claimed it, despite some saying it was an own goal, and City could even survive their top scorer having a late first-half penalty saved.
The crucial thing though was the three points, ones which lifted Saints out of the bottom two in National League South and dropped their hosts into them.
The performance was good too, although the number of shots on target could have and perhaps should have been higher.
That's possibly picking at straws and City fans will at least have good memories to take into whatever happens next.
And that discussion is a big old can of worms.
With uncertainty looming large over sport in general at the moment, it was a surprise to see the league give this and other games the go-ahead.
And that uncertainty means what happens with the season as a whole is also up in the air.
It could be that the positions after this game go into the history books as the final standings, heaping the pressure on Saints to win and climb out of the relegation places.
Manager Ian Allinson will have been delighted then with not only the start to the game but the first half in general.
He would have also been pleased that the early pressure ended with a goal, not something that always happens.
Iaciofano got it, hitting it at the keeper and in at the back post on 16 minutes, but the move that went before it was just as worthy of note.
The loan rangers of Lewis Gordon, Frankie Musonda and Harry Forster were all involved with the latter firing it low across the box in tantalising fashion.
Musonda could have added a second from a corner but headed wide and yet it was still Saints on top, so much so that Braintree made a double substitution to combat tactical deficiencies.
It brought two very good chances for the Irons but Darelle Russell and Stevie Sheehan were both unable to get their headers on target.
And yet by half-time Saints should have been further in front.
Billy Johnson denied Forster with a superb reflex one-handed stop and then kicked away an Iaciofano sot at his near post all in the final five minutes.
His best stop came in the middle of the other two and saw him palm an Iaciofano penalty away.
It had been given after a goalmouth scramble and an Arthur Iontton tackle that the referee said got the man rather than the ball.
It is the kind of moment on which games and even seasons turn but the Saints were on top again in the opening stages of the second half.
The one worry is there was no second goal, for all the possession, passing football and good territory.
The chances were still limited partly to do with a commanding performance by Sheehan at the heart of the Braintree defence.
He certainly was able to repel any ball sent forward towards Iaciofano.
There was one worrying moment when Tom Bender, making his 200th appearance for the Saints, was laid out after a tackle from Jordan Chiedozie.
Fortunately he was back on his feet and able to continue after a few minutes.
The brief stoppage seemed to help focus the home side again and they began to come forward for the first really sustained period of the game
Dean Snedker had to deal with a Liam Smyth shot hit straight at him before he watched David Longe-King turn a cross behind, although it went way to close his post for comfort.
At the other end Forster scooped a shot over the top as the game opened up.
Sam Merson came on for Saints but a quick break from Smyth should have ended with something better than a wild effort that flew over the top.
Munashe Sundire had a punt at an open goal after the keeper went walkabout and there was a booking to for the City bench again.
But largely they closed the game out nicely and with little problem.
Now we wait to see what is next.
St Albans City: Snedker, Bender, Longe-King, Sundire, Forster (Kaloczi 90+2), Iaciofano (Merson 85), L.Gordon, Noble, Banton, Nwaboukei, Musonda.
Subs (not used): Clark, Louis, Diedhiou.
Goal: Iaciofano 16
Booked: Nwabuokei 45+3, Gordon 72, Allinson 90+4
Braintree Town: Johnson, Kirkpatrick, Cooney (O'Keefe 29), Smith, Sheehan, Iontton, Guerfi, Gardner-Smith (Ocran 60), Russell, Chiedozie, Cerulli (Smyth 29).
Subs (not used): Matsuzaka, Pappel.
Booked: Iontton 43, Chiedozie 70
HT: Braintree Town 0 St Albans City 1
Referee: Sunny Gill (Bracknell)
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