St Albans City battle to deserved point against Chelmsford City
PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:00 30 November 2019
It says so much about what has gone on before that a point at home to Chelmsford City in a 1-1 draw may yet be seen as a defining moment in the course of St Albans City's season.
Munashe Sundire got the equalising goal on 69 minutes, his first since joining the club, to cancel out Shaun Jeffers' first-half strike.
But it was the manner of the performance after the break that will generate some much-needed confidence around Clarence Park.
They were far brighter than perhaps at any other time this year and while it still doesn't lift them off the foot of the table, there is hope for once.
The reasons for the improvement could be one of many as the squad has seen plenty of changes on and off the pitch in recent weeks.
New assistant manager Chris Winton took his place in the home dugout for the first time and initial impressions have him as a quiet man, certainly not one to scream and shout, but he was getting his message across.
On the field the revolving door for players meant a newish look for the home side.
It may have been the reason for the sluggish start from Saints. They were their own worst enemies at times, giving the ball away far too often when they did have it and allowing the Clarets to get to it first and win it when they didn't.
Dean Snedker was beaten early from a quick move that began with one of those loose bits of possession and poor control.
Fortunately for the diving keeper the post met Chris Whelpdale's first-time effort and the ball bounced out.
The St Albans number one was required to make a save shortly after from the lively Tom Knowles, sticking out a leg as the striker looked to knock it across him and into the far corner.
But City slowly began to wrestle some control back and started to create their own chances.
Sam Merson had the two best ones. The first saw him left totally unmarked in the middle after a cross from the right but he got underneath it and the header went over.
He kept the next one down, a glancing effort from a superb delivery by the equally impressive Jamie Fielding.
The ball went wide though and the instant hands on the head from the home man seemed to indicate it was a better chance than it seemed.
It was a shame therefore that the goal came just as it looked Saints would finish the half on top. But it was a goal that seemed very avoidable.
A ball slipped down the channel on the visitors' left-hand side got Whelpdale away and his low pull-back was turned in first-time by Jeffers.
As seems to be the case quite often with their games, especially this season, it meant a big second-half was needed.
It doesn't often come to pass but once it eventually kicked off, Solomon Nwabuokei late to arrive back from the dressing room, that's actually what happened.
City bossed proceedings for the vast majority of the next 45 minutes. Merson had yet another chance, firing over the angle of post and bar from the edge of the area after the ball was laid back to him from the industrious Sundire, and then Tom Bender nodded a corner wide of the post.
Zane Banton also hit a speculative effort that went agonisingly wide as City pressed.
That would have surely made the goal of the season shortlist, something the equaliser when it finally arrived will certainly not.
Yet in the narrative of the season it may be worth its weight in gold.
Joe Iaciofano had his point-blank header saved on the line but when the ball came out both he and Sundire went for the rebound and the latter sent it squirming over the dive of Alex Howes.
From there on City continued to press but without creating much.
And as it got closer to the final whistle, the more City retreated into their shell and seemingly happy with their point.
You cannot blame them for that and they will be content with their afternoon's work, especially if it leads to happier days.
St Albans City: Snedker, Fielding (Kaloczi 74), Longe-King, Musonda, Bender, Banton, Noble, Nwabuokei, Sundire, Iaciofano (Sprague 90+1), Merson (Oyinsan 83).
Subs (not used): Shulton, Diedhiou.
Goal: Sundire 69
Booked: Nwabuokei 71
Chelmsford City: Howes, Omozusi, Shaw, Church, Cascaval, Jeffers (Lita 82), Higgins (Simpson 74), Whelpdale, Issac, Knowles (Giles 74), Winfield.
Subs (not used): Worman, Drew.
Goal: Jeffers 40
Booked: Knowles 44, Shaw 57, Church 90+5
HT St Albans City 0 Chelmsford City 1
Referee: Mark Howes (Solihull)