St Albans City still on board the winning train as they claim the derby spoils against Hemel
PUBLISHED: 15:00 26 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:51 26 December 2019
St Albans City recorded back-to-back victories for the first time this season as they beat Hemel Hempstead Town 2-0 in the Boxing Day derby.
A damp and dismal day was lit up by two wonderful goals, the first by Joe Iaciofano and the second by Zane Banton.
It shoots Saints out of the relegation zone and up to the almost heady heights of 19th in the National League South prior to the later kick-offs.
It also continued the much-improved form of late for the Clarence Park side who are starting to look much more balanced and much more of a team.
The rain his before kick-off and sent most of the muted support under the cover of the stands.
They were brought out of their stupor though by Iaciofano's beautiful goal. The top scorer made a perfectly angled-run inside the last defender from the right flank before supplying a calm and composed finish under the body of Sam Beasant.
But for all of that, this goal should belong to Munashe Sundire. The former Hemel man simply powered out of the City half before gliding beyond a number of bright green shirts and putting Iaciofano in with a wonderfully-weighted pass.
Saints may have been fortunate to go in at half-time in front though as they needed Dean Snedker at his very best to prevent Hemel from wrapping this up inside 30 minutes.
He kicked the first one away in the opening two minutes and then had to get down low to push a Niko Muir shot round the post after the ball had fell to the on-loan Hartlepool man.
The third big save was the best of the bunch, this one kicked behind after Isaac Galliford had been played in by the strength of Muir.
Hemel though have been in poor form recently and nerves began to be evident the longer the half went on.
A few loose passes gave City opportunities and Iaciofano went close with a flick from a Jamie Fielding cross that went the wrong side of the post.
Scott Shulton fired over and Solomon Nwabuokei sliced a great chance wide after Taylor Miles had delivered a dangerous cross as City finished the half strongly.
Miles was involved in the first action of the second period although he would gladly have swapped places with anyone.
He was caught by a wild lunge from Freddie Grant that brought an instant red card and very little complaint from the Hemel man.
The man advantage would only be worthwhile if Saints could kill the game off and there were hints that Hemel may spring a surprise with a couple of half chances, the best of which Rob Sinclair put wide.
But any concerns from the home crowd were dispelled with a superb solo goal from Banton.
He picked up the ball deep inside his own half and much as Sundire had done in the first half, he set off at pace.
And no opposition really got near him as he cut inside from the left wing and fired low to the keeper's right from the edge of the area.
He almost made it three late on with another jinking run that ended with Beasant palming his strong shot up and over.
Iaciofano also went close to number three, Nwabuokei's cross inches too high for him to control his header and the ball went over.
Sundire then almost set-up Jefferson Louis for a debut goal only for a defender to nip in and take the ball off the substitute's toes.
A third wasn't needed though as Saints eased to a comfortable victory.
St Albans City: Snedker, Fielding (Clark 84), Bender, Musonda, Longe-King, Shulton, Miles (Kaloczi 63), Nwabuokei, Sundire, Banton, Iaciofano (Louis 78).
Subs (not used): Oyinsan, Diedhiou.
Goals: Iaciofano 42, Banton 62
Booked: Sundire 67
Hemel Hempstead Town: Beasant, Popo, Braham-Barrett, Sinclair, Essam, Grant, Galliford, Howells (Whittingham 63), Sterling, Muir (Midson 77), German (Wall 61).
Subs (not used): Kpohomouh, Boness.
Sent-off: Grant 48
HT: St Albans City 1 Hemel Hempstead Town 0
Referee: Jason Richardson (Ruislip)