St Albans City grab vital win over Maidstone United to aid relegation fight
- Credit: Archant
It was an unlikely and not exactly sparkling victory but the roar at the end of the game from the St Albans City fans after their 1-0 win over Maidstone United told you all you needed to know.
It's difficult to say they deserved it as they failed to register a single shot on target until the 86th minute but then again Maidstone too only tested Dean Snedker the once.
But an unfortunate own goal from Ross Marshall was enough to settle a game badly lacking in entertainment.
Nobody from the Clarence Park club cares one iota of course as in their current predicament at the bottom of the National League South table one point is vital so three is just manna from heaven.
And after the shambles of last week's 3-3 draw with Eastbourne Borough a clean sheet will be just as warmly received by the management.
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The match though will only be remembered for the result at the end of the season rather than for what happened during the 90 plus minutes.
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There was a mile square just south of the Humber that has one pylon right in the left-hand corner and nothing else. No rises in altitude, no drainage ditches, nothing.
The first half of this contest was the football equivalent.
There were three shots in total, all three going harmlessly over the bar and that was it.
Remarkably Saints had two of them, but Tom Bender's free-kick sailed over, as did a similar effort from Maidstone's Dan Wishart, while Joe Iaciofano hit a speculative overhead kick that also went well above the crossbar.
Maidstone did look the more likely to do something but apart from one cross from Iffy Allen that sailed over the head of Dean Snedker and needed Bender to flick it away, they never really looked like crafting an opportunity.
Last week's game, and subsequent blasting of the City defence from manager Ian Allinson, meant all eyes were on the pairing of David Longe-King and the recalled James Kaloczi in the centre fo the home defence.
And they did alright with a couple of blocks and timely tackles, although there were a couple of worrying moments when Maidstone got in behind them and one instance where the ball was allowed to drop and bounce by Longe-King before he finally cleared.
The only other points to note were the booking of Wishart for cynically stopping a Saints counter attack and an injury to Jamie Fielding that brought an earlier than planned debut for Rohdell Gordon.
Thankfully the second half was better and although chances were still limited, the tempo was much higher.
Saints were noticeably the team that was looking to push the momentum but the first shot on target came after a lovely bit of patient build-up from the Stones that required Snedker to make himself big.
But six minutes later St Albans were in front, even if the shots on target total for the home side remained at zero.
Gordon played the ball in from deep on the right-hand side which Marshall stuck a foot out to block, only to look on in horror as it rolled inside Chris Lewington's near post.
The visitors thought they should have had a penalty moments later as they suddenly got two players in behind the defence only for James Kaloczi to stick a foot in and the ball roll through to Snedker.
The referee was like the rest of us looking from behind but the linesman should have had a good view. The away fans on the York Road were livid a penalty wasn't awarded.
Saints did look lively but they still couldn't get Lewington to make a save. One good counter-attack ended with David Noble having a shot but this one was blocked and diverted behind for a corner before getting to the keeper.
The injury problems for the hosts were added to by Munashe Sundire, who had gone to right-back after Fielding's exit, also limping off.
Gordon had an interesting debut and was announced as the man of the match. He won a fair number of tackles in good positions and showed some good skill, although his balance was an issue, twice going to ground as he stumbled and fell over.
Solomon Nwabuokei should have put the game to bed but after a couple of efforts that were blocked by Lewis Knight, the substitute couldn't scoop the ball over the prone keeper.
Any sort of late charge by Maidstone didn't come though and St Albans were able to close the game out in relative comfort.
St Albans City: Snedker, Fielding (Gordon 15), Bender, Longe-King, Kaloczi, Noble, Shulton, Banton, Sundire (Diedhiou 67), Louis, Iaciofano (Nwabuokei 82).
Subs (not used): Merson, Vasiliou.
Goal: Marshall (og) 61
Maidstone United: Lewington, Hoyte, Knight, Elokobi, Temelci, Marshall (Olutade76), Akanbi, Amaluzor, Wishart, Allen (Boucard 65), Khan.
Subs (not used): Ribbons, Kamdjo, Freeman.
Booked: Wishart 34, Khan 63
HT: St Albans City 0 Maidstone United 0
Referee: Michael Ryan (Brighton)