Drab draw on a dull day as St Albans City and Oxford City fail to excite

St Albans City and Oxford City make their way onto the pitch ahead of the National League South game

St Albans City and Oxford City make their way onto the pitch ahead of the National League South game at Clarence Park. - Credit: Archant

Ian Allinson had wanted St Albans City to keep picking up the points after the victory at Bath City last week – so he will be more than pleased with the 0-0 draw against Oxford City.

It wasn't a fantastic spectacle, more a match that would be usually classified as a dour mid-table struggle were it not for Saints' precarious position at the wrong end of National League South.

There were other plus points, aside from another game without defeat.

Defensively they were much better, Dave Diedhiou's position in front of the back four is certainly paying dividends.

Up front there was less to be joyful about although when City did pass it around they looked capable of causing Oxford problems.

Ultimately though the point will be the only thing that many will remember.

The talk among most fans was about the weather prior to the contest but it's only real effect throughout the afternoon seemed to be in Saints' decision to switch round and attack the Hatfield Road End first.

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And as is so often the case, playing into the elements forced City to play to their strengths and keep the ball on the deck.

They almost opened up the visitors' defence on four minutes but David Noble's little dinked pass forward was poorly controlled by Joe Iaciofano and the chance was gone.

City were having plenty of joy early on in the wide areas and it was down the left flank that they almost took the lead.

Zane Banton slipped a lovely little pass inside the back four to the marauding Lewis Gordon and his pull-back seemed to be on a plate for the top scorer.

However, a slip just as he hit it saw the ball cannon back off the crossbar and out.

He scooped a cross from the right over the top shortly after too but slowly Oxford came back into it and enjoyed much more of the ball for a good period through the middle of the half.

But they too found hitting the target a problem. They may have done had it not been for some good blocks from the likes of David Longe-King, Tom Bender and Dave Diedhiou but their best chance was pulled wide from the edge of the area.

Iaciofano got himself booked for a foul of former City defender Tarik Moore-Azille but the hosts should have taken the lead on the stroke of half-time when a Noble corner by the unmarked Longe-King sailed over the top.

The rain stopped during the break and the even the wind seemed to have calmed itself somewhat but the hope was that City's tactics in the second period would be to avoid the tendency to go for the long ball and still play it through the midfield.

To their credit they still did so but chances were still limited. A teasing cross from Banton proved comfortable for Craig King in th Oxford goal and a penetrating run from Noble brought shouts for a penalty from the Main Stand but telling like not from the pitch as the midfielder seemed to lose his footing.

Oxford were also wasteful, Reece Fleet slicing it wide from a good position on the edge of the area.

The game was crying out for someone to ignite the blue touch paper and on 63 minutes Ian Allinson sent on Harry Forster.

He had looked full of tricks and pace in Tuesday's Herts Senior Cup win over Royston and his introduction immediately saw a good passing move from Saints although, as has been the case far too often this season, they all seemed reluctant to pull the trigger, Solomon Nwabuokei eventually having the chance but with a gaggle of players in front of him.

A corner brought a moment of controversy. The referee had awarded a foul on King but as the keeper was on the floor his feet came into contact with Bender's chest.

It brought a booking but nothing else.

It was part of a fractious ending to the game that always threatened to explode but never did.

And while the corresponding fixture last season brought a late winner for the home side, the big drama here was a second yellow and red for Oxford skipper Joe Oastler after an off-the-ball incident.

St Albans City: Snedker, Fielding, Longe-King, Bender, L.Gordon, Diedhiou, Nwabuokei (Merson 87), Noble, R.Gordon (Forster 63), Banton, Iaciofano.

Subs (not used): Tokarcyzk, Clark, Louis.

Booked: Iaciofano 36, Longe-King 90

Oxford City: King, Jones, Jefford, Ashby, Moore-Azille, Oastler, Wiltshire (Owusu 74), Fleet, Benyon (J.Gordon 74), McEachran (George 90+4), Berkoe.

Subs (not used): Foster, Barrett.

Booked: Oastler 35, 90, King 73, Jones 88

Sent-off: Oastler 90

HT: St Albans City 0 Oxford City 0

Attendance: 566

Referee: Callum Walchester (Lowestoft)