Staines come out on top in seven goal thriller
Staines Town 4 (Scott Taylor 21, 36, Mazin Ahmed 43, Leroy Griffiths 66) St Albans City 3 (Ian Dunn 28, Mark Peters 32, Gary Cohen 81) James Ronayne at Clarence Park ST ALBANS City boss Steve Castle will be left scratching his head after seeing his side
Staines Town 4 (Scott Taylor 21, 36, Mazin Ahmed 43, Leroy Griffiths 66)
St Albans City 3 (Ian Dunn 28, Mark Peters 32, Gary Cohen 81)
James Ronayne at Clarence Park
ST ALBANS City boss Steve Castle will be left scratching his head after seeing his side score three goals away from home and yet still coming away from Staines Town with nothing.
A frenetic 25 minute spell in the first half saw five goals scored and the lead change hands three times.
Scott Taylor's opening goal gave the home side the early impetus but City reacted well with two goals in five minutes to wrestle the lead away from Staines. The first was a smart finish from Ian Dunn from close range and the second a towering far post header from Mark Peters.
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Unfortunately for the Saints they were unable to hold their advantage until the break and actually went into the interval behind thanks to Taylor's second goal of the game and Mazin Ahmed's well taken free kick.
Leroy Griffiths further extended Staines advantage in the second half before Gary Cohen's emphatic header set up a nervy end to the contest.
City, coming into the game on the back of a four game unbeaten run, started confidently against Staines who've barged their way into the play-offs with a superb eight game unbeaten run.
The first 20 minutes was not an insight into the remainder of the game with chances at a premium early on.
The home side took the initial advantage when Taylor pounced to fire home Griffiths' left wing cross. Griffiths, who was dismissed when the two sides met at Clarence Park earlier in the season, wriggled free tight to the corner flag and flung over a ball that evaded Paul Bastock allowing Taylor to turn home.
City reacted well to this set back and were behind for just seven minutes. In fact City could have been level before that when from a Jake Beecroft free kick James Quilter lost his marker but headed well wide.
Beecroft's delivery was excellent all afternoon and it was his pin-point centre that bought about the equaliser. Peter Smith picked up the ball in the left-back position before firing a delightful cross-field pass to Beecroft out on the right.
The on-loan Rushden man had acres of space and used it to his advantage to clip his cross to the far post where Dunn was on hand to head past Louie Wells in the Staines goal.
Four minutes later City were ahead with another headed goal.
Smith's right wing corner reached Peters at the far post who towered above Wells and headed forcefully into the unguarded net.
City needed to reach the break ahead but crucially the hosts forced a complete turnaround.
Andre Scarlett won the ball from Peters just outside the City box before driving into the box and firing a shot off the post that fell kindly for Taylor to bundle home his second goal of the contest.
Staines' third goal was hugely controversial. Poku and Taylor tangled on the edge of the box with referee Stuart Butler looking at the assistant who waved away the appeal. Despite his assistant's advice the referee awarded a free kick and showed Poku a yellow card, which could have been red as the midfielder was the last defender. Staines' tricky winger Mazin Ahmed stepped up and curled a wicked free kick past the motionless Bastock.
As the players trudged off at the interval a clearly unhappy Castle had words with the referee.
City started the second half brightly and despite Poku playing a hospital ball, Smith picked up the ball, evaded a challenge but fired over the bar.
The killer blow came in the 66th minute when Griffths got the all important fourth goal for Staines. Ahmed appeared to have taken the ball out of play by some distance but the assistant referee missed it despite being a matter of yards from the incident. Fatally Smith and Poku stopped waiting for the assistant to flag allowing Ahmed to make his way to the byline and pick out Griffiths and although the left winger didn't make a sweet contact with the ball he still found the net from 10 yards out.
City threw everything at Staines still sensing they could get something from the game and they reduced the deficit with another good goal from a set piece. Beecroft's left wing corner picked out Cohen at the far post who headed emphatically home to set up a tense final few minutes.
City pushed hard for an equaliser and a spell of pinball on the edge of the Staines box looked like presenting an opportunity but it wasn't to be and the Saints will have to pick themselves up for tonight's long trip to Havant & Waterlooville.
Staines Town: Wells; Jackson, Kamara, Gordon (c), Mambo, Scarlett, Ahmed (Thomas 78), Risbridger, Charles-Smith, Taylor (Sterling 89), Griffiths.
Subs not used: Ifura, Newton, Courtnage.
St Albans City: Bastock, Fisher, Smith, Poku (Magwood 78), Peters, Quilter, Beecroft, Shields, Dunn (Cohen 63), Hakim, Roberts (Lindie 74).
Subs not used: Frater, Dedman.
Referee: Stuart Butler (Coxheath, Kent)
Man of the Match: Paul Bastock.