Staines vanish under City pressure

Battersby and O’Donnell end 10 game winless run

Blue Square Bet South

St Albans City 2 Staines Town 0

MAYBE, just maybe, St Albans City fans can dare to think about the great escape.

The reason for this new found hope was a comprehensive victory over a Staines Town side who looked disinterested and easily outfought by a City side that sense they are in the last chance saloon.

A wonderful goal from Tony Battersby, making it two in two for the new striker, plus an acrobatic effort from on loan Luton midfielder Jonathan O’Donnell settled the game in City’s favour and ended a 10-game winless streak.

Worryingly for the visitors it was the second time they’d visited Clarence Park this season and lost to a City side that simply wanted it more.

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James Fisher forced Louis Wells to push out a 25-yard free kick early on and Ben Martin couldn’t quite divert another Fisher free kick inside Wells’ right-hand upright.

Staines did have a couple of efforts on goal, mainly through experienced striker Scott Taylor, but the closest they came was when Paul Bastock tipped Taylor’s cross-cum-shot wide of the far post.

The opening goal, 21 minutes in, owed much to the quick thinking of Adam Everitt and Ollie Kelly. City were awarded a free kick midway inside their own half and Kelly spotted an opportunity for a quick break. Everitt, who was excellent all afternoon, released the midfielder who drove deep into the opposition half.

The former Reading man fed Battersby on the wing who cut inside his man with ease before bending a perfectly placed shot into the top corner of the net.

The piece of skill produced by the experienced striker was excellent and only surpassed in terms of quality by the finish. Battersby looks a shrewd acquisition by City not only for his goalscoring exploits but for his ball retention which has relieved much of the pressure on the defence.

The striker attempted to double his tally when controlling Fisher’s long ball on his chest but the shot went straight at Wells.

Matt Hocking’s afternoon was ended on the stroke of half time after a robust but fair challenge from Taylor with Sean Shields coming on and Fisher dropping to right back.

Despite this positional change City didn’t display any signs of disruption starting the second half strongly.

Kelly shot straight at Wells when given plenty of space outside the box before Steve Castle’s side doubled their advantage courtesy of returning favourite O’Donnell.

Shields’ initial cross was only cleared as far as Dom Petrucci 10 yards from goal. The City forward knocked the ball back to O’Donnell whose overhead kick snuck inside the post.

In truth the second goal killed the game although Bastock had to be at his best to deny Taylor after a fine run from Warren Harris. The Staines’ winger managed to work his way to the byline before cutting the ball back for Taylor six yards out. The striker made a clean connection with the ball but Bastock produced a point blank save with Pete Smith heading off the line and Everitt heading the loose ball into Bastock’s grateful arms.

O’Donnell then looked to return the favour by crossing for Petrucci but the substitute’s header skimmed the far post while Staines’ hopes of a consolation goal evaporated when skipper Danny Gordon headed over deep into stoppage time.

The victory leaves City 12 points from safety but with a renewed confidence. With 11 games left there is still a lot for City to do but if they can repeat this performance regularly, they just might be able to pull it off.

City: Bastock; Hocking (Sean Shields 45), Martin �, Everitt, Smith; Fisher, Kelly, Magwood, O’Donnell; Battersby, Effiong (Petrucci 34). Subs not used: Abdulai, Chaves, Dedman.

Staines: Wells; Jackson, Gordon, Orlu, Sterling, Steer (Duffy 54); Harris, Brown, Scarlett; Taylor, Butler (Quiassaca 80). Subs not used: Newton, Thomas, Lee.

Referee: Stuart Butler (Coxheath)

Att: 274.