Stunning strikes against Billericay Town keeps St Albans City moving on up the National South table

Tom Bender celebrates a christmas cracker of an opening goal. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Tom Bender celebrates a christmas cracker of an opening goal. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

Two goals worthy of the moniker Christmas crackers gave St Albans City a 2-1 win over Billericay Town and kept their charge up the Vanarama National League South table going.

Solomon Sambou battles for control of the ball. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Solomon Sambou battles for control of the ball. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

This was their third straight success in the league and a mild afternoon at Clarence Park was lit up by the strikes from Tom Bender and Sam Merson.

Billericay’s wasn’t too shabby either but Merson’s rocket in the fourth minute of added time at the end of the contest was enough to wrestle the three points away from the faltering Essex visitors.

Tom Bender celebrates the opening goal of the game for St Albans City. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Tom Bender celebrates the opening goal of the game for St Albans City. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

But while the goals will be the moments remembered for many a year, for Saints’ manager Ian Allinson praise also needs to go to City’s defence.

“Their front six is to die for in terms of quality and ability,” admitted the former Arsenal and Luton Town striker.

Khale Da Costa looks for a route through a crowded Billericay defence. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Khale Da Costa looks for a route through a crowded Billericay defence. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant


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“We knew it was going to be tough and we’d have to dig really deep with everybody being organised and doing their job.

And when they scored their goal it was the first time we didn’t get our shape right and they picked us off really easily.

Zane Banton in action against Billericay Town. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Zane Banton in action against Billericay Town. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

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“But for the rest of it I was really pleased.

“I thought we defended really well. We had to defend on the 18-yard line, we had to defend in numbers and get bodies behind the ball.

David Moyo tries to find a way through the Billericay defence. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

David Moyo tries to find a way through the Billericay defence. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

“They are a force on set-pieces but we created a few chances ourselves.

“We picked up some niggles and one or two were feeling really tired towards the end but to get a winner like that in the last minute was lovely.

Zane Banton battles for control in the middle of the park. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Zane Banton battles for control in the middle of the park. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

“I’m pleased for Sam as it has been a frustrating season for him so far and he finished it like we know he can.”

Those injuries will be the downside for Saints and will be enough to give Allinson a few worrying moments as they look to continue the upturn in fortunes against Hemel Hempstead Town on New Year’s Day.

Zane Banton drives through the midfield. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

Zane Banton drives through the midfield. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

Ben Herd was withdrawn from the starting line-up against Billericay and David Noble, who himself had to sit out after being injured in the warm-up on Boxing Day, left this game with a foot injury.

Allinson believes both will be unlikely to make the contest at Vauxhall Road and with Clovis Kamdjo serving the second of his three game ban, the City squad is being pushed to the limit.

But Allinson believes the players selected have a massive job to do with Hertfordshire pride at stake.

He said: “From the fans’ point of view it’s vitally important and that’s what I try to get across to the players.

“It’s not a game for us.

“There is pride in what we do.

“With these nine points we’ve put ourselves into a position just outside the play-offs and we have to be consistent in the last 20 games.

“We have been inconsistent in the second half of the season in the last two years but we have a slightly different squad and hopefully they can keep pushing us on.”

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