The magnificent seven
St Albans City 4 v Fisher Athletic 1 David Willacy at Clarence Park ST ALBANS City made it seven wins in a row with four second half goals, Paul Hakim grabbing a brace for the second game in succession. This impressive sequence equals that of six years ag
St Albans City 4 v Fisher Athletic 1
David Willacy at Clarence Park
ST ALBANS City made it seven wins in a row with four second half goals, Paul Hakim grabbing a brace for the second game in succession. This impressive sequence equals that of six years ago but manager Steve Castle is still not entirely satisfied with the performances. "With six straight wins we still feel tense. They had the two best chances of the first half," was his reaction.
City were without Ryan Frater at centre back and gave a debut to Adam Everitt who has been signed from cash strapped Bromley. Everitt is reputed to be a versatile player who is essentially a full back or wing back and he certainly looked sleight alongside his captain Ben Martin but, for the most part, they played well together. And with Jonathan Hunt limping off before half time Everitt should be a useful addition to Castle's injury-prone squad.
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The Fisher manager Dave Mehmet was forced to make six changes after players left the club in midweek when they had not been paid. Economic reality is returning to the semi-professional game.
City forced a succession of corners in the first five minutes and might have scored if Sam Hurrell's shot had had more power and if Martin's volley had been lower. But the makeshift visitors got organised quickly and denied City real opportunities until the half hour. Then a strong run from Gary Cohen and a through pass to Hakim opened up the Fisher defence but goalkeeper Ashlee Jones saved with his feet. Moments later Hakim's low cross gave James Quilter a fine chance but he shot tamely over. Hurrell outpaced Terry Bowes and cut inside but the winger's shot on target was at a saveable height and Jones pushed it round a post.
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Paul Bastock in the Saints goal had been untroubled but was a helpless bystander when Fisher spurned two glorious chances just before half time. Firstly substitute John Raus fired wide of a completely exposed net and then Justin Bowen, unmarked, put a free header wide of the post.
The stalemate was broken nine minutes after the break with the first of four goals in eleven minutes to entertain the rain-soaked crowd. Cohen got amongst the defenders and his toe-poked shot appeared to deflect from a defender past the wrong-footed Jones for the opener. Three minutes later, the City number nine used his strength to cross from the bye line to Hakim who, initially with his back to goal, swivelled and hit the perfect strike for City's second.
That should have been enough but Fisher had other ideas and Omari Coleman set up Sam Higgins to shoot powerfully past Bastock. Two minutes later Hakim restored the two-goal advantage with a perfect free kick from outside the penalty area with the Fisher 'keeper out of position. And that was that until stoppage time when James Quilter broke through, rounded Jones and, from a narrow angle, shot powerfully into the roof of the net.
Although this makeshift Fisher side had given City stubborn resistance Castle knows that the real test comes this Saturday when Hayes & Yeading are the visitors. News of their 5-1 thrashing of Newport had reached Castle at the final whistle. "If we want to push onwards and upwards we need to compete with these teams (such as Hayes & Yeading). The best time to play them has got to be now," he said.
St Albans City:
Fisher, Martin, Everitt, Cousins,
Hunt (Bailey 35), Thurlbourne, Quilter, Hurrell (Mackie 80)
Subs; Mortimer, Baronet, Palmer.
Bowes, Cunningham, Bowen, Howe
Saunders (Bentley 49), Wharton (Gibbs 67)
Higgins, Coleman, Greene (Raus 35)
Subs; Palmer, Kiffin.
Referee: Chris Knowles