Tony Adams’ Gabala run out winners despite Walker brace

Young striker scores twice in Gabala defeat


St Albans City 2 FC Gabala 3

SUPPORTERS were treated to an action-packed affair as St Albans City and FC Gabala shared five goals at a sun-soaked Clarence Park on Sunday afternoon.

It was Tony Adams’ Azerbaijani visitors that ran out winners on the scoreboard but there was plenty to please City boss David Howell as his squad begins to take shape.

Young forward Jerome Walker showed his promise with two goals, the second albeit with a large deflection from Gabala’s Daniel Cruz, and centre half Matt Cutchey impressed alongside Ryan Moran at the heart of the Saints’ backline.

Howell’s side made a bright start against their visitors and were ahead after just 13 minutes. Walker still had a lot of work to do when he received the ball in the right channel with his back to goal but the striker displayed his strength and acceleration to turn his man before dragging the ball across the face of goal and inside the far post of Pavel Doroshevs’ goal.

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City’s lead lasted all of eight minutes as Gabala struck back. Dodo’s cross from the right found Victor Mendy at the near post and although the striker’s effort was pushed out by former Basingstoke Town goalkeeper Stuart Searle, Murad Huseynov was on hand to turn the loose ball home.

City’s trialist ‘keeper, Searle, was soon beaten for a second time as the Azerbaijani’s took the lead for the first time. Again Dodo was the provider, sending a cross deep to the far post where Vurgun Huseynov was on hand to arrow a header back across goal and into the net.

Danny Hart should have restored parity when he latched onto Cutchey’s ball to the far post but the wide midfielder rushed his effort and rifled over the bar.

Dodo continued to cause problems for City on the right wing and he came close to extending Gabala’s lead when he cut in from the wing and hit a hard shot goalwards that Searle did well to push away from danger.

Unlike some pre-season contests, neither side gave an inch and there were some full blooded tackles dished out including one by Vurgun Huseynov that left Walker in a heap on the floor. The former Harrow youngster showed no ill-effects of that incident though as he drew City level just a minute before the interval. Again it was the forward’s pace that caused the visiting defence problems and although the striker mis-hit his shot, the ball hit Daniel Cruz and flew into the net past the wrong-footed Doroshevs.

Nick Jupp was introduced between the sticks at half time by City and the hot conditions saw a flurry of substitutions by the home side shortly after the resumption.

The final goal came in the 58th minute and it was that man Vurgun Huseynov again. The visitors are know as the Radars due to the presence of a Soviet anti-missile facility in the town and you have to wonder if the club has any calls from their neighbours when defender Lubo Baranin unleashes one of his Exocet-like throw ins. It was from one of these long-range launches that Gabala struck, Baranin’s throw-in reaching the far post unaided where Vurgun Huseynov rose highest to nod past Jupp.

Both sides continued to carve out chances with City’s best effort falling to Marvin Alebiosu only for the substitute to be denied by Doroshevs. Ross Dedman, playing in an unfamiliar left-back position, played the ball into the feet of Alebiosu who was allowed to turn and get his shot away but Doroshevs got down well to divert the ball around the post.

Dodo then went on a mazy run, outmuscling his marker to get a clean sight of goal but the Brazilian suffered a rush of blood to the head and fired wastefully over the cross bar.

This was a good work out for both sides, with City performing well against a side whose technical quality is much greater than anything they are likely to come up against in the Southern Premier Division this term.

City: Searle (Jupp 46); Frempong (Yorke 53), Moran, Cutchey, Yusuf (Dedman 53); Hart (Ehui 53), Sol Shields (Alebiosu 53), Ijaha �, Sean Shields; Bent, Walker (Fry 68).

Sub not used: Lyon.

Gabala: Doroshevs; Shukurov �, Baranin, V. Huseynov, Cruz, Chertoqanov (Yunisoglu 50), Abuzarov, Lima, Mendy, M. Huseynov, Dodo.

Sub not used: Nazirov (GK), Sokolov, Mammadov, Gurbanov, Chahaangirov.

Ref: Gary Evetts