Two Easter losses for St Albans City

Greg Ngoyi heads goalwards

Greg Ngoyi heads goalwards - Credit: Archant

MONDAY’S loss to Hemel Hempstead Town signalled the end of the Saints realistic play-off hopes according to joint boss James Gray.

Fabio Bufano puches the ball into the net and is booked

Fabio Bufano puches the ball into the net and is booked - Credit: Archant

Gray and Graham Golds were frustrated figures on the sidelines as their side fell to a narrow defeat following ex-Saint David Hutton’s 57th minute winner for The Tudors.

The loss followed Saturday’s 2-1 defeat away to Stourbridge, where Greg Ngoyi hit the City goal from the penalty spot.

Following the Hemel game, boss Gray, said: “With our season riding on today we needed to get out of the blocks quick.

“First half we were the better side and if we had come in 2-0 up at half-time that may have reflected the first half, but that’s football and we didn’t put the ball in the back of the net.

“There wasn’t much between the two sides in the whole game really.

“The second half it was difficult trying to get up the hill, they came on to us, but they got the goal.

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“In football you have got to get the goals and we didn’t do it at the right times today and unfortunately we got the defeat.”

Gray now feels reaching the play-offs may be a step too far, he added: “I’m dejected as that was our whole season riding on that game and we got the defeat and I think we are out of the picture now.”

St Albans started the game well and would have taken a fifth minute lead had it not have been for a wonder save from Sam Beagle who tipped over a Ngoyi header.

The Saints kept up their early pressure and Ngoyi had several attempts, but couldn’t find the back of the net, while Darren Locke headed a James Comley corner into the hands of Beagle.

Saints really should have gone ahead just before the half-hour mark.

Richard Graham’s inviting cross from the right was met at the far post by winger Chris Henry who should have done better than head off target.

Hemel got more into the match as the half went on and Dave Pearce forced home keeper Nick Jupp into a low diving save to keep out a drive from the edge of the box.

Hemel went even closer as a Jordan Parkes header from a corner was cleared off the line by Elliott Godfrey before Steve O’Leary nodded wide when the ball was whipped back into the box.

After the break it was second in the table Hemel who looked more likely to grab the opening goal.

Parkes slipped in Hutton and with space inside the box he should have beaten Jupp, but the home stopper smothered his shot.

However, not long after the goal did arrive for the visitors.

O’Leary found Pearce and his smart first time cross from right of the six yard box was scrambled home by Hutton despite the attentions of the Saints’ defence.

Five minutes later City had the ball in the net at the other end, however Fabio Bufano clearly punched Comley’s delivery from a free-kick into the net and the defender was rightly booked.

In the closing stages Henry and Ngoyi both tried their luck from outside of the box, with Henry’s effort saved and Ngoyi only just off target.

City will now aim to get all three points when Bashley visit Clarence Park on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.