We need to stop conceding silly goals, says Howell

Saints boss laments defensive errors after midweek cup exit

ST ALBANS CITY boss David Howell says his team needs to sharpen up defensively if they are to continue their good form this season.

The Saints conceded four goals in Saturday’s thrilling 4-4 draw with Barwell, before losing 3-2 to league-leaders Hemel Hempstead in the Red Insure Cup on Tuesday night. It is clear that finding the back of the net is not a problem for the Clarence Park outfit – especially centre-half Moussa Diarra – who scored a hat-trick on Saturday and one on Tuesday.

And despite the disappointment of going out of the competition midweek, Howell says his defensive options will be boosted by the return of James Gray, who started the match against Hemel.

The Saints manager believes his team is not getting the results they deserve after a string of impressive displays.

“We created enough chances to have won the game by half time,” Howell told the Herts Advertiser. “We worked hard, we played some good football and did everything right but only came in at the break all square at 1-1, which was very disappointing.

“This has been the case in the last three or four games where we have dominated without gaining a significant return.

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“Once we scored our second goal we got a little bit complacent and allowed Hemel back into the match. Their winner was as a result of a miskicked goal-kick from our goalkeeper while we were in the ascendancy. It’s just a little bit disappointing at the moment.

“But there were some positives as Jimmy Gray got 70-odd minutes under his belt after coming back from injury while Curtis Ujah also got some game time after being ill.”

City travel to St Neots Town this Saturday hoping to get back to winning ways, although it should be a tough encounter for his charges against one of the form sides in the Evo-Stik Premier Division, and who sit two places above the Saints in the table.

“St Neots seem to be the form team in the league at the minute. They’ve had some great results and performances and have probably exceeded expectations early on,” Howell said.

“It will be a stiff test for us, but if we’re going to do well this season and push on these are the sort of games you’ve got to do well in.

“We’ve shown in other tough matches against opponents near us in the table, such as Arlesey and Barwell, that we can outplay these opponents, and on Saturday we’ll have to show that again if we want to get a good result.

“At the moment I’m more concerned about us than our oppoents, though. We need to be a lot stronger defensively because we’ve conceded a lot of goals in the last couple of games. It’s a collective thing, but we will be helped by the return of Jimmy Gray.

“It’s a long season, though, and if we can learn these lessons early I’m sure we can keep pushing on.”

Speaking after Saturday’s draw, in which the Saints were 4-2 up against 10-man Barwell, Howell said: “The only positive that I can take out of it is that we’re unbeaten, we didn’t lose the match and we quite easily could have done.

“I thought we defended poorly, we started off poorly and ended up badly, in between that again we played some good football, we entertained, we tried to pass and we looked to open them up.”