Match Data 2004/2005
St Albans City 3
Jamie Campbell (Gordon, 66)
Robbie Pethick (Davis, 81)
St Albans City
Chris Zoricich (Roddis, 69)
Tom Davis (Wild, 90)
Kezie Ibe (Tomlin, 69)
Having secured their Conference survival last weekend the Hawks came unstuck at York Road this afternoon where St Albans City assured their own future with an unlikely 3-1 victory. Three times the Hawks conceded soft goals, providing a hat-trick for Saints’ leading striker Lee Clarke. The first came just before half time as a result of lax defending on the part of the visitors, but when James Taylor drove home David Town’s cross in the 56th it looked like the Hawks were set to rise again in an ascendant second half.
But further errors left Clarke to finish twice more and despite taking the lion’s share of the goalmouth action, the Hawks found it impossible to best outstanding keeper Paul Bastock and ultimately gave way to the greater need of their hosts.
The Hawks were without the managerial backbone of Ian Baird, occupied overseas, and Dean Holdsworth, bed ridden with flu. As such assistant manager Shaun Gale started with James Taylor and Dave Town at the front, supported by the now familiar midfield line of Robbie Pethick, Jamie Collins, Peter Fear and Brett Poate. Jamie Campbell again filled in for convalescing Jason Chewins.
Coming up the slope of the pitch the Hawks returned to the site of their FA Trophy win earlier in the season starting from the other end. The visitors were slow to get going, and Scott Cousins capitalised on the early post survival lethargy when he snatched back a free kick to power an early shot at Gareth Howells.
The Hawks finally looked set for their first chance at goal in the 10th minute. Poate’s run on the wing brought the ball forward for a great cross that curled toward Pethick at the back post in acres of space. Towering defender Ben Martin though stuck out a boot to deflect the ball away.
While most of the defensive mistakes came in front of the Hawks goal, it was Saints defender Gary Elphick who made the first when his hesitant shepherding of the ball back to Bastock left enough space for Town to nip in and release a shot that the keeper only just managed to block. From the rebound Jamie Collins fired wide.
Poate then scooped a shot over the bar after Town provided him with the ball and the Hawks finally started to come to life with some good passing that played havoc with the Saint’s midfield. Tom Jordan then forced Bastock into a grasping save that saw the keeper only just manage to tip the ball over the bar.
The hosts meanwhile continued to threaten with fast breaking runs. Clarke managed a headed touch on a viciously fast cross from the corner, but couldn’t angle it inward enough toward the goal. Good connecting play kept the Hawks looking the better of the two sides as half time approached, and a long diagonal from Poate allowed Town to hold the ball and roll it back for Collins to send a thunderous shot just wide of the post.
But calamity befell the visitors in the last five minutes of the half. In the 39th minute indecision on the part of Neil Champion left him robbed of the ball on the edge of the Hawks box, and Tom Davis punted it goalward off Gareth Howells for Clarke to finish. In the following minutes Town, Pethick and Fear all picked up yellow cards for various silly mistakes and the only hope before the break came from another Poate shot tipped just over the bar.
St Albans 1
Havant and Waterlooville 0
The visitors won two corners early in the second half, the first coming when Pethick’s 30 yard drive was put round the post at a stretch, but Campbell’s soft header on the end of the second was claimed much more easily. Sixty seconds later the Hawks came back again, and Taylor overstepped Pethick’s ball for Collins to power a superb shot that came back off the underside of the bar to Town who agonisingly angled the rebound over.
Super Jim then did all the work to win the ball at the line and turned it back for the oncoming Poate to spurn an open goal with an effort that flew high again. Undaunted, Taylor was back less than a minute later to finish neatly himself when Town’s cross fell for him to power back across the box past Bastock.
St Albans were finding consistency hard work, but struck back three minutes later with a precise forward move. Jordan went down in the home side’s box when trying to connect with a Collins free kick, leaving a gaping hole in the Hawks back line as the Saints raced away with the ball. Indecision from Campbell let the hosts through once more, and with their first serious chance of the half Clarke buried the ball to restore St Albans’ lead.
Fear’s long throws continued to terrorise the hosts, Taylor latching on to one to send the ball over for Town to try from a narrow angle at the back post. The visitors looked good for a second goal to balance matters, but the hosts put the match beyond them in bizarre circumstances. A sliced attempt in front of Howells saw the ball head for the line, and players on both sides turned to jog back for the expected goal kick, but the spinning ball bounced awkwardly and Davis managed to reclaim it just in time to turn back for Clarke to poke past Howells unmarked.
The unlikely score line sapped what energy the visitors had, and the hosts dominated the remainder of the game as they romped toward Conference survival. Some desperate defending from the Hawks kept the score down to three and when Pethick twisted his knee trying to hammer the ball square across the box and had to limp off, the game was well and truly up. In injury time Howells did well to prevent a fourth goal when Chris Seeby’s incisive cross put substitute Gavin Tomlin through the Hawks defence, his weaving run ending with a good block from the Hawks keeper.