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St Albans City 0-1 Kingstonian

A trip to Clarence Park has historically never been the easiest of journeys for K's. Still there was one plus point - a line-up as printed in the programme, saving ink all over the place.

Lining up against K's were, of course, two strikers about whom much is known. In the number nine shirt was a certain Simon Martin who had agreed to join the visitors just a week earlier only to be told that the deal was off. He was partnered by Graeme Tomlinson - one of those strikers who look less-than-average at Kingsmeadow only to show everyone what they missed out on as soon as they get to their new club.

With the solidest back-line in the league looking as secure as they have all season, it was one of the back-boys who had the first chance. Liam Collins won a corner on the right with a good run and Mark Beard's centre landed on the head of Matt Elverson. A freer header has never been seen, but the easiness of the chance clearly put him off as he headed over. Think of Beckham.

Chances were few and far between but K's went close again mid-way through the half. A good ball from Stafford Browne sent Bashiru Alimi free down the left and his chip over goalkeeper Shane Gore was on target until Jay Murray got back to clear. He nearly did exactly the opposite though, slicing the ball up and over his own bar for a corner.

Clarence Park falls silent

The K's defence didn't look quite so solid as half-time approached. Twice within a couple of minutes Derek Brown went close with headers - both times under little pressure as he headed over and wide respectively.

The closest either side came to breaking the first-half deadlock was when Scott Oakes smashed a right-footed free-kick onto Lance Key's post, via the goalkeeper's hand.

And so the interval - at the unearthly hour of 1.45 - was reached with no goals, and if truth be told few moments of excitement for those present.

Up until the very last seconds (and don't ruin the suspense by scrolling down to the bottom of the page) the second half was very similar to the first. There were more chances for K's, but as the game wore on the home side seemed to come back into the match more and more.

Grant Payne - who is yet to score this season (lest we forget) - was the recipient of several early chances, but still his duck refuses to be shattered.

Saints under pressure

Collins and Browne combined well within a couple of minutes of the restart to provide the first sniff of goal for the number nine, but he shot wide after turning past Brown with ease.

Payne's next intervention was to challenge Gore for a high, hanging Mark Beard free-kick into the box. Neither striker nor goalkeeper got a positive touch on the ball and it span to Matt Elverson. An opener goal has never been seen, but the easiness of the chance clearly put him off as he headed (very) over. Think of Beckham, then get out your step-ladder.

Payne sent another golden chance wide on the hour mark when he raced onto a flick-on from Browne only to shoot wide. Not long after and the same player intercepted a back-header from Brown but chipped the ball into the side netting.

In between the Saints had had a very good shout for a penalty turned down by referee Mr Gary Young. A poor clearance from Elverson dropped to Lee Gledhill on the right, who immediately crossed into the middle. The challenge of Stephen Broad on Tomlinson saw the referee place his whistle between his lips, only to withdraw a moment later when he saw the flag of his assistant not quivering at all.

A flying save from Gore

Elverson completed a hat-trick of sorts when he headed another Beard corner goalwards, only for Gary Wraight to head off of the line. But the real excitement was still to come.

Deep into injury time - three minutes deep according to those in the know - K's reward finally came. A long clearance from Hustwick dropped to Browne on the left. He beat his man and crossed for Mark Beard to glance a header wide of Gore and into the corner of the net. Celebrations were prolonged - and not just because it was so late in the day.

And so another one-nil win. This performance was almost identical to those which had come so recently before against both Hampton and Kettering. K's had the majority of the chances, the majority of the possession, but looked to be going away empty-handed for long periods.

The defence couldn't possibly be doing any more than they currently are. The attackers have done their bit over the last two games - but only just.

Sat 11th Oct 2003
Clarence Park
Isthmian League Premier
St Albans City0
1Lance Key
2Stephen Broad
3Scott Smith
4Matt Elverson
5Max Hustwick
6Mark Beard
7Liam Collins16
8Billy Mead
9Grant Payne
10Stafford Browne
11Bashiru Alimi15
12Mark Jones
13Andre Forrester
14Craig Lewington
15Anthony Savage11
16Chris Nurse7
Match Report By
Gary Ekins