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Kingstonian 1-2 St Albans City
Saints and Sinners

Kingstonian's two month exile from Kingsmeadow ended with the visit of a St Albans side desperately seeking points for much the same reasons as the K's in the Ryman Premier League.

The start was tentative for both sides, as demonstrated when an early Scott Steele free kick was scrambled away from Max Hustwick as the visiting defenders protected goalkeeper George Clarke.

Lee Clarke, meanwhile, made a surging run at the other end and although Lance Key was not presented with the same level of defensive cover, the striker's shot sailed harmlessly well over into what looked to be the yellow house's back garden.

Clarke received a Graeme Butler throw-in and proceeded to turn young debutant Jason O'Connor with ease in the box before being stopped by Max Hustwick's lunging intervention.

Midway through the half and a surging run by Mark Beard culminated in a lofted Anthony Savage cross that was not far over Stafford Browne's head as the striker took up a menacing unmarked position deep inside the box.

Both sides' best chances of the opening period came in quick succession. First came a St Albans corner delivered by Neil Couch and headed towards goal Chris Selby, only to be denied by the outstretched fist of Lance Key, with Browne covering just behind the goalkeeper as backup.

Liam Collins was by now tormenting his opponents down the right wing, and only Selby's intervention prevented what would have surely otherwise been a goal assist. Beard followed up with a drive, but again the Saints defence were able to clear their lines.

Collins followed with a deeper cross which was knocked in to the path of Scott Steele by Browne, but the K's assistant manager was foiled in his attempts to get his strike in on goal.

St Albans' centre backs, the much travelled former striker Miguel De Souza, and Chris Selby enjoyed the best of late battles with Browne and Steele. Browne did race through on to a ball played by Collins on the stroke of half time, but George Clarke was quickly out of his goal to clear the danger.

The second half started well for the visitors, Steve Watts receiving Greg Deacon's ball in the box before turning and neatly tucking his strike low past Lance Key for a goal just four minutes after the kick off.

At the other end, O'Connor almost marked his first game with a goal as he firmly headed Steele's free kick goalbounds, but Clarke's reactions were good as the goalkeeper parried the ball over.

The equaliser did however soon follow when substitute Dave Timothy picked up Max Hustwick's lifted pass to lob the ball past Clarke and into the top corner of the net. The pacy winger's somersault celebration indicated his delight at scoring with his first touch of the game.

Fellow substitute Grant Payne almost provided a second when laying off to Collins, who saw his close range shot deflected just wide of the post by Clarke's legs.

Mark Beard charged into the box and having had his first attempt blocked at feet, took a second swing at the ball and, with Clarke rooted to his spot, saw his strike across goal come back off the post before being hacked away by Butler.

St Albans had a shout for a penalty when Stuart Booth and Steve Watts had a coming together in the K's penalty area as they rose for a cross, with nothing given by a referee who frankly did not seem to want to make any decisions. When Payne had his shirt tugged in the other box by De Souza, again no decision was given.

With just under ten minutes of the game remaining, Saints substitute Steve Castle saw his fierce free kick come back out after hitting the bar and Lance Key. The goalkeeper had little chance of getting to Castle's next effort moments later when the St Albans player-manager struck an unstoppable effort from the edge of the box to regain the lead for his side.

K's tried to respond with a surge by Browne abruptly halted in the area by De Souza, whilst Gary Wraight almost added to the visitors' lead just before the final whistle before blasting over from close.

A disappointing result for K's, particularly when chances were created but a little bit of luck missing. One of the positives to take out the game was the effective wing play of Collins and Timothy, though whilst being a necessary factor in helping the side improve upon its poor scoring record, the way the St Albans defenders were able to brush off our attacks in the middle may have been of some concern.

Sat 27th Mar 2004
Kingsmeadow Stadium
Isthmian League Premier
St Albans City2
1Lance Key
2Stuart BoothCautioned
3Scott Smith
4Jason O'Connor
5Max Hustwick
6Liam Collins15
7Mark Beard
8Bashiru Alimi
9Stafford Browne
10Scott Steele16
11Anthony Savage14
12Matt Elverson
14Grant Payne11
15Vidal Graham6
16Dave Timothy10
17Craig Lewington
Match Report By
Ali Kazemi