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18.12.2004 at 15:00 Clarence Park Attendance : 262
St Albans City
0 - 0
Eastbourne Borough
Referee : M Blackledge Conference South-match

None. None
Opening squads
Paul Bastock
Chris Seeby
Dean Hooper
Scott Cousins
Tom Davis
Ben Martin
Gary Elphick
Ranbir Marwa
Thomas Beech
Lee Clarke
Ben Walshe
Lee Hook
Darren Baker
Stuart Tuck
Matt Smart
Stuart Playford
Ben Austin
Danny Simmonds
Danny Chapman
Scott Ramsey
Loui Fazackerley
Ollie Rowland
John Armand
Matt Hann
Joe Meija
Kurtis Patterson
Nick Roddis
Stuart Myall
Dan Beck
Matt Crabb
Darren Smith
Dean Lightwood
Matt Hann -> Tom Davis (90)
Dan Beck -> Loui Fazackerley (72)
Darren Smith -> Danny Simmonds (76)
Yellow cards
Dean Hooper (38)
Tom Davis (67)
Danny Chapman (35)
Red cards
None. None
Match report

(left to right) Chris Seeby, Ram Marwa, Tom Davis and Ben Martin
Flowing football was in short supply at Clarence Park last Saturday but nonetheless St Albans City will still be content with taking a point from in-form Sussex side Eastbourne Borough and in so doing achieving only their second home clean sheet of 2004 and their first, home or away, in the Nationwide South.
During the course of what, on the whole, was ninety minutes of scrappy football, the Saints were the moral victors but with neither defence too keen on handing out gifts a blank scoresheet appeared the most likely outcome from the early stages.
City welcomed back Dean Hooper from the completion of his third suspension this season - he survived 38 minutes before collecting his latest yellow card – and retained Chris Seeby in midfield for the injured Nick Roddis. Ben Walshe held on to his place wide on the left but was clearly nursing his tender left knee and, subsequently, was a notch below his best.
The first threat of the afternoon was made by the Saints with Stuart Playford heading away a Walshe corner as far as Tom Davis whose well-struck drive was blocked on the edge of the Borough six-yard box. Hooper provided good support to the City attack whenever he moved down the right flank but tended to overdo the long ball game when playing the ball from the back. However, a positive surge in from the touchline was well received on the terraces even though his scuffed shot failed to trouble visiting keeper Lee Hook.
Bizarrely, Hook proved to be one of Eastbourne’s strongest attacking options as his huge kicks frequently tested the Saints defence, one such punt saw Ollie Rowland get goalside of Ben Martin and around Paul Bastock only for the retreating Martin to block and clear Rowland’s eventual low cross.
With Lee Clarke again in a deeper role, which worked so well the previous week at Carshalton, the Saints leading scorer had limited opportunities to extend his current seven match goal-a-game record although he did fail to locate the target with headers from corners in either half.
Midway through the half Loui Fazackerley challenged Martin to a Scott Ramsay cross, the ball fell kindly to Matt Smart who showed some nice skill in getting the ball under control only to shoot tamely at Bastock. Shortly after, a quickly taken Danny Simmonds free kick was slipped wide to Rowland whose powerful low cross was smartly taken by the diving Bastock in a crowded goalmouth.
City almost snatched the lead right on half time when Tom Beech headed the ball onto Clarke who laid it into the path of the exciting Walshe whose beautifully struck first time effort from 28 yards curled just beyond the static Hook’s right hand upright.
The second half was hardly a contest for the connoisseur as both sides made countless mistakes and committed too many infringements, even so there were goal chances to be had with Eastbourne making the first inroad on 53 minutes when Simmonds headed across the goal to Ramsay whose close range header was tipped over by Bastock. Three minutes later Stuart Tuck met a Simmonds free kick at the near post but his misdirected header was well off the mark.
Just when the game appeared to be stagnating St Albans upped the tempo and put the south coast club under sustained pressure although chances were evenly spread at either end. Davis intercepted a square ball by Chapman and tried to beat Hook from 40 yards but the keeper safely gathered the ball inside his goal area. Hook was tested again when a Hooper cross drifted towards the goal and had to tipped over by the keeper who hurt his hand on the crossbar in the process.
A frantic flurry on 83 minutes saw Seeby have a shot blocked following a Scott Cousins free kick with Martin unable to turn in the loose ball. Eastbourne responded with a fine counterattack that saw the overly aggressive Ramsay clip home from a pass by Smart only to be pulled back for offside.
As the game moved into added time both defences were almost belatedly breached. Hooper sent a hopeful ball towards the visitors goalline that Hook and Darren Baker were favourites to collect, but under pressure from Beech the duo took on the roles of pantomime clowns and presented possession to the powerfully built City striker. Short on goals, Beech lacked the confidence to stroke the ball home from just wide of the target and elected to lay it inside to a possibly surprised Clarke who was beaten by a sublime and vital tackle by the impressive Ben Austin.
As the locals bemoaned their ill-luck Eastbourne soared down the other end but for a well-timed tackle on Dan Beck could have snatched victory.

Report by Dave Tavener
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