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29.12.2007 @ 15:00 Clarence Park Attendance : 433
St Albans City
1 - 1
Braintree Town
Referee : Marvin Thompson (Northolt) Blue Square South-Match

Paul Bruce (34)
James Baker (87)
Starting Line-ups
Nick Eyre
Hassan Sulaiman
Hasim Deen
Scott Cousins
Marcel McKie
Ryan Frater
Craig Vargas
Paul Bruce
Jon Stevenson
Lee Clarke
Solomon Henry
Nick Morgan
Billy Burgess
Mark Jones
Russell Edwards
Ian Cousins
Andy Porter
Robbie Martin
Michael Shinn
Chris Sullivan
Garry Cross
Lee Burns
Ben Martin
James Archer
Hamsa Twomey
Alex Olcott
James Baker
Leon Archer
Tony Boot
James Hawes
Bradley Quinton
Ben Martin -> Jon Stevenson (80)
Hamsa Twomey -> Solomon Henry (88)
Tony Boot -> Garry Cross (57)
Leon Archer -> Chris Sullivan (57)
James Baker > Andy Porter (76)
Yellow cards
Paul Bruce (41)
Lee Clarke (46)
Andy Porter (45)
Mark Jones (65)
Red cards
None. None
Match report
ST ALBANS CITY came within three minutes of a desperately needed victory at Clarence Park on Saturday but the Saints Blue Square South status was thrown into further doubt when former City trialist James Baker glanced home a late equaliser to clinch a 1-1 draw for visitors Braintree Town.
After 90 minutes of committed but, at best, scrappy, football a draw may have been a justified outcome. For City though, Baker’s late strike was a savage blow after Dave Anderson’s side had led for more than an hour through Paul Bruce’s classic strike from a 20-yard free kick.
City had problems from the outset with strikers Richard Butler and Daniel Chillingworth ruling themselves out in the morning through injury. Defender Jomo Faal-Thomas was missing due to a family bereavement while central defender Ben Martin arrived less than 15 minutes prior to kick off after his car broke down en routé to Clarence Park.
Anderson brought in Solomon Henry, to the right of the midfield, for his first start and pushed central midfielder Jon Stevenson into the attack. While Stevenson may not have added much subtlety to the City front line he prove a handful for the Braintree defence. Craig Vargas filled in alongside Ryan Frater at the heart of the defence.
After a cagey opening on an increasingly chilly afternoon Braintree made the first threat with Robbie Martin firing just over the home goal. More than 30 minutes had elapsed before either keeper had to contend with a shot on target. Stevenson shot wildly wide and Lee Clarke was blocked after a promising run, and when the ball as returned to the penalty area Scott Cousins shot high.
A crisp drive by Mark Jones was also just too high for the Iron before City opened the scoring on 34 minutes with a goal that deserved a far better match than the one in which it appeared. Hassan Sulaiman played the ball up to Stevenson who was tripped on the edge of the box by Russell Edwards. Bruce calmly flighted a pinpoint left-footed free kick high to Nick Morgan’s left and just inside the giant keepers left hand upright.
A minute later Edwards somehow went unpunished after a dreadful whack through the back of Stevenson, the City player continued after treatment.
On the stroke of half time Braintree were almost punished for conceding another free kick on the edge of the penalty area when Andy Porter nudged Henry. Frater drove the dead ball straight into the wall then clipped the rebound over the Town defence for Clarke to touch forward into the path of Sulaiman, who rolled the ball in the net. Unfortunately for City the flag was already raised for offside against Clarke.
Braintree began the second period positively with Garry Cross forcing Nick Eyre into his first save on 47 minutes. But generally it was a frustrating 45minutes with players on either side far too readily just hooking the ball aimlessly forward instead of attempting a more pleasing passing game.
Braintree had the ball in the City net early in the half, following a corner, but referee Marvin Thompson, who was inconsistent throughout, penalised Iron for a foul on Eyre.
After more than 80 minutes of tedium the game burst into life in the closing stages. Martin replaced the tiring Stevenson in attack and following a neat pass from Bruce on 84 minutes looked well placed to score only for Morgan to save low to his left.
Having defended stoutly to this point City suddenly looked flustered as Braintree moved forward with greater vigour and won a couple of corners. And when Eyre, City’s saviour so often his season, failed to get any distance onto a punched clearance, Town skipper Ian Cousins headed the ball into the goalmouth for Baker to head in the 87th minute equaliser.
Braintree now searched for the winner and almost got it when Baker’s run and cross down the left clipped Frater and would have been turned in by another City old boy, Leon Archer, had Marcel McKie not made a crucial intervention at the back post.
But the final chance went begging at the opposite end when Clarke, after some fine approach work, slipped the ball through to Bruce who hesitated just long enough for Billy Burgess to slide in with a crucial point saving block.

Report by David Tavener
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