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22.04.2008 at 19:45 York Road Attendance : 369
Maidenhead United
0 - 0
St Albans City
Referee : Gavin Muge (Totternhoe) Blue Square South-match

None None.
Opening squads
Chris Tardiff
Ashley Smith
Jamal Fyfield
Jermaine Hinds
Mark Nisbet
Grant Cooper
Lee Newman
Darti Brown
Manny Williams
Richard Pacquette
Narada Bernard
Paul Bastock
James Fisher
Scott Cousins
Luke Thurlbourne
Ryan Frater
Bradley Gray
James Quilter
Paul Bruce
Paul Hakim
Lee Clarke
Wasiu Akanni Sunday
Gavin James
Carl Wilson-Denis
Wes Daly
James Hamsher
Kieron Hudson
Hasim Deen
Marcel McKie
Simon Martin
Jonathan Hunt
Hamsa Twomey
None Jonathan Hunt -> Paul Bruce (33)
Hasim Deen -> James Quilter (60)
Simon Martin -> Paul Hakim (72)
Yellow cards
None None.
Red cards
None None.
Match report
From a position of total no-hopers just seven weeks ago, St Albans City completed a transformation that almost defies belief on Tuesday night by grinding out the point required from a truly grim encounter with Maidenhead United to preserve the clubs Blue Square South status for another year.

Joyful scenes were witnessed on and off the pitch at the final whistle at the home of the Berkshire club as the Saints, after a campaign of utter turmoil, successfully avoided a second consecutive relegation.

City's joy is Weston-super-Mare's misery as the friendly Somerset club bow out of Blue Square South after four years membership.

Saints manager Steve Castle admitted he would love to have seen his side secure safety in style but ultimately was just happy complete what appeared an impossible task that he was brought in to tackle in January following the dismissal in quick succession of former managers Dave Anderson and Ritchie Hanlon.

With Weston only drawing on Monday night when squandering a two goal lead at home to Basingstoke Town the Saints headed for York Road knowing that a point would be sufficient to end the anguish suffered by their supporters this season.

Had Manny Williams, United's leading scorer, not blown a trio of clear chances then City may well have had to wait a few extra days before popping open the champagne but, on the other hand, had Paul Bruce not seen his 26th minute saved then maybe the party could have kicked off earlier in the evening.

Maidenhead secured their future at the weekend and were the first to show on ten minutes with Grant Cooper having his 25 yard free kick comfortably taken by the evergreen Paul Bastock.

Williams first threatened four minutes later when Richard Pacquette flicked on Cooper's long ball to send his strike partner clear in the box only for Williams angled drive, from an acute angle, to bounce wide of the far post.

The game was littered with misplaced passes and, particularly during the opening 45 minutes, an over reliance on the long ball. With both defences generally coping well in the face of the hit it long, hit it high' tactics clear chances were at a premium.

City bucked the trend to create their first genuine opportunity on 14 minutes with a neat piece of approach play involving Lee Clarke, Bruce and Akanni-Sunday Wasiu with the Nigerian giving a return pass to Bruce whose low shot was saved with ease.

Maidenhead, looking to complete a hat-trick of wins over St Albans this season, should have moved ahead on 17 minutes when Jamal Fyfield played the ball down the left to Narada Bernard whose cross to the back post was wastefully headed wide by one-time Saint Pacquette.

A long clearance by Bastock led to Sunday breaking into the penalty area but after waiting far too long to shoot the City striker was bundled off the ball. On 26 minutes Clarke was also shoved off the ball in the penalty area, by Darti Brown, following a pass from Bradley Gray, and this time referee Gavin Muge pointed to the spot.

It looked a relatively soft penalty decision and City failed to take full advantage of the gift handed them with Tardif diving low to his right the stop Bruce from making it four out of four from the spot this season. Seven minutes later midfielder Bruce, who is suspended on Saturday, saw his season come to an end when picking up a foot injury.

Lively Magpies right-sided midfielder Lee Newman put a couple of efforts over the visitors crossbar while Johnson Hippolyte's side was denied a penalty when Cooper went down in the box.

Playing down the slope City ended the half positively without testing Tardif. James Quilter broke up a United attack and set City in motion with a ball to Sunday whose pass to Hakim was quickly nudged into the path of Gray with the teenagers first time shot drifting just wide of the keepers left hand upright.

And in the remaining seconds of the half Ryan Frater and Hakim worked the ball out to Gray whose low cross from the right fizzed right across the front of the home goal, while a Jonathan Hunt free kick bounced high yet untouched in a crowded goalmouth before just missing the target.

The second period opened reasonably encouragingly but on the whole provided the stalemate that City were happy to play and Maidenhead unable to avoid.

An ambitious long ball the width of the pitch by Gray was intercepted by Ashley Smith but then recaptured by Clarke who surged forward and with the help of Sunday worked it inside to Luke Thurlbourne whose shot went just wide of Tardif's left hand post.

Williams conjured up his worst miss of the night on 55 minutes when stumbling in the penalty area yet recovering to play a short pass to Newman. As Newman returned the ball Williams steadied himself only to blaze high and wide when his 31st goal of the season should have been in the bag.

A City counterattack, begun by Cousins and taken forward by Frater's excellent long pass on 58 minutes, cut Maidenhead open with Hakim racing free only to see his low drive gathered by Tardif at the second attempt.

As direct Maidenhead shots on the visitors goal petered out completely Bastock stayed alert with some fine clean handling negating potentially dangerous crosses.

St Albans last on-target effort of the evening came to nothing on 74 minutes when Sunday controlled the ball smartly and spun swiftly before seeing his low drive from 18 yards cleanly taken by the keeper.

During the first minute of added time City suffered one of their most anxious moments of the evening when Thurlbourne sought to end a period of United pressure by heading the ball away. Unfortunately for the Southend United youngster his clearance went straight to Pacquette whose improvised scissor kick dipped just beyond Bastock's right hand upright with the keeper struggling to make his ground.

After two minutes and 41 seconds of added time referee Muge deemed that time was up and City had secured their 41st, and most celebrated, point of the season.
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