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03.09.2012 at 19:45 Top Field Attendance : 491
Hitchin Town
0 - 2
St Albans City
Referee : Wade Norcott (Harlow) Evo-Stik League Southern Premier Division-match

None Barry Hayles (7)
Chris Henry (28)
Opening squads
Martin Bennett
Daniel Webb
Kyle Lincoln
Lawrie Stewart
Dean Gilbert
Louis Lee
Tony Fontenelle
Jack Beckett
Callum Donnelly
John Frendo
Daniel Delderfield
Nick Hardy
Chris Seeby
Moussa Diarra
Ryan Watts
Curtis Ujah
James Gray
David Ijaha
Sean Shields
Lewis Toomey
Barry Hayles
Chris Henry
Josh Bickerstaff
Ben Islam
Liam Hickey
Liam Toomey
Zak Burke
Layne Eadie
Harry Carr
Simon Martin
Anton Blackwood
Matt Taylor
Zak Burke -> Jack Beckett (46)
Josh Bickerstaff -> Tony Fontenelle (74)
Layne Eadie -> Ryan Watts (60)
Matt Taylor -> Chris Henry (74)
Yellow cards
Josh Bickerstaff (86)
Lawrie Stewart (90)
David Ijaha (8)
Red cards
None None.
Match report
St Albans City bounced back to winning ways in some comfort on Monday night when spectacular first half strikes by Barry Hayles and Chris Henry paved the way for a 2-0 Southern League victory at Top Field over a disappointing Hitchin Town.

City fell short of their best form but so poor were Hitchin that there was little doubt as to where the points were heading once St Albans were two-up inside 30 minutes.

David Howell was forced into making two changes from the side beaten by Stourbridge on Saturday. Midfielder Micah Hyde was unavailable – and will be for another fortnight – while a groin strain ruled out winger Richard Graham.

James Gray was pushed forward to cover for Hyde, this allowed tall French central defender Moussa Diarra to have his first start of the season, while Chris Henry was in the starting XI for a league match for the first time since April.

Fresh from a 4-2 win at Chippenham Town, the Canaries began in positive fashion and moved the ball around smoothly. But Carl Williams’ side lacked penetration where as City, particularly during the opening 45 minutes, looked dangerous going forward.

Lewis Toomey gave home keeper Martin Bennett an early fright when closing in on a back pass but the Town custodian cleared just in time.

Callum Donnelly looped a half volley just over the City goal before the early sparring became something more serious with St Albans moving in front on eight minutes.

Diarra launched forward free kick from just inside the City half. Gray and Town defender Lawrie Stewart challenged with Barry Hayles collecting the ball as it fell and neatly side-stepping Dean Gilbert before planting a left-footed shot to the right of Bennett and into the net via the inside of the upright.

Hitchin, either side of that goal, squandered a couple of decent chances when deep corners were headed gently through to Nick Hardy by Gilbert and Jack Beckett.

Toomey, after scoring in five consecutive games, failed to locate the target for the second successive match but the former Hemel striker had three reasonable opportunities only to rush and scuff each one when a bit more composure was called for.

On 28 minutes, shortly after Toomey’s first miss, City added a second goal with a thunderous left-footed drive from 25 yards by Henry that left Bennett without a prayer.

Gray and Toomey, following crosses from Ryan Watts and Sean Shields, both headed over and during a spell of total dominance Shields went close with a low first time shot, after good work by Chris Seeby and Henry, and then forced Bennett into a save with a shot from 20 yards.

Hitchin were not without chances but it was nothing more than half chances.

Donnelly almost got the better of Hardy as he met the ball at the same time as the City keeper did outside the penalty area but the Saints had Diarra on hand to tidy up while a good run and shot by Kyle Lincoln drifted narrowly wide.

Within the opening minute of the restart Toomey ought to have hit the target after being sent away by Shields while John Frendo went close with a nicely positioned Hitchin free kick on 52 minutes.

The second half was most noteworthy for the inaccuracy of the shooting of both sides. Hitchin mustered five shots and demonstrated perfect consistency with none on target and, not to be outdone, City managed to put all of their eight second half shots either over or wide of Bennett’s goal.

One of the highpoints was a scintillating run from deep in his own half by the quicksilver Henry. But just as he reached the Hitchin goalline and looked to cut the ball back to the free Shields, Canaries defender Stewart intervened with a perfect slide tackle to concede a corner.

Shields, after bamboozling Daniel Webb out on the Saints left, flashed the ball at some speed just in front of Bennett’s goal but that the ball rolled out for a throw-in just about summed up a dismal final 45 minutes.

The win lifts St Albans back up to fourth in the Premier Division. This weekend the Saints take a break from league football with a 1st Round Qualifying FA Cup tie away to Harrow Borough.

It was from Harrow that St Albans secured David Howell as their manager just over a year ago, while the current Borough manager is former Saints boss Dave Anderson.

Kick off at Earlsmead is at 3pm and should a replay be required it will be at Clarence Park on Wednesday 12 September, at 7.45pm.
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